Want to Visit All 50 States? Here's How
Plenty of people say they'd like to see all 50 states, whether that goal is within their lifetime or within a few years. While it's easy to say, actually visiting every state can be a daunting process — especially when you consider how many miles of travel that actually includes. That said, if it really is your goal to visit all 50 states, we've put together a few tips to help you get it done.
Think About Your Timeline
One of the first things you'll want to consider is what timeline you're looking at for your goal. If you only want to visit them in your lifetime and you're only in your twenties, you can move at a relaxed pace. If you want to visit them all in a year, you're going to have to move much faster. If you're older, chances are you've already been to quite a few states, so this is an advantage. There's no reason you can't revisit a few favorites along the way, but if you're looking at a shorter timeline, don't let this get in the way of making progress.
Also take into account what you consider "visiting" a state. Do you merely want to cross the border? If so, strategic layovers might work in your favor. But if you actually want to spend the night in each state and experience it fully, your trips may require more careful planning.
Group States Together
Unless you're planning to tackle every state or at least most of them in a single massive trip, you'll probably want to plan your visits by area. You'll find one of the easiest ways to rack up the state count is to group states together by region.
Of course, this is easier in some regions than others. Out west, states are much larger, so visiting a few is going to mean some serious travel time (though there are exceptions, like checking off the four states at the Four Corners). In the Northeast however, you can easily visit a few states a day if you want to. When it comes to the larger states, careful planning can help.
Plan Ideal Routes
While most people traveling throughout the U.S. take every opportunity to visit landmarks and scenic locations, you may not want to if you're looking to cover several states in a short period. If you really want to see states efficiently, you need to plan routes, which may take you away from the standard tourist routes.
For example, Randal S. Olson wanted to visit every state capitol in the contiguous 48 states, but was limited in both time and budget. Using Google Maps and some fancy algorithms, he calculated an ideal route that would get him to each capitol building in just eight and a half days.
You don't need to be quite so efficient, but keep in mind that tools like Google Maps can make your life a whole lot easier. Instead of capitols, you could make your goal cities that are close to other states to help cut down on travel time even further.
Travel Based on the Time of Year
Time of year is something that can make travel easier and more difficult depending on where you are. When you're making your way to every state, make sure this is working for you instead of against you. The easiest way is to think about how weather may affect you.
Traveling in the northern parts of the contiguous 48 states in the dead of winter, for example, will likely mean you could run into less-than-ideal or even hazardous weather. On the other hand, this is a great time to travel through the Southwest. If you're visiting Alaska, mid-May through September is prime visiting season, while November is when you'll find the cheapest flights.
Take Advantage of Layovers
Speaking of flights, visiting all 50 states is a great way to take advantage of long layovers. If a layover has you stuck in a city for more than a few hours, see if there are any nearby states you can check off your list.
For example, a layover in New York could let you easily check off New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. Depending on how long your layover is, you may even be able to make it further.
Join a Club
If you're looking for more help hitting all the states you want to visit, consider joining a club. Groups like the All Fifty States Club are dedicated to helping people make it to every state. You'll find people of all ages with different goals. Some want to take their time while others are less patient.
If you're the type who likes a challenge, these clubs will even measure record times. There are people who have visited all 50 states in seven days. Do you think you can do better? There's only one way to find out.
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