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  1. Default a couple of kids planning our first roadtrip...advice?

    Hey,

    A few friends and I are planning on taking our first roadtrip ever this summer. We are starting in Utah (salt lake area) and want to tour California, prefferably hitting Vegas and/or lake tahoe somewhere en route.

    We havent really outlined any specific route we want to take or cities we want to visit yet...unfortunately we only have 7-10 days, or at the very most, 2 weeks for the trip. All of us are teenagers (we range from 17-19), on a very limited budget, adventurous and fine with "roughing it"-camping out/eating cheaply to cut costs.

    We all have some camping experience and were hoping to make the trip a mix of natural activities/scenery and urban culture. Basically the goal of our trip is to experience the best of california, see the sights and get some great memories in the time and the limited budget we have.

    Based on this, how many different cities/places could we reasonably expect to travel to in this time frame, and which ones would you reccomend for a bunch of kids who have never been to california before? We want a more authentic experience than the disneyland resort vacation (and couldnt afford that anyway.) What, in your opinion, is the minimun amount each of us (4 people total) would need to spend if we camped most of the nights, ate as cheaply as possible from the cooler/grill, and did things that were mostly cheap or free for activities? The car we are taking is an 02 mitsubishi lancer, but i have no idea how that does on gas.

    any opinions/advice/reccomendations you have are greatly appreciated...none of us have ever done a major roadtrip before, but we're very excited! thank you in advance,

    Lucy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default These links should get you started

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums! It sounds like you have some good times planned.

    Post #7 in this thread should give you the basics you need to start building your budget.

    To find out what kind of mileage the Mitsubishi gets, use one of these 2 methods:
    (1) If you know how many gallons your tank holds, top off your tank and then set the odometer to 0. When you fill again, divide the number of gallons you put in by the number of miles driven.
    (2) If you don't know how many gallons your tank holds, you will need to fill your tank, write down the gallons you filled and the miles on the odometer. Then you will have to do this for one more tank, and then divide the number of gallons you put in by the number of miles driven.

    Quite frankly, I do this on every tank just for a record. If you ever see your fuel consumption increase dramatically and over several tanks, it's a good indicator of car problems that you might not notice just by how your car drives.

    Anyway...SLC to LA is roughly 700 miles. Breaking this into 2 days would make a nice trip. You might stay in St. George or Las Vegas.

    You might run into some problems for the 17 year olds at hotels. I don't have time right now to do a search to direct you to specific threads. But you could try the search tool in the green bar above to find posts about this. In fact, I really suggest you spend some time poking around the forums to read about other trips and ideas. I especially recommend that you visit the Roadtrip Planning page for ideas and suggestions. Your parents might appreciate the Teenage Road Trip? article. You should read it first and come up with plans on how you will use the advice and then discuss it with your parents. Then everybody should be on-board. And you and your friends should really take the Roadtrip Compatibility Quiz to make sure you're all in agreement about what you want to do and how you will handle things.

    If you take 10 days and use 4 days to travel there and back again, this leaves you with, at most, 6 days to explore California. You could easily spend all that time just in LA. Or you could meander around to different cities. It's really hard to say how many cities you could pack in because it all depends on what you do once you arrive.

    I'm unclear on how easy it will be to find decent camping near the bigger cities like LA. But there are California-locals here who should be popping in soon to help with those types of questions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Head for the water

    Howdy, Sounds like fun. Were I you, here is how I'd approach this trip.

    You live in SLC so you've seen mountains - Yosemite NP would be the one real exception, but I suggest you head for the water. (Be sure to check for fog predictions along the coast. It might be foggy in SF, but probably not in LA)

    Am I correct that you've never been to the coast? If so, here is one itinerary that will take up all of your 10 days, and maybe then some.

    Camp at Lake Tahoe on the way to San Francisco.

    In the SF Bay Area you can camp at several parks around and away from the city, but the most interesting place to camp is on Angel Island, in the middle of the Bay with great views of the San Francisco. It is primative in that there are few facilities, and you have to have reservations well in advance, but what a great thing to do! Check it out.

    There are at least two days worth of things to see in The City such as riding the cable cars, get tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon, explore the Marin Headlands and lighthouse (across the Golden Gate Bridge), Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, whatever museums catch your fancy, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Japan town, Fisherman's Wharf, etc.

    Then you could drive down the coast to Santa Cruz. Hang out at the Boardwalk (amusement park next to the beach). There are several campgrounds on the beach south of there.

    Next would be the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, then the coast redwoods in Big Sur, camp in Julia Pheiffer State Park.

    On down the coast to LA for some warm water beach stuff and whatever else you like about the local culture such as attending a TV show or tour a movie studio. If you like art the Getty Center is spectacular, both the buildings and the collection. (I don't know about campgrounds there, but they should be easy enough to find.)

    Then head back home via Las Vegas. Of course, you can't gamble but there is lots to see and shop along the strip and in the big hotels. That is 10 days, easy, and you'll have seen much of what California is famous for.

    As for costs, figure camping at about $25 per day, gas at about $3.50 per gallon (2,000 miles/20mpg=100 gallonsx3.5=$350). Cost of food is very personal, and you can figure that out. There are several things here that have entry fees so you'll have to pick and choose what you can afford.

    I'd love to have done a trip like this at your age so do all you can, and a little extra.

    Craig

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default weather warning

    Besides fog, the weather along the coast from SF to Big Sur tends to be on the cool side. Daytime highs can be as low as mid 50s in July and August if the fog is in. And it can be windy. Surfers in this part of the state wear wet suits because the water temperature is also in the mid 50s. So, word of warning, bring jackets, sweaters and such for the north, as well as your tank tops and swim suits for the south.

    Craig

  5. Default

    wow, thank you for all the information!

    RedCorral-you're quite right that we've seen plenty of the mountains, and most of us have never been to the coast. I took a trip with my family to San Diego last summer and went to La Jolla Cove, but that about sums up my coastal experience.

    That itinerary gives us a lot of great ideas, thank you. I've got a few more general questions, though:

    1. I'd love to camp the entire time, but we're a little worried about the shower issue, as 10 days is a long time to spend in a car with four people without them. Has anyone been to any campgrounds in california that had shower facilities?

    2. we have limited space in the car/trunk with all our luggage, and i'm trying to narrow down all other items down to the absolute essentials. So far i've got: tent, lantern, matches, food cooler, jumper cables, maps, sleeping bags, and possibly a portable grill depending on how much room we've got left. Am i missing anything major that we're going to need?

    3. assuming we stay in a motel a few nights of the trip...do we really need to make reservations, or can we just "wing it" and still find something cheap that meets our needs? What the average cost of a low-end motel room in california?

    thank you again...these boards have been very helpful.

  6. #6
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest

    Default

    Wing-ing it can be time consuming, unless you have a cell phone, and perhaps google and print ahead some probable places to stay. Hostels area a good thing to consider, especially on a starving student budget,, and yes they are available around the US.

    If you go to Las Vegas,,, the bargains seem to be gone. I suggest a roller coaster tour for kidz your age, but that can be pricey. Some coasters are $15 a ride.

    Lake Tahoe has camping areas, many with showers, many that can be just right for you kids.
    I'd Google that too.

    Also, check out the Casinos buffet/food deals if you do choose Nevada/No Cali.
    Ya don't have to be 21 to take advantage of them.

    The cheapest gasoline on the road are at the Flying J stations, and for a few bucks, they have showers too.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-31-2007 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Linked to RTA's article about hostels

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Stinky campers?

    Quote Originally Posted by adventure_addiction View Post
    1. I'd love to camp the entire time, but we're a little worried about the shower issue, as 10 days is a long time to spend in a car with four people without them. Has anyone been to any campgrounds in california that had shower facilities?
    All commercial campgrounds have showers. Some take a quarter or two and some are included in your campground fee. Some national/state/county parks have showers but not many. If they do, they usually take extra quarters.

    2. we have limited space in the car/trunk with all our luggage, and i'm trying to narrow down all other items down to the absolute essentials. So far i've got: tent, lantern, matches, food cooler, jumper cables, maps, sleeping bags, and possibly a portable grill depending on how much room we've got left. Am i missing anything major that we're going to need?
    Try this link to discussions about what to pack, etc. Lots of good ideas.

    3. assuming we stay in a motel a few nights of the trip...do we really need to make reservations, or can we just "wing it" and still find something cheap that meets our needs? What the average cost of a low-end motel room in california?
    I agree that taking a hotel list and a cellphone is a great way to handle this. That way you're not locked into a schedule by having to make prior reservations yet you can call ahead so you're not wasting time driving around looking for a place. You might stop at some chain hotels in your area and pick up their free lodging guides. Motel 6, Super 8, Days Inn are just three that are usually at the lower-end price-wise but usually clean and safe to stay in.

    You might get a list of hostels to take with you but since they are several of you, it might actually be cheaper to split the cost of a hotel room than to stay in a hostel. Still worth checking out though.

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