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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Default Road Trip around the US, alone, in a car and camping, for cheap?

    Hi everybody,

    First of all, let me say this site AND forum, are wonderful, very useful and I've only overlooked it.

    It's been a dream for me since I'm young to make a road trip around the US. When I say around, I really mean it, as in greographically around the map. I'd like to see the most Big cities I can, while seeing most majors attractions (National Parks and thing such as The Grand Canyon).

    Now that I've read a couple posts, it seems almost impossible for a one time thing.

    I'd like to know what to expect. I know myself, I know I can camp for every night. I can gather camping stuff around my family, so I would have something to cook on, a tent and all the small things you need. I'm used to camp, done it a couple time and love it. I have no problems with the showers in the campsites and things like that. I HAVE to eat a hot meal once a day, which is why I'd bring my cooler and something to cook on.

    My car is a Cavalier 2002, in pretty good shape I'd say so I'm not worried for that.

    How much should I Expect? What are the basics costs that I can't avoir? What happens If i can convince someone? I have a time limit of 2 months (last summer before I finish University, so I can leave my job) from June to August. Of course, the shorter the better but I'll take longer to see more things.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Variables

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I can tell you've put some thought into this, but even having said that, you've still got a few too many questions to answer before you can put an accurate price tag on this trip.

    The biggest thing is your timeframe. You could probably do this trip in as little as a month, but you'll probably want the full two months if really want a chance to spend time at any of the places. A one month trip would pretty much be a point to point to point overview trip where you really wouldn't be able to spend more than a day at any one place. The flip side is the more time you are on the road, the more your trip will cost.

    Your actual route will also play a major roll in the cost. I'd guess you'd be looking at a 10,000 mile trip minimum, but depending upon how much zig-zagging you do to hit the places you want to see, it could easily go much higher. When you calculate this, remember, you'll want to add about 20-30% from point to point distances to factor in driving through parks and cities, looking for campsites, etc.

    For camping costs, I find $20 a night is a good average to use. They'll be nights where you spend less, but nights you'll also have to spend a little more. Also remember, you'll usually pay about $5 for firewood. Personally, I'd also budget some money for the occational motel stay. I usually plan for about one motel stay a week, which is well worth it if you hit a day where it is raining or the weather is otherwise uncooperative.

    Food, I'd figure $20 per day is a good amount to keep you well fed if you are feeding yourself, and splurge for a meal out every once and a while.

    This thread has more ideas and thoughts about building a budget.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Default

    First, thanks for your quick answer,

    Second, to answer your questions, I d'ont have a timeframe, because I don't know what are the must see.

    What are the cheapest, yet worth it attractions? Best use for the bucks? What should I never miss in that kind of road trip, what can I skip and what are mainly tourist's gags? Which Big Cities are really worth it?( Denver is a must fior me, personnal reason, I'd like to see Vegas and L.A. but what else?)

    If anybody could help me on those it'd be really appreciated, move the topic as you wish if this become outtopic.

    EDIT: I just realised it will help you if I tell you what I like. I really want to see things like the red mountains you usually see in movies, in Ariazona I believe, huges trees, at least once, things like Mt Rushmore and once in a lifetime views. other than that, I prefer Big Cities to small country town.

    Also, can you camp in Natural Parks? If so how much and is there a way I could plan my days from one park to another?

    Thanks Again

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default limitations

    If you want to spend time at National Parks, then I'd pick up a national park pass, which costs $80 and covers admission fees for all the national parks. It does not cover camping or other additional fees. Camping in national parks is usually in the $20-25 range for a primative site.

    Beyond that, no one here or anywhere else can tell you where to go. EVERY city is "worth it" and has amazing things to see, and the same is true with the every national park, not to mention all of the thousands of state parks, small towns, and wide open areas of the US. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of visiting places that you are considering, but on a trip where you look to cover basically all of north america, you'll have to do your own reading and research to decide what places fit in with your interests and the trip you want to have. There are plenty of resources to help you make those choices, both on this website and elsewhere, but "what should I see in the US" is not the kind of question that can be answered on an internet forum.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Default

    I've highlighted points of high interest for me on this map:
    http://maps.google.ca/maps/user?uid=...r&gl=ca&ptab=2

    Is there any way google maps or another freeware can allo me to do a driving map with those points?

    As I was making those points, I'm realising this seems pretty much impossible, way too many things, I'll either miss things or miss money...

    Is that doable?

    It looks like I like more thing son the west coast, but bing from the east coast, i'd have to fly there, I figure the trip is worth the same than a round-trip plane ticket, plus hotels and rental cars. So I'm going to driver there, might as well stop to some places of interests...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default and the fun beings

    With google you could plug up to 25 of your points into their program and it would give you a route between those points.

    Having said that, I think it would probably easier just to get out a good paper map and start drawing up a couple route route ideas. That should give you the best idea of the different ways you could fit your points into your trip and it should also help you decide which places will fit into your trips limitations, and which places you might have to leave off for another day.

    Really, this can be the fun part of planning, getting into the details of where you'll be going, and building the anticipation for your trip. Enjoy it!

  7. #7

    Default camping

    State parks are great for camping at. They tend to be cheaper than privately owned or commercialized campgrounds and they tend to stay true to leaving the grounds as untouched as possible. Plus alot have really nice nature trails or other attractions that you wouldn't have to pay extra for. I have only been to some in texas. Search pedernales falls, lost maples, and enchanted rock online. (all around san antonio texas. They have prices on thier websites as well as maps of thier grounds and info on what there is to see so you can tell ahead of time if its something you want to see.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Hey, I'm back with more questions.

    I made some researches. I narrowed as much as I could But I still have a lot of things I want to see, mainly in the west.

    So here are the places I want to Go. In bold are places I WANT to go, others are places I think are on my way, so might as well make a stop there, but I'm looking for suggestion of anything better.
    Detroit (Henry Ford Museum)
    Chicago
    Minneapolis (Anything really unique to see*?)
    Mt Rushmore
    Denver

    Salt Lake City (Anything really unique to see*?)
    Yellowstone
    Glacier NP

    Seattle
    Mt Rainier
    Mt St-Helen's
    Crater Lake NP
    SF (Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Tramways!!)
    LA (Hollywood)
    Las Vegas
    Grand Canyon

    Phoenix
    Fort Worth
    New Orleans
    Memphis (Elvis Presley)
    Nashville
    Washington
    Philadelphia

    * What I need by unique is things like The Statue of Liberty in NYC, Golden Gate in SF, Harvard in Boston...

    Cities no in bold are mainly just stop, take a picture and camp outside of it, but I jave NO idea what I could see, in one day there.

    Now, I can look for myself on activites in cities and things like that, but I have a hard time finding routes with beautiful sights.

    For example, I know the 101 in Cali has great views and you can see those giant trees. Everything I could see from the road that would allow me to shorten my stays would be appreciated.

    I entered this on Street and Trips But I don't know how I can show you, it's 16 pages long...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Longueuil, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Default

    No answer? Did I do something wrong or am I only too complicated?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default So many options.

    Quote Originally Posted by js_cooldude View Post
    No answer? Did I do something wrong or am I only too complicated?
    Not at all, but you need to do some more research and get some structure.

    Hi Cooldude,

    You certainly have a great trip lined up and it's going to take quite a bit of research.
    The States is full of routes with Beautiful sites, and you will be driving a lot of them in between the city's and places you have mentioned.
    Here is the National parks website that you can navigate your way around all the parks in the U.S.A and link them to your route and then select ones that may interest you personally.

    Here is a site that lists the scenic by ways.

    On your list you could add The Grand Tetons to Yellowstone and drive the Beartooth scenic byway, as you said take the Pacific coast highway. While in the S/F area a trip to Yosemite, Death valley before Vegas, Scenic 12 in Utah that's not far from Grand canyon takes you past some fantastic parks, not to mention the parks of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico.
    I could go on and on, but it's not that you have done something wrong or that you are complicated, you just need to research places that appeal to you, get a time frame and route roughly worked out and then we can help you get the best from Your choices.

    The planning is a big part of the whole experience for me and it can be so much fun doing so, enjoy.

    That should give you plenty to work on and then pop back with an outline plan and we can help you get it sorted out.

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