How Long Does it Take to Complete a Cross-Country RV Trip?

One of the advantages of traveling in an RV is the opportunity to take a long distance road trip that lasts a few weeks, or even longer. That kind of a trip is hard to do any other way – hotels get expensive when you are gone that long, and sleeping on the ground in a tent gets old pretty quick. RV’s were practically designed with the long road trip in mind, which is why so many RV owners have used their rigs to embark on a cross-country adventure.

A Cross-Country Road Trip Would be a Memorable Adventure
A Cross-Country Road Trip Would be a Memorable Adventure

If you have considered using your RV to travel across the entire country, one question has surely popped into your mind – how long would it take? Even if you are retired and have no specific schedule to keep, you will still want to know just what you are getting into when you pack up the RV to head across the entire country. The answer, of course, depends on exactly where you are leaving from, and where you want to go.

Some Estimated Travel Times

To get a better understanding of how much time you would need to plan for a cross-country road trip, it will be helpful to review some point-to-point driving times around the country. Starting in the north, it is approximately 44 hours of driving to get from Seattle to Boston along I-90. Obviously, you can’t drive non-stop for 44 hours, so you are looking at probably 4-5 days of driving to cross the entire country (without stopping to see any sights). If you are driving across the bottom of the country, you can take I-10 from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL in about 35 hours of drive time. Instead of 4-5 days, you are looking at 3-4 days to go from coast to coast.

Don’t Forget About North and South

Those times will get you from coast to coast, but not up and down those coasts. So how long does that take? A trip from Seattle to Los Angeles along I-5 will require around 18 hours. On the other side of the country, you can make your way from Boston to Jacksonville in the same 18-or-so hours. Therefore, going north or south along either coast is basically a two day proposition.

Doing Some Basic Math

With all of those drive times in hand, we can do a little bit of basic math to outline a road trip that would make a complete circle around this great country. Using Seattle, Boston, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles as our ‘four corners’, we find that the total drive time is around 115 hours. Assuming a drive time of around 10 or so hours per day, you are going to need 11 days of just driving to make the complete trip.

Obviously, your trip isn’t going to be much fun if all you are doing is driving the freeways around the country, so you will need to next account for how much time you want to be stopped at various destinations. As a basic rule of thumb, you should try to plan at least two days of staying put for each day that you spend out on the road. In this case, that means roughly 22 days of being stopped at various destinations to go along with your 11 days of driving.

In the end, you will want to plan for at least a month to make this kind of trip – but probably more. After all, this is most likely going to be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of vacation, so you might as well take as much time as possible to see everything you can. Ideally you will be able to set aside a minimum of six weeks to allow yourself to soak up as much of America as you can on this epic road trip adventure.

14 COMMENTS

  1. we take around 320 miles a day. Sometimes less. Just depends on what we see. Took 5 days to go from Nashville,TN to Reno, NV. Early Jan. weather was not too much an issue. Only one area with black ice. We take our time. Only drive in the daytime,too.

  2. We took 7 weeks Atlanta to Montana and back… 300 mpd max averaging 250….. saw it all and NEVER rushed…. going North in the Spring….

  3. We traveled from Bunkie, La east to Hersey, Pa traveled east stopping any time we saw something interesting to see. Made our way north to Hersey. Stayed a day, toured the chocolate factory. Traveled west spending time in the Amish country, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky. Tennessee to Memphis, south on I-55 and back home. Took 3 weeks really enjoyed the awesome trip.
    We hope to make the cross country after retirement. You are so right 300 miles max or 3:00 pm.
    That’s our kind of trip.

  4. Going from Destin Florida to the west coast and all the states west of the rockies is there a good route to drive around the mountains pulling a 35 ft trailer?

  5. We are nearing the end of our first trip from Kitty Hawk NC to Las Vegas across I 10 and East across I 40 much to see and do but could have used a couple more months. We plan to cross further north next trip was the best vacation ever so far.

  6. I want to do the California coast. We are from southeast corner of Kansas and will pulling a 30 ft 5th wheel. How many days do you think we would need. Also, is it safe to drive the coast pulling this 5th wheel. Thanks!

    • I live in Northern California – I would consider taking 101 and veering off to highway 1 from time to time. Highway 1 can get really insane in spots, particularly north of SF to Oregon. Beautiful country for sure, but boarding on dangerous in a large RV. I took my 28 ft Class-C to Manchester and there were a few steep turns that scared the you-know-what out of me.

  7. Have done cross country several times. At least eight weeks, ten is better. First time we tried to see as much as possible in six weeks , was fun but when we went second time we had no plans just took off and stayed some places 2-3 days, some a little longer. Make sure you always ask locals of great places to visit, we ended up finding some great places we knew nothing about and we are getting ready for cross country Alaska for next summer, anyone with any advice?

    • Number one piece of advice: Purchase a copy of Milepost Alaska. It will give you a detailed description of everything and everywhere mile by mile. We drove our Roadtrek to Alaska from Vermont several years ago. It took us 13 days to Tok because we took our time. Be ready and willing to stop (“serendipitize”) along the way. There are many interesting things to see and do as you travel through Canada. (If you contact Alaska tourism folks, “magically” brochures and info about Canadian things to see along the Alaskan Highway will show up in your mailbox. Such as the Sign Post Forest and prehistoric “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump”. We then spent a couple of months driving the “loop” and taking other side roads here and there. So glad we took the time to mosey and really soak in the spectacular sights. Actually felt sorry for the people on those large cruise boats who were herded in a dense crowd from place to place only to catch a quick glance at each site. Advice: Alaska is chilly and rainy even in the summer. Pack layers especially a good warm sweater, a decent raincoat and walkable waterproof footwear. You can get fresh fish at the docks or sometimes the local fish processing place offers fresh frozen for a decent price. (Halibut cheeks poached in butter and white wine with mushrooms are amazing!) Don’t miss the Yukon when you are up that way. Fred Meyers is the go to place for anything and everything. Stop in a small unassuming places for steaming hot coffee and wonderful berry pie! (Mileposts will tell you where they are.) Don’t miss Denali. The eleven hour bus ride was bumpy, terrifying, awe inspiring and well worth every penny and sore bottoms. We saw quite a few RV’s on the Marine Highway. As long as your schedule is flexible, they can fit your rig in on a space available basis. By law you cannot go into your RV while under sail, but up on deck is where all the views are. Exploring the inside passage is well worth it. (Sitka, Juneau et al.) Start your trip with new tires all around and expect that you will probably have to replace your windshield at some point (gravel roads). I could go on and on…….we have been back and forth across the lower 48 too many times to count, but our Alaska trip stands out as the truly spectacular trip of a lifetime. Have a WONDERFUL time.

  8. Thanks for the article and the comments. My family is beginning the planning of a summer trip and this really helps. Thanks Alot!

  9. It took us 14 days to get from Brunswick, GA to Napa CA, but we took back roads most of the way. We completed Highway 82 from where it starts in Brunswick, GA to where it ends in Alamogordo, NM. From there, Hwy 10 and ultimately Highway 5 into the Bay Area and home. We stayed one extra night in both Texarkana and Tucson. On that way out to the East Coast we spent 21 days with extra stay overs and side trips. Our rule of thumb was start out at 9 AM and finish by 5 PM, but that included stops every two hours for the dogs and to eat, plus random stops to see sites along the way. We usually drove about 5 or 6 hours a day.

  10. We are currently on a cross country trip from NC to Vancouver BC, we left in Late July and expect to be home the first week off Oct. Route included MI, MN, SD, WI, WY, OR, ID, NE, IN, IL, KY, NC….average driving was 275 miles per day, allowed multiple week long stays in a couple locations….

  11. We just started Rving a couple years ago in a used Class C. We’ve made a few round trips from Texas to Ohio where most of our family reside, one to Virginia, and one to Montana earlier this year. We try to make regular rest stops to stretch our legs and maybe grab a bite to eat. While I try to plan where we’ll stop for the night and including the rest stops, I find my actual driving times to be between four and six hours a day. I’ve found that to be plenty for myself anyway. My wife doesn’t drive the RV.

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