Safe Driving Tips for National Road Trip Day 2024

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National Road Trip Day will take place on May 24, kicking off a four-day weekend that culminates with Memorial Day on May 27. Following traffic laws and maintaining adequate auto insurance coverage are crucial for celebrating this holiday in a safe and fun way.

Keep reading to learn about the background behind National Road Trip Day and to see tips for planning your own road trip.

Key Takeaways

  • National Road Trip Day was created by Pilot Flying J in 2019 and it takes place every year on the Friday prior to Memorial Day.
  • The first American road trip occurred in 1903, long before the invention of interstate highways.
  • Some of the keys to a safe road trip include following traffic laws, making sure you are focused and alert behind the wheel and avoiding dangerous roads.
  • Your car insurance policy should cover you in any state and Canada but likely won’t cover you in Mexico.

What Is National Road Trip Day?

National Road Trip Day is an unofficial holiday that takes place each year on the Friday before Memorial Day. Many people consider this four-day weekend to be the start of the summer travel season. National Road Trip Day is naturally a popular day for road trips and it makes for a good opportunity to recognize and appreciate the flexibility and cost-saving opportunities that can come with traveling by car as opposed to other transportation methods.[1]

National Road Trip Day History

The history of National Road Trip Day dates back to 2019 when the holiday was established by truck stop company Pilot Flying J. While the company created this holiday to advertise its travel centers and mobile app, the trend of large numbers of people starting road trips on this day already existed. For example, Pilot Flying J noted that, during the two-year period leading up to the first National Road Trip Day, its travel centers experienced a 15% increase in food and gasoline sales on the Friday before Memorial Day.[1]

Road trips themselves have a history dating back to more than 100 years before National Road Trip Day came into existence. Horatio Nelson Jackson took the first-ever cross-country road trip from San Francisco to New York City in 1903, more than 50 years before construction on the Interstate Highway System began.[2][3]

Jackson was an early adopter of the automobile at a time when cars were still relatively unpopular in the United States. He agreed to drive across the country as part of a $50 bet, although he was never paid even after completing his trip. Jackson was accompanied by Sewall K. Crocker, a mechanic, and Bud, a goggles-wearing bulldog he purchased in Idaho toward the beginning of the 63-day journey.[2]

How To Celebrate National Road Trip Day

Naturally, the best way to commemorate National Road Trip Day is to hop in the car, roll down the windows and take a safe and successful road trip. This requires practicing safe driving habits like paying attention to the speed limit, keeping a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles and taking breaks at rest areas or allowing someone else to drive if you start to feel drowsy.

In addition, you may want to plan your route in advance so you can avoid roads that are more likely to be dangerous. For example, you should note that deadly car accidents are more common on rural roads than on city streets.[4] Meanwhile, car crashes are more common on urban roads than on highways but urban road collisions are less likely to be deadly than highway collisions.[5]

Car Insurance Considerations for National Road Trip Day

Before you hit the road, you should also make sure you have sufficient car insurance coverage. For example, if your current policy only includes the coverage types that are required by law in your state, you may want to purchase collision insurance to cover damage to your vehicle from accidents you are responsible for, comprehensive insurance to cover theft and other types of damage from outside forces and roadside assistance to cover services like towing, winching and fuel delivery in case you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken-down car.

collision vs comprehensive insurance

Keep in mind that a standard car insurance policy will cover you anywhere in the United States and should also provide coverage in Canada in case your road trip takes you across the border.[6] However, if you plan on driving to Mexico, you will need to buy a separate policy from a company that is licensed to sell Mexican tourist auto insurance.[7]

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When is National Road Trip Day?

National Road Trip Day is observed on the Friday before Memorial Day. This year, the holiday falls on May 24, 2024.

What items should I keep in my car for a road trip?

Some of the items you should keep in your car for a road trip include a cooler for snacks and drinks, a phone charger, jumper cables and an emergency kit.

Will my car insurance policy follow me if I drive out of state?

Your car insurance policy will follow you if you drive to a different state or to Canada but won’t follow you if you drive to Mexico.[6][7]

Who made the first road trip in the U.S.?

Horatio Jackson, Sewall Crocker and Bud the bulldog took the first road trip across the United States in 1903.[2]


  1. Pilot Flying J. “Pilot Flying J Declares First-Ever National Road Trip Day.” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  2. Atlas Obscura. “The Coast-to-Coast American Road Trip Is 120 Years Old.” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  3. The United States Army. “Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Birth of the Interstate Highway System.” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  4. Governors Highway Safety Association. “Rural Roads Are Disproportionately Deadly, New GHSA Study Finds.” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  5. Wawanesa Insurance. “Driving on Roads or Highways: Which Is Most Dangerous?” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  6. Experian. “Does U.S. Car Insurance Cover You in Canada?” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  7. Experian. “Does My Car Insurance Cover Me in Mexico?” Accessed April 26, 2024.

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