A cheap room and a full tank of gas...
There is nothing more therapeutic than a road trip. It is both an escape and an adventure.
My preference is to rent a comfortable car, rent a premium lens and head in a direction that is new to me. Avoid the freeways as much as practical and chain restaurants are strictly off limits.
Check the weather and check the weather forecast. Go where the weather is different.
Also, go where the tourists aren't. A road trip is meant to be about authenticity.
When the photo presents itself, be prepared to stop the car and jump out.
Road trip photography is an experiential process.
Always take the time to learn about the locals and other road trip travelers.
This was a couple who traveled from Nova Scotia to Big Bend, Texas on a Russian motorcycle with a direct drive sidecar. He was very proud of his motorcycle and she was very road weary.
There is a bond among travelers when paths cross on the open road. It is fleeting, but it is very real.
Keep in mind where you are relative to the time zone. There is a significant difference between being on the immediate east side of a time zone versus the immediate west of a time zone change.
Also, the length of daylight varies along the north-south axis. If you take your photography seriously you are aware of the local sunset/sunrise schedules.
Big country means big skies. Shoot wide and low.
The South Dakota Badlands might as well be on the moon. The beauty of visiting in January is that you will have the entire park to yourself.
Again, go where they ain't.
Kitsch is classic. Look for the locally weird.
Roswell, New Mexico has embraced it's reputation as the center of extra-terrestrials and government cover-up conspiracies. But for some reason it has been decided that aliens are green, naked and endorse KFC fast food restaurants.
The passenger has three responsibilities:
1) Keep the driver hydrated and well fed.
2) Find a decent radio station.
3) Hang out the window and take interesting photos.