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  1. #1

    Default 1 month, 8500+ miles, cross-country

    So me and my best friend, Alex, have wanted to go on a road trip for several years now. We are finally making our dream come true! We are planning on a cross-country road trip from May to June 2009 (4-5 weeks). We are very serious about this trip and we hope nothing gets in the way of us going. We have been planning for about a month now, we already have a huge list of things we need to bring, etcetc..
    Our planned route at this point (but might change on the way) is:
    Pennsylvania (home) to Jacksonville, FL (along with other destinations on the way down the east coast)
    FL to New Orleans, LA
    LA to San Antonio, TX
    TX to Denver and Boulder, CO
    CO to Grand Canyon, AZ
    AZ to Las Vegas, NV
    NV to San Diego and LA, CA
    CA to Portland, OR
    OR to Seattle, WA
    WA to Glacier National Park, MT
    MT to Yellowstone National Park, WY
    WY to Chicago, IL
    IL back to PA (home)

    This trip will roughly be about 8,500 miles (not including back roads, cities, etc) but we will most likely end up doing somewhere between 9,000-10,000 miles.
    We are taking a 2005 Toyota Rav4 with just over 30,000 miles on it. It is a very reliable car and I think it will be great for a road trip this long...not to mention great gas mileage! =)

    All comments/suggestions/criticisms are welcome and appreciated!! Thanks for looking. Hope to hear from some of you!

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

    Default underestimating

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you might be underestimating a bit your total miles. Point to Point, I think this is at least a 9,000 mile trip, but that only using the shortest possible routes. I'd actually expect your total miles to be much closer to 12,000 when all is said and done.

    I also think it will likely take you more time to get to all those place than you might think. 4-5 weeks sounds like a long time, but when you're covering as much area as you're planning, the time will fly by, especially if you plan to stay in any one place for more than a day or two.

    Having said all of that, those are pretty minor obstacles that you can easily overcome. I think you've got a good start, and I'd recommend simply reading the articles and other threads that can be found throughout this site. I think they will give you an excellent foundation to move forward with your planning.

    As you develop more specific questions about your plans, be sure to let us know!

  3. #3


    Thanks for your input! =)
    I mapped out my trip on google...and I know its not completely acurate but it had a total of just over 8600 miles for the trip (point to point). Thats why I said it will probably equal out to be close to 10,000+ miles. There are only a few places we are planning on spending for a couple days. Time is not an issue...if it's over 5 weeks, then its over 5 weeks. We don't want to be time crunched, we want to take our time and see things.

    Also I forgot to mention we plan on camping often, finding "decent" hostels, and staying with friends in Colorado and California. If there are any hostels or campsites you recommend, that would be great! Money is not a huge issue for us, we have a bunch saved up and will keep saving until the trip. We want to conserve our money as much as possible...with a few indugences here and there, of course =P

    Lastly, I read that truck stops are one of the safest places to sleep in your car, is this true? I'm not doubting it, just want to clarify a bit. We will have enough room to sleep comfortably, so we plan on doing this several times.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Yes, but not the quietest

    Although thats what makes them safer.

    Hi Mandy,

    I read that truck stops are one of the safest places to sleep in your car, is this true?
    Although I wouldn't recommend it for getting a good nights sleep, it's the only place I would feel "reasonably comfortable" in the car.

    Here is a Thread on the topic.

    campsites you recommend,
    As you are visiting a lot of N.P's I would certainly recommend staying in there campsites right in the heart of the parks. They are not resort type places but have shower blocks e.t.c. in the main campgrounds and are in great surroundings. The main problem is if you want to remain flexible they can get booked up early.
    If you have the time I would include Yosemite in that list as well as Zion and Bryce.
    The N.P's annual pass is worth purchasing as you can visit any park or Fed lands for a one off fee [not including camping fees] of $80. [unless it's gone up] This is for unlimited visits and after visiting 4 parks it has paid for itself
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 12-11-2008 at 04:28 AM. Reason: typo

  5. #5


    Yeah, I figured. But I think I can deal with the noise. Especially from being exhausted from driving and all, haha.
    Wow, that NP pass sounds great! Thanks! I think I may look in to getting one. We plan on going to several NPs so that would definitely be used more than it's worth!

  6. Default

    Truck stops are much safer than rest areas. Given your name, I wouldn't recommend a young girl to park in a car anywhere.

    As for your time, I did a 10,473 mile trip in 16 days, although didn't see 'as much' as you plan to, it is definitely feasible (and I did mine in January, info is on my site).

    Definitely plan for 2000 more miles than the point-to-point. I originally planned on, at most, 8600 miles, and I wound up cutting corners and still got up to over 10,000.

    As for if you must park, an SUV isn't bad to sleep in (I slept in the back seat of a car mostly). I recommend covering the windows. Both to keep out any auxiliary light (especially if you do sleep in), as well as a sound damper. Truck stops away from big cities should be relatively safe.

    And remember, if you don't intend on going into a city to visit, make sure you get through before you go to sleep, that way you miss rush hour in the morning.

    Other big things, take back roads when feasible. Especially out west. So many non-interstate roads are excellent for high speed travel.

    One big thing I think you're overlooking is Utah. There's so many great national parks there, it's a shame to have such a long trip and to miss all of it.

    Now, Yellowstone, I was just there and I definitely suggest planning for two or three days MINIMUM. I was there for two and felt I missed out on so much.

    All in all, I think it's very doable. You've got the time, the car, etc. Just keep an eye on the oil and coolant. Especially with the changing climates you'll drive through. Take your car to a mechanic and have the whole thing checked out and let him know that you're planning a cross-country trip. A cracked head gasket is much easier fixed before hand than out on the road.

    Which leads me to my next big point, even on a newer car, prepare for breakdowns of any kind. Keep coolant and oil with you. Also, keep a spare fan belt (if you're so inclined), or at least have the all-purpose duct tape. And double check your AC, the first time you go to use it down south or out west isn't the time to find out it quit working or is not working strong.

    Anyways, can't wait to hear your recap.


  7. #7


    Yeah I forgot to mention that we are going through Utah...we plan on going through Moab and Arches NP. I've only been to Utah and Colorado in the winter time, so I'm really looking forward to the beauty of summer out there! =)
    We plan on taking the car to get checked out before the trip, and also to get the oil changed about half-way through our trip. She just purchased the car about two or three weeks ago, but it's a 2005. Even though it doesn't need oil regularly (unlike my car which is a 1992 Honda Prelude) I plan on bringing several bottles just in case =)
    Thanks for all your input! I think we might consider staying at Yellowstone a little longer then.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandy9135 View Post
    So me and my best friend, Alex, have wanted to go on a road trip for several years now. We are finally making our dream come true! We are planning on a cross-country road trip from May to June 2009 (4-5 weeks).
    Wow. Me and a couple friends have been planning almost this exact same trip. I mean, same destinations, same direction. We're even starting (and ending) in Jacksonville. Same time too (May-June '09).

    I'm hoping to keep it under a month if possible. We really have no desire to see anything east of Colorado (with the exception of South Dakota on the return leg), so I'm thinking we can just hammer it out there and back in a few days, and spend as much time as possible wandering the West. The people I'm going with have never been west of New Orleans, but I've done pretty much all of the major stuff out there, but never in one big trip. I'm a little worried we're gonna get bogged down in slower (but beautiful) areas, like Big Sur.

    Not sure on the car yet. Most likely a 2002 BMW 3 Series, but I'm holding out hope for something a little better on gas. 4 people in a sedan probably won't work as far as truck stops, so we'll probably stick to motels and camping.

    Most importantly, we've got 4 people who really, genuinely love road trips, and don't mind sleeping in tents or musty Super 8's for a month.

    Maybe we'll see you out there Mandy!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-16-2008 at 01:35 PM. Reason: shortened the quote for clarity

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by Mandy9135 View Post
    Yeah I forgot to mention that we are going through Utah...we plan on going through Moab and Arches NP.
    Great hostel in Moab, Mandy. Think it was called The Lizard. I stayed there in 2001. If I recall correctly, it cost me $8.00 for the night. :)

    Lifey who loved I-70 around there

  10. #10


    Great! Thanks for letting me know, Lifemagician! I will look into it =)

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