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  1. Default advice needed for long roadtrip

    i am at the very beginning of planning an epic roadtrip for the summer after i graduate (2008). i live in nashville and will be leaving from here. i would like to take my dog and have already started researching hotels that will accomodate.

    i would love for this to the the definitive, soul searching, dream roadtrip i have always wished for. i want to meander, visit friends and family and really see things. i've always thought that from this trip i'd decide where to relocate to. so i plan on plently of time to investigate and visit. i'm thinking two months...? and the budget i have in mind is about $2,000. high, low?

    must sees include: colorado (denver?), coastal highway, yellowstone, sedona...what else? (family & friends are in seattle, san jose, d.c. and possibly NYC by that time.)

    what would be the best time of year to embark on such a journey? (i graduate in december, so the world is my oyster!) i was thinking i'd go north east first than down through midwest, to washington state, down the coast, maybe through a bit of nevada, then arizona, across new mexico, texas and the home stratch back to tennessee. possible?

    any advice would be much appreciated!

  2. #2



    I took a trip similar to the one you are describing. What an experience it was. At the time I had my Jeep Wrangler and I was well-connected with other Jeep enthusiasts all over the country through internet sites similar to this one. I spent two months on the road and only two nights out of those two months did I spent alone. The rest of the time I stayed with family, friends, friends of friends, friends of family, and complete strangers that I met through the Jeep thing.

    I covered approximately 10,000 miles, but I don't recall what the total cost ended up being. If you have a reliable vehicle (unlike I did!) and you don't need repairs along the way, I think that your $2000 budget is doable IF you don't stay in hotels every night. With the price of gas approximately twice what I was paying back in 2000, you may need to up your budget a bit.

    Camping is also a great option for saving money. Several times when my hosts didn't have a room available for me to sleep in, I pitched my tent in their yard for a night or two. I probably would have camped anyway, but not having to pay for it and having a hot meal and a shower were nice treats.

    I think that you will be able to see a lot of great places in all parts of the country with a two-month roadtrip. I recommend that when you travel out of Denver, you take I-70W to Route 40W through Steamboat Springs and over the continental divide. You can visit Dinosaur National Monument and even camp there over night. I think that Route 40 is my absolute most favorite road. From Dinosaur, you can head north to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

    Some must-sees on my list for the west coast are Mount St. Helens, Crater Lake, Redwood National Forest, San Francisco, the PCH, Pismo Dunes, Hearst Castle at San Simeon, 17-mile drive, Hollywood (Universal Studios, etc.), San Diego Zoo, and hike in the San Jacinto Mountains before you go to Las Vegas. If you've never been to Las Vegas, I suggest you schedule your drive so that the last 100 miles or so are at night.

    I swear that I'll re-trace my steps someday and share my great experience with my fiancee. I had a tremendous time by myself making memories that I'll remember forever. And so will you.

  3. Default epic timing?

    for this epic road trip, if i plan on two months, when would be the best time to leave (nashville)? and thank you for your additions to the must see places!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default What's the best time for you?

    Hi June,

    for this epic road trip, if i plan on two months, when would be the best time to leave (nashville)?
    Everyone seems really enthusiastic about October so maybe September and October woud be great? That way you could drive through the colourful trees in the north east and experiment mild weather almost everywhere. Personally, my favourite travelling month is June because it is pretty hot everywhere, the flowers are blooming and tourist season has not started yet in many places.

    I guess the answer depends on a lot of factors, both personal and practical.

    Happy planning!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default $2000 for 60 days....I couldn't

    I'm pretty frugal and usually eat out of a cooler and camp as much as possible to save money on roadtrips. And my car gets fairly good gas mileage. Yet, I don't think I could do 60 days on $2000.

    Gee, even if you ate out of your cooler every meal and kept your budget to $10 per day for food, that's $600. Eating out of a cooler is great but, once in awhile, I'm sure that a good meal at a restaurant will appeal to you. So $600 for food is really quite a low-ball estimate. I usually do a nice restaurant meal ever 3 days or so, sometimes more. So $600 is really a low estimate, in my opinion.

    I plugged in a route that includes all the places you mentioned wanting to go and it would be roughly 7500 miles. And that's with no meandering or exploring...just straight shots from place to place. If your vehicle averages 25mpg and gas costs $2.50, gas alone would cost you at least $750. And, remember this is a LOW estimate with no wiggle-room for exploration. Just the shortest/quickest routes from point A to B to C, etc. And that hardly sounds like what you want to do. I wouldn't be surprised if you would need more like $1000 for gas.

    Let's say you camp 20 nights and stay in free places like sleeping in your car at truck stops and at friend's homes for the other 40 nights of your trip. Campgrounds are rarely cheaper than $15 with tax so let's say you always find the cheapest campgrounds. 20 nights x $15 = $300. (Let me add, there will be times you will pay more for camping but, unless you are camping for free on NFS and some BLM lands, you will rarely pay less than this so I think this is a low estimate for campground fees.)

    600 + 750 + 300 = $1650. And, remember, in my opinion, these are low estimates. I wouldn't be surprised if all these costs actually go over your $2000 budget in and by themselves.

    These low estimates only leave you $350 for entry fees, and other incidentals. You will likely need to have an oil change along the way and you will probably have to do laundry. Unless you can always do it for free at friend's homes, that will cost you some money. Let's guesstimate $30 for an oil change and $20 for laundry fee. Now you're down to $300 left.

    There are a lot of neat things to do that you would miss out on for lack of funds. Just the little things can really add up. For example, I can't imagine going down the Oregon Coast and not stopping at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for their fantastic ice cream, or going past the Sea Lion Caves without going down the elevator to check out the seals. It's $8 to see the sea lions and a good ice cream cone would be about $5. Gee, that's $13 right there. If you just spent $13 extra in each state you visit, and you'll probably be going through about 20 states at the minimum, that's $260. And that's not a lot extra to spend, either.

    Now you have $40 left, at most, for anything unexpected that might come up like a repair/maintenance issue with your car, doing something thrilling like a rafting trip, buying new sunscreen when you run out, replacing a lost pair of sunglasses, and any other contingency.

    So, I just don't see how you could do it for $2,000. I know there are some creative folks here who may be able to squeeze a penny better than I can. I hope they will weigh in on your budget. If they can show a way that it can be done, than I'll learn something as well, and I'd appreciate that.

    I don't want to be negative but I think you need to be realistic.

    And you mention hotels in your post....if you stay in any hotels at all, your budget will really get blown out of the $2000 ballpark quickly. And there are times when you probably will need to stay in motels. Severe weather conditions, being in a city with few camping options (and where campgrounds cost a lot more than my $15 estimate), etc.

    ETA: I just realized you have your dog with you. Gosh, unless it's a little dog that doesn't eat much, food for the dog will really add up, too. I have a big dog that costs about $100/month to feed. Don't forget to estimate the cost of dog food in your budget calculations. And, if it's a big dog, unless you have a really big vehicle, you're not going to be able to buy the big bags of dog food that are more economical.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Timing and Budgets

    While anytime is a great time to hit the road, I'd join in those who'd say September and October would be my personal "ideal" time to do a trip like this. The major tourist season has died down, but most seasonal things are still open. The weather in most places is cool, but still comfortable, and the snow hasn't yet fallen in most places, so you don't usually have to worry about mountain passes being closed.

    However, if I was graduating in December, I wouldn't want to wait 9 months before leaving. I'd probably say a mid-april to mid-june trip would be my choice, for much of the same reasons: the tourist season hasn't started yet, the weather is warming up, but not too hot yet, etc...

    As far as your budget, I'd say $2000 is probably a bit on the low side. As Judy's math laid out pretty well, you could probably come close but you'd have to cut a lot of corners including almost no hotel stays. I'd bet worrying about money would probably take away from alot of the soul-searching dream trip you are looking for. Unfortuantly, since this is a solo trip, a lot of things where you companions would share the expense, like gas and lodging, will be soley on your shoulders, driving up your costs.

    I'd budget at least $3000, and if you don't use all of it, you can put it in the bank and save it for your next road trip adventure.

  7. Default good advice...

    thank you so much for your suggestions.

    judy, the calculations were especially helpful. my estimate was a complete shot in the dark and i was throwing it out there for exactly the sort of input you've offered. this is why i've started so early...i fully intend on planning and saving for the next two years! where did you plug in the route for the estimated mileage? any sites to suggest?

    spring is more what i was thinking for departure...april-ish. although fall sounds lovely, i'll be chomping at the bit being out of school and only bartending, waiting to go!

    the map is on the wall, the research has begun! thank you so much for the help and advice!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default a small step for linguistics

    Quote Originally Posted by sweetjune
    i'll be chomping at the bit
    I bet you haven't spent much time around horses? Although 99% of the english-speaking world seems not to know this --- horses champ at the bit (when they champ they bite down on the bit, in a restless manner), because they want to get going. If a horse chomped at the bit (ie: bit down hard on the bit) they would probably break a tooth or worse, which would probably result in a one very irritated horse. So I would suggest that you are champing at the bit to hit the road!


  9. Default ah, t'was wrong...

    thanks mark! how i hate to mis-speak or spell, in sayings especially! i never knew the origin of champing...nor have i ever seen it in writing (hence the spelling). learn something new everyday. (please forgive any further misspellings!)

  10. #10
    inluvwithUtah22 Guest


    If you have the time southern UT has many national parks Hwy12 near Capitol Reef is stunning so is Hwy 128 north of Moab just about anywhere you go is awe-inspiring. Sedona in northern AZ is beautiful but a bit crowded
    White Sands Nat Mon in New Mexico is unique be sure and take a polarizing
    filter for your camera to get great pictures here. Best times to travel May-June more hours of sunlight and not too crowded yet. Take lots of pictures and try new foods do 1 or 2 things not planned. Have a great trip

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