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Next Stop, Memphis! How to Plan Your Tennessee Road Trip

39% of all vacations taken in America are road trips. And there’s a good reason why!


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You can save money, have more flexibility, visit more cities, and avoid those pesky airport security lines by opting to drive. And if your final destination is pretty far, why not take plenty of stops along the way? After all, as the old saying goes, getting there is half the fun!

But planning a road trip isn’t as easy as it seems. If you want to take a Tennessee road trip this summer, you may not know exactly what you need to do to prepare.

Luckily, we’re here to help! Keep reading to learn our tips and tricks to help you plan the perfect road trip through the beautiful state of Tennessee.

Create a Budget

Although you can save a lot of money by driving rather than flying, it’s easy to rack up costs when road tripping. Not only will you have to pay for hotels, food, and attractions, but you’ll also have to cough up enough dough to cover gas, toll road fees, and, in some cases, parking.

To ensure your road trip doesn’t break the bank, start by coming up with a budget and decide how much you can spend in each category. While you won’t always be able to avoid how much you spend on gas or toll road fees, you can make up for any money you go over in these categories by cutting back on food or souvenir costs.

Find the Right Car

Your road trip probably won’t be a whole lot of fun if your entire family is crammed into your tiny 2-door car. You’ll want plenty of space for everyone to be comfortable and a nice big trunk to carry all your luggage.

But what can you do if neither you nor the person you’re road tripping with has a spacious car? Well, if your car is already worse for the wear or you plan to take plenty of road trips in the future, you may want to invest in a new car now. You can shop here to see some great options.

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Get Your Car Checked Out

Whether you’re taking a car you already own or you bought a pre-owned vehicle to take on your road trip, you’ll want to get it checked out by a mechanic and undergo some routine maintenance. This ensures that the car is in good shape and you won’t end up broken down on the side of the road halfway through your trip.

Plan Your Route

While aimlessly driving through Tennessee may sound like the perfect way to have a relaxing vacation, it isn’t always the best method. You may end up missing a lot of amazing stops and sights that make Tennessee such a great place to travel to.

Instead, plan a route that’s full of unforgettable stops. While there are tons of options to choose from, we’ve listed two of the best below.

Jack Trail

Who wouldn’t want to try a little Jack Daniels while in Tennessee?

The Jack Trail stretches for 87 scenic miles on Interstate 24-E and takes you through the cities of Nashville, Smyrna, and Murfreesboro. Along the way, you can stop at the Discovery Center and the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation. Of course, you’ll end your road trip with a stop at the famous Jack Daniel’s Distillery!

Natchez Trace Parkway

If you’re looking for a trail that lets you learn about Native Americans, you can’t go wrong with Natchez Trace Parkway (also called the Old Natchez Trace).

It lasts for a whopping 440 miles, starting in Natchez, Mississippi and ending in Nashville, Tennessee. This route was originally created by Native Americans who were following animals and was then used by explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, the US army further established it, and you can now follow it for your Tennessee road trip.

This route is all about being surrounded by nature. You’ll spot some wildlife, find amazing hiking trails, and can even search for waterfalls.

Decide Where You’ll Stop

Once you pick your route, it’s time to decide where you’ll stop. If you’re short on time, you may have to cut some of the recommended attractions out, or you may decide to alter the route and add a few of your own stops.

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If you’re more interested in the stops you’ll take rather than the scenic drive, you may want to consider planning your own route to ensure you fit in as much as possible. Nashville, Memphis, the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, and Dollywood are just some popular places you may want to consider visiting.

Retain Some Spontaneity

While planning your route and stops is a great idea to make the most of your Tennessee road trip, don’t be afraid to retain some spontaneity. You may decide you want to camp somewhere overnight or stop at an interesting place you see on the side of the road.

The flexibility to do these things is what makes road tripping so great! And oftentimes, it’s the random things you come across during your trip that really make it memorable.

Plan Your Driving Entertainment

Even with amazing scenery out the window, you’ll still want to plan for some driving entertainment. Otherwise, your road trip may end up getting boring after a while.

Figure out what cables you need to charge your phone and play audio through the car’s speakers. You can then download movies, music, or audiobooks and listen to them on the road. You could also get nostalgic and play some good old fashion road games!

Planning the Ultimate Tennessee Road Trip

Don’t just pack up your car and head to Tennessee without preparing a bit first! Instead, follow our tips and tricks to plan the perfect Tennessee road trip. From picking the right car to having driving entertainment ready, there are plenty of ways you can ensure your trip goes smoothly.

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