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  1. Default First Time Road Tripper

    So here's the story. My boyfriend and I try and go somewhere every fall. He's a chef at a country club and I'm a teacher in a year round school so fall and spring are the easy times for us to get time off. Usually we either go to North Carolina to a family beach house, Chicago or Massachusetts to visit family (we live in Maryland), but this year we are entertaining those options as well as going somewhere new and non-family related; somewhere just for us. We entertained some classic options like Vegas, a cruise, etc and then my boyfriend threw out the idea of going to Oregon. I thought why not and then he threw out the suggestion of driving there. Obviously this would be a cross-country trip (from MD to OR) and I started thinking more about it. I have done a lot of looking around on-line over the last few days and found the book "Road Trip USA" by Jamie Jensen. It has an Oregon Trail trip in it that runs from Massachusetts to Oregon. Now I have a few questions. And please keep in mind that this is the very very very early stages of planning and I have a lot of options and decisions still to make if this is what we are going to do.

    1) What is the latest/earliest it would be reasonably reliable weatherwise to travel the route in the year? We normally go in October/November or February/March. Not sure when the weather gets bad around the northern Rockies.

    2) I'm thinking a realistic 2 weeks for this round trip. Does this seem accurate? I mapquested the quickest route to Portland and it said 41hrs one way. I figure we would spend at least a day or two in Chicago visiting family.

    3) We have 2 medium-sized dogs that I would like to travel with (I think!). We have a dog sitter (roommate) available if we decide to leave them at home, but they are part of the family and I can't imaging being away from them for 2 whole weeks. Any tips/cautions/ideas as far as this is concerned?

    4) With the previous comment in mind, I have a Chevy Cobalt which we could drive, however I was considering the idea of renting a small SUV or minivan, especially if we are bringing the dogs. I've looked at some rental places and just wasn't sure how the milage might work. I'm concerned it may not be financially viable to rent a car if I have to pay for 5000 miles. Ideas?

    5) The "Road Trip USA" book has routes on 2-lane highways. Is it worth taking the scenic route and taking longer, or going for the interstate route and making things a bit quicker?

    I appreciate any feedback/comments as I try and get this potential trip together.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default expanding

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    2 weeks really is about the minimum amount of time you'd need for a coast to coast round trip, and even that doesn't leave much time for exploration. Its a solid 10 days of driving, if you were driving for 10 hours a day on the interstate. If you try to take 2 lane roads, that will take more time, plus you'll need to add in any stops you make in Chicago or anywhere else along the way. If you could make this at least a 3 week trip, I think you'd enjoy yourself more.

    For time of year, October really is one of my favorite times to travel almost anywhere in the US. November can certainly start feeling like winter with the right weather patterns, and most of the things that close for the winter still haven't reopened by February or March.

    Certainly, many people can and do enjoy traveling with dogs. There are some downsides, you'll have to look a bit harder and pay more for motels, and dogs generally aren't allowed on trails in national parks, so they can be limiting there. But those are minor obsticles easily overcome. I could also see how 2 people and 2 dogs could get quite crowded in a little Cobalt.

    If you do rent a car, you'll simply have to make sure that you get unlimited mileage. Some places this could be standard, while others you may have to pay more for this feature. Its just something you'll have to consider as you shop around.

    Finally, while I've got nothing against Roadtrip USA and it does have some valuable information, however, my biggest problem with the book is that it leads novices into thinking that there are only 10 roadtrips that you can take and they all fit neatly into preplanned routes. Roadtrips shouldn't be about following someone elses path, they should be about creating your own. Certainly, you can use that information as a guide, but look beyond that and find a route that fits all of the places that you'd like to go.

  3. Default

    Thanks so much. I totally understand the idea of seeing only pre-packaged trips from guidebooks and such. Part of my inspiration with this trip really is to kind of just go with the flow. I would rather underplan and kind go with the flow and end up with a few things that we really want to do than over plan and feel rushed and crazy. I work in a chaotic environment and I want to get away from that for awhile. I would love to make it 3 weeks and even a month, however it may have to wait til next year to be able to get the planning right with our jobs. I'm thinking that October whether it is this year or next would probably be our ideal time. Not yet super cold in the northern country and starting to cool off in the southern parts (with any luck) and the fall foliage to boot!! We shall see! Thanks again!

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