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  1. Default Planning massive summer road trip suggestions needed

    Hello everyone.

    My 3 friends and I are planning on traveling from Greensboro, NC north to NYC, from NYC we are going to Toronto, Canada then from Toronto to Chicago. We will then follow highway 90 (stopping along many national parks) until we reach Seattle. While in Seattle we would like to spend atleast a day in Vancouver, Canada. After exploring the Northwest we are going south and ride along the scenic Pacific coast until we reach Los Angeles. From LA we want to then go to Las Vegas. From Las Vegas were going to get on I-40E and head back to NC but on the way back we want to make many stops in New Mexico, Texas, and Tennessee.

    I know it sounds like a lot for a bunch of teenagers but im prepared for the challenge. Our itinerary is still pretty much up in the air but we'd like to visit the cities I mentioned above. Safety is our primary concern as we would rather camp out than go to cheap motels (Although it will be necessary sometimes). We'd also like to buy our own groceries rather than eat out. We have almost 2 months to complete this journey so we don't have to worry about putting in long miles every day or driving fast. In all I did the math and we will probably end up putting in about 6000-7000 miles throughout the trip.

    Our choice of vehicles are a 2002 Honda Accord with about 115000 miles already on it and a slightly newer Honda CR-V with about 80,000 miles on it.
    Both vehicles have advantages and disadvantages and were still unsure about which one to choose. Also money is a slight issue, we still don't know exactly how much we'll need for food or souvenirs. We estimate 1000 dollars for each person should be enough but its still a very unclear subject. I calculated gas costs for the Honda Accord and it will be $700-1000 for the whole trip and we are going to split the cost for this.

    If you could maybe suggest some places to go on the way or add in some suggestions about costs that would be very helpful. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Hard Reality

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First off, congratulations on thinking and planning this far ahead, and for seeking advice from those who've done this before. Two months would be plenty of time for the trip as you've laid it out, and the Accord, while cramped, should be up to the trip assuming it has been thoroughly checked out by a competent mechanic and is in good shape. So much for the good news. Unfortunately I don't think your budget is up to what you want to do. Your gas bill is more likely to be in the neighborhood of $1250 than $700, but let's call it an even $1000 for an initial discussion. Now let's assume that you camp out every night in the cheapest campsites available, typically state parks for $15-20. over two months, that's around another $1000. So half your budget is already gone. That leaves you trying to eat, and pay any admissions on a little over $8/day per person. That is not going to be a fun trip. Plus even at that there is no margin for error. The chances of your not needing any repair work on a car with that many miles on it over the 6000-7000 miles of your trip are practically nil, no matter that it is in apparently good shape when you start out. At the very least you'll have to do at least one routine oil change.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from RoadTripping, just to be more realistic about what it takes to put together an enjoyable experience. I think you can have a great trip if you either double your budget, cut the trip back to one month (with a less ambitious itinerary) or some combination of the two. For a better grasp on costs other than the bare necessities I've outlined, have a look at this great discussion started by Judy, but don't forget to adjust for inflation. Also look at these tips. RoadTrips can be a great way to see America on the relatively cheap, but they still do cost a bit. Trying to do them on too little is a recipe for disaster. Take it from someone's who's been there.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    $1000 for each person on the road is way too low. I would give a very conservative estimate to be in the range of $30-40 per person, per day, eating healthy. Food costs have risen significantly over the past couple of years, essentially in lockstep with rising fuel costs.

    On top of this, there will be lodging costs whether you camp or stay at a cheap motel. If I go really cheap here I would say $15/night, or $900 for two months. Over that span of time there is no question that you are going to want to spring for a motel room a few times.

    Neither of your vehicle choices seem to offer a lot of room for four person's worth of multi-week gear (but then again, not many do), though you could work with a rooftop carrier in either one. Provided whichever one you choose is sound mechanically, I don't really see an advantage either way. I may be mistaken, but I think the sedan has more passenger room than the SUV.

    You're going to want to check out our planning pages. There you will find our compatibility quiz - it's recommended that everyone take the quiz to ensure you all know exactly what kind of trip you want.

    I think once you are honest with yourselves about the budget you have for this trip, you'll be better prepared to know whether or not a trip of this caliber is feasible at this time.

    If it turns out the trip will far exceed your budget, you can always trim it down to something more manageable - say a couple of weeks on the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default cargo

    I actually think the CRV will be almost a must. Trying to get camping gear and luggage for 4, even if you pack light, into an accord's trunk will be very difficult to say the least. The rooftop carrier idea that Tim mentioned I think would be practically required. I've taken several trips with my friends where we've used a small SUV or station wagon, and we've fit everything inside, but it is pilled to the ceiling. If we are really careful about how we pack, sometimes we can just barely see out of part of the back window. There's no way we'd be able to fit everything into a sedan's trunk. Between the extra cargo space, and it being a newer vehicle, the CRV would be the obvious choice for me, and when comparing it to an accord with a rooftop carrier, I don't think you'll even see much of a difference in fuel consumption.

    I will say that I think you are underestimating your total distance rather significantly. Your point to point distances might only be 7,000 miles, but when you factor in driving around towns, to and from your campsite, etc, I think your total miles will be at least 10,000. Because of that, I'd plan to spend at least $2000 on gas, assuming that the price of fuel ends up being between $4.50 and $5 next summer. I'm not sure how you came up with the $700 number, but unless the price of gas plummets in the next year, I don't see anyway you come close to that mark.

    Throw in $1000 for camping every night (which is probably low since you should also budget for a few motel nights) and you've only got $1000 left to eat and enjoy total for 2 months, which only $4 per day per person.

    I'd say you probably need to increase your total budget to about $1500 each for this to be a more feasable but frugal trip. If you can't come up with that kind of cash, then I think you would be best off scaling back your plans. Even dropping your trip to one month, and maybe shaving some of the distance off your trip will reduce your expenses considerably.

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