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  1. Default Key West to Kodiak

    My brother and I are planning to go on a road trip next summer starting from Key West and then taking a big circle route around the country up to Alaska and then down the south side of the nation back home. I'll be 21 and he'll be 18 so driving a lot each day, safely, won't be a concern. I was wondering though how long do any of you think a trip would last or cost. We plan on camping, hopefully just at parks, but we also want to try to go to the major cities along the way. I know this is a really big trip, but that's why we wanted to start planning now. Thanks!

    Also if anyone has any ideas of good cheap places to visit that would be appreciated although I'm sure there would be thousands since we are trying to go as many places as possible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default An epic trip!

    Quote Originally Posted by warpspeedgo View Post
    My brother and I are planning to go on a road trip next summer starting from Key West and then taking a big circle route around the country up to Alaska and then down the south side of the nation back home.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum. (We usually move such epic trips to this section of the forum). The fastest such a trip could be accomplished using professional drivers is probably 22 days. Young drivers, such as yourselves -- even accounting for the energy of youth -- I could peg this trip at ~32 days for fastest. A more reasonable period of time to actually see some of the area and attractions as you drive through it would be 45 to 65 days. You should budget at least $4000. There are lots of ideas here for saving money on the road.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Bare Minimum

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    OK, I ran my own numbers, and while they are generally in the same ballpark as Mark's, they are a bit different. As I calculate it, at the very least you're looking at:

    12,000 miles
    30 days

    I get those figures with some tried and true rules of thumb that I use for doing rough estimates of minimum travel times and costs for smaller trips. For a trip of this magnitude, I would most assuredly add days and dollars liberally, as constantly pushing for a month to do many miles every day on a bare bones budget will get very old very fast. And "driving a lot each day, safely, is always a concern". In addition, as much as you'll deny it, you and your brother will get on each others nerves with that much togetherness. You will need to add several days sprinkled throughout the trip where you can each go your separate ways for a while. Also, those estimates so not include time or money for exploring any of the parks or attractions along the way, so add more days and more dollars. As I say, they are an absolute bare bones minimum.

    One suggestion, though. I assume that you're starting from Key West because it is the southernmost city in the continental U.S., the end of the road, so to speak. In that case, a fitting goal would be Homer, AK, the westernmost point on the North American continent that one can drive to - the other end of the road.


  4. Default Thanks

    Thank you for the basic estimates. I knew that it would be an undertaking so I wanted to make sure that we had enough time to save and plan. I figured Key West just since neither of us have been there and we live in the Tampa Bay area so it is close enough. Kodiak because we were just randomly thinking and then it became an alliteration of sorts. I fully understand that we can't be on the road too much since we need to make sure we are safe. I'm not too worried since I'm usually the one who won't turn the car on till seatbelts are on etc. I was wondering if you could give me a more outlined look at costs, esp. gas. Thanks again.

  5. Default

    I've lived in Alaska (twice), once in Kodiak. A lot of open space in Alaska, and to get to Kodiak you'd need to take a Ferry and reservations can sometimes be hard to come by.

    Consider driving Skagway as it's on the road system (e.g. Juneau is not accesible via road) it'll be easier and safer for a first time drive to Alaska.

    There is a publication called "The Guidepost"*** that I STRONGLY recommend if you're going to drive in Alaska, it contains maps and locations of gas stations/hotels, etc. Call in advance to see what is open on the days you plan on being there. Running out of gas in Alaska is a possibility.

    ***[Editor's Note: I think elkhnd means "The Milepost" -- here is our review of the current edition]

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-13-2007 at 01:46 PM. Reason: correction of book title?

  6. Default Thanks

    Thanks for the advice. I think that Kodiak though is a definite at this point though since my brother's friend who may come with us used to live there. I believe it came up as a destination originally also because my brother wants to go into the coast guard.

    Another question for anyone. Driving back from whereever we go to in Alaska we would prefer to stay closer to the coast on the way back. I know there is a ferry but I wonder if anyone knows of any good roads that are used frequently and safe that could get us to Vancouver instead of paying a lot for the ferry.

  7. Default

    I've been in the Coast Guard since 1989 ... great organization. You'll need to take the ferry (The Tustemina if memory serves correct) to get to Kodiak. Best to make reservations ASAP as it can be difficult to get a spot for you and vehice on short notice.

    The road system outside of the cities is pretty much what you see on the map, anything else is poorly marked, and possibly unpaved.

    I do stand corrected e.g. The Guidepost, an essential publication for driving through AK, and Western Canada .. I used it to plan my drive from Skagway years ago!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Ferry


    To say you've been to Alaska you need to spend some time on the ferries seeing the Southeast part of the state. If you don't want to pay to transport your car, you can park it in Skagway or Haines and just walk on. You should visit Sitka and Juneau for sure and Wrangell and Petersburg if you can. Ketchikan is also a fun place if you are into a more touristy experience (all the cruise ships stop there).

    The only way to "drive the coast" is on the ferry. Otherwise the highways you see on your map is it.

    We left California in mid-May, took the ferry from Prince Rupert, BC to Haines, via all of the above ports of call, which took 3 weeks (didn't get to Kodiak). Then we drove all the highways in Alaska. The route south took us through Yukon Territory with a side trip to Dawson City and Skagway, then down through the Canadian Rockies. All tolled, it took us over 5 months!

    I know you don't have that long, but I want to give you some perspective. We put 12,000 miles on our motorhome and 7,000 additional miles on the Jeep that we tow.

    Yes, we took our time and explored every nook and cranny, but I'd suggest that you spend 2-3 months doing the trip from Florida.

    If you are serious about doing a circle, I just figured the mileage from Key West to Boston to Great Falls to Fairbanks to Homer to Vancouver to San Diego to Key West and got 13,246 miles in 219 hours of driving. That is almost 22 days of driving 10 hours per day, and you don't want to push that hard.

    Don't forget the additional miles for side trips to Valdez, Seward, Whittier, and Chicken (yes, you have to go to Chicken if only to get a T-shirt).

    To calculate your gas cost, take the number of miles, say 14,000 to be all-inclusive, divide by the mpg your car gets, and multiply by some average cost per gallon. Gas is expensive in Alaska and Canada, so finding a good multiplier could be tricky. But as an example, if your car gets 20mpg and the average cost of gas is $3 then you'll need $2,100 just for gas. Add to that the cost of food, camping and 3 oil changes etc ($50 per day for 2 people isn't outrageous) and you'll be over $5,000 for a 60 day trip.

    The list of things to do just in Alaska, not to mention all the rest of the US and Canada you'll be driving through, is very long. High on our recommendations are two experiences that will cost you, but are worth it, -- flight-seeing over Mt. McKinley and a wildlife cruise out of Seward. Doing just these two will had hundreds of dollars to your budget, but you'll never forget the experience.

    Vancouver and Victoria are both beautiful towns and worth the time, but then so is almost every place else you'll be visiting.

    Have a great time, and keep asking questions.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  9. Default Thanks again

    Thanks for all the good info. I think we are really going to do this with 4 people so that the driving will be less strenuous on the way up. And it will be straight to Alaska. I believe we will just do whatever we want after that. Figured we should try to stay away from planning the trip too much. And 1500 for each person will be $6000 and the car is 32mpg so that comes to around $1550 for around 20k miles. Still so long away, but I will take all of this in consideration, and hope to hear any more ideas. Thanks again! :)

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