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  1. Default Help and tips needed for Summer 2010

    hey all me and a few other friends are planning on going on a mega road trip across america in the summer of 2010. we would start at detroit michigan and make a big circle.

    im british, and so don't know exactly all the best sites in america to visit, but there are a number of american friends that i have who will definitely be coming with us.

    So far these are the sites we've highlighted as places we'd go:
    Detroit to Yellowstone Nation Park, before Mount Rushmore and then to Salt Lake City.

    After that, we'd go to the west coast, keep going down to places such as LA, San Diego etc.

    We'd then cut inside to Las Vegas, then Grand Canyon, and then drive way over to Dallas.

    From there we'd go to New Orleans, and then to Florida and visit Miami and a theme park there.

    After that we'd move upwards towards South Carolina, then D.C. then upwards to New York, staying there for probably 2 days. We'd then go upwards to Niagra Falls and cross Canadian border, before making way back to Detroit.

    We'd have at least 4 drivers on this trip, with possible 7. Quite a few of them are willin to drive at night so we were thinking that we could take shifts and be driving while we're sleeping as well to keep the trip within a month. If we were driving practically all the time apart from when we were in a city visiting, do you think we could do this trip in a month?

    The accomodation would be mostly free of charge, as we may have a motor home, and the remaining ones would sleep in tents and in the car, or at friend's houses. We'd be willing to cook most of the food ourselves as we'll have quite a few cooks and meals would be provide for us, though of course we would eat out say possibly 4 times a week.

    There's a max of around 14 going on this trip, in which case we'd take numerous cars, and a min of 7. So, excluding accomodation costs, how much do you think it would cost in total?

    I was hoping to keep to a budget of $3500, possibly $4000. Do you think that's reasonable?

    And apart from the sights I've already mentioned, are there any other major must-see places that wouldnt veer us too far off course?
    Thanks a lot for your help, Michael.
    Last edited by Mass Tim; 02-25-2009 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Added whitespace

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default details

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Its really going to be hard to put a finger on a budget when you've still got so many things up in the air. Quite frankly, the difference between 7 people on a trip and 14 makes a huge difference in your budget. How are you getting your transportation, and what is it going to cost? That could be a major portion of your expenses. Are you looking at renting, and if so, what are your ages?
    The accomodation would be mostly free of charge, as we may have a motor home,
    As the phrase goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and having a motor home certainly doesn't mean you get to sleep for free all the time. If you get to park at your friends houses, then that will be free, but most of the time, you'll still have campground fees to consider. You'll also be spending more on fuel, on things like fees to dump your waste water, etc. RVs are rarely a way to save money on a trip, although with 7 people, your costs might not be much more than other options.

    We'd have at least 4 drivers on this trip, with possible 7. Quite a few of them are willin to drive at night so we were thinking that we could take shifts and be driving while we're sleeping as well to keep the trip within a month.
    Shift driving on a trip like this would be, simply put, counter productive on a trip like this. First of all, you simply can't sustain it physically over a full month, but you're also going to have the factor that you'll inevitably be getting to your destinations in the middle of someone's night. Whoever was driving through the night won't be having much fun once they get to a city if they haven't had a chance to sleep. Put simply, build a plan where everyone can have fun, not where you try to kill yourselves just so you can cross everything off a big list.

    I was hoping to keep to a budget of $3500, possibly $4000. Do you think that's reasonable?
    For everyone or each? $4000 for 7 people for a month sounds unrealistically low, but you've got a lot of details you still need to sort out.

  3. Default thanks for the quick reply!

    yeah i realize that the details are quite vague at the moment, I'm just kind of looking for a really rough budget far in advance for me to have a target. My bad, I meant $3500 per person, with possibly even more than that if the pound recovers further against the dollar by then.
    Ok, thanks for the advice about taking night shifts, I think we'll pretty much scrap the idea, apart from driving all day long and only stopping at night and to sight-see.
    would you say $3500 sounds do-able, with like souveneirs and sights being seen on the way? To be honest, we wouldn't spend much money, apart from places like New York, Florida.
    We are expecting to sleep rough most nights, and I've lived with most if not all of these people before so I know i can stand them. With that many people as well we were thinking it would all work out better as if people didnt like each other they could just travel in separate vehicles!!
    So would you recommend a motor home, or would it be better to just bring grill with us instead?
    Does a month sound reasonable for this trip? I realize it's quite idealistic at the moment, but i mean we are willing to spend 5 weeks on this if we have to.
    We'll have 2 adults, maybe 3 with us, most of us will 17/18 years old at the time.
    To be honest, the places that I've mentioned are places we've really set our hearts on going to, and so my main real question is can we see all of those and enjoy them to a reasonable standard, at $3500 each and 4 weeks, without having to compromise too much on fun?
    One last question: are there any other must-see sights we really need to go to on this once in a lifetime trip? I want to make sure I really get in practically all the main attractions, because i may never be able to do somehting like this again!
    Thank you SO much for ur help!!
    Last edited by michaba03m; 02-23-2009 at 08:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default remaining questions

    I'm still a little confused about how exactly you are getting your transportation? And when you say you will have 2 adults with you, how old of adults are we talking about?

    That aspect of your trip changes things rather significantly, as 17/18 year olds generally are not allowed to drive a rental car, and even if you find another option, the insurance costs will be astronomical.

    $3500 each sounds within the range of reason, but if you need to include airline tickets and your transportation method, that might get a little tight. You could probably fit everything in over 4 weeks, but you'll be rushed. If you can do 5 weeks, I would.

    I will also say that living with people is different than traveling with them. When you live with someone, you can always go into another room, or leave the house when you need a break. When you're traveling you're in tight quarters nearly constantly which can strain even the closest of friendships. It doesn't mean that you can't have a good trip, just don't assume that everything will be ok because you are good friend. Having 2 cars would help break people up, but it sounds like you could be having issues with not enough people who will be able to drive.

  5. Default remaining questions

    the two adults are in their 40s and can both drive. The other drivers will already have insurance so that wouldn't be a cost of the trip. I'm figuring that the adults would drive the rentals if we took them out and the other drivers would drive their own cars/ parent's cars which they'll already have insurance for. I'm guessing 3/4 of the accomodation will be camping, sleeping in the car and staying at friend's houses, and the remainder being motels and hostels. We'd be absolutely willing to stay in bare minimum accomodation; the cheaper the better.
    Regarding living with each other, i meant I've camped with all of them on numerous occasions in cramped conditions so seriously there will definitely be no problem there whatsoever.
    Thanks for all your advice on this!
    Are there any other must-see sights in america apart from the ones I first mentioned?

  6. Default

    Several comments:

    You have too many "up in the airs" right now to say whether the budget is realistic or not.

    First you need to nail down how many people are committed to this trip, how many can come up with the estimated $3500-4000, and how many can be away from work for five full weeks.

    Then get realistic about your transportation; how many cars do you need for your trip participants, and how many drivers are you going to have? No rental place will let anyone 17/18 drive their cars, and anyone under 25 is going to pay significantly higher prices. 2-3 adults cannot do all the driving for multiple cars all the time. You said you "might have" an RV -- is this something you're looking at renting, or something that one of your American friends already has? If you're looking at renting it, then you have no hope of sticking to the $3500-4000 budget. Does the $3500-4000 include airfare?

    Midwest Michael has already pointed out that shift driving, though great in theory, has its shortcomings. You can't realistically expect to move all the time, even at night. You can do it a couple times in a month-long trip -- especially when you have a state like Kansas, which is just one looooong road and not much to do, but the drivers will need "recovery time" after their drive, and you simply can't do it every day.

    Your trip is very ambitious; once you have your participants and your transportation nailed down, ONLY THEN can you make definite decisions about your itinerary. You may need to cut out the "farthest" destinations such as Niagra Falls -- but leave those decisions for later.

    I think you're unrealistic about your accomodations being "mostly free of charge". Campsites tend to run $20-50 (with most campsites tending towards the middle of those figures), and if your numbers tend towards your maximum, you may need two campsites.

  7. Default -

    ok i'm really learning a lot from all ur feedback so thanks for all this!
    We can't confirm how many people will be going exactly right now because of how far in advance we're starting to plan this, so I was wondering if we could move on to the actual destinations a bit more?
    What do you think about the following route:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...75&ie=UTF8&z=4
    do you think we've incorporated the main attractions in america there? or are there some other major ones that are must-sees?
    also, does 2 days in our most favoured places, and 1 day the next batch sound about right?
    Like for yellowstone, L.A., .D.C and New york we'd do 2 days, and for new orleans, las vegas, grand canyon we'd do 1 day?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default America is not a list

    Certainly you can do some research about places you'd want to go, things you'd want to see, etc, at this point. In fact, looking to see what all of your option are at this point is exactly what you should be doing.

    However, I think you're putting the cart way before the horse when you start coming up with specific lists, routes, and the amount of time you are going to spend at each place when you don't even know who is going on the trip. The destinations for a road trip should be decided by everyone who is going, not just one person - especially when you are talking about a trip of this size. America is not a list of main attractions that you pick from like a menu; there are a million things you could see and do big and small in a trip around the entire US, but everyone also has different priorities and goals, and you need to take that into account.

    Right now you seemed too focused on the details when you don't have enough of the facts. You're a long way out, so use this time to start brainstorming, and coming up with options and choices for your group. Then as you learn more about who will be coming on the trip, you can start to work together to narrow down those options and make decisions about what to do and where to go. That's going to be a lot more productive and going to make for a much better trip than to start dictating a list of places and a schedule that you've decided that everyone needs to follow.

  9. Default some highly recommended places

    I'm sorry if I made it sound like "America is a list", but I simply wanted to know out of personal experience, places that you would highly recommend me going to, and which I definitely should not miss on this trip. After all, it's a once in a lifetime trip and I probably won't get a chance to go on this route ever again. I've spoken to all the people who might come, and they're all pretty much agreed about the ones I mentioned earlier, as it has a mixture of natural beauty, big and famous cities, and touristic destinations. We're all pretty much open to seeing a big variety of things.
    Are there any places you would identify as must-see places on this trip that wouldn't fear too far off course?

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    However, I think you're putting the cart way before the horse when you start coming up with specific lists, routes, and the amount of time you are going to spend at each place when you don't even know who is going on the trip . . . Right now you seemed too focused on the details when you don't have enough of the facts.
    I agree. It's impossible to nail down specifics until you have the basics in place -- and the most basic questions are, "Who's going?" and "How long can we afford to be away from home?" and "How much can we afford to spend?"

    Until you know those things, you can just lay out a very preliminary idea of what you might want to do. If you make a detailed plan, then you add more people, or if you change your time frame, you'll be back to square one -- but you'll be irritated because you'll be "attached to" the idea of going to such-and-such place, and you'll be disappointed that you'll have to drop it.

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