33 hours – 2,337 miles

Southern Route

I had always wanted to cross a cross-country road trip off of my bucket list and and what perfect time to do so than during a pandemic. That’s right, we went during COVID-19. We figured what better time to hit the open road. The first question I got was – isn’t everything closed? Technically, yes but we still were able to see some new places we’ve never been before! My boyfriend and I packed our hand sanitizing wipes, rubber gloves and face masks and we were ready to hit the road. It turned out that a pandemic actually ended up being an advantage. Not only was our rental car only $160 for the entire week (via Enterprise), gas prices were extremely low! We rented a 2020 Mazda CX30, which was great on gas mileage. Each time we filled up the tank, it was roughly around $15-$20. We stayed in Marriotts every night, which ranged about $50 since my boyfriend has a Marriott pass that he pays for yearly. To find the perfect hotel, search in the Agoda link below. In total we spent about $481 each for EVERYTHING. Gas, hotel, food and let me really reiterate the food part. Junk food is the unspoken rule of road trips. We took our time (since we had plenty of it during COVID-19) and left Jacksonville Thursday night and arrived in San Diego Tuesday night – about 6 days to do the whole thing. There were some bummers like not being able to see White Sands, New Mexico with their glistening sand dunes and also the beautiful Grand Canyon because both were closed. We had to switch up our route last minute and here is what we did:

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We sped through Alabama & Mississippi as we had planned to stay the night in New Orleans. Not a whole lot to see on the road except for all of the luscious trees. It was our first longest stretch of 7 hours.

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When we got to the Marriott in New Orleans, it felt like we were the only people in the hotel. There were signs that said you couldn’t come in unless you were a guest and there was not any daily housekeeping.Any housekeeping services you had to call the front desk.

The pandemic came to our advantage again as we walked the normally crowded streets of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. We got some beignets from Cafe Du Monde (to-go of course) and walked in the City Park. Then ordered some gumbo & jambalaya from Mothers so that we can have a picnic in Armstrong Park. It felt like a ghost town but we didn’t mind. The spirit of Mardi Gras was still alive with decorations that said “NOLA will be back”.

Cadillac RanchHOUSTON, TX

We hit the road to Houston, Texas which took only about 5 hours. We stayed with my boyfriend’s cousin. If you’re wondering where you should stay during your road trip, get creative! You could

  • Stay with family or friends – post on your socials to see where old friends and family may be living.

  • Camp! If you have the money, then rent a RV or even pack some camping supplies. RV parks are affordable.

  • Couchsurf – Many people need someone to watch their house while they are out of town. Check out the Couchsurf link to families with beautiful homes awaiting your stay!

  • AirBnb or Hotels.com are also the usual stays.

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Cadillac Ranch


Our road trip was fueled on coffee to help us stay awake during all of the mirages – the road seemed to look like it had water on it as we drove through steamy, hot Texas. Let me tell you right away – Texas is HUGE. It took almost 9 hours to drive from the bottom of Texas to Amarillo. It honestly flew by though. We had countless podcasts, playlists with singalongs and tons of conversations. When you stop in Amarillo, you have to eat at the Big Texan. They’re famous for their 72 ounce steak challenge. Although we did not participate, the food was delicious!

It was the first time we ate at a restaurant in months. Texas had opened up from COVID-19 but all the restaurant staff had to wear masks and tables were 6 feet apart. It felt odd even being around people and even odder to touch the menus. There was now this fear of whether anything was sanitary or not. COVID-19 definitely taught us to be more sanitary.

We also stopped at Cadillac Ranch, which is a public art installation with cars planted upside down in the ground. There are spray paint bottles lying around so you can create art on them. A must see on the way!


Jemez Hot Springs


Jemez Hot Springs



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A cute, artsy town. We drove up to Jemez Hot Springs, which ended up being closed but the drive up there was so worth it! It is about an hour and a half away from Santa Fe. It would have taken us hours to drive from Amarillo, TX but because we stopped at Jemez, it added an hour and a half.

A huge reminder to stretch on your road trip when you stop at rest stops. My boyfriend suffered from a pinched sciatic nerve from sitting so much. He was in a ton of pain!


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Distance from Santa Fe to Sedona – 6 hours

My favorite stop of the whole trip. Sedona had the most breathtaking views I have ever witnessed. We went to Slide Rock State Park, which was closed but we were able to hike down to. You can actually slide down the rocks in the river and it is such a blast!

That night we ordered a pizza from Hideaway House, which I highly recommend. Their pizza had peaches and ricotta cheese on it and it was amazing. We had a bottle of wine and overlooked the beautiful mountains.

Sedona is said to be a place of spiritual healing. There are four main vortexes of energy.

  • Airport Plaza – Promotes self-confidence & meditation

  • Cathedral Rock – Feminine energy like goodness, patience and compassion.

  • Bell Rock – vortex of balance

  • Boynton Canyon – “feminine” energy entering the Earth. “masculine” energy leaving the Earth.

We set our intentions and sat in silence at each vortex. Taking in the beautiful scenery. I actually teared up at one of the vortexes because it was such a wave of emotion. We left feeling recharged and with a full heart.


Airport Plaza, Sedona

Airport Plaza, Sedona


Sedona to San Diego is about 7 hours. Although it was not our longest stretch, the last stretch took FOREVER. We were so antsy to get home at this point. It felt like the clock was moving slower than ever. We finally made it home safe and sound. The one thing I missed for sure was the cheap gas prices. When we hit California, they skyrocketed back up to $3 a gallon.


You won’t regret it as you drive through the different geographics from swamps, green pastures, mountains to desert. Even though United States is one country, each state is unique in it’s own way. From the food, culture, accents and more, it’ll feel like you’re traveling to a different world as you drive from one end to the other. I hope you can use this post as a guide for your cross-country road trip itinerary.

What are some other worthwhile stops while driving cross-country? Comment below!


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