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  1. #1

    Default Cross Country Road Trips HELP!

    Hi! I was looking along the websites, and come across this website, and I absolutely love it. Me and three other of my friends are planning on a cross country roadtrip from Philadelphia all the way to California, and back. We're are planning to go for about 3 weeks, and with a $2,000 budget on gas, food, and hotels/lodging. We're also planning on going to hitting some of the National Parks (like, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Petroglyph, Death valley, Yosemite, Rocky Mountains, Petrified Forest). we wouldn't be spending so much time inside a city, we're a more of a nature lovers, but there are some places that we like to hit as well.

    I made an abstract plan, and it would be greatly appreciated if you guys help me out a bit:
    Day 1: Philadelphia-St. Louis (I-40 just for a start)
    Day 2: St. Louis-Albuquerque
    Day 3-4: Albuquerque-Petrified Forest-San Diego
    Day 5: San Diego-Los Angeles-Monterrey (It was my best and my friends interest to not stay in LA for long, just for a few stops like the Hollywood sign,and the Hollywood Boulevard, so passing by. And we're planning ont aking the Pacific Coast Highway)
    Day 6: Monterrey-San Francisco-Lake Tahoe
    Day 7: Lake Tahoe-Yosemite (We love to try camping at Yosemite, and would appreciate for any advice)
    Day 8: Yosemite-Death Valley-Las vegas
    Day 9-10: Las Vegas-Hoover Dam-Grand Canyon-Zion (we're already planning on staying in the Canyon for 3-4 hours, just for sightseeing)
    Day 11: Zion-Bryce-Grand Junction, CO
    Day 12: Grand Junction, CO-Rocky Mountains
    Day 13: Rocky Mountains-Mt. Rushmore
    Day 14: Mt. Rushmore-Sioux Falls
    Day 15: Sioux Falls-Wilmaukee
    Day 16: Wilmaukee-Chicago-Toledo
    Day 17: Toledo-Buffalo/Niagara Falls
    Day 18: Niagara Falls-Boston
    Day 19-21: Boston-Philadelphia(home)

    That was our plan, and we were wondering if that would be fine, we know what we want to see along the ways, and time is no essence, is gonna be our last trip together, so we're trying maximize the time and spend as little as possible.

    Your critique and expertise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much if you read the whole thing :)

    We need to know about the gas, if the plan would be possible/passable, and also scenic routes (Except for 66, Pacific Coast) that go along with our plan.

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

    Default significant issues

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your first problem is right off the bat with your plan to drive from Philly to Albuquerque in 2 days. The trip to St. Louis is nearly 900 miles, and the trip to Albq from there is well over 1000. Neither of those days would be safe or realistic by themselves, and trying to do a drive like that back to back would be homicidal. This is a minimum of 3 very long days on the road - and yes that does consider the fact that you have multiple drivers.

    You've got a few other spots that also just aren't realistic, like doing Vegas/Grand Canyon/Zion in 2 days or trying to make it from San Diego to Monterey in one day while spending any time stopping in LA or following the Coast Highway.

    Additionally, even on the days where your miles aren't impossible, the amount of things you are trying to do is going to leave you beyond burned out because you are constantly moving, and will barely have time to spend an hour or two at the places you've listed before you'll have to be moving again - for nature lovers, you won't have any time to enjoy nature and you certainly can't be adding additional scenic detours to this already overstuffed plan.

    The other potential problem is your budget. Its really as simple as this: Are you talking about $2000 total or $2000 Each. If its $2000 total, your trip simply isn't possible - Gas alone would burn up about $1500 if you've got a reasonably fuel effiecent car. Just throwing out a rough number, you're going to need about $5000 on a budget trip, eating cheap and staying in budget motels.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but while its certainly possible for you and your friend to have a great trip, you've got a lot of work that still needs to be done to take this trip from being a pipedream to something that will be both realistic and fun.

  3. #3


    First and foremost Thank you for your reply.

    So, would it be better if we extend it to a month road trip? Would that helps out with the plan, and it would be reasonable to cut some of the places, I think my friends and I could make it work. Our plan was based out on the Google maps, and we thought it was reasonable to drive a long drive on the start and avoid any long drive afterwards...

    In regards to the budget, yes it is $2000 each, so we have around $8000, we know it'll be abit expensive when traveling cross-country, so we're trying to reach high up, so there won't be any problem later on. So, we'll be fine budget wise, based on that.

    I have a question, how long is would it be driving cross country from PA to CA?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Extending your trip to a month and cutting some things out are both good ideas. A month would give you much more time to enjoy yourself and make this trip much more feasable, and if it were me, I would still makes some cuts - particularly to your stops in the northeast where you can easily visit on a weekend in the future.

    $2k each will make this trip pretty comfortable. I would say you mentioned camping in Yosemite - I really don't think camping is a just one time thing on a trip like this. With all the gear, and space, you need for camping, its something you need to do or don't do. If you're going to pack it, then you should use it more frequently or its just going to be a hassle. With your budget, however, camping isn't a necessity.

    Driving cross country is generally a 5 day trip, keeping with the rule of thumb that 500-600 miles is a good number of miles on the road requiring 8-10 hours a day leaving time to make a few small stops along the way. When you start pushing beyond 600 miles on a long haul trip, you start running into the danger zone in terms of safety and you completely lose the ability to make any stops along the way.

    If it were me, however, I would rethink your plan to sprint west, and instead stop and see some things along the way, and have more balance to have an enjoyable trip both directions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default "Human issues"

    Our plan was based out on the Google maps,
    We could tell ! ;-)

    We see a lot of this so you are not alone, but mapping programs [being non human] think that they can run non stop for 20 hours at near to the speed limit with out the need for food, bathroom and physical/mental breaks along the way [or sleep for that matter]. Neither do they consider you need to fill with gas or that you might find other "Man-made problems" such as traffic congestion and construction delays. When on Interstate or main highway's figure on 57mph as an average with time for short stops as mentioned, but once you hit City centres and National parks that number crashes dramatically, figure on the average in your home City and you will know how a "few" miles can become a "long" journey.

    With this in mind and with what Michael has already said, some day's become impossible, another example is Zion to Bryce to Grand junction where you will barely have time to get beyond the parks entrance, and a minimum of 2 day's would be needed.

    Good luck with your planning, drop back when you have worked on your new itinerary.

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