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  1. #1

    Default NJ to WC and back

    My daughter and I are heading out for a road trip this summer before she goes away to college. I have road tripped before in both a leisurely and speedy manner and this trip will have components of both. I am looking for some feedback on budgeting specifically food. We have a little more than 3 weeks and it can be either July or August. I also have an SUV that gets 34 mpg on the highway but you can sleep in comfortably with the back seats folded down, so we plan on sleeping along the way at some truck stops.

    Start NJ
    Day 1. Travel to Niagra Falls, NY area, camp
    Day 2. See Niagra Falls, sleep at truck stop out side Chicago
    Day 3. Shedd's Aq., sleep at truck stop out side Des Moines
    Day 4. Drive to South Dakota, camp in Wall, SD
    Day 5. Visit Rushmore, drive to Sheridan WY
    Day 6-9. Yellowstone!! Drive to truck stop outside Spokane.
    Day 10. Arrive Seattle, check into hostel, Underground city, etc
    Day 11. Ferry to kingston, camp at La Push, WA, hopefully catch an hour or two of surf
    Day 12. Surf a bit in the morning, dinner with former in laws in Portland, sleep in truck stop north of Eugene, OR
    Day 13. Camp in Klamath National Forest
    Day 14. Wander down PCH, stop in a motel when we get tired.
    Day 15. Arrive Monterey, check into Hostel, check out wharf.
    Day 16. MB Aq. Sleep in Truck stop outside Bakersfield.
    Day 17. Arrive Las Vegas, try not to hurl (this is something my daughter just really wants to see), Stay in a hotel.
    Day 18. Camp at Grand Canyon, AZ. Take pictures.
    Day 19-20. Visit family in Albuquerque, NM
    Day 21-23 ish: Head home via major highways, no sight seeing planned. Mix of truck stops and motels.

    We are planning to only buy one sit down meal a day at a cheapish (but not fast food) restaurant, and eat mostly out of the cooler or use the camp stove. Any idea how much I should budget for food?

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

    Default the high cost of sleeping for free

    First, I have to ask what SUV do you have that can comfortably sleep 2 people and gets 34 mpg? I can't even think of any hybrids that claim to do that well.

    Even if you think you can sleep 2 people comfortably in the back, I would strongly recommend you scale back on the number of nights you are trying to do it. Remember this, when you are at a truck stop, really all you can do is sleep. You've got really no place to move around outside your car. You really can't set up your camp stove for cooking. They are also well lit, which is important for safety, but also makes it more of a challenge to get a real good night of sleep. Another factor you'll really have to think about is that with 2 people camping, and on the road for a month, you're going to have a good amount of gear with you, and you'll have to find a way to sleep, and still have all of that gear in the truck.

    If you were planning just to spend one or two nights at a truck stop, I wouldn't think much of it, but you've got at least a full weeks worth of time you're planning for this. I really think that's going to hurt your ability to enjoy your trip, and for my money, spending $20 on a campsite would be one of the best uses of money you could spend.

    If I was going to throw out a number for your food budget, I'd say $50 a day total would be a good ballpark figure.

    One final thought on your route. You've got yourself getting home in "3 days-ish." You're looking at a 2000 mile drive and even at a brisk pace, you need to plan for 4 days from Albuquerque. However, I think to plan a trip like this where you are doing a huge loop of the country and then just completely skipping everything on the second half of that loop would be a big shame, and both from what you'll miss, and from the fact that you're going to end your trip on a very tiring and disappointing note.

  3. #3


    Thanks for the reply.

    I drive a 2005 Saturn Vue 4 cyl. It supposedly gets about 34 mpg on the highway even though I typically see 29-30ish. It's made almost entirely of plastic. I try not to think about that when I am actually on the highway.

    I have slept in the back before and with some velcro curtains (got the idea on here) the lights don't bother me. If I was even slightly taller (I am 5'9) it wouldn't work. I think 5 nights will be ok except the two in a row might not be fun. Oh and I picked the truck stops based on the fact I hate setting up a tent in the dark. The days we are doing them, will be likely dark by the time we get there, otherwise I too absolutely prefer camping.

    As for skipping the Southeast we just did it last year and since we just don't have the time we are going to miss it this time thru.

    As for the $50 a day is that for two or per person?


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


    That's $50 total, but it's also the minimum I'd plan for. That plans for $15 a day each for restaurants and $10 other food. That's watching things quite closely, however, and it wouldn't be bad at all to add even more into your plan.

    I'd also just tell you to be a bit careful in your planning, because things tend to take a lot longer than they do on paper. If you are planning for a day where you aren't stopping until after dark (during summer days when you've got daylight until 9pm or so), a slight delay could mean you aren't off the road until after midnight or later.


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