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  1. Default First time road tripper has 21 days to explore.

    I've searched the internet for three days to help me plan a trip and it looks like this forum can help me a ton. I am in dire need of a vacation seeing as I never actually been on a vacation before. I thought a road trip might be exactly what I need. I was never very good with geography so I was wondering if anyone can guide me in the right direction.

    Here's my situation. I'm working the next three weeks to make some money for the trip. I'm planning on having $1200 the day we leave. It's me and one other person. I'll be driving a Saturn LS '94; small car and little power. I'm the only driver because she doesn't have a license yet.

    We'll be leaving August 10th, and possibly return August 29th, or the 31st, the lastest. We're leaving from New York City. First, she wants to check out Amish country in Pennsylvania. Then maybe go down to Virginia from there. I want to go to Nashville, Tennessee to visit my aunt. And check out some museums in Chicago. I have no idea what is along the way to my destinations.

    I want to see some beautiful scenery, so I bought a book of the best scenic routes, but I'm having a hard time piecing it all together. I like seeing how beautiful nature is and I also like to see some fancy bridges and other architecture. I am open to travel the whole country, but I want to focus on east of the Rockies. I want to try and avoid the desert.

    One of my main concerns is where to sleep. I was originally planning to just get a room at a hotel or motel whenever we got tired, but camping sounds like a fun idea. Is it legal to just like pull over and set up a campsite, or do I have to stay at a campsite? I've never been camping before, but I just need to sleep for the night and get back on the road.

    When I mean I never been on a vacation, I mean like never. I've been working since I was ten, and before I get out of college and get a real job, I want to do this trip. My friend just lost her job, so I easily convinced her to go with me.

    I would greatly appreciate any input about campsites and interesting things to see along the rough path I created. I like the idea of a journal so I'll definitely be keeping a journal and sharing it with everyone. And I'll be taking plenty of pictures.

    I'm so excited. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Excitement is good, but the Budget may be a little lean

    Quote Originally Posted by er2183
    I thought a road trip might be exactly what I need. I was never very good with geography so I was wondering if anyone can guide me in the right direction.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    Here's my situation. I'm working the next three weeks to make some money for the trip. I'm planning on having $1200 the day we leave. It's me and one other person. I'll be driving a Saturn LS '94; small car and little power. I'm the only driver because she doesn't have a license yet.
    How much on-the-road driving experience do you have? 21 days is a great period of time -- to really get away and do some exploring, but I am not sure that $1200 will take you as far as you want to go. Fuel cost is the easiest to calculate -- use our fuel cost tool and you will find that, although significant, it will be the 3rd or 4th highest expense. You can stretch your food dollars the farthest by eating out of a cooler -- here are some tips and some more tips. There are lots of posts about the advantages of camping on here -- but you are going to need some supplies.
    I want to see some beautiful scenery, so I bought a book of the best scenic routes, but I'm having a hard time piecing it all together. I like seeing how beautiful nature is and I also like to see some fancy bridges and other architecture. I am open to travel the whole country, but I want to focus on east of the Rockies. I want to try and avoid the desert.
    There is more than enough to see east of the Mississippi River, so you don't have to worry about the deserts.
    and interesting things to see along the rough path I created. I like the idea of a journal so I'll definitely be keeping a journal and sharing it with everyone. And I'll be taking plenty of pictures.
    The Great River Road is pretty cool, and a visit to Hannibal, Missouri is fun if you have ever read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" -- One of the most prolific roadtrippers I know, Gerald Thurman, has just filed a field report from there.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. Default A host of great suggestions

    my next major trip was going to be somethign similar.. heres a few spots along the way that could apply to you if your interested..

    warning, my punctuation and capitalization have gone AWOL. im sorry.


    start with seeing Atlantic City and cape may jersey, into maryland, go through baltimore, head to the eastern shore, and go through ocean city, hop over 50, cross into dc and youll see famous sites such as georgetown, all the government buildings, and an endless number of amazing structures that make you say wow.. and the smithsonian is free so that helps too.

    come into VA and you'll wanna definately hit skyline drive in the west, 105 miles of gods country, a few camping spots along the way. stop at the luray exit off skyline and check out luray caverns, world famous caverns and a nice break from the summer heat. from here you can check out charlottesville, va with lots of history and cool little places to check out.

    then you can either go sw or se, sw you have the blueridge parkway eventually which will take you pretty far into the southern mountains of Va, go into tennesee and see the great smoky mountains and nashville or even go south into asheville NC to see the mountains, and see the Biltmore estate, the biggest house in america, with plenty of caverns and tours in the area, more national parks and more camping.

    or go SE from charlottesville and you have to see the outer banks in NC, experience all of it, get on the outer banks and go north 30 miles to the very beginning of it in Corolla, NC, and follow the beach road all the way through all the beach towns, all the way down through nags head, kitty hawk, killdevil hills, buxton, salvo, waves, hatteras, take the ferry to ocacroke, then the next ferry into the coastal mainlands, continue south through coastal roads in topsail island, holden, and wilmington beaches and into SC.

    check out myrtle beach, hilton head island, and any other beaches in the middle, next stop HAS to be savannah Ga, then into jekyl island Ga and into florida. florida obviously has a billion beaches, i'd recomend going south down the atlantic coast, into miami and down into the keys and CAMP in key largo or key west. its not to expensive and its just a great place to be. come back north along the gulf coast, stopping in whichever places you choose, drive through orlando just to say you did it, go into tampa, panama city, tallahassee, into Al, check out mobile, gulf shores.. continue into mississippi and see whatever you please there.. then into La, HAVE to see New Orleans, rebuilt or not, its something you'll never forget, theres a ton of history in the area, and from here you can choose to either A head back through the mountains and maybe come up the mississippi and see the great lakes in chicago, through michigan and newyork, see niagra, adirondacks, ticonderoga, into VT and see the wonderful green state and famous hwy 100, beautifal scenery throughout the entire hwy in Vt, you have to stop in Stowe village and Burlington VT, both beautifal, different types of towns, jump into NH and see Mt. Washington, the highest peak east of the rockies. into Maine and check out the beautifal upstate maine way of life,

    Wrap around the northern part of Me and come out on the NE shore and check out eastport, the Acadia National Park loop, Bar Harbor, see some whales, see where the Rockefellers lived, continue into Bangor, see some very nice old structures and a different way of life. continue down the coast, check out the few sand beaches in Me in the southern 30 miles, theres about 9 of them. continue into Boston MA and have a beer, or 5 and get a room prior, then you have to at least see Cape Cod, if possible find a way to Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket, neither have i been to but im sure its possible to find an easy way onto the islands. continue into RI and check out newport, incredibly old mansions, tons of museum tours, see what OLD money looks like, 100 year old mansions that dwarf these malibu palaces you see now adays. including one with an entirely marble interior. tours can get pricey so ask around and find out which are the best to see.

    onto CT, not really big into this state, ive never stopped and seen any of the sites, but i know Waterbury, Newhaven, Bridgeport are all supposedly full of things to see and do. annnnd end in NYC, eat a great bagel and the best pizza in america and think of all the stuff you saw in the past 3 weeks

    a national park book would be a great investment, tells you where all the parks are, with camping and without, for the most part living out of your vehicle is possible sometimes it just takes a little creativity and smart thinking. oh and a cheap popup tent would be great for those times you actually have a spot to camp. but good luck and let me know what you decide on seeing on the way, chances are ive been in or around it if its in the east :)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-19-2006 at 09:12 PM. Reason: Added some white spaces

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

    Default Here's a few spots!

    Quote Originally Posted by NickF829
    my next major trip was going to be somethign similar.. heres a few spots along the way that could apply to you if your interested..
    An amazing post, but I am afraid this new roadtripper would need a month or two to do all of that! But a great post, nonetheless!

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    Default

    Welcome to the RoadTripAmerica forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by er2183
    I also like to see some fancy bridges and other architecture.
    A fancy bridge for you can be seen here - the New River gorge bridge in West Virginia.

    You can head out along the Delaware Water Gap - provided the waters have receded, US 209 is a nice ride through there.

    I would recommend a trip that includes the Amish country in PA, which is generally accepted to be the Lancaster area (though I believe Ohio has more), then I would head over to Gettysburg, scoot into Virginia and take Skyline Drive - then from here either head into W. Va to see that New River Gorge bridge (on US-19 near Fayetteville), or continue on through the Blue Ridge Parkway then onto Nashville.

    If you go through WV, I would head to Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky, then onto Nashville.

    There's so much to see just in this area, I could go on for weeks - but, seeing as you want to get into Chicago, I would recommend heading back North from Nashville, heading through the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky, then enjoying some two-lanes in Illinois.

    As you are going to be the only driver, don't get over-concerned with making time or pushing yourself to be somewhere at a certain time. It's important to keep your sanity out there, because some times you can get frustrated (I've been guilty of this - we all have - this is a sign to take a break).

    Some good tips here to help you keep your head.

    Quote Originally Posted by er2183
    Is it legal to just like pull over and set up a campsite, or do I have to stay at a campsite? I've never been camping before, but I just need to sleep for the night and get back on the road.
    Generally, the roadside will be private property, and unless you get the property owner's permission to camp there, you will be trespassing - so, I wouldn't recommend it, especially on the first trip. If you've never been camping before, there are some provisions you'll want to have with you - a good foldable foam (or, if your site has power - inflatable) mattress pad. A tarp for under the tent. State campgrounds can be very affordable (once paid $3 for a site in Nebraska), but sanitary facilities may not be to your liking (pit toilets). If you stay in hotels/motels, this will take a significant chunk of your budget. I have found that lodging can take up to 40% of my travel budget, with food not far behind.

    Quote Originally Posted by er2183
    and before I get out of college and get a real job, I want to do this trip.
    See, what happens is that you get a job, and you still want to continue doing this! We look forward to hearing how your trip was.

  6. Default

    Thanks for all the great advice. I'll check out the links you sent and see what I can plan. I see the Skyline in VA seems popular, so I'll work that in.
    I won't be able to visit this site too often for now because there is no power in my neighborhood they're saying until sunday, so I have to go online at work.
    I hardly have any experience driving. I just drive to school which is 30min max. I drove to six flags a few times which is about 1hr 45min max. Then weekend I drove to Poughkeepsie, NY which took about 2hr 15min. That's the only experience I have. I'm 23 and I've been driving for 5 yrs, but nothing long distance.
    I was thinking about putting all gas expenses on my credit card whenever possible and just using the cash for food and getting a room, etc. Everything I need to prepare for this trip will be going on credit card also. What do you think about that? Will $1200 be enough then? I might also buy a few souveniors. What kind of trip will it be without buying some souveniors? :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    Default Finances and driving distance

    While it's ultimately your decision on how best to allocate your financial resources, I'm going to guess here, but I would suspect your fuel cost to run in the $5-600 range at current prices.

    Another thing to consider: sometimes, when a credit card company sees a lot of charges coming in from places they don't normally come from (ie away from home), they will deactivate the card until you call them as a security measure.

    This happened to me a few years back during a solo trip to Florida, where I had decided to isolate my finances to a credit card so I could better track the expenses. Fortunately, I had enough cash on me to cover the expense of the hotel room where the card was declined. I didn't find out what had happened until I was getting gas the next day. So, be prepared for that possibility, or call them before you leave.

    I think you will find much of the driving to be easy-going, once you are away from the city. I found Nashville to be easy to get around, even in rush hour traffic during a thunderstorm.

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