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  1. Default The Mother of All American Roadtrips

    Hello everyone,

    My wife and I have been planning on taking a good month to explore the continental United States. However, we haven't planned all that much, except for a daily itinerary and a listing of potential m/hotels we could be staying in. As we approach our start date (July 1), I'm getting the heeby-jeebies and I was wondering if there's anything I should be aware of? Below is our itinerary:

    7/1. Leave NJ to head to Asheville, NC. 11-12 hours.
    7/2. Explore Asheville, NC & Biltmore Estate.
    7/3. Leave Asheville, NC to New Orleans, LA. 11-12 hours.
    7/4-7/5. Explore New Orleans.
    7/6. Leave New Orleans to head to Houston, Tx. 5-6 hours. Visit the Space Cntr
    7/7. Leave Houston, TX to head to San Antonio, TX. 3 hours. See Alamo.
    7/8. Leave San Antonio, TX to head to El Paso, TX. 8 hours.
    7/9. Leave El Paso, TX to head to Sedona, AZ. 8 hours.
    7/10. Leave Sedona, AZ to head to Grand Canyon Nat'l Park. 2-3 hours.
    7/11. Leave Grand Canyon to head to Las Vegas, NV. 4-5 hours.
    7/12. Leave Las Vegas, NV to head to San Diego, CA. 5 hours.
    7/13-7/15. Spend time in San Diego (family is there).
    7/16. Leave San Diego, CA to head to San Francisco, CA. 10-11 hours. (though I imagine a stop in between would probably be necessary; we plan on taking Rt 1. Pacific Coast Highway)
    7/17 (or 7/18?) to 7/20. Explore San Francisco & Napa Valley Wine country.
    7/21. Leave San Francisco to head to Yosemite Nat'l Park. 4-5 hours.
    7/22. Leave Yosemite to head to Salt Lake City, UT. 12 hours.
    7/23. Leave Salt Lake City, UT to head to Cheyenne, WY. 6 hours.
    7/24. Leave Cheyenne, WY to head to Omaha, NE. 7 hours.
    7/25. Leave Omaha, NE to head to St. Louis, MO. 7 hours.
    7/26. Leave St. Louis to head to Louisville, KY. 4 hours.
    7/26-7/28. Spend time in Louisville, KY. (family there).
    7/29. Leave Louisville, KY to NJ. 11-12 hours.

    To me, this seems crazy but it's something my wife and I have been wanting to do for awhile. We don't have to be home at a reasonable date, so we can skip a few days here and there if we get tired. We'd like to squeeze all of this within a month, though. If we need to come home the 1st week of August, we can do that.

    This is approximately 7800 miles, according to AAA TripTik. I figure a very conservative fuel cost would be $660--its probably going to be more likely $900+ so we're aware of that. Figure a couple of oil changes would be 60-70 bucks. Hotels, motels, and the occassional campground is going to cost us about $2 grand. We haven't budgeted for food yet, but that could be another $1000, given that we pack our food ahead of time and only eat out 1 meal/day, which could be $25-30. Who knows how much attractions would cost? In all, I'd say this could run us 4 to $5000, which is a little worrisome but we have the money.

    What do you think? Anything I should consider? Experts: what should I be doing right now? Thanks in advance for your input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    What you should be doing right now is look at cutting down the amount of driving you do each day, and looking more at enroute attractions. You have quite a few days there where you are overextending yourself. If you are getting your travel times from a mapping program, you have to add 20% because software doesn't have to eat, get fuel, go to the bathroom, stretch its legs, visit enroute attractions, or deal with traffic and construction.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Back to the Drawing Board

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The first thing you need to be aware of is that computer-based mapping routines live and work in cyber space. While the mileage estimates you'll get from them are usually pretty accurate (if you just drive point to point with no detours for anything), their time estimates are shear fantasy. They make NO allowances for traffic, construction, fuel stops, meals, restroom breaks, or anything else. Here in the real world, we recommend no more than 550 miles a day if you plan to be driving over multiple days. Several of your planned days exceed that, a few to the point of just being flat out impossible:

    NJ - Asheville, 650+ miles
    Asheville - New Orleans: 675 miles
    Yosemite - Salt Lake City: 720 miles!
    Louisville - NJ: 700+ miles

    You need to go back and replan your itinerary and get rid of any days such as the above. Similarly, you plan to drive from San Diego to San Francisco via the coast highway (CA-1). This is much more likely to take 3: 1 just to get to and through Los Angeles and another 2 to enjoy the drive up the PCH and all its pull offs, hikes, and other attractions.

    Still one more word of caution. Where do you plan to stay in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite areas? These are two of the most popular national parks in the country and you will be visiting them at the peak of their tourist season. If you don't already have reservations, you should at least look into the availability of nearby lodging ASAP.


  4. Default

    I'm going to mirror the other two posts: you're driving schedule is crazy.

    I've done 2 and half cross country trips, so take my word when I say 8hrs of driving is the maximum you ever want to do. Try and push yourself more than that and you're going to have a grumpy, horrible time.

    That being said, the route your going on looks great. Some of those spots are the most beautiful in the states. See less, but enjoy it more.

    Good luck.

  5. Default

    Yes, I see that a lot of my driving days seem to be unrealistic. The plan coming home from San Francisco is a bit vague and the stops listed beyond that are just to plot a rough route on how to get home. By no means is anything set in stone.

    I haven't made any reservations because it just seems too difficult where we are going to be at any given day. That being said, I don't think I'll have trouble finding accommodations, the exception being New Orleans...everywhere I look hotels/motels seem to be unavailable for the 4th of July weekend. Yosemite I'm not sure about but according to the website campgrounds are available in Grand Canyon National Park. So we should be ok there.

    I basically picked Salt Lake City from Yosemite because it seems to be the closest metro area going east. But if there are reasonable motels along the way I'm sure we will stop.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Along I-80, you have Elko, Wells, and Wendover, all with a good selection of motels. There is no reason to stay in a large metro area, and in fact I usually avoid that. Getting in and out of large metros in rush hour can be a pain, good hotels can be costly, and cheap hotels can be in shady areas.

  7. Default

    So, I guess you would just recommend that on the long drags in my itinerary I should just split them up and cover those distances in 2 days instead of 1? That seems more reasonable I suppose.

    What else should I be doing? I don't have reservations and while I've been on long car trips before, I've never driven to someplace without hotel/motel reservations so this is kind of making me anxious. Funny--I was excited but as I see our departure date approaching, I'm getting a little nervous.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I very seldom make hotel reservations. I simply pull off the highway and get a room. I have very seldom been turned away. I don't like locking myself into a situation where I *HAVE* to get somewhere specific each day. I drive till I feel it's time to quit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Now six weeks into my current trip I have used a combination of friends, motels, hostels, cabins and campgrounds, none of which was booked. Yesterday was the first time that I found everything full. The lady at the visitor centre, in that remote area of Alaska, found me a place just 30 miles away.

    Like glc, I do not like being tied to having to be in a given place at a given time. If I like something, I stay a little longer. If a destination disappoints, I am free to move on.

    And even at the Grand Canyon and Yosemeti you won't have any problems finding something at peak tourist season, if you are prepared to travel out a bit.

    Don't forget, no matter which place you stop at, you have a right to see the room before check-in. Just ask. If they refuse, I would move on. But then, I have never been refused.

    But I would definitely follow the advice above, and cut down on your driving each day. Only today there was a Moose and her calf along the side of the road. It must have been almost an hour before I moved on again. You just never know what you are going to see, where you may wish to stop and stay a little longer.

    Lifey at Fast Eddy's in Tok

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default I'd be a little nervous !

    So, I guess you would just recommend that on the long drags in my itinerary I should just split them up and cover those distances in 2 days instead of 1?
    This would largely depend on places that you want to stop overnight at and those that you can look around and continue on your way. To help with your planning as a rule we recommend travelling up to 500-550 miles a day which puts you on the road for 9-10 hours a day with only short stops for food, gas and bathroom breaks.

    What else should I be doing? I don't have reservations and while I've been on long car trips before, I've never driven to someplace without hotel/motel reservations so this is kind of making me anxious. Funny--I was excited but as I see our departure date approaching, I'm getting a little nervous.
    We all differ here and as Lifey said you will find something if you are prepared to travel out a bit. Although with your "whirlwind" tour I would be nervous about not having reservations around Yosemite and Grand canyon [it's most likely already to late inside the parks unless you can grab a cancellation] as you have so little time there already, having to drive around looking for lodgings and travel what ever distance that might be, is going to take away from what already is little time at these great places . I would at the very least travel armed with tel numbers and details of various lodgings so you can call ahead from the road.

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