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  1. Default 2 weeks roadtrip from knoxville to LA

    Hi everybody,

    We are 3 friends from knoxville TN and we're planning to do a roadtrip to Los Angeles this upcoming may.

    So basically our road trip is as follow in the map



    the whole trip will be between 5100 and 5600 miles.

    In 15 days we're trying to visit many places and to make the cost as low as possible, so we are not renting a car since its very expensive (between 800 and 900 $) and we're taking my car instead (Kia rio 2002) so first of all what do you think about this kind of car for a long road trip; or is there another option that you guys know ?

    for all expenses we calculated

    Motel : 14 x 53 $ = 742 / 3 = 247 $
    Food : 15 x 12 $ = 180 = 180 $
    Gas : a max of 600$ / 3 = 200 $
    Extra : = 250 $
    -----------------------------------
    Total: = 877 $

    So an estimation of 900 $ for the whole trip per person, plus we're not sure to go to the motel every night, we can drive instead and take the motel every two nights...

    tell me what you guys think, if there are some place in our way that you advice us to not miss or if there's any suggestion to make the trip more enjoyable and less costly, feel free to tell us !

    thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default That's a lot to see in 2 weeks!

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums. We are 3 friends from knoxville TN and we're planning to do a roadtrip to Los Angeles this upcoming may.

    So basically our road trip is as follow in the map



    the whole trip will be between 5100 and 5600 miles.
    In general, it takes people 5 days to travel coast-to-coast, so that means 10 days of just driving for your trip. We also recommend that people average no more than about 500 miles per day on the road. So depending if you do the 5100 or 5600 mile version, this means 10-11 days driving.

    Also, you need to bear in mind that even if trip-planning software says that the most direct route from A to B is x number of miles, you will always travel more than that. Just pulling off the highway for fuel, etc. is going to add miles. Any veering you make to check out a scenic viewpoint or other location is going to add even more. We typically recommend people add at least 20% to their total mileage. But I usually use about 30% for extra padding as I'd rather over-estimate a bit.

    To give you an idea of your days, most roadtrip experts agree that if you only take very quick stops for food/fuel/bio breaks, that you will average over the course of the day roughly 55mph (53mph east of Mississippi/57mph west of it). So this means that 500 miles per day would take you roughly 9 hours of your day. Note this does not include any time to stop and explore so the time you take to do that would need to be added to your travel time that day. Also note that this means very quick meals, not long, relaxing restaurant meals.

    Anyway, for a short few days, you could travel longer per day but this will catch up with you. In other words, speed runs are OK for short sprints. For most folks, this is about 3 days max and then they need rest. But 14 days isn't a spring, it's a mini-marathon, at least, and you will need to pace yourselves.

    I guess this is my very long way of saying that you will be able to briefly see the highlights along the way but you're not going to be able to explore anywhere in depth. If that's the type of trip you're up for, go for it. If not, you might want to rethink how far you're traveling.


    for all expenses we calculated

    Motel : 14 x 53 $ = 742 / 3 = 247 $
    Food : 15 x 12 $ = 180 = 180 $
    Gas : a max of 600$ / 3 = 200 $
    Extra : = 250 $
    -----------------------------------
    Total: = 877 $

    So an estimation of 900 $ for the whole trip per person,
    You will be lucky to average $53 per night for hotels. That is on the low-end. If this is a must to meet your budget, you will want to do a lot of research ahead of time to find lower-priced hotels along the way. But the cheapest lodging is camping. You might want to consider that. Camping will cost you from $15-25 per night. I'm a tightwad traveler and usually camp. When I do stay in hotels, I go as cheap as possible for a clean/safe place. It's not easy to find hotels for that price once taxes are added. I usually am only able to do it by reserving ahead of time via internet to get reduced internet prices. But I also hate tying myself up with reservations. So if I'm driving along and realize that I'll probably want to stop in a certain area that night, I'll sometimes call home and have a family member get on the web and make my reservations for me that day. You may have to look into setting up something like that with someone back home to help you meet that goal.

    I don't understand the food budget. You think you can eat for $12 per day? Even if you eat every meal out of your cooler, that is going be tough. It's really on the low side. And you will eventually get tired of eating that way and want to eat in a restaurant at some point. I typically eat out of my cooler for most meals and only eat out once every 2-3 days.

    Gas...how did you calculate this? For the reasons I stated above, you need to add miles to the direct route estimated miles. 5600 + 30% = 7280. Let's put it this way, the average gas price across the US today (and this changes daily) is $3.27. $600 buys 183 gallons. You would need to average just short of 40mpg in your car to cover 7280 miles. Does your Rio average that? Does it still average that if you add in some town miles and a fully-packed, heavier than usual car? Your fuel cost estimate is definitely low.

    Your trip is not impossible to do at your budget level but you do need to tweak things more to make sense. Camping at least some nights instead of staying in hotels is the best way to help make this work.

    Also, your $250 for other expenses might be OK if you only plan on doing relatively free activities along the way. But an entrance fee here, a parking fee there, all start to add up. It's doable on $250 budgeted for fun stuff but you will need to choose your activities wisely.

    You might check out:
    Bucks for the Basics for tips on how to prepare your budget
    Camping 101 for Roadtrips for tips on how to do this, what to pack, etc.
    tips for eating out of your cooler

    we're not sure to go to the motel every night, we can drive instead and take the motel every two nights.
    Bad idea. Don't do it. First, there is no way you will all be rested and refreshed to do this. Your safety and those of others on the road is worth considering here. Second, even if you pull over and try to sleep in the car, how are three people going to sleep in a tiny Rio packed with gear? I don't see how you can do it. Third, you will be missing many wonderful sights along the road if you drive past them in the dark. Doesn't this somewhat defeat the purpose of a roadtrip?

    tell me what you guys think, if there are some place in our way that you advice us to not miss or if there's any suggestion to make the
    trip more enjoyable and less costly, feel free to tell us !
    Start with the links I gave you above for suggestions to start with. Yes, there are tons of must-see places to stop. However, your must-see and my must-see might be very different. Give us an idea of the types of things you hope to see along the way, the types of things that interest you, and we can give you better recommendations.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 03-23-2008 at 02:33 PM. Reason: fixed spacing issues

  3. Default

    Thanks so much for your detailed reply, I think you helped with how to manage the trip wisely. Especially, you are right about many things we were wrong about... like when I said to drive during the night its a bad idea as you said, there would be many missed sights; also the mileage, you were right when you said add 30% of expected ;)

    but I think that for the food we can manage with 12$ a day and not eating from the cooler :D

    2 $ a breakfast at the gas station muffin + coffee
    6 $ a lunch at a fast food
    4$ the evening eating some stuff
    and there are some days where we don't each much, really!

    anyways, thanks for the reply I appreciate it. And I found something very interesting on this website which is couchsurfing... it wil save us a lot of money.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default some stuff?

    I'm sorry, I just don't see your food budget being realistic as you've laid out.

    I know I can only deal with so much gas station food, but even if you deal with muffins and coffee, I don't think you'll be able to keep that cost down to $2 every day. Gas stations are not cheap places to get food, of course, you might be able to save some of this with the motel "continental" breakfast of stale donuts and coffee.

    $6 for a fast food lunch is certainly possible, but it will also get old very quickly. Its also remarkably easy to push beyond that level if you are eating it everyday.

    Your dinner plans are the real concern. I'm guessing that your plans for eat "some stuff" that will cost $4 hasn't been really well thought out. What sort of "stuff" do you plan on eating for $4?

    It should also be noted that over 2 weeks, you'll almost certainly want to eat at a sit down/non-fast food restaurant at least a couple of times. One meal at Chili's/Applebees/Dennys can quickly and easily blow your entire day's food budget in one meal. I think this is a case where trying to budget so low that you won't be able to realistically maintain it, at least not without making serious cuts that will make it tough to have an enjoyable trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Well, you know how you like to eat but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Souf View Post
    but I think that for the food we can manage with 12$ a day and not eating from the cooler :D

    2 $ a breakfast at the gas station muffin + coffee
    6 $ a lunch at a fast food
    4$ the evening eating some stuff
    and there are some days where we don't each much, really!
    ...well, there are few people who are tighter than I am. And there is no way that I could eat that cheaply on the road. Did you read the link I sent you re eating cheaply out of your cooler? It gives a lot of tips to keep costs down.

    Ok, you are all younger than me and maybe you can survive on junk food with no nutritional value and keep your energy levels up during a roadtrip. Not me. And, really, it's not even good for you.

    Add to that, I see nothing in here regarding fluids. You're going through some very hot parts of the country. You will need to drink LOTS of fluids. When I'm at home, I never buy water as we're blessed with great-tasting tap water. That's not the case everywhere. Three of you, on the go, in the heat, especially if you get out of your car and do anything active, will probably need to consume at least a half-case, if not on active days a full case, of water each day. If not, you could dehydrate and become susceptible to heat exhaustion/stroke. Even if you stock up at grocery stores on water, that expense alone is going to take a big bite out of your teensy food budget.

    It's just not a good idea for health reasons. And, as Michael said, you will get sick of it.

  6. #6

    Default

    Just a suggestion or two on your trip

    1. Motels can easily be had for less $30-40 double--triple a bit more per night all the way across country until you get to Cal. Do not stay at the chain motels, including Motel 6. Get off the interstates and into towns and stay at local establishments. Check the room first to insure it is clean and comfortable before signing in. Most are but not all.

    2. Visit grocery stores and not convenience stores to refill your cooler. Note: take a one-burner hotplate with you. In the motels, boil a dozen or so eggs and that will take care of morning and noon meals. Try to stay away from fast food places. Expensive and bland. When you decide to eat a full meal, eat at "Mom and Pop" diner. Usually food is excellant, plentiful, and cheap. Dinners should be in $5-7 range and I cannot eat all of it at one time. I take the rest in a "to-go" box.

    I envy your travels. Most importantly, do a bit of planning in advance to insure all with be satisfied with the route to be taken and what is to be seen.



    Remember the journey is as important as the destination.
    Scotishbob

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