MA to CA
Hi guys, I just found this site and don't even know where to start on my road trip! I'm moving to southern California from Mass and thought it would be amazing to drive across the country rather than have my car shipped out and fly, it just seems to make more sense and it seems like an opportunity I won't have too often. So I am 20 years old, naive, and full of dumb questions! I'm sorry about that. If this post is too much you don't have to answer anything :)
I have a 1999 Subaru with 90k miles, I think it will be okay. I plan on getting it looked at before I go. It's a great car. Also loading on snacks, my GPS, cellphone car charger, AAA card, $$, ipod/mix cds.. any other really obvious necessities I am missing? Should I form a solid plan of exactly where I am sleeping or is it okay to GPS the nearest hotel and crash? Do you have any suggestions of places I should stop by?
I'm not looking for anyone to form my elaborate travel plans for me, I know it really isn't together yet and I have a long way and a lot of time to do this, just random snippets of advice if you feel like sharing.
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
The most important piece of information you've lest out of the description of your trip is the amount of time you'll have to make it. With a week, you can just start to relax and make the trip as much about seeing things on the way as it is about driving to get some place. As you add more time, then you can start to wander off the 'straight and narrow' that just gets you there, and go to a lot more places that you might not be able to get back to for quite a while.
The second thing that you know and we don't is what interests you. History? Scenery? The art scene? Folk Festivals? Factory tours? Unique dining? We might be able to offer the occasional special item that we've stumbled upon in our own trips, but largely this is going to take research on your part. Surf the web. Contact the states you'll be driving through and ask for their maps and tourist brochures.
Next get a good atlas and learn how to really read road maps. GPS is all well and good but it will never replace the synoptic view you get from a good map. And maps don't need batteries or a clear view of the sky. Pour over your maps for a good long time before you set out. look at all the venues that are marked on them, not just the big well-known places that everyone will be going to, but the little out of the way museums, wildlife refuges, state parks and memorials that are available and may only appeal to you and few others.
This is going to be an adventure, and I'm glad you're just looking for advice on how to plan, rather that for a plan itself. You'll do well.
I just saw this now, quite a while later, but thank you for the advice! :) I have come a lot longer on the planning and poured myself into endless research but the off-gps aspect of it I'll definitely look at and didn't think of! Thanks!
Driving in the South/ Misc. ?'s on Road Tripping in General
So from when I last posted I developed my trip much more and have more specific questions :) I am traveling from Massachusetts to Southern California with my boyfriend of 4 years, and the itinerary we made put the trip at 19 days but there is lee-way for more time incase we go a little off schedule. It is very roughly Massachusetts-Florida-California. (List of stops: NYC, Washington DC, Charleston SC, Sarasota FL, New Orleans, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles)
-Is it realistic to plan an itinerary? I mean I have day-by-day things, how close do you generally get to your plans?
-My travel days are 8, 9, and 11 hours long roughly. Is this realistic?
-I'm really concerned about driving through the south in August. My car's AC is pretty good, we are getting a big cooler or two for water bottles and planning on buying ice every day, and getting hand held fans. Do you think we will be okay or is it really intense? I have never been to the south. Would driving at night to avoid the heat be a good idea?
-Is it a good idea to make reservations just a few days in advance? What do you do in terms of hotels/attractions on the road? I am hesitant to book all of it in advance.
-How safe are we going to be on the road? Are middle of nowhere areas especially dangerous or less? I don't know how to phrase it or what I really mean- but do you feel safe road tripping if you use general common sense (locking car, etc) ?
Thanks guys :) I am reading and doing a lot of research but some things are just common sense that I do not have. I will probably ask more as things come up :x, this is a really cool community!
Last edited by AZBuck; 07-13-2009 at 10:57 AM.
Reason: Merged - Please do not create new threads about the same trip. New members may not link to off-site blogs.
Planning your days is as much a personal perference as anything else. Some people like having a day by day schedule while some people like to take things as they go. I'd recommend having a rough outline to at least have an idea of what you'd like to do but thats designed more to let you know how much you can realistically do, and gives you and idea of how your timing will be affected if you decide to spend more or less time in any one given place.
8-9 hours for a travel day is fine for most people, although 11 will start to get pretty long if you do it day after day. More importantly is how you are factoring those hours. If you are going by online mapping programs that assume you never have to stop, you'll find your days will get much longer than you are expecting. In general, 500-600 miles a day on a freeway is a full day on the road, with time for some short stops but not much else.
As far as traveling in the south and safety goes, remember one simple thing. Everywhere is someone's home town. Thousands of people live and work (outside even) in the south, so simply traveling through in an Air Conditioned car shouldn't be a paralysing experience. The same is true with safety, most people "travel" to some place every day its just usually the same places day in and day out, I don't know why traveling to someone elses hometown would make that more dangerous - unless you start advertising yourself as a potential target by failing to use the same common sense things you probably do every day at home.
I am new here, but have been roadtripping for many years.
I typically do not make reservations, unless I know the area is likely to fill up (big tourist area, major event, weekend, etc.), or I know that I will not arrive until late in the evening. There is nothing worse then getting "stuck on the road"..unable to find a hotel room! Other than that, I just pick somewhere to stop. That leaves my options open in case I don't get as far as I wanted, or decide to take another route.
I almost always am able to stick to my plans. Your travel days do not sound unrealistic to me.
I have driven all over the US, with and without A/C in my car. I once drove from CA to FL, in August with no air. It was not that bad. You will be ok.
I am a woman and I have road tripped by myself, as well as with my children when they were small. I always felt safe, because I always kept myself safe! All areas can be unsafe at one time or another, whether the danger is from crime, accidents or other perils. Use common sense and you will be fine.
Don't forget to enjoy your trip!
I couldn't have said it better myself!
Originally Posted by Drive
Nowhere (known on these pages as "now here") is no more or less safe, on average, than anywhere else. If there truly is nobody and nothing around, then what would you have to be afraid of? Common sense and your own instincts go a long way towards keeping you safe in any situation. If a place doesn't "feel" right to you, then move on.
Originally Posted by AmyAndrina
Some of the trips I take have an itinerary planned in that I wanted to go through a certain area to see a specific place, but usually not scheduled so tightly such that I can say that I will be in town X at 3:45pm. Keeping it loose really helps the enjoyment of the trip, and leaves open the possibility of exploring.
Last edited by Mass Tim; 07-08-2009 at 03:57 PM.
Sorry for posting more than one thread about this trip- I didn't know better and won't do it again :)
Thank you so much all of you for the reality checks! I really appreciate it. I daydream about this trip all the time (leaving in two weeks..) and I'm basically responsible for planning it and don't want to make mistakes thousands of miles from home in a strange place. This really is helping with all these anxieties. I only have one 11-hour travel day and we have the flexibility to stop earlier than that.
Right now basically all I have to do for the itinerary is figure out specifically where to go from place to place at our stops. Like in New York City we want to go to the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building.. in Washington D.C. we want to go to the Library of Congress, Supreme Court, etc. Did you plan how to get from place to place at your stops? These are strange cities and I am afraid of being clueless as to how to get everything done but the task is overwhelming. Did you plan these things or figure them out alright when you got there?
I know we cannot drive around in New York City, we are parking in New Jersey and taking a ferry, but any of these drive-able cities: Washington D.C, Charleston SC, New Orleans LA, Dallas TX, Las Vegas NV? I've never been to these places and don't know how to physically go about them. I don't know which ones I should ditch my car and take a subway, and which ones we can travel about in relatively easily...like Boston you can drive around in it but it is best if you ditch the car in a parking garage since parking is so poor but in other places it is similar to driving in a town.
Also, judging by maps, I can get on route 66 around Amarillo, TX and it follows our itinerary pretty well. Will it be significantly longer on these roads than it would be for the main highways? I think it is 22 hours from the top of my head from Dallas to Los Angeles.. will it dramatically change the trip in terms of the amount of days we travel vs. taking a highway? (I have no idea what Route 66 is like, just that it is a go-to place)
Last edited by AmyAndrina; 07-11-2009 at 11:05 PM.
Reason: realized i had another question
Visitor Information Centres
Every place where you stop has a visitor information centre and / or Chamber of Commerce, usually indicated by the blue and white 'I' you see on the side of the highway as you approach / enter. These folk are extremely helpful.
Originally Posted by AmyAndrina
Other informative places are the Welcome Centres on the major highways as you enter a State. Make good use of these, and you will not need to worry about how to get around. Ask all the questions you have in mind for the State and the places you will be visiting, and you too can end up with boxes full of maps and brochures - as have I!
If you are a member of AAA, go get maps of all the places you will be visiting. They too can help with questions as to how to get around most cities.
In NYC I have always found police men and women extremely helpful, whether it is to direct you to the information centre, or give you directions themselves. And then there are good maps available of the public transport in cities such as NY, Washington, etc. I cannot remember where I got mine - have had them for a very long time.
Lifey never worries about getting around until she gets there
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