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  1. Default NY to WA through the Grand Canyon - September 07

    Hi all,

    I just found this forum this morning and have been glued to my computer reading the posts ever since.

    I am moving myself and my business this September from Rochester NY to Seattle WA. I am taking a roundabout route via car through the southern part of the US.
    I am planning to start September 15 and take about 20 days. As of right now, I'm doing this solo. I'm scared :) I'm planning to buy a Pontiac Vibe because my Honda Civic won't have enough space to pack all my stuff and have enough space to sleep. I want to be able to put an air mattress into the car for naps and maybe some overnight sleep. The other half of the car will be packed with equipment and clothes and stuff.

    The thing that will make my trip fun is the fact that I'm planning to do a photography project on the way. I haven't worked out the details yet (come on, I still have 5 months to procrastinate), but here's the plan: I will be stopping in cities on my way and will be taking pictures of couples in their wedding attire in the trash-the-dress style. I figure if I post on Craigslist I should get a good response from people who'd like some pictures in exchange for a meal :)

    So far I've worked out a budget of:
    $400 for gas
    $400 for food ($20/day)
    $50 for tolls
    $450 for hotels (I have a few friends on the way who'll lend me a bed for a night, and some nights I'll be sleeping in my car in truck stops)

    I'll be updating this post as more details come to life. I'd like your input on the plan so far, and maybe some encouragement because I'm so scared to be travelling 4000 miles by myself. I'm not American and I haven't been to many (any?) of the places I'm about to drive through, so it's scary and exciting at the same time.

    Route:
    Rochester NY > Chicago IL, or Indianapolis IN > St. Louis MO > Oklahoma City OK > Tulsa OK > Amarillo TX > Albuquerque NM > Flagstaff AZ > Grand Canyon > Las Vegas NV > Los Angeles CA > San Francisco CA > Salem OR > Portland OR > Seattle WA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Money Management

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The one thing about your trip that really stands out is that you are trying to do this trip on a shoestring budget, yet you are planning on making a major purchase because of this trip.

    Instead of spending money to buy a new car that might be a little more comfortable to sleep in, why not take the money you would spend there and use it to get a good night sleep in a motel room?

    As I mentioned, your budget is a little on the thin side. For example, $400 for gas means you'd have to average 30 mpg and have gas prices stay at $3 to stay at that number. I'd say you'll most likely get a little less gas mileage, and there is a 50/50 chance that gas prices could be higher than that.

    You also aren't factoring in any money for any extra expenses. If you keep yourself very strict to this budget, you can probably make it happen, but you really are at the edge of what is realistic. I always like to budget a little high, and then be happy if I don't use all the money, your current budget wouldn't have much if any room for error.

    Otherwise, you should be set up pretty good. Solo roadtrips can sometimes be the most fun and rewarding, and you are giving yourself plenty of time to make this trip, so on that front you are looking pretty good!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Music to our ears!

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoKisses View Post
    I just found this forum this morning and have been glued to my computer reading the posts ever since.
    Thanks for taking the time to read them and for the thanks! There is an incredible richness of ideas and suggestions on this Forum -- but it does take a commitment of time to find all of the nuggets!

    There is a lot to Las Vegas (beyond the strip and the wedding business) -- here is a local's perspective.

    Mark

  4. Default extra $

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    The one thing about your trip that really stands out is that you are trying to do this trip on a shoestring budget, yet you are planning on making a major purchase because of this trip.
    The good thing about switching cars is that it wouldn't actually cost me anything... the ex is paying as per divorce settlement! :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    As I mentioned, your budget is a little on the thin side. [...] You also aren't factoring in any money for any extra expenses.
    That's true. However I am doing research and making plans with people that I can stay with/eat with in exchange for the photography project, which should offset the food/hotel costs by quite a bit. I am also planning to save $3000 for the trip but I'd like to only spend that $1500 I've budgeted so far.

    Is there an entrance fee to the Grand Canyon? :)

    I wonder if you could give me a few examples on things I might have to pay extra for. I know gas, food, lodging, tolls, maybe some entrance fees... what else?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default "Extra $$"

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoKisses View Post
    Is there an entrance fee to the Grand Canyon?
    There are entrance fees at all national parks, here is the information page for the Grand Canyon, which is why we recommend getting an National Parks pass.
    I wonder if you could give me a few examples on things I might have to pay extra for. I know gas, food, lodging, tolls, maybe some entrance fees... what else?
    Medical expenses, car repairs, expenses for unexpected excursions, etc.

    Mark

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoKisses View Post
    [ ... ] I wonder if you could give me a few examples on things I might have to pay extra for. I know gas, food, lodging, tolls, maybe some entrance fees... what else?
    I've found the National Parks Pass to be a good bargain -- the Grand Canyon plus 2 other parks in the next year, pays for the pass.

    Other expenses that you need to plan for, or at least have some reserve for, might include:

    - Hotel Room Tax (Most cities and towns charge from 10-20% "room tax" on a hotel room. Typically its around 10%, so if you see a room for $49, it will probably cost you $54 to settle the bill....). It does add up.

    - "Necessary but forgotten" These include things like a little box of laundry detergent and the guarters for the landromat, or that lost/ forgotten toothbrush, or the sunglasses you couldn't remember where you left them at the last place you stayed. Not a lot, but always something if you're on a tight budget.

    - Repairs & replacements. For me these are things like more ice for the ice chest, fuel for the camping stove, a new t-shirt becuase the last one I had got ripped, etc. I'd include in this sometimes a car repair if needed -- I've helped friends lube up a wheel bearing on a trip, replace a fan belt, and replace a leaking radiator hose. I've heard of folks needing to get new tires on a long trip due to a really bad alignment problem. And of course, if you have some unplanned medical expense. The minor stuff I just put an allocation away, but for the big stuff I bring a credit card.

    - Trinkets and souveniers. I don't buy much at any place as a rule of thumb, but I'll confess I've bought things like a snow globe of the Grand Canyon, and a piece of petrifed wood at one of the rock shops outside the National Park, and gotten a pair of Mickey Mouse Ears. Figure you'll spend something on this..

    - Thank yous and gifts. Even if you're crashing with a friend, you should do something as a thank you. If you're a photographer, giving them a portrait of themselves or where they live would be a personal gift that would be small expense for you, but something special for them. In my case, I've always tried to take the friend (and his family) out to dinner somewhere to pay them back for use of the living room floor. Still works out cheaper than a hotel room (particularly if they let me run a load of laundry too), but its something.

    And you may have unexpected but fun additional excursions. As an example, years ago I was camping by myself in Napa-Bothe State Park in Napa Valley. The next campsite was taken by 2 Swedish exchange students touring California between terms at one of the UC's. We struck up a conversation (they invited me over for a glass of wine), and being a gentleman, and unattached at the time, I spent an extra day in Napa and took the 2 nice young ladies with me to go wine tasting through the valley. We had a nice picnic lunch (which they bought), took a couple of tours of the wineries and tasted some very good wines at several wineries, before I took them out to dinner at one of the restaurants in St Helena. A very nice and memorable day, but not one I had budgeted for.

    You need to have a little bit of extra funds to be open for some unexpected possibilities.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Larrison View Post
    You need to have a little bit of extra funds to be open for some unexpected possibilities.
    Thank you so much for expanding on the subject of spending. I'm definately going to increase my budget and bring a credit card as well.

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