Cross-country road trip on a budget, say whaaat? You’ve got to get it on your bucket list. There is no better way to find hidden gems than packing up your car and hitting the road. This has been on my bucket list for years now and a move from Washington to Florida set the stage for one epic adventure.
You may be picture a VW van, cute bohemian rugs, Hydroflasks on the mountain tops and an adorable husky in caves with us. This is not it at all, wipe your memory and draw in a packed-to-the-max Ford Focus hatchback. It was not glamorous but it was freaking awesome. We saw so many amazing sites, met incredible people and ate delicious food. Let’s go!
Hitting the road
Day 1 – 5: Spokane, WA to Laurel, MT || car packed to the brim, (over)weighed down and bushy tailed, we hit the road for MT. After you get into Coeur d’Alene this is one of the most beautiful drives. The mountains, rivers, wildlife and flora is stunning. This leg was fueled by Vital Proteins travel packs, Navita’s Organics energy bites and Suja Juice everything, especially kombucha and green juice.
* You must stop at Red Tractor Pizza in Bozeman, MT
* Pull off at Little Montana Beach and hike to the top of the rock
* Don’t, I repeat, DON’T max out the weight limit on your car
Day 6: Laurel, MT to the Black Hills, SD || Laurel is flat and everywhere around it is flat.. hehe, don’t miss the I-90 exit or you’ll stay on the I-94 and be on your way to North Dakota (oops).
* hike, hike, hike & hike in the Black Hills (Storm Mountain, Harney Peak)
* BYOS (bring your own snacks) this allows you to actually do a cross-country road trip on a budget
We drove a LOT
Day 7 – 10: Black Hills, SD to Madison, SD || If you love flat land and corn fields, make this drive. If you don’t, pop on a podcast or playlist and jam out to the flatness. It makes it awesome. We did bring along RX bars, Jack’s Paleo cookies and Artisana nut butters.Unfortunately, there is nothing I found along the way in terms of food of wellness. So, just stop often and move your bones, your back and hips will forever thank you. Here’s what we ate:
*Pastured hard boiled eggs, sauerkraut, grass-feed beef hot dogs, avocado, cassava chips, hummus, pre-roasted vegetables
*Lots & lots of water, Suja Juice and coconut water
*Get a car diffuser and get all the good smells, we used Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils
Day 11: Madison, SD to Des Moines, IA || Thank you Honey Mamas for the goods on this short drive. It’s flat again so, get your Spotify pumping loud. Bring a book, journal, call family or enjoy the… err… corn?
*Des Moines has a Whole Foods (stock up on Rebbl drinks, Siete chips and don’t forget to try pickles and almond butter.. dead serious)
*Mexi Bowl without the cheese from this cafe is delicious and perfect for the road.
What’s your favorite spot along the way?
Day 12: Des Moines, IA to Ferne Clyffe National Park, IL || If you aren’t an outdoorsy person you may not want to primitive camp at Ferne Clyffe. We did and I will just say there were lots of spiders and ticks sleeping with us…. They have other camping options so, maybe opt for that! We always bring fermented foods with us when we travel and we used Cultured Mama this time 🙂
*Bring lots of non-toxic bug spray – Badger Spray
*Bring plenty of drinking water in your water bottle – Think Smart
Day 13: Ferne Clyffe National Park to Chattanooga, TN || Nori wraps are always an amazing go to on road trips. We used Sea Snax sea weed for salmon wraps with some avocado may and cucumber. They also have sea weed sheets and chips! While making this a cross-country road trip on a budget is important, you can eat out sometimes! You have to!
*Stop in Nashville and go to Franklin Juice Co. ( with Almond butter and GF granola, they use Purely Elizabeth) Dr. Axe(s) both eat here so, I kinda was fan girling haha
The BEST National Parks & food
Day 14: Chattanooga, TN to Ocala National Park, FL || First off, Chattanooga is a city I would live in. It’s adorable, historic, southern and has good food. Plus, it’s beautiful and there’s so much to do! Made in Nature is the real MVP for this leg, their dried mangos and figgy pops.. DANG.
*Head over to The Local Juicery and Kitchen for breakfast – PB Bowl + spinach | fresh coconut water | spicy orange juice | all delicious, local and flippin’ adorable location with good vibes
Day 15: Ocala National Park, FL to Fort Myers, FL || We stayed at the Hilton in Ocala, FL and it was probably the coolest Hilton I’ve ever stayed in. They had a huge yard in the back, a horse drawn carriage as the “taxi” and a farm-to-table inspired dinner and lunch menu. Now, one of the best ways to fully enjoy your cross-country road trip on a budget is to camp most of the nights or stay with family members. Then, an occasional splurge for a hotel to rejuvenate yourself!
*Visit Ocala National Park and go for a dip in the crystal clear water (watch for gators)
Must have products for this trip
Cross-Country Road Trip On A Budget (making it enjoyable)
Incase you’re a scroll to the bottom of the page person, here’s a recap of our favorite snacks, stops and hacks for a cross-country road trip on a budget.
- Bring your own food, we got a big cooler and used a bunch of ice packs || What I prepped & packed:
- overnight oats, roasted vegetables, smoothie packs, trail mix, boiled eggs, grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, almond butter cups, juice, sprouted nuts, nut butter, green powder, protein packets, coconut water, meat sticks, canned Alaska salmon, sardines, crackers & lots of fruits/veggies
- A reusable water bottle is your BFF but only if it’s not BPA plastic 😉
- Journaling and reading is a great way to pass the time through the mid-west (sorry midwest fam)
- Car diffusers are actually the best, pack up some essential oils and get your sniffer going
- Choose where you’ll eat before you head out (soon you’ll be able to use the Wellness Everywhere site I’m launching!)
- Camp, camp & camp some more – we stayed in primitive camping sites and they were FREE y’all
- Visit friends and family because they love you and want to see you + they may cook up some good food
- Pick your gas stations (Costco is wonderful) cause you don’t want to get sad when it’s .60 cents cheaper 1/2 mile down the road
PIN IT for your next adventure!