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  1. Default Jan. Road Trip From Wisconsin to California and back.

    Hello this is my first time posting-

    I just graduated from college and plan on going on a road trip from 1/01/09 to 1/20/09. I'm flying to Wisconsin from NYC on the 1st and flying back on the 20th.

    My hope is to travel across America by Route 66 and see as much as possible, not in a "I went by this state and this state" but actually enjoying the local diners and sights. I'm going with a friend (both of us are from abroad, so this is something that we are excited about) using his car. We hope to camp as much as possible, staying at a motel or hotel every third day or so to recuperate.
    Another friend told me to read the guide Road Trip USA by Jaimie Jensen and this is the reference we are using for the trip.

    I would love to get advice on:

    1. General Tips for a road trip.
    2. If 3 weeks is enough time to enjoy everything Route 66 has to offer (keeping in mind we have to drive back as well, hopefully using a different road)
    3. What the weather conditions would be like, and camping grounds on the way.

    We are still in the planning stages and trying to spend as less money as possible. Thanks for reading this and I hope to get great advice!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    We have several pages dedicated to US-66, with good advice. Some things to remember:

    US-66 essentially ran from Chicago to LA. The last section of the highway was decommissioned more than 20 years. In many places, it is signed "Historic 66" or similar, but it is no longer a US route.

    The first leg of this trip is in areas that are prone to seeing snow, etc. You may be limited in your choice of camping until into Texas. Even then, the route that 66 took still hits some higher elevations prone to snowfall.

    Jensen's book is good, but you may also want to check out Michael Wallis' "Route 66 - The Mother Road" for a more in depth overview.

    As for general tips for a road trip, check out our planning pages.

    Some other general tips - plan a budget. Start with $100/day as a guideline. Let others know where you will be, and have an emergency plan available. Knowing that your travel partner is allergic to penicillin will greatly help if that person is incoherent and has to receive a shot at 3am in Shamrock Texas hospital.

    Take your time, there's no clock telling you that you should make it from point A to point B in a certain amount of time. Enjoy the trip in between, and be open to following an urge to travel that anonymous two-lane road. Still, when a sign says "high ground clearance vehicles only"... it isn't just a suggestion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default starting point

    I'm curious as to why you are flying out to New York if your first goal is to drive Route 66. The route started in Chicago, so if you're flying out of Wisconsin, then your departure airport will be closer to the beginning than your landing spot!

    I'd also say that skipping the flight will save you money and time, not only because you'd have to travel fewer miles but you also wouldn't be spending 2 of your 20 days in airports.

    20 days seems like a lot of time, and it is, but if you start to explore things along the way, and then spend a few days in California, your time will go quicker than you might think.

    I will also echo Tims thoughts about camping. Even though you'll be farther south, you'll still need to expect cold temperatures (especially at night) and you'll need winter camping gear even in places like Oklahoma and Texas. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see some snow or ice at some point of your trip.

    Roadtrip USA is a good book, but for a trip specific to Route 66, there are better choices out there. The link Tim provided will have some more recommendations.

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

    Default great maps!

    I love the maps, especially the one showing the elevation of I-40 through Arizona and New Mexico.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Kudos, Kudos, Kudos!


    Congratulations on the promotion to Road Warrior and thanks for that graphical representation of the elevation gains for I-40. Excellent, Excellent!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico


    Thanks, guys. :-) I’ve been working on that route profile for awhile. (lots of trial and error)

    Here’s another snowfall map from the 1970 National Atlas.

    The UT-Austin Library has some neat stuff available online, including maps of U.S. National Parks and Monuments.

  7. Default Thanks!

    Thank you everyone for your advice.
    This is really helpful. I'm planning on getting thermal clothing and sleeping bags.
    I'm hoping to spend less than $1000 on this trip. Is this possible? We are planning on camping whenever we can (after reading your replies, we might actually take the "Southern Pacific Route" as named in the Road Trip USA book, hopefully the weather is good enough to camp) and then go north through the Pacific Coast to Oregon (where I hope to visit Bagby Hot Springs, from the film Old Joy) and then drive back to Wisconsin ASAP.
    Trying to do a rough budget including gas, national park permits, and motels.
    I'm pretty sure there will be unforeseen elements that I am not aware of as someone who hasn't done a road trip on this scale before.

    Another problem is the car my friend and I are driving is a manual shift (and I'm not man enough to know how to drive one). This means only my friend will be driving while I hope to learn from him on the road.
    This means we won't be able to be on the road driving as much as we would like. How do you think this affects our trip? I would really love to see as much as I can before I have to leave America (my student visa will expire).

    Again, thanks for reading and your help!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default limitations

    A couple things,

    First, I'd recommend building your route based on what you want to see more than where you hope you'll see good weather. Even if you drive down along I-10, you're can and likely will see cold weather, with snow/ice in the list of possibilities. I'd also say that make sure your sleeping bags are rated to at least Zero Degrees, if not colder, and make sure you get a good sleeping pad/mat to help insulate you from the ground. I love tent camping, but the most miserable nights I've ever spent were in places where my gear was not good/warm enough for the conditions.

    I also think right now you might be trying to do too much.

    The biggest drawback of having just one driver is that it will put bigger limitations on how far you can drive in one day. If you're just moseying along, stopping frequently, and only hoping to cover a few hundred miles a day, one drive won't matter much. If you are hoping to do some speed run elements (like heading back to Wisconsin ASAP), then you'll really have to monitor driver fatique, both for safety and to make sure you're both having a good time.

    I'd say with one driver, it sounds like you're probably trying to do a bit much in 3 weeks, and I also don't think you'll have as much exploration time as you might like.

    Budget wise, is the $1000 each or for both of you? Are you still flying out to NY and are plane tickets included in your budget? I think Tim's $100 a day is a good rough estimate, and I suspect that $1000 will be on the low side, but you might be able to work it out if you are very frugal.

  9. Default Again, thanks.

    I'm very glad I found this site. Reading through the various forums and planning tips is a big help.

    I'm still planning on going to Wisconsin to start the trip (that's where my friend who has the car lives). And the $1000 budget is for each individual (and I know this is on the very cheap side, but is it unrealistic?)

    My friend is asking around to see if we can borrow another friend's automatic shift car (not likely though).

    So, the question is, if you were in my situation, what would you do? What route would you follow? What would you sacrifice?

    If I had to choose, I would really love to explore the southern/western part of America. Enjoy the cuisine (I love food), the weather, and the desert. Both of us wants to see Death Valley, Las Vegas, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyons.

    Again, thanks everyone for taking your time and answering. I hope to share my experience on the road with you once I come back to NYC.


  10. #10


    colamukja, I am taking a trip from Wisconsin and back myself, though in May, and if you are interested in the route I am planning, feel free to browse my travel plans here.

    If National Parks are something you plan on visiting through, I would consider purchasing the National Parks and Federeal Recreational Lands Annual Pass ($80). The National Parks Pass provides entrance or access at Federally operated recreation sites across the country, with minimal fees at certain parks. It can be a money saver depending on how many parks you plan on traveling through.

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