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  1. #1

    Default May 2011 - OK to KCMO the long way (car)

    I recently discovered RTA so I'm new here. Hello All :)

    My husband (35) and I (28) are planning to move from our hometown to Kansas City next May and we decided that there would never be a better time in our lives to take a cross-country road trip than when we are "homeless" and transitioning and have no kids. We just want to take our time, relax, and soak in the country and the Trip and the roads.

    So the planning has begun. We've got a basic trip mapped out and it goes something like this

    Home --> Nashville, TN --> Jacksonville, FL --> Florida Panhandle (Friend) --> Baton Rouge, LA --> Dallas, TX (Friend) --> OKC --> Albuquerque, NM --> Phoenix, AZ (Friend) --> Grand Canyon --> Las Vegas, NV (Friend) --> Death Valley, CA --> Hwy 1 California Coast --> San Francisco, CA --> Scenic 101 --> Portland, OR (Friend) --> Olympic National Park/Seattle, WA --> Missoula, MT -->Going-to-the-sun Road, MT --> Yellowstone, WY --> UT --> Pike's Peak, CO --> KCMO

    I know there's a lot going on...

    We're pretty open on what we want to do at all those places... and to be honest the places are more "general direction" than anything... Except for the "Friend" parts.

    We've never gone on a trip like this and part of what started it is that my husband has an '05 Subaru Impreza STI (for any rally car people here) and we're interested in fun roads to drive on...

    There's the Devil's Tail (I think thatís what itís called) in TN and the highways up the west coast and the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana that we want to drive...

    Also weíre interesting in going rafting... I found a place in Missoula, MT that seemed good... 10,000 Waves.
    For food, we intend to have a propane stove/grill so we can do most of our own cooking.

    We plan to stay in motels/hotels, camp, and stay with friends.

    I've done a very rough mapping out of the days to get an idea of how many days we may be doing what to get an idea on lodging and the general length of the trip...

    I figured:

    Departure: Mid-May

    Total trip: 48 - 55ish days

    Miles: 8500 - 9000ish

    Gas: $1000 - $1500

    Hotels: 17 - 20 days

    Friends: 10 - 12 days

    Camping: 21 - 23 days

    Before I started planning, I randomly decided that $6000 is my budget goal.

    Here are my questions:

    Is $6000 even enough? We donít plan on purchasing too many souvenirs, if any. So we donít need much set aside for ďthingsĒ. Just Food, Shelter, and Fun. Oh, and gas but thatís the easy part.

    How much is average for hotels?

    How much for Camping?

    How much should be budgeted for sustenance?

    Would it be a good idea to join AAA?

    Do you know of any really Awesome things to do/see along this path? If it helps, weíre both nerdy art kids who enjoy nature and donít like huge crowds.

    Also, my husband is a tattooist and wouldnít mind doing guest spots along the way, but I donít know if anyone here would be familiar with that. Just throwing it out there :)

    Oh and feel free to answer questions I havenít thought to ask ;)
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you want a real rough average, plan on $20 for a tent campsite and $60 for a budget motel. You should be able to figure out how much food is going to cost you - restaurant and grocery prices are pretty constant no matter where you are, just don't forget the price for bags of ice if you carry a cooler.

    You may be out of luck with Going-to-the-Sun, it generally doesn't open till some time in June. Another spectacular road is the Beartooth which heads northeast out of Yellowstone. It generally opens on Memorial Day.

  3. #3


    Thanks for the estimates!

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    You may be out of luck with Going-to-the-Sun, it generally doesn't open till some time in June.
    if i'm remotely close to what we'll eventually be doing... we'll be in Montana towards the middle end of June... So maybe it will work out just right :)

    and we could always leave later in May... doesn't really matter to me what part of May we actually leave.. or shuffle things in that area around to make that part the last before we move on...

  4. #4


    Just thinking "out loud" here :)

    So using the camp($20) and hotel($60)

    lodging should run us around $1700.
    and if gas around $1300.

    That leaves us $3000 for food and fun. so about $55 - $65 per day.

    i don't know if that is enough... it's so hard to plan for food and activities because we don't know what we're going to want to do/eat.... and I will say this... We do love good food.

    I do plan on getting the National Park Pass for $80 that someone else mentioned on another thread. Seems like an awesome deal.

  5. #5


    I was reading in another thread about reservations vs. "winging it" for Hotels and Camping (esp Yellowstone)

    They mentioned that this has to do with personal preference and time constraints... But that the "winging it" folks always seem to find a place.

    Is it terribly hard to do it the "wing it" way? Do you spend a lot of time hunting for somewhere at night?

    I'm hestitant to make too many super concrete plans for the whens and wheres... we're not terribly punctual people and we'd probably get caught up somewhere and start getting behind then have to rush to meet a reservation whilst missing things inbetween.

    I feel like this because most of these places neither of us have ever been and If we find some place that is really amazing but we're only scheduled to be at for 2 or 3 days... i'd like the freedom to stay long without throwing the rest of the trip off...

    taking all that in.... Are there some places that would be better to make reservations way in advance? I'm guessing Yellowstone would be one.... (keeping in mind that it's just 2 of us in a simple tent)

    How hard would it be do go there without one?

    I'm not terribly concerned by hotel reservations mostly the camping ones... hotels seem like they will be more plentiful than camp grounds....

    and we planned on using Priceline's Name your own price deal along the way so we can pay what we want.

  6. #6

    Default Newest Round of Route Adjustments

    So I don't know if anyone else has this problem but as I'm researching everything and trying to see what is out there, I feel like a kid in a candy store... I want to see everything! Everything looks amazing!

    The more I research each state the more things I find out about it. Like Arkansas.. I have to say I've been a bit biased about it in the past but after looking at so much of the things the state has to offer, I think we're going to have to take separate road trip just check it out since it is so close to home.

    All of this brought me to the realization that I need a little more focus and I was reading in another post about how to gain some (focus on what you want to see and also write down things you would like to see) and i think it's really helping.

    We both decided that Northwestern US (northern CA, OR and WA) is where we want to experience the most. and to do that without completely running out of cashflow we decided to nix most of our trip towards the East... Some of AR, All of TN & GA, and East FL. This shaved off about 1000 to 1500 miles of road and maybe a week or more of traveling.

    Plus the only reason we were starting toward TN was for a friend that is no longer there.

    Now, we're maybe going with a quick stop/camp at the Ouachita National Forest, AR then head for our friend in the Florida Panhandle and then work our west along Southern Texas and Southern New Mexico and head north in Arizona for Phoenix and continue with the rest as planned.

    And i'm going to make a list of all the places we might want to check out along the way and the different campgrounds available. so we'll be able to make our selections "choose-your-own adventure" style :)

    Even if we don't do half of them, at least we'll have options and know what is available.
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    Last edited by Pfemm; 04-06-2010 at 12:11 PM. Reason: tried to add my map but continue to fail

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default exactly!

    I think we've all felt that kid in a candy store feeling - it really can be one of the best parts of the roadtrip planning process. You're seeing first hand why the regular contributors cringe when we're asked to provide a list of "must sees" - there's just too many options to narrow things down into a nice tidy list. Picking and choosing your stops is what separates the roadtrip from a pre-planned guided tour.

    As far as your previous reservation question goes - I rarely make reservations and usually can come up with something. In the worst case, we'll end up staying in a motel instead of camping for a night, or spending a lot of time going between a few sites. Even for camping, if a public site is full, there is usually a private campground a round that can get you in (and when you're just a tent, I've even seen campgrounds turn their lawn into an overflow spot where you can throw up your tent.) The only thing I would recommend is planning to stop a bit earlier when you go this route, since it can often take an extra hour or two to get settled if your first campground/motel is full and you have to start hunting.

    BTW if you've got your map set up on google, if you post the link, we can make it so it will be easier for everyone to read.

  8. #8

    Default Just a few ideas

    Hello Pfemm,

    If you're going to Missoula, by all means plan on a breakfast at The Oxford. Even if you don't go for that type of food, the atmosphere is worth a drop by and a cup of coffee. The Montana tradition is, as it is in many places out there, to go to breakfast once the bars close down for the night. That places some real characters in The Oxford between 2 and 4am, trust me.

    Montana roads worth a look include the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway (within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest) and MT 278 and 43 traversing the Big Hole Valley. For my money, the Big Hole is the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the West, excepting possibly the Grand Tetons, and that's actually a close call. The Big Hole is some 100 miles south down US 93 from Missoula then east on MT 43. You could enter from near Butte and come up the Big Hole River to Wisdom, then change over to MT 278 for the balance of the drive. The Pioneer Mts Scenic Byway takes you back to the town of Wise River on MT 43 and completes loop. I have seen the PMSB on car commercials, so it's got some creds among car enthusiasts.

    All of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF is within a short drive of NF campgrounds. The NF is far enough off the beaten path that it's essentially locals only, and then only on weekends. You've got the place to yourselves mid-week.

    Enjoy planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  9. #9


    Thanks for the response!
    I'm glad that it is not terribly hard to go with out the reservations. And i think we're going to try not to drive over 6-8 hours on our driving days so stopping earlier in the day to find a spot shouldn't be too difficult (i hope).
    and I will try that map thing again! :)

    I checked out The Oxford website... looks great! and I do love a good game of Poker so that is definitely a plus. and the food sounds Tasty :)
    and the PMSB sounds awesome.. it's going on the list!
    Thanks so much for the tips!

  10. #10

    Default Map

    This is just a rough estimate thus far...,56.90918&z=5

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-07-2010 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Map display

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