Are you excited about packing your bags and heading down to the land of sweet tea, hot chicken, and country music? Yes, we are indeed talking about Tennessee!
Whether you’re a fan of Dolly Parton or Elvis Presley, the Great Smoky Mountains, or the bright lights of Nashville, this state is a treat for all the senses. You’ll find plenty to get your blood pumping, and the memories you bring back home will last a lifetime.
So, grab your cowboy boots, throw on some Johnny Cash, and let’s hit the road for a Tennessee adventure you won’t forget.
Start planning right away
The sooner you plan, the better you’ll do at it. There’s so much gray area on a road trip, and you’ll want to ensure all your bases are covered. So, lock the dates on your calendar. If you’re traveling with friends or family, ensure everyone is on the same page about the travel dates.
Next, make sure your ride is ready to go. If you’re taking your car, get it serviced before you hit the road. Oil change, tire pressure, and brakes – get them all in order. If you’re renting a car, book it beforehand to ensure you get the best rate.
And, of course, consider the weather and tourist flow. Pick a time of year when the roads will be safe and the crowds manageable. Summer is the busiest but the liveliest season, while spring and fall can be great for milder temperatures and quieter adventures.
Plan your route
Are you of the belief that the journey is half the fun? If so, you wouldn’t want to skimp on planning your route. More so because it’s a road trip to the stunning Tennessee mountains; everything has to be about the route.
So, take the time to map out all the must-see spots you want to visit and calculate how much time you need to see them all. Maybe you want to hit up Nashville for some honky-tonk, and hot chicken, or perhaps Gatlinburg is calling you to explore the Smoky Mountains. So, include these towns in your bigger picture. Ideally, a week-long trip should cover about 500-600 miles.
But don’t be so rigid about your trip. Keep a buffer for some detours and spontaneous stops. You might stumble upon some great restaurants, attractions, or scenic views you didn’t know about.
Make all your bookings in advance
What are your accommodation plans for the trip? Do you plan on camping, staying in motels, resorts, or Airbnb? Figure out your budget and make the bookings ahead of time. We recommend staying in picturesque cabins if you want to get the most out of a mountain trip experience. These are surrounded by nature and are equipped with all the amenities you’d like for a relaxing trip. You might even find one with a hot tub.
Also, make reservations for any attractions you want to visit, such as Dollywood. Since it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state, it can get crowded quickly. The same goes for restaurants and any other event you plan on attending.
Make sure you immerse in the culture
There’s much to learn about Tennessee, from its music and art to its cuisine and people. Take time for little adventures to get closer to the state’s culture. Visit a nearby distillery, watch a live music performance, meet some locals, and hear their stories. You can also have a great time by joining local festivals and farmers’ markets.
Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore.
Know the planning tools and use them well
Road trips haven’t been the same since technology changed the game. We now have access to apps, websites, and travel guides that can make our lives easier.
But you have to know how to use them. For instance, Google Maps or Waze will help you get from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, but won’t tell you about the region’s best-kept secrets. That’s where travel blogs, forums, and social media will help. You’ll find a lot of expert advice on these channels. So, make use of all the tools available to you. Of course, that also includes Spotify. And that takes us to a don’t-you-forget-it tip…
Bring music and good company
You can be the most fun-loving and spontaneous person in the world, but you can’t have a good time without the right people or music. Thankfully, road trips are usually full of both!
Picture yourself cruising down the open road with the windows down, singing along to classic hits like “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd or “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. But don’t stop there; spice up your playlist with newer tracks that’ll get you humming and tapping your feet. Whether you’re jamming out to country, rock, or pop, have your friends or family sing and dance with you.
Add side trips to your itinerary
Short detours can add a lot of value to your Tennessee road trip. For example, if you’re visiting Pigeon Forge, consider adding Sevierville to your itinerary for shopping and sightseeing. Or, if you’re in Nashville, take an hour or two to explore the Chattahoochee National Forest for a nature-filled break from city life. You could also check out Murfreesboro for some Civil War history. You’ll find plenty of side trips to take advantage of, depending on your interests and the region you’re visiting. The most important thing is to have enough time to explore.
Pack light and smart
A road trip is more about experiences than selfies in your best outfit. So, unless you’re heading to a special event, choose practical pieces that can go from day to night. And if the weather permits it, shorts and t-shirts are the way to go. Stick to versatile clothing items you can mix and match. How about a denim jacket, a couple of shorts and t-shirts, and a nice pair of jeans? When packing them, roll them instead of folding them: it will save you a lot of space.
You should also pack some emergency items like flashlights and a first-aid kit. And don’t forget your sunglasses, because the sun can be harsh during summer.
Final Notes for a fun road trip through Tennessee
Ready to hit the road? Tennessee has plenty of things to do and see, so don’t forget to enjoy each moment. Bring your sense of adventure and your love for the outdoors. Have a plan, but know that it can change. And most importantly, be sure to bring your camera! You don’t want to miss capturing the perfect mountain sunsets or the beautiful landscape of Tennessee.