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  1. Default First Roadtrip Ever...Philly to California..advice??

    Hi I am an 18 year male old college student and this summer I am planning on taking a roadtrip--most likely a solo trip--from Philadelphia to California and back. This will be the first time I have ever done anything like this.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for places I should stop along the way, or general tips for a first-timer. Like how long does the average road-tripper drive per day, and how often are stops made usually? I plan on making no prior arrangements and just letting the road take me where it will....I also plan to be on the road for at least three weeks, maybe more? thanks for any advice!

    Also, I might as an alternative take a plane to France and kind of wander around the country for a month or car, just trains and buses and my feet. Has anyone done an international trip like this before? Again, thanks a lot.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default average?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I don't know if you can come up with "averages" for many roadtrip related things, because they are just so darn individual. We generally recommend planning to travel no more than 500-600 miles per day on a multi-day trip, since beyond that point you start to really get into exhaustion. However, there are plenty of people who only travel a couple hundred miles on big travel days, or people on the opposite spectrum who simply want to push themselves to the limits and go as far as they can go.

    The "Just Go" with no real plans set in stone is a great way to go about a roadtrip. The only thing I should warn you is that if you only have three weeks and getting to California is a priority, then you will have to at least watch that. Even at a pretty brisk pace you'll be looking at close to a week to travel to the West Coast one way. If you really were just taking things as they go, its quite possible you would get to California and back under your time frame - of course it would probably be because you were having such a great time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default What kind of things do you like?

    It's hard to give general advice on what to do and see without knowing what kinds of things you're looking for. As Michael said, averages are also hard to figure as we all travel differently.

    Advice for first-time roadtrippers, particularly those traveling solo? That's easier. Here's some suggestions:
    * Have someone at home that you can contact daily to let them know where you are and where you plan on going next. (a cellphone with a national plan comes in handy for this) If your plans change dramatically, let them know.
    * Maintain your common-sense to ensure your personal safety. Make sure you have personal ID, contact information, and any medical conditions/allergy list on you at all times.
    * Either have a plan with some kind of emergency road service, like AAA, or have tools and the ability to make some repairs, change tires, etc. yourself. Also have extra funds available if you need repairs that you haven't budgeted for.
    * Have your car serviced before leaving; include making sure your tires are in travel condition.
    * Have decent road maps for the areas you're visiting. (If you're a AAA member, you can get maps and guidebooks for free.)
    * Consider eating out of your cooler both to save some money and to eat healthier....although I realize that, at your age, this might not mean as much to you. Having a variety of food with you also allows you to make impromptu picnic stops if you come across someplace sublime.
    * It's not a failure if you don't make your final destination if you have enjoyed meandering and exploring instead. Go with the flow and just enjoy where you are. (Not always possible but wonderful when you can.)

    This should get you started.

    For us to help you with "must see" information, tell us about what kind of things you are interested in.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post

    For us to help you with "must see" information, tell us about what kind of things you are interested in.

    I guess what I'm most interested in are really stunning nature settings. Calm and peaceful environments, great views of a sunset..... I also plan to see a fair share of cities. I also haven't decided on a 'destination' , although I know it's going to be somewhere in california. I've been to sanfrancisco before, so I'm hoping to end up somewhere else. I know this is really I said I'm just starting to think about it, but any insider tips or any advice would be great.

    Also, I was thinking, as an alternative, of taking a flight to france and meandering around the country on foot/train/buses for about a month, with no plans but to just immerse myself in a completely new culture ( I speak proficient French). Any opinion about this idea? I'd love to do that. Thanks again for the help!

  5. #5

    Default advice...

    the best thing to do is just trust your gut. listen to it. when you're traveling alone, you will have plenty of time to learn about yourself.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by heatherbrittany View Post
    the best thing to do is just trust your gut. listen to it. when you're traveling alone, you will have plenty of time to learn about yourself.
    Yeah, that's what I'm going to do. thanks. Have you traveled alone before? If you have, i'd love to hear about it...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default France vs. US?

    Tough call. Both are cool trips. I haven't checked exchange rates for awhile but the American dollar doesn't have much value against many other currencies right now. That's one reason why we're seeing such an upsurge in visitors to the US from Europe right now. My gut says you might want to wait for France until our dollar is stronger against their franc. But who knows when or if this will happen? Sometimes you just gotta do it.

    Both trips will give you the chance to explore new surroundings and even new American culture IS different from one area to another. Both trips will give you a chance to travel solo and perhaps learn a little bit about yourself as well.

    It's a choice you'll have to make. I think I would have to flip a coin.

    There are so many breath-taking vistas in this country. We could give you a list of 100+ places a not even scratch the surface. You must have heard about/seen photos of/seen TV shows about certain areas of the country where you went "wow"! Think about those things and start making your own list. Also visit through the various discussions here at the forums to read about what people have done. You'll get lots of good ideas from other people's experience. Also check out the "roadtrip planning" section in the upper green bar (see above) and read through some of those articles. You can also get a big map of the US and scope out the national parks, national monuments, and national forests shown on it. You can bet that any of these will have magnificent vistas. Also consider doing a websearch for "tourism __insert state name here___". This will bring you to the state tourism office where you can request free travel materials. These always have lots of wonderful photos in them and will give you an idea of what places of beauty you will want to visit.

    Planning a roadtrip can be as much fun as being on the roadtrip. And my list of things to see might not speak to you. Once you start getting some ideas together, come back and ask us for advice and I'm sure you'll start getting more specific responses.

    Regarding traveling solo...most of us here have done it. As long as you use good common-sense, it's safe. There is definitely an element of freedom when you're traveling solo that you don't get with the best traveling companion. I do love that feeling of independence. It can get a tad lonely at times but this is easily alleviated by being friendly with people you meet up with and striking up conversations. That's one reason why I usually camp. It's far easier to strike up conversations with people around the campground than it is with people in hotel rooms, ya know? Hotels are isolating. There are quite a few threads here about solo travel. This thread has a great discussion about traveling solo with lots of useful tips and links to other information you might find useful.

    Enjoy the planning!
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 01-07-2008 at 10:51 AM. Reason: added info

  8. Default Travel alone & places to see


    I did an east coast to west coast road trip last summer. Although I ended up in the bay area, if you're going all the way across making an adjustment to end in LA or SD or whatever would not be something that you'd necessarily have to worry about right up front.

    I was definitely questioning whether I could hack it solo (my wife had already located to CA from NJ, and I was playing "catch up"). It turned out to be a great experience. I spent a little over a month on the road seeing many national parks and sights that you might be interested in (I was primarily on the northern route, although once I got out west to the rockies the sights are awesome in comparison to what you might be accustomed to in the east and I did some north/south too). My lodging was spent amongst camping, hotels/motels, and family/friends (if there's anyone you know along the way that could put you up for a night, it's a nice break, but certainly not an imperative!)

    I would write more detail here, but I kept an extensive blog with pics of different places, costs (e.g. how much on gas, lodging), other stats (e.g. miles, longest/shortest days, laundry, oil changes, etc), etc. that might be more helpful than I can detail here. At a minimum, maybe the pics'll give you some ideas of places to stop.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-09-2008 at 11:03 AM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

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