I think this site is awesome! It's been a huge help in putting together ideas for my trip. Here's my situation: I graduate from college in a few weeks, and after I attend my roommate's wedding at the end of May, I want to take off on a road-trip across America before my full-time accounting job starts in October. I'm estimating going in the month of June, but could stay out longer. I want to visit my extended family members, who are scattered all over the U.S. I've been writing and e-mailing them for years, but never met most of them. I'd also like to see some interesting sights. I come from a long line of cheapskates, so I want to spend conservatively, but I realize this will cost money. I'm trying to find a friend to go with, but so far they're all either getting married or unable to take time off work. I'm planning on starting and ending in Southern California.
-I have a '93 VW Jetta (manual transmission) in decent condition. I'm thinking it's not the best car for the trip b/c of how small it is and the trouble I'd have finding a repair place that services German cars if I get in trouble. I'm thinking a Toyota, but I'd love to get suggestions. My preference is to stay with a 4-door car, and I care very little about appearance.
-Also, I don't know the terrain of our country very well. Will a manual transmission be troublesome? Should I get an automatic?
-What's the best way to organize the progress of my trip? Should I have a binder, a fold-up map, or something else? I will have a laptop with me on the trip, but even with that how do I plot out where I'm going to go next, what road(s) to take, etc.?
-As far as sleeping at night, what's the best way to go? I've been reading on a page or two here that sleeping in your car at a public rest stop is illegal in some places. How do I go about finding out laws like that? And would that mean I have to for a motel each night that I don't make it to a family member's house?
-Also, I haven't seen this addressed, but is there a way to find odd jobs along the way? I'm thinking of full- or half-day temp jobs like clerical work, washing dishes at a restaurant, or unloading stuff in a grocery store. I'm a hard worker, and I'd be up for something that could defray costs and provide a fun memory of a place I visit.