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  1. Default cross country trip.. new plan

    We were planning to drive around the country a few years ago (while in college), but didn't have the funds! This year we finally have REAL jobs, so we can afford to save up however much we need for next Spring.

    We plan to leave in mid-May, and get back.. whenever (I'm thinking about a month). We are starting out in Buffalo, NY, heading over to the start of route 66, and taking route 66 all the way down to LA. From there we want to go up the coast all the way to Washington, and then back towards Buffalo, stopping at Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, and the Field of Dreams on the way.

    There are 4 of us, the trip is about 6000 miles, and I'm figuring gas will be around $5.00/gallon by then so I'm planning on at least $1500 in gas.

    We want to drive on average about 4 hours/day (some days 8 hours, some days none), camp about 3/4 of the nights, and splurge on a nice hotel about every 4 days. We'll be preparing food ourselves most of the time, and again, splurging on a nice restaurant (by nice, I mean Fridays or Applebees) maybe once/week.

    We'll need to factor in admission fees to parks, but besides that, we probably won't be spending much on souvenirs or activities. We'll mostly be just spending our time doing camping stuff, hanging out, playing cards (simple stuff), and of course taking lots and lots of pictures.

    Does $5,000 and a month sound reasonable if we want to really take the time to enjoy everything?

    Sarah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default VERY Tight

    Think about this. Once you take out $1500 for gas (and that's not budgeting too much) you're left with $3500 for 4 people to live on for 30 days, or about $850/month/person. Now, do you think that you could live on an annual budget of about $10,000? And traveling is more expensive than day-to-day living. Now there are certainly ways to travel cheaply, but I think you're going to be hard pressed to have a pleasurable journey on your current budget. Try going through this post to see where you need to put your money and how much. Also sit down with your friends and take this "test" to make sure you all are on the same page as to what you want out of this trip. You can certainly make this trip and have fun, but you greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome if you start out with your eyes wide open to the difficulties you'll face.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-19-2008 at 07:09 PM.

  3. Default

    Microsoft Trips & Streets says your proposed route will be about 6577 miles and you'll be driving 97 hours /48 minutes -- of course, this doesn't include any around-town driving, nor does it include any getting-lost time. This means you'll be averaging 219 miles per day, or about four hours driving time per day.

    I don't know what kind of car you're driving, but I made the assumption that you're getting about 20 mpg (a car big enough to carry camping gear for four people probably won't get better than that), which means you'll be spending about 1644.49 in gas (using your proposed $5/gallon, which, of course, is anyone's guess).

    That leaves you just under $3500 for four people. That's about $29 per person per day to eat, sleep, wash clothes, and see things. One thing I'd "up" is the idea of eating out only once a week; eating from the cooler, while economical, gets old in a hurry -- it's more realistic to say that you'll eat out every other day at the least.

    One more question: One year out of college, do you have enough vacation to do a one-month trip?

  4. Default Probably not enough $$$.....

    I'll throw out a round number here.....$2500/person, which is $625/week. Let's break it down per week:

    $125 for gas
    $150 for hotels and camping
    $150 for food
    $100 for admissions, etc.
    $100 for anything else

    I've been researching a trip that included LA (now off our list in favor of Monterey) and San Francisco (still on the itinerary), and I gotta tell you-camping is the way to go to save money in these areas, but I had real trouble finding anything that was convenient to the cities themselves. We've ended up with hotels that were more than we had originally budgeted for. I imagine that your group will want to spend some time in LA, San Fran, Seattle, and maybe some other places en route. Remember that your hotel costs are going to be significantly higher in these areas, and will bring your lodging costs up significantly.

    Plus, there's always that really lousy thought of car repairs. I guess that's what credit cards are for.....but I'd still be budgeting at least $2500 each for a full month on the road.

    Good luck and enjoy the planning!

  5. Default $10,000, really?

    That sounds like a LOT. I guess I'll have to try and budget everything out more accurately and get back to you!

    We aren't really concerned with seeing any of the big cities, besides L.A. I have a cousin in San Diego we could stay with (I know it's a few hours away) We're more focused on just finding really great camping spots, hiking trails, and (natural) sights. While in San Francisco we'll be staying with my aunt.

    And it sounds like MS Trips and Streets is a necessity. Is it worth buying that now, or should I just wait until right before we go, so that we have the latest edition?

    Mrs. Pete, the two of us who are out of college (and who will be paying for most of this) have jobs that aren't year round. We're off from mid-May to mid-August. The other two don't have the "real jobs" yet.. they're doing work-study at college, which ends mid-May as well.

    Car repairs.. that's something I don't even want to think about! But of course, we have to prepare for it. We'll definitely have it checked out before we go, and there will be a guy with us who knows a lot about cars. Of course, he can't fix everything, but at least we know we won't get ripped off.

    Like I said though, I'll budget everything out and run this by everyone again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default Some numbers

    That sounds like a LOT. I guess I'll have to try and budget everything out more accurately and get back to you!
    It might sound like a lot, and it might be more than you need, but you also need to remember you're talking about living expenses for 4 people. However, since you'll be able to pool some of your costs, you will be able to save some.

    Here's what I would see as a rough breakdown of expenses based on what you've laid out:

    Gas: I think you're shooting way too low at a $1500 estimate. 6,000 miles point to point doesn't factor in the extra driving you'll do while you look for places to see, stay, etc. I'd say 10k miles is much more likely when all is said and done. If you get a reasonable 20 mpg, you're actually looking at $2500 for fuel alone.

    Food: If you really keep to your plan of only eating out once a week, you can probably get your food expenses down to $20 per person per day. That's another $2400.

    Lodging: 23 Days of Camping and 7 nights at a budget motel, that's going to be about $900 dollars.

    You're already at $6000 for this trip using some pretty conservative estimates, and that's before you factor in any misc spending for admission fees, entertainment, and other activities. I'd factor another $10 per day per person, which adds another $1000 to your trip.

    And it sounds like MS Trips and Streets is a necessity. Is it worth buying that now, or should I just wait until right before we go, so that we have the latest edition?
    I've never purchases S&T before, and I've certainly never thought of it as a requirement. I've been quite happy just using a good atlas and the various free online mapping programs. However, it does have some nice features that you could very well find helpful. If you do decide to get it, I would assume you'd want to use it to help plan your trip, which would mean getting it sooner rather than later.

  7. Default Budgets.. 6700?

    I've budgeted everything out a little more in depth now.. and it seems like $6700 is a good number..

    Here's our trip mapped out (of course I'm sure it will change during the year):


    Day 1: Buffalo, NY to St. Louis: 12 hours (driving), stay in a hotel

    Day 2: to Amarillo: 12 hours, stay in a hotel, see the Cadillac Ranch on the morning of Day 3

    Day 3-4: to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, AZ: 8 hours, camp 2 nights

    Day 5-6: to Winslow, AZ: 1 hour, and then to the Grand Canyon: 2.5 hours, camp 2 nights

    Day 7: to Las Vegas: 4.5 hours, stay the night- hotel

    Day 8-9: to Death Valley National Park: 3.5 hours, camp 2 nights

    Day 10-12: to Yosemite: 5 hours, camp 3 nights

    Day 13-14: to San Francisco: 4 hours, stay 2 nights in hotel (or with relatives)

    Day 15-16: to Patrick's Point State Park: 5 hours, camp 2 nights

    Day 17-19: to Colombia Gorge: 8 hours (maybe stopping a night halfway in between) -staying in hotel 3 nights

    Day 20-23: to Yellowstone: 12 hours (maybe stopping a night halfway in between) -hotel 1 night, camping other 3

    Day 24-27: to Grand Teton: 2 hours, camping 4 nights

    Day 28: to Mount Rushmore: 8 hours, hotel 1 night

    Day 29: back home to Buffalo (after seeing Rushmore in the morning): 21 hours (obviously stopping 1-2 nights on our way) -hotels for these 1-2 stops



    I included $2500 in gas as you suggested (who knows what gas will be by then), $1000 for 10 nights in hotels (1/3 of the trip), $500 in camping costs for 20 nights (averaging $25/night), $300 in entry fees (I know it averages out to about $2.50/person/day, but some days we won't be spending anything- for example, if we're staying in the park for several days, and I imagine the camping fee includes entry fees in many places.

    For food, you said I might be able to get those costs down to $20/person/day if we eat out once/week. I used those estimates, but I still feel like they are high. $20 a day is enough to eat out for every meal- a $5 breakfast, $5 lunch, and $10 dinner. (we always split our restaurant meals, anyway). The last time we went camping we spent $25 on food, and that was enough to last all 4 of us the full 3 days (and we had lots leftover). When we're camping, we'll basically be eating hot dogs, cereal, beans, hamburgers, apples and bananas. And for drinks, we usually just get a few gallons of 69cent water. Whatever is leftover from food money, though, we can put towards activities.

    Thanks everyone for all your help, please let me know if there's something I'm still not taking into consideration. Like I said though, we're more into just hanging out and appreciating (and photographing) the beautiful landscapes, than we are into doing "activities" like guided tours, boat rides, shopping, etc..

    Sarah

  8. Default tips for REALLY longg road trips? (6000+ miles)

    The current plan adds up to over 6000 miles- from Buffalo to Grand Canyon, up the Pacific Coast to the Columbia Gorge, and back home. We're traveling for a month, staying in hotels 1/3 of the time (mostly after very long drives)

    Anyways, I wonder if anyone here who's taken a LONG road trip like this has any advice on not getting really sick of driving, and of each other! And is there a way to avoid sore butts from sitting so long? (hehe)

    Thanks!
    Sarah

    PS: We've looked at the compatibility test on this site already- we're all on the same page when it comes to what we want to do/see
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-25-2008 at 08:24 PM. Reason: Please don't make duplicate threads for the same trip!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default The Chicken Dance!

    Quote Originally Posted by puff5655 View Post
    And is there a way to avoid sore butts from sitting so long?
    There are some tips here, but one of the best things you can do is MOVE -- When you stop for fuel or food do the "Chicken Dance or the YMCA dance" Get the body parts moving.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    The current plan adds up to over 6000 miles- from Buffalo to Grand Canyon, up the Pacific Coast to the Columbia Gorge, and back home. We're traveling for a month, staying in hotels 1/3 of the time (mostly after very long drives)
    This is probably just from point-to-point. Once you add in driving to-from campgrounds, sights you're exploring, and just pulling over for food/fuel, you'll need to significantly pad that number to get a true picture. I usually add 30%. Sometimes this is more cushion than I need but then the excess fuel money can go toward something else. I'd rather be over than under.

    Anyways, I wonder if anyone here who's taken a LONG road trip like this has any advice on not getting really sick of driving, and of each other!
    I see you have scheduled days when you're staying put and not driving. That's great. That should keep you from getting tired of driving. If you do get tired on the driving days you're doing, then you just need to get into the roadtrip mentality. Then the driving is fun. Particularly when spaced out as you have scheduled things.

    Don't do all your activities together. Allow for people going off on their own now and then. It's OK to hike for awhile alone. Or stay behind and read a book. Whatever. You don't have to be joined at the hip.

    for example, if we're staying in the park for several days, and I imagine the camping fee includes entry fees in many places.
    Not in national parks. You will need to either pay an entry fee at each park or get a national parks pass.

    For food, you said I might be able to get those costs down to $20/person/day if we eat out once/week. I used those estimates, but I still feel like they are high. $20 a day is enough to eat out for every meal- a $5 breakfast, $5 lunch, and $10 dinner.
    Ever hear of "Supercize Me"? Seriously, this is fastfood for every meal. Maybe you're young enough to handle it but I feel like crap if I eat this way very often and it sure doesn't give you the energy you need for hiking and other activities that require some exertion. And it doesn't really lend itself well to long driving days either. If you want to keep healthy and fit on your trip, this isn't hte way to go.

    Few people are as thrifty as I am when it comes to food budgets, both at home and on the road. We generally only eat out ever 2-3 days when traveling but, when we do, we like to eat something that reflects local cuisine. It's part of the experience of being on the road and it would be nice to budget some money for doing this.

    Heck, even ice to keep things cold could be $2-4 a day. Where you're going, even enough water to stay hydrated will add up. I wouldn't be surprised if you're drinking more than a case a day in places like Death Valley. I agree that $20 a day might be a bit high if you're eating is simple and mostly prepared yourself from your cooler. But I think your expectation of $25 for all of you to last up to 3-4 days is really low. With careful shopping, you'll might be somewhere around $20/day for all of you. But don't be surprised if it goes higher sometimes either. Don't seriously under-budget here.

    I hope you have your campsites reserved in popular places like Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone.

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