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  1. Default Summer '09 road trip: Vermont to Cali and back again

    Hey guys, I was just looking for some input on a possible road trip I'm working on putting together. Next summer, my girlfriend, my brother, and I want to take a road trip from our home in Vermont all the way out to California, see most of the southwest, and then come back through the midwest. I was planning on going up to Montreal, over towards Ontario, come down to Sault Ste. Marie, do the Dakotas, then Wyoming, Colorada, Cali, Nevada, Arizona, etc, then head back home through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, etc.

    First of all, how much time should we take for this trip. Time is not really an issue, as we all have flexible summer jobs. I was thinking at least 4 weeks, maybe around 5? Also, budget wise, what are some reasonable cost estimates. My current car, a 1999 Saab 9-5 gets about 40 MPG on the highway with 2 people and baggage, so if we took that, we would save a bundle on gas. We would plan on camping as much as possible, especially in national forests, e.g. where camping is free. And we would want to stay in motels/hotels every now and then, but the three of us would split the cost of one room. Food-wise, we would eat frugally, avoid fastfood and make picnic lunches and grocery shop often, but we wouldn't want to miss out some great American food, so we would stop at diners and small mom and pop restaurants fairly often. I estimated that it would cost each of us about 1700, giving about 333 per person for gas(for a total of 1000 for gas), 20-25 bucks a day (per person) for food for 35 days (which is a high estimate), and averaging about 15 dollars per night/per person for sleeping, a mix of free camping and shared motel rooms. Additionally, we would each bring a few hundred dollars for "fun" money, such as sightseeing, attractions, entrance fees, etc.

    So, how does this sound? Too aggressive? What things could I do to budget better. 25 a day for food is definitely on the high side, but we don't mind spending a little extra to enjoy diners and small restaurants for probably at least one meal a day. Also, we could plan to camp more to save on the nightly cost. But what ideas do you guys have. Please, give me any ideas, advice, hints, or help that you have. Thanks a ton!

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

    Default Excellent start

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you are very much on the right track at this point. 4-5 Weeks should be a nice amount of time to do a quick overview tour. Enough time to spend a day or two at any given place, but you probably won't have time to linger much more than that. Your budget numbers seem very reasonable at this point too. It seems like you've either done your homework, or have been reading some of the other threads on this site, because your approach is very much in line with what we'd typically suggest for a trip like this.

    A couple things to point out. While there is free camping in many National Forest areas, that is limited to dispersed sites/areas. Most organized campgrounds within a National Forest will charge $10-20.

    I would also encourage you to take a look at our roadtrip compatability quiz. While it might seem like a no brainer that you would be able to travel well together considering how close you are, trip like these can cause otherwise solid relationships to deteriorate quickly if everyone isn't on the same page.

    Finally, here are some more good tips for eating cheap and healthy on the road, for those meals where you won't be finding a good local diner.

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