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  1. Default college students wanting to see the west

    my friend and i want to plan a trip to see the west, southwest, and northwest but we don't know how to plan all of that. we're in louisville, kentucky and want to drive or possibly take a train. we need advice on where to begin.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Let's Start at the Very Beginning

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    A very good place to start is with a few rules of thumb to decide what's possible. A lot of these have been thrown around on these forums over the years, so let me try to gather them up from memory and quote them in round figures.

    One can drive around 500 miles a day (some do more, some less but we're after round figures)
    It costs about $100/day on the road for food, lodging and incidentals
    Gas is highly variable, but for starters let's assume 15¢/mi or $150/1000 mi
    The US is approximately 2500 miles wide in the south and 3000 miles wide in the north and 1500 miles from north to south

    So that's enough to get a handle on the answer to the first question you have to answer, namely can you afford the trip both in terms of time and money. You basically want to cross the US east to west, south to north and back west to east again. Give yourself 500 miles on each of the east/west legs for being in Louisville rather than on the coast and you're looking at 2000 + 1500 + 2500 = 6000 miles for your trip (minimum). At 500 miles a day, you'll need 12 days and $1200 plus another $900 for gas. So, again in round figures, you'll need a 2 weeks and $2000-2500 before you can consider a trip of the magnitude you've outlined to be within the realm of possibilities.

    If you're still in the game, then the next step is to get yourself a map of the US, or better yet an atlas and just start marking the places you'd like to include. Once you've got the places noted that you absolutely must see, take a second look. Now how long is your trip? You can use on-line mapping routines to help you compute the mileage. Once you've got it go back and recalculate how much time and money you'll need. That's the basic process I go through at the start of trip planning, but there are lots of other hints and strategies outlined here, and everyone goes about this slightly differently. You and your friend should also take our RoadTrip Compatibility Quiz just to make sure you're on the same page as to what you want and expect out of the trip. Also check into the Zen of the RoadTrip.

    Now that may seem like a lot of work in preparation for what should be a carefree adventure, but it's not all that much work and the effort you put in beforehand will pay for itself many times over on the trip itself. Above all, we want your first RoadTrip to be something to remember fondly and that will spur you on to later, greater adventures.


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