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  1. #1

    Default Quarter Life Crisis Roadtrip!


    I am new to this forum as well as road tripping. I live near the Twin Cities, MN. This summer I wish to take my first road trip. The tentative plan is to venture East to Chicago, South to Gulfport, MS, then West to Dallas, TX. I will be visiting friends/family at these locations. In between the destinations is wide open as far as what I do.

    Places of interest are Highway 101, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Planning is still in the first stage.

    I will be taking this trip solo in my 2000 Mustang convertible. It is a V6 thankfully so gas consumption will be minimized. I need to put some real miles on this thing since it has only gone to and from work since I got it.

    A little about me;

    I am 25 and used to work at an asset manager in Minneapolis. I was laid off in October of 2008 and decided to apply to grad school to obtain my MBA. In the meantime I got a temporary job in income taxes that will continue until 4/15. Therefore, I'm looking to take a long road trip in June during the warm summer months prior to the start of the MBA program in August. The time/miles of the trip are a non issue since I will be once again unemployed after 4/15. I will have a simple job at a golf course to pass the time and pay the bills, but I'm not worried about time off.

    So, I'm looking for suggestions. I plan on making an itinerary, picking up a TomTom/Garmin, and spending some time at the library reading travel books.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time is Only One Factor

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well certainly there's enough to keep you interested on a tour of the Mississippi and western United States, and the general tour you've outlined will take you to much of it, and an open top Mustang is a fine RoadTrip car, but I'm a bit concerned about your finances. You'll be essentially unemployed during the trip and getting ready for grad school. Are you sure that you have the $3,000 to $5,000 or so that this trip is going to cost and that such a trip is the best use of your resources at the moment? If that is in fact the case. what sort of suggestions are you looking for? Destinations? Travel styles? Personally, besides the money issue, the only thing I can suggest from what you've already said is to forget the gadgets (GPS) and just get some good paper maps or an atlas. That's a much better use of your funds and, give you a better situational awareness of what's in your general vicinity at any given time, and help keep your attention on the road and your surroundings rather than looking at or listening to a machine.


  3. #3


    Thank you for your prompt response.

    Since this is a large question, I guess I'm looking for some resources to use to plan. Road Trip USA is a book I have seen that I plan on reading prior. Is there a database of hostels around the USA? I like the idea of meeting some other people who are traveling as I am to share the stories of the road.

    As far as destinations, I wish to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon if possible. Parks and sights are what I'm looking to see. Traveling part of Highway 101 is an idea too. My own preference is to avoid the big cities for the most part.

    I do have some money saved up in the bank after I decided to go the grad school route rather than purchase a home. During the time when I was looking to purchase a home, I moved back in with my family. It is not exactly sexy, but it sure saved me when I got let go from my finance job in October. Right now I'm working overtime in the tax business and this summer I'll pick up the golf course job I've maintained part time over the last few years. The only difference is this year it will be a full time job.

    I have not had a vacation in about 3 years, so I've decided to do one this year before I get back into debt with the grad school loans. Likewise my grad school bill has been softened about 25% due to an academic scholarship.

    $3-5k seems like an awful lot. I was thinking this trip would run me $1.5k tops. My car gets ~27mpg on the highway and I plan on eating cheap as much as possible (Subway or the like).

    In Chicago I have family to stay with which would save the first night of lodging. In MS I have a friend to stay with which would save the 2nd or 3rd night of lodging. In Texas I have friends to stay with as well. So several of the nights will not require a hotel/motel/hostel.

    The other nights I'm hoping to find some hostels to stay at. When I was 19, I went to FL and stayed in a hostel meeting some of the most interesting people. Ideally I would like to benefit from the camraderie of hostels with this trip.

    As you can see I'm still brainstorming. But my financial obligations are very light at the moment. I would hope that money should not be an obstacle to doing a trip I've been dreaming about.

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

    Default variables

    I'm a little confused, simply because of how vauge your plans are at this point.

    How long are you thinking that you will be on the road? While its great that you have some flexability, the longer you are on the road, the more money your trip will cost. A rough timeline will also help you get a feel for how much stuff you'll realistically be able to fit into your tirp.

    Where my confusion comes in is that on one hand it sounds like you are talking about taking a pretty significant trip. To do a trip down to mississippi and Dallas, out to the Grand Canyon and the West Coast, and then Back through Yellowstone is the kind of trip where I'd guess you were thinking 3 weeks to a month. However, when talking about your budget, you're talking about staying with friends in Chicago and Mississippi as having a big part in your budget. Staying with friends for 2-3 nights on a weeklong trip is a big money saver in terms of your overall budget, but 2-3 nights of free lodging on a month long trip will be a very minor factor in your overall costs.

    There are ways to save money on the road. Hostels can be a great choice to save money and to meet people along the way, but they will still usually cost $20-30 a night and often are only available in urban areas. Even eating cheaply, you'll spend at least $10-15 a day on food, but if you are planning to do a majority of eating at restaraunts (even fast food), that can easily start getting up around $20. I'd be planning to spend at least $800 on gas if you go out to the west coast, but with ever changing gas prices that can be hard to guess. Plus, you'll also want some money just for fun and other misc. expenses that come up during a trip. Traveling often is a lot more expensive than people think it will be, so while you can certainly have a nice trip for $1,500, I don't think that money will go as far as you might think, and you might have to scale back your plans if that is the most you can spend.

  5. #5


    Highway 101 is not necessary. And the mapping I have done via google has alerted me what a long trip that would be. Would a 1.5-2 week trip suffice to drive South and return back to MN stopping at various parks along the way (Yellowstone for sure)?

    My planning is in the exploratory stages and the only firm plans are to visit friends and family in the locations mentioned.

    So, being this is my first trip, I'm looking for suggestions and advice. While I realize that is a very vague request, I just don't know a better way to go about the planning.

    At the library I picked up Road Trip USA to browse through. Otherwise I'm simply getting started by reading this forum and that book.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default magic formulas

    You might be able to do a trip down south and back through Yellowstone in 2 weeks. If you just did a trip to the places you mentioned, drove straight out to Yellowstone, and back to MSP you'd be looking at a 4000 mile trip. That works out to about 8 full days of driving. It also depends upon how far you are comfortable driving in a day, how much time you want to spend at your destinations, etc. If you could add a little more time, I'd think about a loop going south, over to the Grand Canyon, up through Utah, to Yellowstone. This adds more miles, but goes through some pretty interesting country with several national parks along the way.

    I find the best way to start planning a trip like this is simply to grab a map/atlas and start looking at the places you might like to go, and the country in which you'd be driving through. A good map or atlas will have lots of points of interest, parks, and other things that you can consider visiting. Certainly, looking at this site, books, and other resources can help as well. Remember, the great thing about a roadtrip is that there is no one route, one plan, or one itinerary that will fit the needs of every traveler. Roadtrips are all about planning your own adventure, and then getting out there to find things that you'd never see just by looking in a book.

  7. #7


    Here is my tentative plan. Wow is all I can say! That is a lot of miles! Assuming gas is $3/gallon, I will need to budget around $650 for fuel. Lodging the first 3 - 5 nights will be free. The rest of the trip I'll need to stay somewhere cheap.

    Thank you for allowing me to bounce my ideas off here. The next step will be to search for parks and places of interest along the way. I realize that most of the trip will be spent on the road, but that is part of the way I planned it.

    I'm open to suggestions along this path, or alternative paths along this general outline.

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

    Default overages

    Remember, that even though your point to point distances will only be about 5500 miles, that doesn't include any miles for driving within town, inside parks, finding places to eat/sleep, etc. Realistically, I'd guess you'll actually travel at least 7000 miles if you did that outline of a trip, and you'll probably want to adjust your budget accordingly.

  9. #9



    I'm sorry to inform those on this site that I will not be able to take this vacation.

    School expenses are becoming real to me know and I just can't justify it.

    Maybe I'll take a trip to Duluth or Wis Dells for a weekend, but a long vacation will not occur.

    Thanks to those members who helped me along.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default keeping it simple

    Sorry to hear you're not going to be able to do as big of a trip as you'd hoped.

    However, I still would encourage you to take a small trip just to get a way for awhile. There's absolutely nothing that says you have to drive thousands of miles to have a great roadtrip.

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