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  1. Default Can't Wait To Hit the Road!

    Hello to all of you wonderful people. I've been road-trippin' for years, but have only just found this website. Where have I been?!

    After I graduate from college in a month or so I'm going to put on my driving gloves, hit the road, and head out to explore the great American West (I'm currently in Burlington, VT). I have a whole ton of ants in my pants (aka ramblin' feet) and can't wait to hit the road! My funds are looking pretty good, but I’d like the trip to last as long as possible--maybe even all summer.

    There have been some posts about making money while on the road, but I wanted to see if anyone has additional information, personal stories, or suggestions about how to make some quick cash to keep a road trip going. I'm not sure what sort of opportunities exist, if any, but I would be willing to work somewhere for either a day, or a month, as long as I could continue onward with a little extra green.

    I’d like to camp as much as possible, and stay with friend when I can, but I would also like to do some more serious backpacking and hiking, hopefully a few overnight trips. Any thoughts or suggestions? Problems that may come up? I’ve done a lot camping and hiking, but don’t have any experience doing it solo--something I find exciting, fascinating, and terrifying. Any advice would be a great help. Thanks!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 04-09-2009 at 10:20 AM. Reason: Reference to commercial site removed

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

    Default Specific Skills Sell

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are major problems to finding short-term part-time work on the road. Without an in-demand skill set, you are basically trying to sell yourself out as a day laborer, and one with the stated intention of moving on as soon as you've parted your employer from some of his money. In this market you're competing against locals who know where the local 'market' is and show up there every morning at the break of dawn eager to sell their work for money to put food on the table. They also know who might be hiring and how to sell themselves. That is, after all, their full-time job. I simply don't know how you'd compete with them. Similarly, trying to get seasonal work in outdoor settings or even resort establishments would put you up against people who decided long before you got there that they were going to spend the season in the area and have put their names on waiting lists should an opening occur, even for a day. The one possibility where you might have an advantage is if you had a specific skill set, be it plumber, electrician, computer programmer, nurse, or some other in-demand profession where you had certification and the bulk of job seekers did not. Then you might be able to use any professional societies you may belong to, or contacts you may have made in the field, or even the local help-wanted adds as resources. But really, in today's economy, banking on finding part time work on little to no notice is not a secure way to finance your trip.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Take notes

    It sounds like a great trip. My wife and I were just discussing that the only way we could see taking our time on a cross-country trip would be as college age kids or retirees.

    Without knowing your planned destinations I don't have any hiking or camping suggestions, but I do suggest you take a digital camera, an extra memory card or two, and a journal to write in to record your trip. When I took solo trips in the past I also brought a small tripod to take pictures of myself in front of famous places (and a small Gumby to put in photos in place of me). This is a great opportunity in your life to make memories to show a future spouse and kids. I always look at road trips as educational opportunities, and I see your trip as the chance to learn about the geography, geology, history, zoology, linguistics (dialects), etc. of this great nation.

    Let us know as you build your itinerary.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are major problems to finding short-term part-time work on the road. Without an in-demand skill set, you are basically trying to sell yourself out as a day laborer, and one with the stated intention of moving on as soon as you've parted your employer from some of his money. In this market you're competing against locals who know where the local 'market' is and show up there every morning at the break of dawn eager to sell their work for money to put food on the table. They also know who might be hiring and how to sell themselves. That is, after all, their full-time job. I simply don't know how you'd compete with them. Similarly, trying to get seasonal work in outdoor settings or even resort establishments would put you up against people who decided long before you got there that they were going to spend the season in the area and have put their names on waiting lists should an opening occur, even for a day. The one possibility where you might have an advantage is if you had a specific skill set, be it plumber, electrician, computer programmer, nurse, or some other in-demand profession where you had certification and the bulk of job seekers did not. Then you might be able to use any professional societies you may belong to, or contacts you may have made in the field, or even the local help-wanted adds as resources. But really, in today's economy, banking on finding part time work on little to no notice is not a secure way to finance your trip.

    AZBuck
    I have to agree. My high school students are now having trouble finding jobs -- and we're not in a part of the country that's been hit hard by the recession. Finding day labor, I suspect, is nigh on to impossible.

    I do know someone who works as a traveling nurse. She works in one state for a couple months, then moves on. She likes it, but it has most definitely taken a toll on her two children's educations.

  5. Default still planning

    Thank you for the responses. I guess it was a bit naive to think that I could scoop up some work along the way. But that sure isn't gonna stop me.

    This is how the trips starting to look: I'm leaving from Long Island, NY, then heading towards to Chicago (never been). After that I'll drive to the Badlands, then Grand Teton/Yellowstone (probably just Teton). I have friends in Portland, Oregon, so I'd like to make it make it out there and stay for about a week. There is a whole lot of space in between Yellowstone and Portland, any thoughts? After Portland I want to head to Utah to see some family in Dutch John (right outside of Flaming Gorge. Cool area). At this point, depending on how the funds are doing I would like to head down to Canyonlands National Park, or maybe Bryce Canyon. On my way back East I'd like to stop and see a friend in Boulder, CO.

    It sounds huge, and almost unrealistic when I write it out, but I have plenty of money saved up and a good reliable car (2005 Subaru Outback). I'd like to camp 90% of the time, cook almost all of my own food, and live very simply. I think I should probably purchase a National Parks pass. Is it still $80.00?

    None of this is set in stone. And why should it be? There are certaintly plenty of gaps in my plan--time for exploration. I'm not sure how long I would like to stay at each place yet, or even how long the trip will last. I'd like to have a loose plan, but really want to keep things fairly spontanious. Any suggestions?

    I'd like to do some backcountry camping along the way. Has anyone done solo backpacking in any of the parks I have mentioned? I gotta say that I'm grateful for finding this site. It rules. Thanks for your help.

  6. Default Food?

    I was also wondering what sort of non-perishable food you would suggest. I'm hoping for a trip to Costco with Mom before I leave. I was thinking canned soup, beans, ramen, that sort of things, but I want to keep it pretty healthy. Of course, I'll also have a cooler. Any thoughts?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default picking it up

    Out of curiousity, what do you have for a budget in both time and money at this point? When I see plans for a very big trip, but those plans also include things talking about living very cheaply and being spontanious, I wonder if you've really though exactly how elaborate of a trip you're really planning. You certainly don't have to come up with a plan that list out how you are spending every single day, but I'd at least make a rough plan for what you're going to do, so you don't make it halfway across the country and discover you barely have enough funds to make it home.

    For food, I'd simply remind you that you don't need to pick up everything before you leave. There are grocery stores everywhere, so if you just stop every day or two you can get food that you feel like eating without worrying about it spoiling or transporting it. You can also find more regional specialty items that you might not find otherwise. Obviously, if you are going to get into some serious hike-in back-pack camping, you'll want to find things that are lightweight and easy to move

  8. Default Budget

    The trip I outlined is somewhere around 6,500 miles in total distance. My rough estimate for gas is between $600--$700.

    I would like the trip to last about six weeks, keeping in mind that I would spend up to a week in Portland, a few days in Dutch John (UT), and a week or so in Boulder.

    I'm having trouble figuring out how much food would cost, but I know that I want to cook my own meals, mooch off the friends and family I stay with (of course I would still have some food expenses), and be dedicated to keeping costs down.

    In my last post I wasn't implying that I would try to pack my car with food for the whole trip. I was just looking for suggestions if I got my wonderful mother to pay for a trip to the supermarket before I leave. On the road I would shop at grocery stores and keep a cooler. So let's say I spend $25 a day on food the total cost would be about $1100. It seems high, but I'll probably end up buying cheap beer or wine when I plan on relaxing for a day or two.

    And then there's camping, and maybe a hotel or two. Because I'm staying with people, I would camp around 30 days of the 6 weeks. Maybe $15 bucks a night or so (the price varies), plus the cost for backpacking permits--lets say, $50. Oh, and the National Parks pass ($80). Total cost: $680.

    Altogether it's about $2,500. I also need to update some camping gear, but I'm hoping that graduation presents will pay for that. These estimates are on the high end, and I think I might be able to do better. Does this seem about right? Did I miss anything?

    I wasn't really asking about my budget, but I'm glad I took the time to write down some actual numbers. As I said before, I would really like the trip to last as long as possible. Thanks.

  9. Default One More

    Man...thinking about this trip has become a bit of an obsession the past couple of days. Initially, I wanted to graduate from college, jump in the car and just go. But reading this forum has really made me see the bigger picture -- what's actually possible, how much a long road trip costs, what the stakes are etc.

    So here's the deal. I have some money from my Great Grandparents that I was planning on putting towards a new car, or a down payment on a house in the future. But after some serious thought, I would rather put it towards this trip. I have about $4000, but, as I have said, I'd like to really pinch pennies and make every cent count. In other words, I don't want to spend that much.

    I'm not sure how helpful this is but I mapped out my plan on Googlemaps. It looks like this: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...26,92.8125&z=4 . But I'd like to keep it loose.


    I'd like to spend a few days camping/hiking/backpacking in each park I visit, but I'm young and dumb and wouldn't mind driving for really long periods of time to get the most out of the trip. I go to school in Burlington, VT, and often drive home to Long Island. It's about 6 1/2 hours and never fails to clear my head--it's like therapy. That drive always seems too short and I usually do it without stoping (unless I really gotta go). Not trying to sound cocky, I just really love being on the road.

    The last cross country trip I did was with a buddy of mine from Vermont to San Diego--following Route 66 for a good portion--and it was a blast, but I'm really looking foward to doing it solo and seeing some friends and family along the way.

    Sorry for posting so much, just trying to figure this thing out. It's pretty clear that you guys are the experts. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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

    Default What a great graduation gift you're giving yourself!

    Just a few comments:

    Gas - I think you need to pad that amount a bit. You will likely drive 20%, maybe even 30% more miles than Google tells you because of drives off the main road to campgrounds, grocery stores, hiking trailheads, etc. And you never know what will catch your eye that will take you a ways off the major route that will be worth exploring. Also, gas prices always go up in the summer and some states charge more for gas than others. You might check out Gas Buddy to get an idea of what the costs are in the various states. And, of course, check it out right before leaving as gas always seems to go when the summer vacation season starts.

    Food - Check out this post for some ideas on what to pack. When I'm by myself, I can easily eat out of my cooler for about $10/day but I keep it cheap and simple. Of course, I also splurge on a good restaurant meal once every other day, or every third day, usually at someplace known for some good local cuisine. So I think $25/day is a good budget as it will allow for a few splurges in a restaurant and/or finer dining in camp.

    Camping fees - I would budget $20 night. These rates seem to be going up, even in the national/state/county parks. Also, my state is contemplating closing some state parks for budget reasons. (A real bummer!) It's possible this is happening in other states as well. Just be aware of this as it may make finding camping a tad tougher.

    I've done some tweaking to part of your map (from Grand Tetons to Dutch John). I really can't believe you're considering skipping Yellowstone when you're so close. Gosh, at least drive through it! I think you'll really enjoy the Lolo Road after Missoula. It's twisty and fun to drive and takes you through incredible scenery. You'll then get down into farm country for most of your trip towards Mt. Rainier. After Mt. Rainier, swing through Mr. St. Helens. The blast zone is still quite incredible. Then, after Portland, do take in at least part of the lovely Oregon Coast.

    At least that's how I'd do it. YMMV!

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 04-13-2009 at 07:40 PM. Reason: added map link

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