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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Shifting, Currently - This week, Calif. - Next Week, Georgia. :o)
    Posts
    2

    Default Driving from CA to GA This Week - on TIGHT Budget - Any Thoughts?

    Hello All,

    I just signed up on this Forum, so that I can (hopefully) tap into the "collective wisdom", here!

    And "Pre-PS" -- this post is kind of long, per the background seeming at least somewhat pertinent (apologies if it's too much so) -- I'll try to help by "bolding" my actual questions, and maybe replying to myself, with a succinct set of questions. However, some of us - me, included - find detail helpful, to be able to provide the best info ... so hopefully, this post is a good balance.

    Thanks very much, in advance, for any and all suggestions!


    : )

    I'm moving from Northern California (San Jose / San Francisco area) to a little town just south of Atlanta, GA.

    Leaving Tomorrow (February 22 - Thursday) - so any input you can give today will be much appreciated!

    : )

    I'm on a major budget - I recently lost my job, and for reasons I won't bore you with : ) ... am all but destitute, at the moment (and that's not said in a "sob story" way --- it's just what's going on --- move to Georgia is a conscious attempt to dig out of my current hole, per family in that area, decent employment picture there, etc.)

    Basically, I'll have about $600 for the trip, and have calculated an estimated budget (with a little intentional "buffer" worked in) as follows:

    Hotel - $50/night x 3 = $150

    Gas - 2425 mi. x +/- $2.25 (@+/- 24mpg) = Approx. $225-$250

    Food / Incidentals = $25/day x 4 = $100

    So, it seems I'm looking at about $500 trip cost- and will have about $100 buffer - which is just thin enough to leave me a little nervous.

    I have a few questions, related to specifics (below) -- and would also ask for any input you may have, on ways to do a trip like this as cheaply as possible.

    : )

    Example: Are there lodging options that are decent, for less than $50/night?

    I'll be driving across the Southern U.S. -- mostly I-40 / Route 66 - and just need a clean, quiet room. I would consider a shared room (i.e. hostel / dorm) if there are good options in that realm, but "party hostel" environment probably wouldn't work, per need to sleep, I will need shower or bath -- but don't need phone / TV, etc. -- would consider "guesting" in someone's home - i.e. couchsurfing.com - if the people came highly recommended as safe, courteous, etc.

    Important Note:
    I do not have a credit card, so any place that requires them is not an option, nor is making reservations online.

    (and "per that" - does anyone know if Flagstaff, AZ is a ski town - and if finding a motel room may be tough, there? And if so, are there other good options in Northern, AZ?)

    Candidly, my "fiscally imploded" :o) condition is recent, so my primary "benchmarks" are as a working business traveler (meaning: employer paid for everything) -- so I don't have a lot of perspective on ("quote-unquote") lower-end lodging options.

    (And please note: a camper I am not - especially in a fully-packed 4-door sedan - 1999 Camry - no camping equipment - and during Winter -- not an option. I slept in the car to save money, back when I was "young & naive" (early 30s ... :o) ) -- and don't care to ever repeat that - the discomfort, "no-bed-ness" and "next-day unshowered-ness" carried a disproportionate degree on non-fun-ness, in comparison to the bit of money saved.)

    I'm fairly confident on gas - ran the numbers on an online mileage / fuel calculator, which even incorporate make/model of car, and current gas prices in that region.

    On food, I'm pretty flexible - I don't eat a ton - and figure that buying a cheap, small cooler and "sandwich fixins" - along with maybe a purchased sandwich or other inexpensive (small) fast-food type meal per day --- or ---- cheap fast food (a McDonalds snack-wrap and yogurt can carry me for half a day, easy) -- could leave me well under my $25/day estimate, for food.

    Any suggestions on saving money, on either gas or food?


    KEY QUESTION:

    I have a friend, whose brother lives in Phoenix - and who may be able to offer me lodging for a night (tomorrow night - so long drive day, from right near San Jose, CA to Phoenix - but I've done it before, and know it's doable - just long!)

    While this would save me +/-$50 -- it also takes me (it appears), about 4 hours out of my way -- I would normally pass straight through Flagstaff, AZ on I-40 ... so this would involve a dip down to Phoenix (2 hours), followed by a return jog back up to Flagstaff -- to literally get back on track - and, at current gas prices .... that detour would cost me about $25 in gas -- and so, only save me (I'm guessing) - $20-$25, compared to just staying in Flagstaff, at a cheap place.

    The Actual Question: Does the detour seem worthwhile? OR (Just as important) - is there an easy way to re-route the trip -- to lessen the detour? (there doesn't appear to be -- nothing really goes East from Phoenix - and the "southern dip" of I-10, down through Tucson and points East - looks like it would add a lot of miles - when destination is Atlanta <-- northern Georgia).

    Again, thanks very much -- per budget, and trip dynamics - this is kind of a stressful time (though there's at least a bit of "fun factor", too ... or, I'm trying to see that, at least!) ...

    ... so any and all input is very much appreciated!

    : )

    Thanks,

    Kirtanman

    PS - Final Question: Mileage / Time .... not sure how accurate online maps are - for instance, if Google Maps tells me "10 hours" - how does this translate, in terms of "real world" driving time? My guess is: online map estimates are probably a little long, per the fact that most people drive faster than speed limit on highways ... but then, some time is added back in for reasonable rest stops ... so those times should be in the ballpark (I'm guessing). Any thoughts?

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

    Default Some ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirtanman View Post
    I'm moving from Northern California (San Jose / San Francisco area) to a little town just south of Atlanta, GA.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.
    I'm fairly confident on gas - ran the numbers on an online mileage / fuel calculator, which even incorporate make/model of car, and current gas prices in that region.
    This sounds like you used the AAA calculator -- which is a good one -- the problem is that is uses the EPA standards for mpg and you probably know your own car better, for that reason, we suggest you use the RTA calculator -- all of the info is available there too.
    move to Georgia is a conscious attempt to dig out of my current hole, per family in that area, decent employment picture there, etc.)
    Roadtrips are often the result of major shake-ups and transitioning to a new life. Our thoughts and hopes go with you.

    $600 is cutting it a little thin -- especially with no $$ for incidental repairs to your ride. But given the choices I expect you will make it. On occasion I have made a similar journey on far less resources -- but not one I would recommend.
    Are there lodging options that are decent, for less than $50/night?
    Motel 6, Comfort Inn and other chains of that scale can sometimes get under that rate -- but since you are traveling the old route 66, you will be able to find motels in the older sections that will work. Just make sure you check out the room before you pay the fees. If you see a sign that suggests motel fees are not refundable -- get out of there!
    I will need shower or bath -- but don't need phone / TV, etc. -- would consider "guesting" in someone's home - i.e. couchsurfing.com - if the people came highly recommended as safe, courteous, etc.
    I don't see how you will have time for couchsurfing. That is a technique that can work well if transit time is not important.
    (and "per that" - does anyone know if Flagstaff, AZ is a ski town - and if finding a motel room may be tough, there? And if so, are there other good options in Northern, AZ?)
    Flagstaff is a college town and therefore would not be a very good choice for finding low-cost lodging.
    Here are some tips about low-cost roadtripping. Here is a recent column I wrote about taking showers in truck stops for MSNBC.
    along with maybe a purchased sandwich or other inexpensive (small) fast-food type meal per day --- or ---- cheap fast food (a McDonalds snack-wrap and yogurt can carry me for half a day, easy)
    Cheap, fast food is a recipe for disaster on a calorie-robbing, high-stress road trip like the one you are about to embark on. Try these road trip snack ideas instead.
    I have a friend, whose brother lives in Phoenix - and who may be able to offer me lodging for a night (tomorrow night - so long drive day, from right near San Jose, CA to Phoenix - but I've done it before, and know it's doable - just long!)
    I wouldn't make the detour.
    Again, thanks very much -- per budget, and trip dynamics - this is kind of a stressful time (though there's at least a bit of "fun factor", too ... or, I'm trying to see that, at least!) ...
    Every roadtrip is a good one.
    if Google Maps tells me "10 hours" - how does this translate, in terms of "real world" driving time? My guess is: online map estimates are probably a little long, per the fact that most people drive faster than speed limit on highways ... but then, some time is added back in for reasonable rest stops ... so those times should be in the ballpark
    Google Maps and other programs use complex algorithms that try and take into account current road conditions, distance and several other factors -- but all of them seem to live in a universe far removed from this one.

    In our experience the highest average speed you can expect to achieve is 57 mph west of the Mississippi and 53 mph east of the Mississippi. This assumes 8-10 hours of travel, with actual on-the-road speeds at or in excess of the posted speed limits + traffic slow-downs + construction delays and rest, fuel and rest stops. I would also suggest you look at our tips for speed runs -- you will find some of these ideas helpful to you.

    Happy landings!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Shifting, Currently - This week, Calif. - Next Week, Georgia. :o)
    Posts
    2

    Default Thanks!! // WiFi Access Question

    Hey Mark,

    Thanks very much for all the great info - all of it was / is very useful, in terms of considerations, pointers, etc.

    If I have any experiences / insights, etc. -- or anything "worth reporting" - I'll be sure to post either during / after the trip <--- timing will be at the whim of the Gods of Free WiFi Access. :o)

    And actually - this is more technical than "pure" Road Trip, as a question (though fits this Forum section in the sense that it's budget-related), but:

    Do you (or anyone) have any thoughts about Free WiFi, and/or the best options for guaranteeing WiFi access, while on the road?

    My main goal, if possible - is to be able to spend at least 30-60 mins. / day, presumably while winding down at night, or first thing in the morning -- online -- primarily to send / receive email -- so intermittent access is fine -- even the "every day" component isn't critical.

    I downloaded a free trial of JiWire - which is allegedly a good tool for finding, and connecting to, free WiFi hotspots, around the country (but, not having started the trip, haven't tried it, yet).

    If, in your experience, free WiFi access can be patchy / unreliable, etc. - I can always give a little cash to a friend, to put WiFi service (i.e. Wayport) on their credit card.

    It seems like it would be worthwhile to spend $10+ (up to maybe $20, per my budget) to guarantee reliable WiFi while on the road (if most people have experienced that holding out for free access isn't a good way to go, in terms of insuring access) -- the primary reason being that (as we all know, these days ...) "Google is Our Friend" :o) ... and ultra-valuable as a research tool (if I can get WiFi access in a certain town, and spontaneously [which may be the case, per driving endurance, etc.] - I can just pull over, or stop at a gas station / park, etc. - turn on my notebook and Google for places to stay (contact info, rates, reviews, etc.)

    Ditto regarding major weather, traffic - etc. etc. etc.

    So, while I'll "live" without free (or very cheap) WiFi access on this trip -- it would certainly be a very "nice to have".

    Any and all info appreciated!

    Thanks Again,

    Kirtanman

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

    Default Free Wi-Fi

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirtanman View Post
    Do you (or anyone) have any thoughts about Free WiFi, and/or the best options for guaranteeing WiFi access, while on the road?
    The funny thing is that I rely on Wi-Fi (and/or other wireless access) much less now than when I was first doing it on the road in the mid-1990s. In the early days of RTA we published new stories, articles and features every single day on the road -- which, in those days meant cellular at $3600 per month. Since that time I used Wi-Fi in just about all of its manifestations and for my money, I can not afford to not have guaranteed broadband access when I am on the road, for that reason I rarely seek free service -- rather I rely on motel chains that can guarantee relatively free high-speed access. There are some cities that have made wireless broadband a priority and provide free waypoints to all -- but I rarely seem to be in those cities.

    Del Albright uses Wi-Fi just about all of the time and his suggestions about how to hook up are online here. Here is another field report written earlier about Wi-Fi.
    I downloaded a free trial of JiWire - which is allegedly a good tool for finding, and connecting to, free WiFi hotspots, around the country (but, not having started the trip, haven't tried it, yet).
    I would be very interested in hearing how well this works for you!
    Ditto regarding major weather, traffic - etc. etc. etc.
    A free alternative would be the 511 system in virtually all states you will be traveling in.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Fast & cheap

    From San Jose, CA to Atlanta you're looking at a total of about 2440 miles which is a lot of driving for 3 days. It is doable, but you won't have any time to waste nor any time to wander around. I doubt, you'll have much time to get off the interstate and explore old route 66 although, as Mark pointed, there are a lot of cheap lodging opportunities that way.

    You should prepare snacks and some lunches for your 3 days of driving and put them in a cooler. If you're tired of eating cold stuff, stop for a decent meal in a restaurant or, if necessary, get a burger at a drive thru, but I don't recommend eating at fast food joints everyday.:oP

    I'm sure you can find accomodations for under 50$/night pretty much everywhere unless it's peak season. But if you can't book a room a few hours in advance, I suggest you start room hunting before 9 p.m., the hotels can fill up really fast and first thing you'll know, all the cheap rooms will be gone and you'll have to choose between a 250$ standard room at a 5 star resort or sleeping in the car.

    Here's an example of what you could do :

    Day one : Get an early start and drive from San Jose to Winslow, AZ. That makes 782,8 miles and you could stay at the Motel 6 there (35,99$). It's a long drive but you are usually more in shape at the beginning of a speed run than at the end.

    Day two : drive 753 miles to Abilene, TX and stay at the Budget Host Colonial Inn (~40$).

    Day three : drive 585 miles to Jackson, MS (SW) and sleep at one of their Super 8 (~44$).

    Day four : drive the remaining 382 miles to Atlanta (piece of cake).

    These are only suggestions of course, so you do what you want with them. If I were you, I'd grab a couple of hotel and motel chains directories along the way and some coupons booklets at rest areas, truck stops, restaurants and at motels.

    Good luck and have a safe trip!
    Gen

  6. Default Starbucks....

    It's a bit off beat, but if you want to use wireless internet access for 30-60 minutes a day, one option is to go with Starbucks and T-mobile. If you're on the interstates, or in a medium-sized city or above, you can find a Starbucks. They have a deal with T-mobile to provide unlimited wireless accounts for around $40 a month or less if you buy a long -term contract.

    I'm not endorsing T-mobile in any way, but I've noticed there are Starbucks just about every where I seem to be stopping for the night and went and looked at who does their wireless access.... The local ones around here are full of people with laptops surfing the internet. There's like 9,000 starbucks around the US. And if you want to unwind, having a coffee and danish and suring the net might work...

    I've noted quite a few hotel chains also offer wireless or wired high speed, although my experience is that you usually pay to get access per day (like $6-15/ day). A lot of universities and public libraries offer wireless or high speed access as well -- usually at quite low prices.

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