Two summers ago my sister and I took a road trip from Chicago, Illinois to Atlanta Georgia. It’s the first road trip I’d ever taken, and it was a blast! Here are the details of my trip, what I didn’t expect, and how to prepare for an adventure like this.
Here is the route we took. It was only estimated to take a little over 11 hours, however we anticipated stops for food and sightseeing, so we decided to break the trip into two days. This was good for two reasons: we were not rushed, so we could stop anywhere we wanted. It also allowed us to further explore Nashville, Tennessee.
State by State
Indiana is divided in geography, above and below Indianapolis. The northern half of the state is mostly flat farmland, however, the southern half of the state has more rolling hills. Our route took us around Indianapolis rather than through downtown, and we chose to bypass stopping. We were excited to explore new states.
Want to know more about Indianapolis? Check out this post.
We stopped in Louisville, Kentucky. It was about four hours into our trip and we were ready to stretch our legs and see this beautiful, small city. Downtown Louisville is fun. There is art and it is easy to navigate around. One thing we felt we had to do was see the world’s largest baseball bat! It rests against the building of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory downtown.
Kentucky was my favorite state to drive through because its highways wrap around mountains. They curve and you are constantly driving up and down. It is a fun and a gorgeous drive, especially in the summer when everything was green and alive.
We ended our first day a few hours later in Nashville. We found a hotel that had a free shuttle service to downtown, so we took advantage of it and spent a few hours wandering the streets. We bought pizza by the slice and listened to country music from outside the bars. Even though we were both too young to go inside most of the places, the atmosphere of the city was electric and we loved that everywhere you went you could hear music. There are also very fun stores, including a fun candy store called Savanah’s Candy Kitchen.
The next day we only had about four hours left before we would arrive in Atlanta. The northern part of the state is similar to Tennessee and Kentucky, which made the drive easy and enjoyable. We made it downtown Atlanta in no time, and we avoided rush hour traffic. Atlanta is known for its particularly bad traffic, so never attempt to enter or leave the city during peak hours.
Expectations vs. Reality
As it was my first road trip, I was not sure what to expect. I was heading out to explore three new states that I knew virtually nothing about, and I was very pleasantly surprised. This drive was one of the best I’ve ever taken, as the rolling hills of Kentucky and Tennessee were so drastically different from the flat farmlands of Indiana that I am used to.
We also did not need to stop as often as I thought we would, so we had more time to explore Louisville and Nashville, and ultimately Atlanta. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to take it slow. We drove between 55-60 mph and could actually enjoy the drive. We were not stressed out by other drivers or worried about driving in such different terrain.
This is a beautiful road trip, and I’d recommend everyone to spend time driving through Kentucky and Tennessee at some point in your life.
This trip did not take a lot of planning. Our top priority was music. We did not want to get bored! Plus we had to create an even mixture of both our music tastes. We also used a GPS, however we also brought physical maps with us in case of an emergency.
We did little research on Louisville or Nashville, instead decided to explore the city when we got there and be surprised. As well, we were not sure how far we wanted to go so we ended up booking our hotel on the road! Once we were in Louisville we decided we had enough energy to continue on to Nashville, so we set off and book our hotel a few hours before we arrived.
Depending on your level of comfortableness with spontaneous traveling, you may consider planning how far you wish to drive each day and booking a hotel ahead of time. Just know that if you want to be more spontaneous you definitely can be!
We also prepared by buying a heaping pile of snacks to munch on while we drove, which was extremely important.
Other than that, there’s not much to it! Find a destination, fill up your gas tank and let the adventure begin.