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  1. Default tentative planning for first road trip - any advice appreciated!

    Hi roadtrippers,

    My friends and I will be graduating high school this spring and we want to have a last hurrah of sorts before we go off into the 'real world'. (Gotta get your kicks while you're young, after all.) However, we have little experience planning road trips and would really appreciate any advice, especially concerning budget and time.

    (Disclaimer: We plan on being financially independent - and cheap - for this trip! We all work and have already saved about $600-700 in anticipation for this summer. We're not the "Let's max out Daddy's credit card and find a mall in every town" sort, believe me!)

    We are still in the tentative planning stages, but I have always dreamed about a Route 66 road trip. I love Americana (kitschy stuff, old diners and old cars - all of it!) and the idea of traveling on 66 appeals very strongly to me. I'd also like to be able to say that I traveled the entire thing and develop my sense of adventure while I'm young! At the same time, I know this is a VERY ambitious goal, and I thought I would at least throw the idea out there to see what you seasoned travelers had to say about it.

    The thing is, we would only have about three weeks to get there and back. This is kind of unavoidable because of summer jobs and the fact that we'll all have to prepare for college when we get back. Having traveled DC-Chicago many-a-time, I know that we would probably speed through that portion of a cross-country trip, but still.

    I don't want this to be rushed, though - I want to have an adventure, experience a lot of new things, and bond with my friends. So please let me know if this is a realistic goal to even think about!

    One more thing - we are all 18-year-old females. But if I do say so myself, we are all level-headed and have street smarts and common sense. I know that experience is the best teacher, but we are fairly independent and this would not be the first time we have undertaken a trip without our parents. Despite this, I know things do happen - do you think such a trip would be safe for us?

    By the way, we live in Northern Virginia.

    Any ideas, input or suggestions for road trips that would make this a summer to remember?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    ah, and I just remembered - one of my friend's fathers said that should we plan to go through with the trip, he would pay for the gas money as a graduation present. there would be three or four of us total.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-07-2009 at 06:32 AM. Reason: Removed whitespace

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

    Default Where to Start

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First: a coast-to-coast (and back) RoadTrip in three weeks is quite possible and even leaves time for some meandering. A pace of about 500 miles a day would get you across the country in about 6 days AND leave time each day for some modest sight seeing AND still leave you a week to spend in bets and pieces at various places just enjoying major stops and destinations. I'm certainly not going to be able to give you an itinerary, that will be up to you and your friends, but you should definitely plan on taking two entirely different routes east and west to maximize the adventure.

    We offer a number of tips on RoadTrip planning and traveling cheaply. But a more realistic look at costs says you're only about a third to a quarter of the way to what you'll need to make this trip feasible. On a similarly down note, US-66 does not exist as a highway anymore and hasn't for 25 years or so. There are parts of the old road that can still be driven, but it is not going to form a major part of your trip.

    So, my basic advice comes down to a couple of things. Continue planning this trip with your friends: Get together over some good maps of the country and start laying out the major places you'd like to see between Virginia and the west coast and then see how many of them you can include on two relatively efficient cross country routes. Let those major attractions then lead you to some nearby or in-between smaller unheralded things that appeal to you. And secondly, and every bit as important, continue to save. Even with your gas paid for and camping out for many of your nights on the road, travel is not really all that cheap and you are looking at a very major undertaking - with concomitant rewards.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thanks so much for the info! I had realized that a few parts of Route 66 didn't exist anymore, but I will make sure we do some research so we don't end up hopelessly lost and confused.

    And I forgot to mention, we have all saved between $500-700 each. We will make sure to keep saving, though!


    Again, thanks a lot for the advice.

  4. Default

    I have been talking to my friends, and one has a question for any experienced travelers on the forums - what do you think would be the ideal budget (per person) for a trip like this, not including gas?

    I've been doing some reading on this website and others, and I have gotten estimates everywhere from $800 to $1100 per person. And for a teenager who only works part-time, $1100 seems like an awful lot!

    What do you think a minimum amount would be, and what amount would you take ideally?

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jt299 View Post
    I have been talking to my friends, and one has a question for any experienced travelers on the forums - what do you think would be the ideal budget (per person) for a trip like this, not including gas?

    I've been doing some reading on this website and others, and I have gotten estimates everywhere from $800 to $1100 per person. And for a teenager who only works part-time, $1100 seems like an awful lot!

    What do you think a minimum amount would be, and what amount would you take ideally?
    I've done one way (east-west, and then west-east) twice and am planning my third trip (east-west). It's about 2700+ miles. Each time I did this with a budget of under $1,000. (The first time I was driving a 2007 jetta and getting almost 30mpg, but gas prices were still through the roof)

    Having said that, I have to be on the other side of the country in 5-7 days. It's going to be a great time and lots of fun, but it's not a 2-6 week trip. The most expensive part of your trip is going to be lodging. I eat out a lot anyway, so budgeting for food is a little silly beyond what you would spend on your own anyway. If you eat out 2-3 times a day you can easily get away with $15-$20/day if you're doing fast food.

    I now drive a gas guzzling SUV that gets about 19-21mpg on the freeway and 14 in the city. Although last trip I averaged about 18-19 and on some legs 22, I figure it to be 17. Gas will be $2.50-$2.75, and won't even nudge $3.00 until you hit big cities in the west. Right now on the east coast, Shell gas, the best you can buy, is about $2.29 for premium.

    2,700 miles, divided by 17mpg, times $3.00/gallon gives you about $475 in gas. If you're staying in hotels add $80-120/night you plan to be on the road.

    If you are staying in hotels I'd like to make this suggestion:

    Comfort Inn hotels are often quite nice, and relatively inexpensive. Now I've been able to find Hiltons and Doubletrees for about $100/night and am staying at a very nice vegas hotel for under $100 this summer. Comfort Inn hotels along the main highways can be as low as $60, although this year i've seen $80 more often.

    use their website (direct link) and enter in your route. They'll show you all their hotels along the route. If you're staying in cities that have a reasonably sized dot on the map your luck should be OK.




    Enjoy your trip!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-08-2009 at 12:03 AM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jt299 View Post
    I have been talking to my friends, and one has a question for any experienced travelers on the forums - what do you think would be the ideal budget (per person) for a trip like this, not including gas?

    I've been doing some reading on this website and others, and I have gotten estimates everywhere from $800 to $1100 per person. And for a teenager who only works part-time, $1100 seems like an awful lot!

    What do you think a minimum amount would be, and what amount would you take ideally?
    Your budget isn't all that big for three weeks. You could do it, but you wouldn't have a penny to spare Break that down per day, and it's only $52. You don't have to think about gas, but you do need a place to sleep, food to eat, and something to spend on sites you'll want to see on the way.

    Also, college next fall is going to be more expensive than you expect. You need to be moderate in your spending this summer so that you won't regret it next fall. And every week you travel is a week you aren't working / saving for college.

    I'll give you two pieces of advice:

    1. The quickest way to lower your budget is to recruit a 4th passenger; this'll reduce your lodging accomodations (because you won't need another hotel room or campsite, but you'll be dividing by 4 instead of by 3).

    2. Cut your plans down to a one-week trip. You'll still get the adventure and the bonding time with friends, which is what you really want -- but you'll still be able to work /save for college this summer too. True, you won't be able to do everything you want to do, but you'll never be able to do that on any one trip. Save something for college trips with new friends you haven't yet made!

  7. Default

    Thanks everyone for your advice! The information about the hotels and passenger-number was especially helpful.


    And I thought I would allow myself a little splurge this summer, MrsPete, because I recently received a full-ride (tuition, room and board and extra fees) scholarship for college this fall, and I've worked out a situation with my parents regarding a bank loan for extra cash already :) I'm a cheapskate and it's not as though my parents won't help me out if I am in dire circumstances next year, so I thought I would try and have a little fun before I enter the big scary real world.


    Again, thanks! me and my friends are still in the planning stages so this was VERY helpful. any more advice is welcomed.

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