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  1. Default What Do You Think of This Cross-Country Trip?

    I'd leave from Las Vegas, Nevada, driving my Honda Element. I'm a 39-year-old woman. I'd want to do this trip with my parents, who don't drive. Our time is flexible; we would leave in mid-September. I drive a Honda Element with 20k miles and a AAA membership, so I think my car is reliable and I have emergency coverage. I get about 20 miles per gallon average. We'd try to stay at Comfort Inn-Level places and eat cheaply (while limiting fast food for health reasons), but I'd like to avoid making hotel reservations if possible, to avoid time pressures.

    I'd welcome feedback, suggestions, tips, etc. Thank you!

    Specific questions in mind:
    1. Wondering how much you think this trip would cost.
    2. I picked Lawrence, Kansas, because I needed someplace to stay over between Denver and Minneapolis, but I'm wondering whether there is a better alternative. Not knocking Lawrence; don't know much about it.


    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Salt Lake City / Park City, Utah
    Denver, Colorado
    Lawrence, Kansas
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Chicago, Illinois
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Toronto, Canada
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Washington, D.C.

    Raleigh, N.C.
    Myrtle Beach, S.C.
    Charleston, S.C.
    Savannah, Georgia
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Nashville, Tenn.
    Memphis, Tenn.
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Houston, Texas
    San Antonio, Texas
    El Paso, Texas
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Sante Fe, New Mexico
    Flagstaff, Arizona
    Las Vegas, Nevada

  2. #2

    Default

    I’m sure others will have a view but here is mine….

    Why not take the opportunity to visit Mount Rushmore and stay at Keystone, South Dakota.

    The route up from Denver is scenic and also has interests for instance – Cheyenne, Mammoth Site in Hot Springs and Crazy Horse.

    Looking at Google map the route Denver, Lawrence, to Minneapolis is 1044 miles taking 15 hours 23 minutes. And the route Denver, Keystone to Minneapolis is 1017 miles taking 15 hours 22 minutes. So there is nothing in the two journeys distance and time wise.

    A great trip - hope you are taking some days out from driving.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Ballpark Figures

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The problem with trying to give you cost estimates is that even with the descriptions of your food and lodging preferences, there are still a lot of variables. My ballpark guess (but it's a BIG ballpark) would be $6,000-$8,000. Of course, you'll have to add any admissions or activity fees to that.

    Lawrence is a fine college town, my daughter went to Kansas University there, but it's not really on the most direct route from Denver to Minneapolis. You can save yourself about 140 miles of driving by using I-76/I-80/I-35 and staying in Lincoln, NE.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Great itinerary

    Are these stops where you plan on stopping each night? Will some stays be multiple nights to allow for more sightseeing in that location? I sure hope so as you're going to some great places that deserve more time.

    So, how many days are you planning for the entire trip?

    Without knowing how long this trip is, it's hard to give you much input into your trip costs but I think the $6-8k is probably in the ballpark but it can easily go higher.

    If you're concerned about eating for health, I suggest you consider Eating out of a Cooler for at least one meal each day. It's quick, easy, tastes better, and it's easier to keep to a healthy diet. It also makes it easier to get a bit of exercise as you're doing meal prep instead of just sitting, waiting to be served.

    ETA - Except for in more busy, tourist locations, there is really no need for reservations. Especially in September. So if the list of cities was where you plan to sleep, you might consider it suggestions rather than "must get there" places. There are going to be plenty of motels along the interstate and, since school will be back in session, vacancies shouldn't be hard to find.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 09-01-2008 at 05:08 PM. Reason: added comment

  5. Default Thank you!

    Thanks very much. I found helpful info in each of your posts.

    I appreciate the ballpark cost estimate and backup of it. I figured it would cost about that much, and wanted to check whether my figures were realistic. I know the cost will vary depending on how long we stay overnight in various cities. I figure we will spend at least one night in each place, adding nights depending on how interesting we find the city. There are a lot of great cities in the mix, but we won't be able to afford to stay long.

    I really like the idea of visiting Mount Rushmore instead of staying over in Lawrence, Kansas. I'll look into that.

    And I appreciate the link to eating out of a cooler; I definitely want to do that to keep costs down.

    A few additional questions:

    1. Are there any weather-related things I should be aware of given our itinerary? I've not driven cross-country before.
    2. Which maps or trips planners would you recommend?
    3. Do any of you suggest any specific Web sites or books for finding good restaurants on the road? I'd like to keep costs down but have a good meal here and there -- nothing fancy, just satisfying.
    4. Does anyone know whether it's worth joining AARP for any road trip-related discounts (like hotels, attractions and such)? I have AAA and will see whether I can save with that. But if there are even better discounts with AARP, I will have my parents join before we hit the road.

    I haven't planned a set number of days for this trip because my parents are retired and I'm taking a break from work after years of nose to the grindstone. My parents have seen only limited parts of the U.S., so I wanted to give them a wider perspective while they're still healthy enough to enjoy it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default You should have a fun trip with your folks!

    1. Are there any weather-related things I should be aware of given our itinerary? I've not driven cross-country before.
    Off the top of my head, I'm not aware of any specific weather concerns in Sept/Oct. Obviously, you will be heading into some cooler weather. This year has been really a strange year for weather so I have a feeling the average weather conditions of previous years isn't going to be the best help either. I suggest you simply pay attention to weather forecasts when you stop at your hotel at night and make any adjustments to your trip if severe weather is predicted for the area you're heading into. Just take it day-by-day.

    2. Which maps or trips planners would you recommend?
    If you look at the top of this website, the yellow tabs include "Roadtrip Books". You'll find our recommendations there.

    3. Do any of you suggest any specific Web sites or books for finding good restaurants on the road? I'd like to keep costs down but have a good meal here and there -- nothing fancy, just satisfying.
    Our Roadfood page gives you some specific restaurant recommendations. Our Road Eats page gives you links to some websites that rate restaurants, including some that seek out places with great regional cooking or unusual offerings. Both should give you a lot of ideas.

    4. Does anyone know whether it's worth joining AARP for any road trip-related discounts (like hotels, attractions and such)? I have AAA and will see whether I can save with that. But if there are even better discounts with AARP, I will have my parents join before we hit the road.
    I don't know what AARP has to offer, sorry. We have always enjoyed our AAA discounts.

    I haven't planned a set number of days for this trip because my parents are retired and I'm taking a break from work after years of nose to the grindstone. My parents have seen only limited parts of the U.S., so I wanted to give them a wider perspective while they're still healthy enough to enjoy it.
    What a great daughter, you are! It should be a terrific trip. I look forward to helping you as you continue planning.

  7. Default Bag Pittsburgh...

    I'd suggest that rather than traveling due south from Toronto to Pittsburgh that you consider an alternative. Your plans are really focused on larger cities, and there's a great route from Toronto to Philadelphia that will take you through some largely untraveled, but exceptionally beautiful, wine country instead.

    Leave Toronto via the QEW South. Check out Niagara On the Lake and/or the Falls if you're interested (which you have to do if you've never seen them). Then instead of heading south, head due East on I-90. Go about two hours, and get off I-90 at Exit 42 (Geneva). Geneva is a great place to stop and check out historic row houses, Geneva On the Lake (a 5 diamond resort), Belhurst Castle, and the Smith Opera House. You could easily stop here for a day to enjoy the northern shore of Seneca Lake. When you're ready to leave, head South on State Rt. 14. This route will take you about 40 miles south of I-90 almost entirely along the shore of Seneca Lake. You'll pass dozens of wineries, and experience some exceptional scenery. At the southern end of Seneca Lake, you'll come to Watkins Glen. This would be a great stopping point for the night. There are some very nice hotels, and reservations shouldn't be an issue.

    The next morning, check out Watkins Glen State Park for an hour or so (depending on your parents mobility, there are some spectacular gorges and waterfalls that can be accessed via a very nice trail).

    From Watkins Glen, there are a variety of routes that you can take to get to Philadelphia. Most of them will take about 5-6 hours, and are through central PA. Some possibilities include heading East toward Ithaca, NY (where Cornell U. is located, or simply heading due south until you get to NY Rt. 17, heading east and then taking I-81 S until you reach the PA Turnpike, which will take you right to Philly.

    Given the scope of your trip, I can't imagine that you would enjoy Pittsburgh more than this alternative route. It'll be like a breath of fresh air where you can get away from the larger cities for a while-and it will avoid I-80 across PA from Pittsburgh to Philly, which is (again IMO), one of the most boring roads anywhere!

    If you're at all interested in wine, then this route through the Finger Lakes is an absolute must-do! Enjoy the trip, whatever you choose to do!!

    PS....Any baseball fans in the group? It wouldn't be too terribly difficult to incorporate a trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame into this trip! And, oh yeah, there's this other little city that you might want to consider since you'll be this far east. It's about two hours northeast of Philadelphia.......can't seem to recall the name though......New something or other......

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default That being said...

    I really love Pittsburgh. There is something magical about that city -- but the route suggested above has merit too.

    Mark

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    I really love Pittsburgh. There is something magical about that city -- but the route suggested above has merit too.

    Mark
    Hey....there's a first time for everything. And this is the first time I've heard Pittsburgh described as "magical!!" ;))))))))

    Truthfully, my suggestion isn't a knock on Pittsburgh in any way. It really is a wonderful city. I was just thinking that so much of the proposed itinerary focuses on larger cities, that a more rural route might be interesting at that stage of the trip.

    It's cool to have so many great options on a trip of that magnitude!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Ever exited the tunnels at dawn?

    Quote Originally Posted by metsno1 View Post
    Hey....there's a first time for everything. And this is the first time I've heard Pittsburgh described as "magical!!"
    My minds-eye memory of Pittsburgh is exiting the tunnels at dawn with Fort Point and the city beyond stretched in front of me. It always looks like OZ to me. Plus, you gotta love a city that uses the construction of the under-girders of the over-head Interstate highway bridge as the reason for park -- the giant mirimba of Fort Point State park....

    There is another little-known musical treat awaiting visitors in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The next time you are in that fair city, go to Point State Park and proceed to the SW corner (just beyond Ft. Pitt Museum) to a small, concrete amphitheatre located directly under the interchange of I-376 and I-279. The supports for the bridge include large wooden timbers that resonate with booming tones when vehicle traffic passes overhead. It is like listening to the largest marimba you could ever imagine. The range of sounds is remarkably diverse and is one of our all-time favorite places to eat lunch and enjoy free "musical" entertainment.

    Mark

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