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  1. Default Not just cross-country...

    Hi there guys, this is my first post, and I come to you looking for experienced opinions and maybe some new ideas.

    Anyways, 3 friends and I want to do not just a cross-country road trip, but an entire around the country road trip this summer to celebrate our graduation (we will all be 18 at the planned departure date). One of my friends essentially wants to see the entire country in one summer, more specifically all of the natural sights (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc.) and we started talking about doing it a few months ago. We're starting in New York, "ending" in San Francisco, spending a week there, then heading
    back. We are planning on taking a month to do this. We have the route planned out pretty well, we made it so that no leg of the journey is longer than 8-9 hours. After doing a little planning, and mapquest-ing the total mileage of the route, we figured it to be about 7000 miles. We recruited two other kids to help spread out the cost

    For a brief of the route: start in New York, drive to D.C., spend the night. Drive to Tennessee, spend 3 or 4 days there visiting the smoky mountains, Memphis, and Nashville. Then its off to Dallas, spend the night, then down to San Antonio, spend a day or two down there. Then drive across Texas towards El Paso, with the eventual destination of Tuscon, and spend a night there. Then up to the Grand Canyon, spend a few nights camping out there. Then over to Las Vegas and spend a night or two there. Then off to San Francisco, and like I said before, spend 5-7 days there, and take a break from diving. Then we would go up to Oregon and Washington, probably spend a night in Portland. Then drive across the northern part of the country to the eventual destination of Yellowstone, and spend a few nights camping there. Then over to the Badlands and camp there a night or two. Then over to Chicago, spend a night or two there (here we wanted to try and get it to line up so that we could get some tickets to a Cubs game and see Wrigley Field). Then across to Cleveland, spend a night, then to Philadelphia, then back home.

    We've mapquested the directions for each individual route I explained above, and found motel 8's along the way in each major stop.

    Since none of us actually own our own car, we would be renting a van so that we have room to stretch and whatnot, and also to save some motel costs by sleeping in it some nights. (lucky for us, NY is the only state that allows people under 21 to rent cars). I tried the fuel cost calculator out, and I put in 7000 miles, 10 mpg (is this a good estimation for say, a Ford Ecoliner size van?) and $3.50 per gallon, since that is about what it is here in NY. This came out to about $2,400. To rent the van for a month and for 7000 miles is about $2,200. So far we have quite a bill :P

    My first question is, does this seem plausible for four 18 year olds to do in one month?

    Second, how much do you estimate food will cost for 4 teenage boys over a month?

    Third, do you have any suggestions about changing the route? Additions? Subtractions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    It's good to see that you've done some research on a trip of this magnitude - often we get new members that are surprised at just what is involved in planning such a trip.

    How many drivers will you have? If all four of you can drive, that would be great, and help to spread the burden around. I'd say that fuel mileage estimate is about right for an Econoliner van. Does your rental agreement allow out of state travel? Make sure you've read it carefully, or you might be socked with fees at the end of the rental period. When I rented from Enterprise recently, the agreement stated that I could not drive South of Kentucky or Virginia, nor West of the Mississippi River, IIRC.

    As far as the food costs for four teenage boys over a month, well, that can get quite expensive. You're going to want to make sure you're eating healthy out there. Check out this page for some ideas.

    Also, check out our planning pages, specifically the compatibility quiz.

    In the cities, if you can, I would suggest taking public transportation rather than trying to find a place to park and drive your rental van.

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

    Default Congrats on your upcoming graduations!

    That's a big milestone in your life and it deserves celebrating.

    You've done some good preliminary planning. Your trip is plausible but you will have to keep moving. The roadtrip page Tim gave you has lots of good tips. You will find even more here.

    If you decide to sleep in the van, some of the best and safest places to do this are at the fuel stops truckers use. Truckers often overnight there and your van can pull in and do the same. And then there will be restrooms available to you as well. Be sure and fuel-up or buy some groceries or something while you're there.

    But, really, sleeping in a van isn't very comfortable. Since you plan on spending some time camping anyway, why not look for campgrounds along the way? It can help save a bit of money and is a lot of fun.

    Let me offer a little bit of mother advice, ok? Since none of you have done a roadtrip before, especially a big one like this, you might find that you can't keep up the pace to make it to all the places on your list. Ya know, the world won't implode if you change your route along the way. You have a lot of roadtrips ahead of you to see everything else. If you find that you're lingering a bit too long here-and-there and are running out of time to make it all to California, then don't. A failed roadtrip isn't one where you don't get to every potential destination on your list. A failed roadtrip is one where you don't have fun. So allow yourself flexibility.

    Let us know what else we can do to help you plan a fantastic trip!

  4. Default

    To answer a few questions:
    -Yes, all four of us will be able to drive.

    -Yes, we have looked for campground along the way, and will start calling them to try and get reservations, if possible. We are planning on packing a 4-person tent and camping in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Badlands (maybe... the one friend that wants to see the nature does, but a quick scan of the badlands on google images doesn't look too appealing... tell me if I'm wrong). We were planning of staying in motels only when necessary (to take showers, etc.)

    Now for my question:

    Is there any place online to find out ahead of time where trucker stops are? I've never been to one or even seen one on the side of the road (we don't have long stretches of highway up here in NY).

    Thanks so much!

  5. Default

    You say your packing a 4 man tent for 4 teenagers, if you want any sort of comfort your going to want to get a larger tent. I know from experience that unless you want to be rubbing up against each other all night your going to want at least a 5 man tent. But if comfort is not a main objective it sounds like you have an alright plan.

  6. Default

    For your first question - You should have plenty of time in a month and will have an incredible time! Have you ever been out west before? If not, you will be amazed at well...everything.

    2nd question is tougher - It will be EXPENSIVE. Not just food, but everything. Food just depends on you - will you cook your own food when camping, eat fast food, eat out a restaraunts, etc. I would recommend getting a coleman 2 burner grill for camping and eating shells & cheese, lipton noodle dinners, etc.
    Anytime you are in a city your costs will go up significantly whether it is because of food or spending money on other random stuff.

    As for gas and mileage I would think at least 10,000 miles would be more realistic. Mileage on mapquest works well for short trips from point A to point B but can really start to lose accuracy on a trip of this magnitude. I recently Left Phoenix for a road trip and ended up in Nebraska 10,000 miles later having travelled through every state in the West. I spent more time (3 months) doing that than you are planning but I think you would need to plan on at least 10,000. I also had a Ford Econoline and gas really added up especially in the West where you can be doing a lot of climbing in elevation in the mountains. I think your fuel costs will end up more in the range of $3,000 to $3,500.

    In the west there are quite a few more national forests than back east and you can camp for free in dispersed camping areas in the national forests. You can look up ranger stations here and when you are getting to that area stop in and get maps and info about their dispersed camping areas. When you do this, you are on your own for everything including the bathroom, so make sure you have a folding shovel! You can often find national forests to do this right outside of national parks so you can camp for free and then drive into the national parks to avoid paying to camp in the national park. You should also get a national park pass so you don't have to pay to enter each national park seperately.

    For your 3rd question - Southern Utah is awesome. Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion National parks are all places that you should not miss if you can work them into your route.

    Let me know if you have any questions!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-26-2008 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Preferred link format

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