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  1. Default Where Do I Start in the Planning Process?

    I'll post here, and maybe you can point me to specific threads out there because I don't even know what to use to search for the info I need. I have this vision of "driving across the US" and writing a book/journal/blog about the experience. I'm from San Francisco, and this was a goal since I was a young adult. 20 years later, I find myself with a husband and 10 year old daughter! I thought this was a personal dream until someone mentioned, "Um, isn't your family going to come with you?" I hadn't thought about that! So now I will.

    We're planning to retire in about 10 years when we're in our early 50's. DD will be about 21 by then. I'm trying to figure out how long a trip might take, when's the best time of year to start, and when's the best time for a "student" to take off for a long period of time, among other questions. I can't go in the summer because the heat will ruin it for me. I'm from the San Francisco area, where it's year-round 55-65 degrees, just the way I like it.

    If we're not working and have an occasional house sitter, I'm assuming we can be gone for up to six months. The only thing is bills, but those can be paid online or whatever other means there are. If there's an emergency, I suppose we could park the car and quickly fly back and then start up again. But maybe that's too long to be gone from home. Although it might be nice to buy a used RV for the trip and then re-sell it, I think we might just end up using the family car.

    I'm also concerned about how to really go about this.. do I start by driving up and down the states, such as go up through Washington, then go to Idaho, then down Nevada/Utah to Arizona, and then New Mexico and back up? Or maybe I leave the southern most states along for the journey back from Florida or something like that?! Or has someone already come up with a nice workable journey that I can just copy?! Yup, I'm trying to hit all 50 states in some detail during this entire trip. For example, if I were traveling in CA, I would cover San Diego (maybe Tijuana too), Los Angeles, Yosemite, San Francisco, Sacramento and possibly Lake Tahoe. At the large cities, I would spend at least two days there.

    Do you research while you're travelling or do you do it all ahead of time? That is why I'm trying to start now. I get all involved when I'm planning so if we're talking about 50 states and 10 years from now, that means I need to research an average of 5 states a year, so I needed to start... years ago! But I don't necessarily want to research while I'm on the road because planning itself can be a chore that might put a damper on the actual trip itself (planning isn't something the rest of the family is interested in, good at, or care to do, so it's mostly me doing the work). Might there be an easier way?

    I only have family in New York and don't know anyone in between, so we will be staying in hotels or nicer motels. For those of you who took this route on longer trips on many stops, do you reserve ahead of time or wing it? Although this will be 10 years in the future, I'm also slightly apprehensive about traveling to some places where... umm, they might not like my kind! Figure if this could happen to Oprah and her crew, it could happen to us too (we're Chinese, by the way). I'm guessing usually this occurs in more rural parts of the country, but I don't want this to be a trip of visiting just large cities either; after all, that's in my backyard. Do ya think I might need to be on alert about this challenge?

    I think that's it for now. Please feel free to refer me to other threads you might have remembered, other sites you think might be helpful, and anything else. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Trips to all 50-states can be summed up in one of two ways: the most states in the fastest possible time, or the most states and time to explore. If you're planning on spending a couple of days each in the major cities, then you are going to need, perhaps, a lifetime to really do this trip. However, six months gives you a lot of time to explore.

    Hotel/motel would cost about $12,000, figuring $65/night on average.

    I don't think you need to necessarily study all of the states up front to figure out what you want to see - it can really be as simple as seeing something interesting on a map and choosing to go there, or following an interesting street sign. Indeed, often the best parts of any trip are those things that are not planned. However, I also think that if your family is not interested in planning any part of the trip, then are they interested in any part of the trip? The hardest part of planning is usually coming to terms with the budget.

    I'm also slightly apprehensive about traveling to some places where... umm, they might not like my kind! Figure if this could happen to Oprah and her crew, it could happen to us too (we're Chinese, by the way). I'm guessing usually this occurs in more rural parts of the country, but I don't want this to be a trip of visiting just large cities either; after all, that's in my backyard. Do ya think I might need to be on alert about this challenge?
    Use your instincts. If you don't feel comfortable in an area, then it is best to move on. You will find, though, that most Americans are very accepting of different ethnicities. Hollywood and the media have done nothing to support this fact, instead focusing on some random incidents over the years. It seems that there is a misconception that all rural people are uneducated and racist, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is just a fact that there are more varied ethnicities in the cities due to population size and job opportunities, but to say going to a rural environment means having a problem due to race is akin to saying going to a city means you will be killed, which is an impression many rural folk have.

    Now, one thing you will notice is that if you walk into a place and are not familiar to the people that frequent that establishment, you will probably get a stare. This has less to do with race than it does with unfamiliarity. I have received this look in the country and the city - in fact, the last time it happened was in my home town at a place about four buildings away from my home! This is a place my brother frequents, too, and we look somewhat alike.

    So enjoy both the city and the country. Remember that both are made up of quite similar people.
    Last edited by Mass Tim; 02-20-2008 at 06:15 PM. Reason: posted before finishing!!

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass Tim View Post
    Trips to all 50-states can be summed up in one of two ways: the most states in the fastest possible time, or the most states and time to explore.

    IHowever, I also think that if your family is not interested in planning any part of the trip, then are they interested in any part of the trip? The hardest part of planning is usually coming to terms with the budget.

    It seems that there is a misconception that all rural people are uneducated and racist, but nothing could be further from the truth. Now, one thing you will notice is that if you walk into a place and are not familiar to the people that frequent that establishment, you will probably get a stare. This has less to do with race than it does with unfamiliarity.
    Just wanted to comment on a few items in hopes it will help provide more answers too. Although my normal style is to see as much as I can in as short period as I can, I think it will be different for this trip because there is technically unlimited time, and age will become a factor too.

    I think the family would like to come along, just not do any of the "work," although by then DD will be 21 instead of 10 1/2, so maybe she'll get my planning genes, but there's no hope for the DH. Plus DH probably wouldn't be happy knowing that I'm alone out there by myself because of car breaking down and the proverbial "bad guy," so he'd want to come along. Except for food and admission prices, I think the cost would be almost the same w/1 or 3 people anyway. Hopefully by then, we won't have to worry about money, but we're pretty frugal people anyway.

    I definitely want to experience the small towns. I've always heard that that's where people run into the nicest, most helpful people, especially since they aren't rushing around like us city folks, so I wouldn't want to avoid them at all, and an occasional bad experience won't stop me... and hopefully things will continue to change for the better by then.

    I'm just having lots of fun reading the site and others' experience. I love the details that people are able to describe (which I can't) and the photos I've seen... such an inspiration.

    Wow, the housing charges is much more than I imagined (haven't even calculated anything yet)... maybe that RV is looking like a good idea now!

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