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  1. Default Coast to Coast in 2-3 months

    hi everyone,

    My friend and I are both in our mid-twenties and are embarking upon a road trip from Los Angeles to New York, between June - August 2008. We are pretty much looking out for typical tourist destinations, try to watch some sports and see a range of culture. Our first idea for stop-overs are:

    LA - San Francisco - Las Vegas - Phoenix - Tuscon - El Paso - Dallas - Memphis - Nashville - Atlanta - Knoxville - Lexington - Indianapolis - Chicago - Detroit - Cleveland - Buffalo - New York

    So just a little trip then, you realise!! The reason I picked out these places was generally due to the fact that I have heard of them. I know it's not a very direct route but this could be the last time to USA so want to fit in as much as possible.

    So really what i would like advice on is:

    1) Is this a realistic idea of a route?
    2) Are the places listed going to be of interest/good choice? if not..any suggestions?
    3) We are still debating whether we may be better off by taking buses, would that be a reasonable choice? I do like the idea of the freedom of driving ourselves.
    4) Are the plenty of places to park up and sleep in a campervan? Do you have to pay? As this might be important when working out cost due to the length of time proposed..
    5) Any other advice just generally on long drives in USA would be helpful

    Thank you very much for taking time to read this, hopefully look forward to some comments/suggestions

    TJ

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

    Default Basics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    2-3 months gives you plenty of time to wander and explore the country. There's lots of great route possiblities, and the one you've laid out would be just fine.

    The bus system is not particularly efficiant in the US, so if you are in any position to rent a car, I would recommend going that route.

    There are places where you can park a van overnight for free, but for the most part, you'll be looking at campgrounds which cost around $20 per night. I will note that renting an RV usually is not a money saver. It makes for a nice experience, but it come at a price.

    Otherwise, I can just say look around the RTA site, both at the forum and the planning section, and you should find a wealth of information to help you get started.

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

    Default Good thing you have a lot of time to plan!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tjjonah View Post
    My friend and I are both in our mid-twenties and are embarking upon a road trip from Los Angeles to New York, between June - August 2008. We are pretty much looking out for typical tourist destinations, try to watch some sports and see a range of culture. Our first idea for stop-overs are:

    LA - San Francisco - Las Vegas - Phoenix - Tuscon - El Paso - Dallas - Memphis - Nashville - Atlanta - Knoxville - Lexington - Indianapolis - Chicago - Detroit - Cleveland - Buffalo - New York

    So just a little trip then, you realise!! The reason I picked out these places was generally due to the fact that I have heard of them. I know it's not a very direct route but this could be the last time to USA so want to fit in as much as possible.
    What a wonderful adventure you'll have! There's certainly nothing wrong with planning your trip around visiting different cities. However, I think the beauty and wonder of the USA is best found in our scenic vistas in national and state parks and other places of natural beauty. Of cities can offer some of that, too. And cities contain many historic and cultural experiences that add to a great trip.

    When folks are having a hard time defining where to go, I think the best and easiest place to start is by getting a big map of the US that has roads, cities, national parks, state parks, etc. And then pour over it marking those things that you really want to see. This should start giving you a good idea of what route you want to take.

    1) Is this a realistic idea of a route?
    It's realistic for the time you have to travel but I still think you need to pour over a map for other types of things to see. But I still think you need to include some natural wonders on there. Also, your route isn't real efficient. It would make more sense to fly into San Francisco and then go to LA, for example. But before we spend a lot of time helping you tweak your route, I think you need to go back and really put more thought into where you want to go first, and then come back and ask for tips.

    2) Are the places listed going to be of interest/good choice? if not..any suggestions?
    That's hard to say. What interests you may not interest me and vice-versa. Only you can decide what will interest you and it seems you might want to do a bit more research to determine if these cities are really where you want to go. Play with a map, do some googling, and maybe even contact those cities and the states they are in for any kind of tourism websites. Most tourism websites will send you free visitor information guides as well so you might want to request some to help you in your planning. I've found that the easiest way to find these websites is to simply search "____city or state name____ tourism". You should find a lot of good info that way.

    3) We are still debating whether we may be better off by taking buses, would that be a reasonable choice? I do like the idea of the freedom of driving ourselves.
    If at all possible, you really should rent a vehicle. Many places you'll want to go don't have bus service. Especially in the western and central states.

    4) Are the plenty of places to park up and sleep in a campervan? Do you have to pay? As this might be important when working out cost due to the length of time proposed..
    Rent for any kind of RV (campervan) is going to be much higher than rent for a car. I recommend purchasing inexpensive camping gear at some kind of big box/warehouse-type store (they're all over the place) and renting a regular car. This will keep costs down and just your gas savings will more than pay for your gear. You can also donate it to charity when you're ready to fly home. Camping fees are cheaper for tents as well so that will result in more savings. That way you can keep lodging costs down by camping and keep your driving costs down as well. Best of both worlds, imho.

    5) Any other advice just generally on long drives in USA would be helpful
    With the time you have, you have some flexibility. That's great! I would suggest keeping your itinerary loose. But you might also want to have certain benchmarks so you don't spent so much time in one area that you're going to have to burn miles toward the end of your trip to get to your final destination on time. I would set a weekly benchmark....meaning, for example, that at the end of the first week you want to have gotten to Phoenix. Something like that will keep you reasonably on track without locking you into a tight schedule.

    Poke around on this website. There's a ton of information here that should help you out. And search through the forums, too. And come back with any questions you have and we'll be glad to help.

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

    Default Hot - Hot -

    Hot!

    TJ, your route is certainly doable in the time you've alotted, and a lot more, but the big concern I have is that you are planing to to visit the parts of the country that are suseptible to heat and humidity during the hottest, most humid time of the year! Unless you like that kind of weather, camping in a van or in a tent could be just miserable in the south and midwest during the summer.

    At least part of your trip could be spent in the higher elevations of the west such as New Mexico and Colorado, then scoot across the country hitting the high spots as you go. (This is kind of what Judy was recommending in a much more diplomatic way). In the time you have available, if you use all three months, you can zig-zag quite a bit and still get to see the major cities on your list AND some of the dramatic scenery in the west.

    An alternative to seeing the western states would be to get through the south in June and spend the peak of summer in the Northeast - in the hills of Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and along the Atlantic coast. That area is also quite wonderful and more temperate in the hotter months.

    But most of all, see what is important to you, and have fun!

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

  5. Default Revised plan

    Hey everyone - a belated thank you very much to all that helped!

    We are now on our travels, currently in Bangkok as i type! We have decided to follow the advice and hire a car and camp mostly while going from LA - NY, as it will be cheaper and we still maintain our freedom.

    As for route, we will shoot across the south (Arizona - Texas - Memphis to South Carolina as it will be hot and humid), up the east coast to either Washington or Philadelphia, then make kind of a square west to ohio, north to chicago, east to niagara falls then back down south to New York through Boston! We have found a website that list campsites that are $10 or less (even free), so we are looking to get exact destinations we want to see then find cheap/free places to stay.

    The only part now which holds some doubt, is what way is best to travel around California..amtrak, greyhound or hire car. We are looking to spend around a month doing a triangle of LA/San Diego-San Francisco-Las Vegas and back. Any ideas would be gratefully accepted

    Again thanks for all help so far!

    Tim

  6. #6

    Default

    Hi Tim,

    Any chance you can post a link to the website you have mentioned as my girlfriend and me are setting off on a similar roadtrip in April and it would come in handy!

    Happy travels!
    Karl

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

    Default Lots of cheap options available!

    Gen, one of our contributers here, wrote a post that has many links you might want to explore. These include links to more inexpensive hotels and links to various websites that have information on cheaper camping options. Go here and enjoy!

  8. Default

    hi Karl

    The directory of free campgrounds is this one. Hope it helps! Another website i have found quite helpful for directions and basically choosing where to go is Mapquest - if you havent seen it already. It calculates distances as well which helps with estimating how much money to spend on petrol.

    Enjoy your trip - as you will be the ones to try out these sites in person, maybe you could let me know how it all goes? We'll be getting into LA by June

    Cheers

    Tim
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-20-2008 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

  9. #9

    Default

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks for the links, I have a thread posted HERE which I am planning to keep updated as we travel accross the States. I will try and post some feedback as to where we are staying.

    Can I ask where the rest of your round the world travels are taking you as we will be doing the far east once we leave America?

    Thanks,
    Karl

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