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  1. Default Senior Road Trip: Advice?

    My best friend and I are planning a road trip for this summer (ages 17, and 18). Compatibility shouldn't be an issue; we've been friends for a long time and know most of the other's quirks and habits. :) We've been saving up since the beginning of this year, and I'd say we have about $800 each, with a little bit of padding. The trip would be in June, less than two weeks. Our main goal out of all of this is to enjoy our time together and to enjoy the theme parks and other attractions.

    The plan so far is:

    Frederick County, MD to
    Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH to
    King's Dominion in Doswell, VA
    Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA
    and then back.

    We plan to visit:

    Busch Gardens
    Water Country
    Colonial Williamsburg

    For these, we plan on getting the Bounce Ticket, which will allow us 7 consecutive days to visit.


    The plan is to get the combo ticket and do both. I've read some good things about these, and also some warnings. If anyone who has visited could give some personal feedback, that would be helpful. :)

    Ripley's Believe It or Not

    Cedar Point

    King's Dominion


    We definitely plan to stay in hotels or motels for this trip. No sleeping in the car for these two young ladies, and we're not experienced with camping, nor do we have the gear to do so. We've been looking at packages, such as the Cedar Point lodgings, which offer the tickets and the room together. There are some deals in Williamsburg that offer discounts for more than 2 or 3 nights. We were planning on staying in Williamsburg for 4 nights, which gives us five days to explore. Other than those, we plan on playing it by ear. A motel in Doswell or one along the way if we need to stop shouldn't be very hard to find.


    We've been planning on eating cheaply, seeing as we'll have to splurge for the expensive food inside the theme parks. Dollar menus would work well, plus food in the cooler. In Williamsburg, we'd buy some hot dogs or microwavable food to put in the hotel fridge. Having just taken a trip to TN last summer, I know how tiring sandwiches can get after only two days. Any local suggestions for awesome restaurants would be nice too, though we don't plan to make many trips to eat out.

    We're also thinking about spending a day at the beach if there are any nice ones along the way.

    So now for the question. Is this realistic? Being a new road trip-er, I'm relying on the advice of you fellow road trip-ers. I don't have the experience to see the flaws. =P Any suggestions?
    Last edited by AZBuck; 04-25-2010 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Oversized font removed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Insufficient Resources?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are actually two problems that jump out of your stated plans almost immediately. The first is your finances, or lack thereof. I know that $800 sounds like a lot to an 18 year old, but just admissions to the parks you list will run around $250 each. Add in parking fees and simple snacks and you're easily up to $300 for 'entertainment. Gas will run you at least $100 each and food another $350-400 for the two weeks of your journey. So you've run through your entire $800 and still don't have any place to sleep at night or emergency funds should something go wrong.

    The second is the same claim we hear over and over: "Compatibility shouldn't be an issue". Trust me, comparability will be an issue after about 3 or 4 days. That's just the way it is, always has been and always will be. You will need to plan on spending a day on your own every few days during the trip if you want to continue to like each other. This will inevitably eat into both the time and money you have allocated to the trip.

    So, yes, I believe that you are being too optimistic on what you can accomplish, and would suggest that you and your friend sit down and scale this back a bit to something that would better fit within your resources so that your first RoadTrip is a pleasant one and leads to greater adventures in the future.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default count on it

    My thoughts while reading your post were almost identical to Bucks.

    First, the people who declare right off the bat that "compatibility won't be an issue" are the very people who are most at risk of having problems on the road. Being great friends and knowing each others quirks is one thing - living with them inside a tin can for 2 weeks is something altogether different. I've lived with my roadtrip companions before, and being roommates can even be easier than traveling together. Its just a fact of life - the issue really isn't will you have a compatibility issue, its how will you deal with compatibility issues when they come up.

    Second, I don't think your budget is anywhere close. You're really planning a Cadillac roadtrip on a Chevy budget. Motels alone will take up nearly half of your budget (I'll also say that the "package deal" may be a great savings over the rack rate, but these are almost never the cheapest motel options. You'll almost always be able to find cheaper options by going ala carte. You should also remember that some motels will not rent to people under 21, and places that do rent to an 18 year old may not allow an unrelated 17 year old to share that room). Your plans for food also sound like someone who is really not prepared for living on a very tight budget. Sandwiches may get old after a few days, but you simply can't afford to buy food at the extremely inflated prices that you'll find inside theme parks. You current plan will have you blowing through hundreds of dollars on just a few meals. You will be much better off by doing as much eating out of a cooler as you can - taking advantage of whatever carry-in and/or re-entry policy is offered by these parks, where you'll be able to eat lunch for a couple of dollars (rather than spending $10 on a hot dog) and then find a restaurant with reasonable prices at the end of your day. Even doing that it will be very difficult to fit things into your budget, but that's one of the things you'll have to look at doing for this trip to become a reality.

  4. Default

    It may be optimistic. I've been trying to figure the prices of everything in order to give my best estimate. This is our budget so far, with our discounts and deals and such: maybe we could rearrange or cut some things out to make it more realistic?

    Activity/Hotel/Etc. Price
    Cedar Point Hotel Breakers & Tickets $133.12
    Hotel (Howard Johnson 13th-14th) $30.00
    King's Dominion Tickets $30.00
    Hotel (Howard Johnson- 17th-21st) $118.00
    (Busch Gardens, Water Country, $98.80
    Colonial Williamsburg) Bounce Ticket
    Jamestown/Yorktown Combo $19.25
    Ripley's Believe It or Not $22.99

    $452.16 each

    Parking would be included with the Cedar Point and Busch Gardens' tickets. Parking for King's Dominion would be $10. With the taxes and such that aren't already included (some are), I don't think it would be more than $500, which would leave $300 each for gas and food.

    The advice about the hotels- wow, I never even thought about that one. I'll definitely look further into the booking details, thanks!

    I do agree, now that I look back, that our approach towards food is unrealistic. =P I've looked up the re-entry policies, and all of the parks allow you to leave picnic lunches, etc. in the car to eat later, or we could get our hands stamped, go eat, and come back. I was also thinking about researching vouchers; I know that some people sell them online. Along the way, fast food chains, while definitely not the healthiest, are an easy way to get cheap food on the go. And in Williamsburg, we'll buy simple food to put in the fridge at the hotel. Canned goods and easy foods like hot dogs (which are still relatively inexpensive), so we'd still get our hot meal.

    Also, the $800 isn't strictly the budget. That's my guaranteed, definitely will have budget. I'm expecting to have an extra $100 myself, besides any money from family after graduation.

    Is this plan still being overly optimistic? =/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default where are you getting your numbers?

    Your motel estimates look very optimistic, and from the looks of it, you're missing several nights. I only see 6 nights of hotels planned. The night of the 13th, then the nights of 17,18,19,20, plus whatever night you are staying in Cedar Point. Even if you left on the 13th, and came home on the 21st, you're still missing at least 2 nights of motels - and thats if you are going from a 2 week trip to a 8 day trip.

    When I did a quick search, your 4 nights in Williamsburg Hojo, the cheapest rate I could find was $170 each, not $118., so something seems off there too. (I wasn't sure if on your motels stays if you were thinking of checking out on the 21st, or if you were planning to spend the night of the 21st - but if you were, that's yet another $45 each)

    As I mentioned, the package deals usually are not your cheapest bet, and your Cedar Point plan is a perfect example. Even when you factor in your Park Admission tickets and your "free" parking, you're still paying more than $100 per night for that motel room. If you got a room at a budget place elsewhere in Sandusky, you'd be saving well over $50 - a pretty major amount on a trip like this.

  6. Default

    I guess that wasn't the clearest chart in the world. Okay, here's what I'm thinking so far. Cut the trip down to 10 days; that's leaving on the 9th of June, and returning home on the 18th of June.

    On the ninth, we'd leave in the afternoon and drive to Sandusky, OH. We'd stay the night at the Howard Johnson near King's Dominion, which is $153 (according to if you book for 3 nights (that would be the 9th to the 12th). When we leave the 12th, we'll drive to Doswell, VA. We'll spend the night in another Howard Johnson, which would be $58.20 for one night (the 12th to 13th). The next day will be at King's Dominion, and from there, we'll drive the hour to the other Howard Johnson in Williamsburg. We'd spend 5 nights there (the 13th to the 18th), while doing our planned activities. The 18th, we'd leave for home (an hour or so away). Altogether, (and this is including tax), it would be $430. I wouldn't think that tips and such would push that to over $500.

    As far as entertainment goes, it would be $151.98 for 2 Cedar Point Ride and Slide tickets. $9 per day for parking at Cedar Point. $60, plus $10 for parking at King's Dominion. $197.60 for 2 Bounce Tickets (Busch Gardens, Water Country, and Colonial Williamsburg). $45.98 for 2 Ripley's Believe It or Not admissions. And $38.50 for the Jamestown/Yorktown Combo. Altogether, this is $522, with tax, about $550.

    Together, this is $1050, which is $550 short of our $1600 budget, which would be used on gas and food. Plus any extra money that would supplement this. How realistic is that, broken down? I filled in the nights that were missing, and played with the dates. And this is assuming, which I'll triple check on, that Howard Johnson hotels will let us room together and check in without any issues.

    Thank you for the tip about the Cedar Point package. I didn't realize until I looked, what a waste it would be. :)

    Also, another question. What would your suggestions for the "safe" budget for this trip be?
    Last edited by krazykoolkatie13; 04-26-2010 at 04:18 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Eating on $17 a Day?

    $17 per day is all that you've got left per person after you take out all your entertainment, lodging and gas. That has to cover everything that you haven't accounted for and really isn't enough to eat on for young adults with a reasonably healthy appetite. And anything that comes up unexpectedly will presumably have to come from your food budget because it is seemingly the least important thing in your planning - you have given almost no serious thought to or comments on how you plan to eat. The fact is that any budget that is cu this close to the bone is simply going to be too tight to be enjoyable, and I'd say that you need to add at least several hundred dollars to your spendable money as well as line up a source of around $1000 should an unexpected emergency arise.

    And speaking of emergencies, the 17 year old in your pair will need notarized written permission from her parents or guardians should any accident or sickness arise. She cannot authorize treatment for herself, and neither can her 18 year old non-family-member friend. Telephone authorization will not work. Have you thought of how you're going to handle that should it arise?


  8. Default

    Assuming that we stock up a cooler and the car with food before we leave, and that's not part of our budget, $17 each doesn't sound too bad to me. Any money that we don't use a day could be used on a different day to eat out. Though I agree, we'll try to expand our budget by a few hundred in order to have a more enjoyable and flexible time.

    We have a credit card in the case that any emergencies arise, and though I'm not expecting it, we'd be prepared if we needed to be.

    How would we set up the permission? It wouldn't just be a signed note, right? Is there a form? Would we need insurance information? I hadn't given any thought to that either.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I commend you for doing a good job of really going through your trip and making the adjustments needed to make your trip a reality. By finding very cheap motels and cutting down your trip to 10 days, you're on track to make this work.

    But you still are going to have to be very careful with how you spend your remaining money. $17 a day may sound like a lot of money, but its very easy to spend more than that when you are on the road. As was mentioned, when you're spending your days inside theme parks surrounded by $4 cokes and $10 hot dogs, the $350 you'll have to spend on food total can go by very quickly. Even just stopping at gas stations, where you pick up a bag of chips and a couple of drinks can easily set you back $10 before you even notice. There are also just other little expenses of things that you'll discover that you forgot or that you need to pick up. Again, nothing that will be huge, but when you're on a tight budget you are going to have to watch yourselves. It also should go without saying, but buying a $25 t-shirt as a suvenior will also have the potential to put a big hole in your budget.

    If you can beef up your budget by another $200 each, I think you would be able to have more fun while worrying less about pinching pennies, but if that's not possible, I think you can make this work. You're just going to have to be very careful about where you are spending your money.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It Varies a Bit

    Parental consent requirements vary from state to state, but here is one hospital's form that covers most of the info and permissions. I would also make sure that the minor'sparents' signatures are notarized.


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