2021 Cross Country Road Trip Summary and Expenses

We enjoyed last year’s road trip in our van so much that we decided to do a very similar trip this year! We altered the route to be able to see more of the country including some new national parks and states we hadn’t been to yet. We also shortened the trip by a couple of weeks because by the end of the trip last year we were starting to feel pretty weary and ready to be done with all of the driving and living out of the van. This was our third year doing a road trip out to Las Vegas and each time we refine the process a little with things we learn on the previous trips to make it more enjoyable and less stressful overall. The trip went pretty smoothly overall with some really amazing sights and experiences.

Like last year’s trip, the main goal of this trip was to see as much of the beauty that our country has to offer as possible while also meeting up with as many friends, family, colleagues, and followers as possible. We wanted to do a lot of hiking/outdoor activities to stay active and take in the views, keep costs reasonably low, and keep travel stress to a minimum. We also wanted to keep up with business obligations while doing this including responding to emails and messages in a timely manner, putting out regular social media content, as well as making periodic live videos. This year we also had our course members to stay in touch with which required some phone calls. We never want our business to be so time consuming that it takes away from our adventures and trips but just enough to keep us busy.

Road Trip Overview

We left on September 5th and returned home on October 14th. This was our original itinerary and we actually stuck to it pretty closely with only a few small modifications here and there:

Sunday Sept 5th:

  • Leave Home (Virginia)
  • Arrive at New River Gorge National Park

Monday Sept 6th:

  • New River Gorge National Park
  • Stop around Dayton, OH

Tuesday Sept 7th:

  • Indiana Dunes National Park

Wednesday Sept 8th:

  • Indiana Dunes to Iowa
  • Stop in Iowa City, IA

Thursday Sept 9th:

  • Iowa to Nebraska
  • Stop in Omaha, NE

Friday Sept 10th:

  • Nebraska to Wyoming
  • Stop in Cheyenne, WY

Saturday Sept 11th:

  • Wyoming to Colorado
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday Sept 12th:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Mon-Tues Sept 13-14th:

  • Glenwood Springs, CO

Wednesday Sept 15th:

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP

Thur-Fri Sept 16-17th:

  • Colorado (Open/unsure what part) — Ended up doing Ouray/Silverton, CO

Saturday Sept 18th:

  • Colorado to Utah
  • Arches National Park

Sunday Sept 19th:

  • Canyonlands National Park

Monday Sept 20th:

  • Utah to Nevada
  • Arrive near Great Basin

Tuesday Sept 21st:

  • Great Basin National Park, NV

Wednesday Sept 22nd:

  • Great Basin to Zion
  • Zion National Park

Thursday-Friday Sept 23-24:

  • Zion National Park

Sat Sept 25-Wed Sept 29th:

  • Las Vegas
  • The Traveler’s Conferencee

Thursday Sept 30th:

  • Drive to Grand Canyon

Friday Oct 1st:

  • North Rim Grand Canyon

Saturday Oct 2nd:

  • Grand Canyon to Page
  • Page, AZ

Sunday Oct 3rd

  • Page, AZ

Monday Oct 4th: 

  • Monument Valley
  • Drive to Mesa Verde, CO

Tuesday Oct 5th:

  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Start drive thru New Mexico

Wednesday Oct 6th:

  • Drive thru NM
  • Stop around Albuquerque NM or Amarillo TX? — We did both! Also made it to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

Thursday Oct 7th:

  • Drive to Dallas area

Friday Oct 8th:

  • Dallas, TX

Saturday Oct 9th:

  • Houston, TX — Ended up skipping Houston, added an extra day in Dallas & stopped in Lafayette, Louisiana instead

Sunday Oct 10th:

  • Houston to New Orleans

Monday Oct 11th:

  • New Orleans, LA

Tuesday Oct 12th:

  • Drive LA to KY

Wednesday Oct 13th:

  • Mammoth Cave National Park (KY)

Thursday Oct 14th:

  • Drive home to Virginia

In total, this amounted to 7,180 miles driven in 6 weeks! We visited 11 national parks with a few of those being new and a few were our second visit. With the new national parks we visited on this trip, we have now been to 48 of the 63 national parks in the United States. We also visited many national monuments and state parks across the country. We ended up spending about 20 nights sleeping in the back of the mini-van this year, with the rest of the nights spent between staying with friends/family, hotels, and airbnb.

Stay tuned for Whitney’s next article where she will detail what we did throughout the road trip, and include more of the awesome pictures we took! Until then, I’m going to focus on discussing the expense breakdown of the trip.


This year I was much less focused on minimizing expenses than in prior years. The older I get and the higher my assets climb, the more I just want to have the best possible experience on our trips with my spending being a much smaller priority. We ate more meals out at restaurants that were more costly/touristy than in years past which cost us more. We also didn’t spare any expenses with activities that we wanted to do or sights we had to pay to see this year.

Here’s what my expenses actually ended up looking like for this trip (keeping in mind these are just my expenses, with many of the costs split between Whitney and me):

Accommodations: $321

  • Besides the 20 nights or so of sleeping in the van on public land or in private parking lots for free, we were fortunate enough to be able to stay with friends/family along our route which saved us money. We also redeemed some free hotel nights that were scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The only accommodation expenses that we paid out of pocket were our hotel in Las Vegas for the Traveler’s Conference and an AirBnB in Page, Arizona.

Food/Drinks: $695

  • This was my most expensive category again this year. It would have been significantly more expensive than this too, but we didn’t have to pay for almost any food or drinks in Las Vegas at all due to the conference and travel companies hosting events with free food and drinks. We also got some dinner vouchers in Las Vegas due to having Diamond status with Caesars Rewards that saved us about $400 on two really nice dinners there. We visited a lot of pretty nice restaurants and breweries all across the country which we enjoyed. We did supplement some meals with protein bars, trail mix, peanut butter sandwiches, and cliff bars while on the road, which helped keep costs a little lower though.

Gas/Parking/Tolls: $547

  • Gas prices were significantly higher this year across the country compared to our road trips the last two years. The gas mileage in the van was pretty good though which helped. We had to pay for parking in a couple places along the way, with the most expensive being parking for 48 hours in New Orleans while we explored the city.

Entertainment/Miscellaneous: $172

  • This cost included things like tours, admission to various attractions, and our national park pass for the year. The most expensive thing we paid for in this section was a tour of the upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. They’ve raised their tour prices and restricted the number of visitors due to Covid, so not only was it hard to get tickets but it was also pretty expensive compared to everything else we did. Luckily most of our days on the trip were spent hiking which is free.

Total Spent on the Road Trip: $1,735 (~$44/day)*

*Keep in mind that these expenses are just for my half of the trip and do not include Whitney’s half or what she spent along the way!

Trip Recap

This was another awesome road trip for us! We made it to states number 47-49 (Iowa, Nebraska, and Louisiana) on this trip as well as national parks number 41-48. This has us very excited to make it to our last state, Alaska, as well as the rest of the US national parks in the coming years. We hiked well over 250 miles including some of the hardest yet most rewarding hikes we’ve ever done. We met up with a ton of amazing old friends and made new friends all over the country. Camping in the back of the mini-van went well this year but we limited consecutive nights in the van to about three to give ourselves a break from “van life”. We also had a much easier time finding places to shower while on the road this year due to gyms across the country being open again. We took full advantage of our Planet Fitness membership! These road trips are always my favorite trips that we do, and I hope to do many more in the future.

Would you attempt a road trip like this?? Let us know in the comments!!

3 thoughts on “2021 Cross Country Road Trip Summary and Expenses

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