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  1. #1
    dtidwell Guest

    Default Road Trip-Alabama to California-Need Advice

    My husband and I are planning a road trip from north Alabama to San Diego. Tentatively scheduled for the last week of February-1st week of March.

    I have lurked around the forums and learned alot already. However, since neither of us have EVER been on a trip of this sort before, I need all the help and suggestions I can get.

    This is what I know so far:
    * We have alloted 11 days (this is about the travel experiance as opposed to spending a lot of time in one place)
    * We've set aside $2000.00
    * I have a 2003 Ford Taurus. High milage but good upkeep.
    * We will stay in Yuma, AZ for 2 days with my brother in law.
    * Would like to camp for a couple of these days somewhere along the way.

    These are my concerns and what I would like input on:
    * Will this be enough time? Possibly could extend to a full two weeks including weekends.
    * Is this a realistic amount to budget? Can bump up the amount if needed.We want to enjoy ourselves, but also don't want to eat up our entire savings.
    * Thoughts on car rental. Maybe a good idea considering the milage on my car? Also less worry over breakdowns, because rental company would replace on the road right? We have never rented a car before.
    * Itinerary suggestions. Ie: How far can we reasonably go before stopping for the night? Interesting towns to stay over in?
    * Pros and cons of driving main interstate vs. scenic route
    * We would like to drop into Mexico at some point for a day, ending up in San Diego.
    * We'd like to return on a different route. One that would take us through the Grand Canyon.
    * What is the weather like in that area during that time?
    *Ideas on packing, food (cannot do fast food EVERY day. yuck) sites, must haves, must sees etc.

    And last but not least, should we be worried about getting kidnapped by a serial killer? (I am, but he's not)

    This seems really overwhelming since I've written it down and I know I've forgotten some things. Would appreciate any help, suggestions, advice, etc.

    Private msgs. are ok too. Again many thanks. Oh yeah, we're newlyweds...should I be worried? haha

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default answers

    Quote Originally Posted by dtidwell View Post
    * Will this be enough time? Possibly could extend to a full two weeks including weekends.
    You're looking at roughly a 2000 mile trip. 500 miles a day is a very good number to average, on a day of full driving with time for some small stops. If this is a round trip, and you're planning to stop in Yuma for a few days, you don't have much time left for the rest of your 11 days.

    * Is this a realistic amount to budget? Can bump up the amount if needed.We want to enjoy ourselves, but also don't want to eat up our entire savings.
    This thread is one of many that could help you plan your budget

    * Thoughts on car rental. Maybe a good idea considering the milage on my car? Also less worry over breakdowns, because rental company would replace on the road right? We have never rented a car before.
    There are pluses and minuses, but not having to worry about adding mileage to your own car, or having to worry about breakdowns are the biggest reasons to do so. You also would be driving a nearly new car which could be nice.

    * Pros and cons of driving main interstate vs. scenic route
    Speed is clearly the big pro of the interstate system, you'll cover much more ground on the freeway.

    * We would like to drop into Mexico at some point for a day, ending up in San Diego.
    Your best bet will probably be to make this a daytrip from SD and just walk across the border. It will be much easier than trying to drive, dealing with insurance, etc. This will likely be your only option if you rent a car.

    * We'd like to return on a different route. One that would take us through the Grand Canyon.
    This shouldn't be a problem, you'll just end up taking I-40 back for most of your trip.

    And last but not least, should we be worried about getting kidnapped by a serial killer? (I am, but he's not)
    Is this a fear you typically live with on a day to day basis? I can't see why being on a roadtrip would make you a bigger target than you would be living your life at home.

  3. #3
    dtidwell Guest

    Default Clarity

    Thanks for the advice so far.

    In answer to your question, being kidnapped by a serial killer is not a daily fear for me. That was just my way of jokingly asking about security and dangers while traveling on the road.

    Are cell phones and pepper spray being cautious enough? Other than using common sense of course.

    So maybe add at least a few more days to our schedule?

    Any good suggestions for camping?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Common sense is a far more important tool than anything like pepper spray. Unless you are going to great measures to advertise that you are a tourist, There's really no reason a roadtrip would be more dangerous than your typical daily life.

    Yes, I think you should add as many days as you can. Like I said, you're going to need 8 days just for the driving time, so with just 11 days total, that doesn't give you much time in California.

    Camping could be a little challenging at this time of year. It still will be quite cool at night, so even though you're in the south, you'll still want some cool/cold weather gear if you're going to be comfortable. As far as finding campsites, I just look for state parks that will be near my route. This time of year you shouldn't have any problems finding an open spot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dtidwell View Post
    *Ideas on packing, food (cannot do fast food EVERY day. yuck) sites, must haves, must sees etc.

    We always stop at mom and pop places to eat, especially if they have an old or interesting sign. Usually, the prices aren't much more than fast food.

    We will, however, make an exception when it is not a fast food place by us. In California, definitely eat at an In 'N Out Burger.

    If I see anything on the menu I've never heard of before, I ask what it is and order it.

    If You Don't Eat it, You Won't Know. --RoadDog

  6. #6
    dtidwell Guest

    Default

    Thanks fellow travelers.

    The more I read, the more excited I get. Please keep the advice and ideas rolling.

    So if we extend our trip from 11 to 16 days, how much more should we add to the budget? I'm not very good with calculating expenses for this trip. The $2000.00 was really just a shot in the dark, but seems to be an ok amount for the 11 days initially planned.

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

    Default More budgeting tips

    Here are some tips for getting a good start on your budget.

    I rarely eat out on most road trips. I tend to eat out once every 2-3 days and then, when I do, I try to find some kind of special experience where I can taste some good local cuisine. However, once in awhile I'll break my rule and look for a fun, local diner. Ya know, some place that looks like it's packed with local people. This is usually a good indication that it's pretty good.

    But eating out of my cooler is easier on my budget, healthier, and, since I eat several small meals per day, I feel better and more energetic all day (no after lunch slump) so I enjoy my roadtrip more. It's easy to pack a variety of healthy meals that are easy to prepare.

    Raid your fridge and go to your full-size or big box grocery store. Replenish along the way at the bigger stores, too. Convenience stores are a real budget-buster.

    I typically have a bag with things that don't need refrigeration, full of protein bars, granola bars, crackers, bread, bagels, tuna fish, apples, oranges and bananas, granola, nuts, peanut butter, jam, etc. Other people have mentioned things like fruit cups and applesauce. I've not done that but I think it's a great idea. My guilty pleasure is pop tarts. I prefer them untoasted. I rarely eat them at home but, for some reason, I love 'em on the road.

    I purchased those little individual packets, like you find at fastfood joints, of mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard because they're easier to pack and I don't need to worry about spoiling mayonnaise. I throw tons of those this bag, too.

    And then I have a cooler with cheese, cream cheese, luncheon meats, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, lettuce, sliced onions (in a plastic container), and other veggies that are both good to munch on or good for sandwiches and salads. I might also put in fruits that need to be kept cool like grapes, etc.

    Sometimes I'll fry up a chicken before I leave home so I have fried chicken in my cooler to start off with as an extra choice.

    If you want some treats, pop in some pudding or jello cups. They don't need refrigeration the whole trip but I would put them in the cooler before eating them as they're far better cold, right?

    A few paper bowls/plates, plastic utensils, a can opener, a knife, and a small backpacking-size cutting board (you can really just use the lid of a coffee can for this, too), and you have pretty much everything you need to make multiple different meals. It shouldn't take much imagination to come up with tons of different meal combinations from these ingredients. I can usually go several days before I have to replenish from the grocery store and, when I do, it's usually only limited amounts of stuff.

    Add a case of water, maybe some fruit juices, and a few sodas, and you're set.

    If you want to cook a few hot meals, add the following: a small cookset (I got a boy scout set for 2), a spoon, spatula, whisk, and turner, some dish soap, a scrubber, and a small camping stove, and you're all set. I usually stop daily for any fresh meat I want to cook. Don't plan for longer than 2 days in a cooler (unless you have one of those Extreme models that can keep ice for up to 5 days). When I leave home, I usually bring along some frozen hamburger when I bring my stove for my first few, cooked meals.

    If I'm going to be on the move a lot, I don't bring my stove. I only bring it if I'm planning on a bit more relaxing of a trip with some driving mixed with hanging around the campground. If the campground is only for a quick sleep stop, then I don't want to bother cooking.

    I hope this gives you some ideas.

    Last point...I really don't even hardly budget for food when I do this because, for the most part, this is the same type of stuff I'd be eating at home so, really, it's not a big extra expense. I do budget for the occasional meal out.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-18-2007 at 12:19 PM. Reason: fixed link for the budgeting tips

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