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  1. Default thoughts/ideas/comments on my "cross-America" plan appreciated!

    I've had a good read through other posts on here, but there's nothing on here that's specific to me so thought I'd post. Please please please send me any thoughts and advice on the below if you have any!

    I'm in the twilight of my 20s, living in England and have just been made redundant so have a bit of cash sat in my bank that I'm wondering what to do with. I've applied for a few jobs, but the market is slow, so am considering doing something I've always wanted to do - road trip across America. I might not do it at all if I get lucky with a job of course, but I'm setting myself a cut off time of January, if I have nothing by then, I'm going to do this trip the end of January!

    Right, so firstly I'm guessing this is the worst time of year to be planning something like this, but it's just the situation I'm in! I need lots of advice! For instance firstly I don't even know whether to start in the East and head West, or West and head East - I'm thinking I'd start in NY if I went East to West you see but; I've been to New York twice, once in January a couple of years ago and the River Hudson froze over! I've never been so cold! (Although I understand that was one of the coldest on record there!) So anyhow, I'm thinking maybe West to East is better?

    As for things I want to see, well, I'm even considering going to Punxatawney for Groundhog day as it's in February and seems like a cool thing to do! (anyone ever gone to it!) but aside from that I want to do what I guess to be the usual sort of things - visit some of the major cities, see as many sites as I can (Grand Canyon etc etc), I studied some American history back at school so would like to look at any American Indian/Wild West type sites in the Mid West, as well as visiting people I know in Denver and LA. Is there anywhere that you are particularly proud of that the US has that is worth seeing? I'd really like to see some cool wildlife out there if I can, especially bears if it's possible to go somewhere with guides to see them? When are the National Parks open? I'm assuming that these don't open until March/April at the earliest?

    Other ponderings are how long to go for?...I'm thinking in terms of money really here - how much would you say it costs per day to travel a bit, see a few sites, and live reasonably well...safety is more important to me than cleanliness etc! I don't really want to miss out on doing stuff either though, I'm a big music fan, so for instance if I passed through let's say Nashville, I'd want to go to a bar to hear music etc. I've only got NY to go on, which was massively expensive, are other cities easier to get a cheap motel room/hostel?

    Fourthly, how best to travel across America...I know I'm in a forum here that will say by car! But is it really the best way, considering I'd have to buy/hire a car (how easy is this/where do you do this?) and have no experience of driving outside the UK.

    Finally, same problem as I see a lot of people have on here(!), I'll be travelling alone as all my friends say they want to do it - but never commit! Is this safe/fun and how easy is it to meet other like-minded people on your travels doing the same? I've backpacked round Europe and met loads of people on campsites/in bars/wandering around with sunglasses and backpacks on etc, doing the same that made it more fun to travel around places with, but I get the impression the US is a whole different kettle of fish!

    Thanks for reading this far, I'd appreciate any feedback on any of my points! Thanks again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default

    Hi!
    I've applied for a few jobs, but the market is slow, so am considering doing something I've always wanted to do - road trip across America. I might not do it at all if I get lucky with a job of course, but I'm setting myself a cut off time of January, if I have nothing by then, I'm going to do this trip the end of January!
    It's funny, I am exactly in the same situation, except I'm Canadian. I am on the road right now. Before I left, I applied for two jobs. I've got some calls and I will be having two jobs interviews when I get back...And the employers were definitely willing to wait for me to get back in Canada. So the road served me well finally!:o) So you never know, maybe you"ll have a job when you get back in England!

    Other ponderings are how long to go for?...I'm thinking in terms of money really here - how much would you say it costs per day to travel a bit, see a few sites, and live reasonably well...safety is more important to me than cleanliness etc! I don't really want to miss out on doing stuff either though
    Personally, I think 3 weeks is a minimum. A month is even better and if you can get more than that, you'll definitely have a blast. Going cross-country takes about 6 days if you drive 10 hours/day so 2 weeks is not enough obviously. Usually, when I'm on solo road trips, it cost me approximately 100$ USD per day including gas, food and lodging. I mostly eat out of a cooler and I bring my camp stove along to cook hot meals (like spaghetti, meat, veggies, etc). I stay in cheap motels, Mom & Pop or chains. The east coast, especially New England has more expensive lodging, but you can usually get a clean room for 40-50$ almost anywhere. I guess you won't get many opportunities to camp if you come in January, it is pretty cold everywhere except maybe for Florida and some parts of the south west.

    You should buy a National Parks annual pass, it cost 50$ and you have access to every major NP in the US. The entrance fee to popular parks like the Grand Canyon is around 20$ so it's worth the expense.

    Is this safe/fun and how easy is it to meet other like-minded people on your travels doing the same? I've backpacked round Europe and met loads of people on campsites/in bars/wandering around with sunglasses and backpacks on etc, doing the same that made it more fun to travel around places with, but I get the impression the US is a whole different kettle of fish!
    The US is a huge country, so I guess you won't find as many people travelling around with only their backpacks on than in Europe. You really need a car here to get from one point to another unless you stick to big cities. Solo road tripping is the best way to meet new people in my opinion. I used to have very few friends in the US and I met so many good people in the last two years, now when I travel I visit some of the folks I actually met on the road. Visiting their homes and families is such a cool way to experience the "American way of life". Like many people I used to have a bad opinion of Americans but now that I'm getting to know them a little better, it's a whole different thing. You have to be open minded but yet to have to be careful as well. I'm a girl and I've been travelling all over the US so I can tell you it is a very safe country. If you use common sense, you should be ok almost everywhere. I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful trip! Keep us posted!

    Gen

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default all trips are good trips

    I'm a believer that all trips are good trips. Certainly the car is the best way to travel around the US, but I know that can be expensive. Another choice could be using Amtrak. Certainly, the US train system leaves a lot to be desired, particularly compared to Europe's, but if you're looking to save money, I do know they offer some unlimited ride passes aimed at foreign tourists.

    January/February can be a great time to travel, if you can get beyond the cold. National Parks are actually open year round and often in winter are far less crowded with an entirely different kind of beauty.

    In terms of travel direction, East to West seems to be a popuar choice, if for no other reason that you can kind of get a feel for how the country changed as it expanded into the west. Certainly, if you're into history there are limitless possiblities for places to go, but I will say if you didn't like New York's winter weather, I'd suggest staying away from areas like the northern plains (where January and February's weather is most comparable to that of Siberia) and check out areas to the south, like Texas and Arizona.

    I'm sure others will have more ideas and tips for you, but hopefully that will help get you started.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Arrrrrrrrrgh!

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_Midwesterner
    ...I'd suggest staying away from areas like the northern plains (where January and February's weather is most comparable to that of Siberia)
    Now, you have done it... I frequently use the winter weather in Siberia as a comparison with the relatively mild (by comparison) weather found in the northern plains states. But if I were being totally truthful, it can get a bit blustery in a January blizzard in the Dakotas. And there was the time it took me all day to travel from Cheyenne to Ft. Collins, while I cruised at the jammin' speed of 23 mph in the middle of a ground blizzard... so maybe you do have a point. Arrrrrgh!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-30-2005 at 01:32 PM. Reason: spelling error

  5. #5
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    Aye. My mother lived near Grand Forks ND (the airbase there) while married to her first husband who was in the Air Force... and some of the stories about snow rotor operators and what the find during some of the worst blizzards and snows back in the day, well, just makes your skin crawl. But, alas, since global warming/cooling has begun, everythings topsy-turvy! You never know anymore what you're going to get (although I am still waiting for a good 2 foot snowfall here in Phoenix... wishful thinking). You could have a light snow across the plains and smooth sailing, or, you could venture south and run into a multi-state snow machine with high winds and plenty of the flakes.

    That 23 mph blizzard run would have scared the dickens out of me, and I've delt with snow, ice, and wind.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default the truth behind it

    I don't remember the exact details, but it seems to me that there actually is something about the winter weather pattern in the northern great plains, particularly the red river valley around Fargo and Winnepeg that is actually very similar to that of the weather patter in Siberia.

    Of course that could just be an old wives tale.

    I guess my point is, if someone thought New York was cold, they probably wouldn't enjoy the average mid-winter day in the heart of the heartland.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default A Comparison

    Because I apparently have way too much time on my hands....

    I did a little climate comparison between Grand Forks, ND and Irkutsk, Siberia.

    Grand Forks early January Average High/Low: 15/-3F

    Ikrutsk early January Ave. High/Low: 7/-11F

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default ...you guys from Wisconsin

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_Midwesterner
    Because I apparently have way too much time on my hands....I did a little climate comparison between Grand Forks, ND and Irkutsk, Siberia.
    Grand Forks early January Average High/Low: 15/-3F
    Ikrutsk early January Ave. High/Low: 7/-11F
    OK, then, but what were the precip and wind conditions during this period?

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default US crossing in mid-winter

    First, the country is a LOT bigger than you might be expecting.

    Some local business visitors think they'll dash up to Yellowstone for the afternoon from here (50 mi north of Denver). They get back 3 days later!
    It's a full day's drive from here. But it fits on one or two pages in the road atlas. (as does the entire continent :-)

    I did a cross-country by motorcycle trip one year and it took me a good two weeks to get from Virginia to California and then another 5 days to Seattle where I laid up with my parents for a couple of weeks. I camped my way and rode several hundred miles per day but predominantly off the interstate so as to see much more.

    Like to have froze to death. It was April and May. In the Sierra Nevada of California I had to stand on the bike's footpegs to see over the snowbanks by the side of the road.

    By the way in case you didn't know, bears hibernate in the winter because it's too cold for a road trip :-)

    The wildlife kind of forts up to survive the winter. While a person CAN see a lot of it, winter is much less easily dealt with by everyone.

    If I were forced to choose your trip for you.... I'd say to start in Florida, head for Texas then go to Arizona, Nevada and California. That way you'll stay in the south where it won't be so cold.

    noFanofCB

  10. #10
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    Well, if you're looking to meet people on your travels around the U.S., perhaps you could see about arranging some meet-ups of RTA Members in areas you plan on visiting. Sort of like Globe Trekker or Pilot Guides in the UK, meet up with them, see some of the local haunts, get a taste of the local flavors, and see why they live in that part of the U.S.? What draws them to remain there? That might be an interesting way to see the areas you visit!

    -Brad

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