Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. Default Chicago to LA 2 week vacation/bonding trip with mom and teenage son> HELP!

    Hi everyone,
    I'm so glad I found this site, but I'm a little overwhelmed and I'm just starting. Any help would be deeply appreciated.

    Traveling this summer (June) with my 15yo son. We thought taking a road trip would be great. Ideally we want to see some classic sites as we've never road tripped before. EVER. Grand Canyon, painted desert, Roswell (lol) and I know there are tons of other things to see. Being from the Midwest, we've never seen mountains or deserts so I'd love to include both. We want to stay in LA for a couple/3 days before heading back.

    If you all could point me in a general direction, advise on some attractions, or must sees, I'd love it. This is a kid who loves everything about cars, old and new, military and its weaponry. I'm more of an antiquing, beautiful sights, and picture taking.

    Thanks everyone!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Two Musts

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are two major pieces of advice that I'd give you, The first is to take different routes out to L.A, and back home, thus maximizing the amount of new ground and number of sites that you can cover, and the second is to get your son as involved in this as possible.

    The first is simple enough, and the two routes that I'd suggest you look at (which you take which way doesn't matter) are (1) The 'Pioneer Trail' following I-80, the old Oregon Trail, between Chicago and Western Nebraska, I-76 connecting to Denver, I-70 between Denver and Utah, and I-15 between Utah and Los Angeles; and (2) 'Historic Route 66' which is just I-55/I-44/I-40/I-15 following the course of the now nonexistent US-66. Major attractions along the Pioneer Trail would include the landmarks of the Oregon Trail, and Rocky Mountain, Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The 'big' sites on old Route 66 would be the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Cadillac Ranch, Oklahoma City Memorial, and the Museum of Westward Expansion (and the Arch) in St. Louis. There are plenty more which brings us to my second recommendation.

    Your son is 15 which means he's too young to help with the driving, but is certainly old enough to help with the planning and navigating. Let/make him figure out what you should see and do a little research on the basic reason to visit, hours, directions and the like, and then leave it up to him to be your tour guide. Not a GPS, not a guide book, your son. Within reason, let him decide when to call it a day and exercise some discretion in where to spend the night. Also, be acutely aware that he will be paying close attention to how you drive on this trip and give him good lessons, without saying a word, on how it's done.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    With only 2 weeks for a round trip, you are going to have to watch your time very carefully. Chicago to LA with no sightseeing taking Interstate highways is a 4 day drive. You could roughly follow I-55/I-44/I-40 one way and I-15/I-70/I-76/I-80 the other way.

  4. Default

    Thank you AZbuck. He and I have been doing some research on what we want to see/do vs. what is a must see/do. The route info you gave me is helpful. I'm wondering if you could tell me: What am I realistically looking at as far as cost for lodging/gas/food? We plan to doing alot of driving, while still being able to sight see, but we don't want to stay anywhere longer than a night until we get to LA.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Here is our fuel price calculator. I would use at least $4/gallon for your calculations, and add 20% to the point to point mileage. Use the average gas mileage for your vehicle, not straight highway mileage. This should cover it. Gas in Chicago is above the national average and you can safely use that number in your calcs.

    Lodging, figure an average of $75 a night using "budget" accommodations. Food - you should be able to figure that using what you pay for groceries and restaurant/fast food meals where you are at now, those figures don't vary much no matter where you are. Staying in hotels that have free breakfasts can help here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Realistically (Generally)

    It's tough to be precise when trying to estimate costs in the future over two-thirds of the country, but I have a few rules of thumb that I use to 'guesstimate' travel costs for planning purposes. The first is that a decent two bed room in a relatively low-cost (but not 'economy') motel will run around $60-75 per night. You can sometimes save a bit by booking ahead, but you can always save by knowing what various motels in an area charge and doing some comparison shopping.

    Most motels will nowadays provide some sort of complimentary breakfast that will at least get you on the road in the morning even if it's only some fruit, toast, cereal and coffee. Personally, between that and my own eating habits, I only eat a single restaurant meal during the day and that will be off the breakfast or lunch menus which are cheaper than dinners. If you carry a cooler with you, then you can shop at a local supermarket for salad and sandwich makings, and have those for your evening meal and/or a picnic lunch during the day. So food costs can be highly variable, but for planning purposes, count on $20-25/person/day and you'll eventually find yourselves below budget.

    If you are going to be visiting more than 4 or so National Parks, get the annual pass ($80) at the first one you come to and that will cover all admissions for a year. Note that it doesn't cover camping or special fees such as tours that charge, but many ranger and/or docent led tours are free. The Fuel Cost Calculator will let you estimate your fuel costs based on the number of miles you plan to drive and the efficiency of your own car. Use $4 as a relatively safe(?) guess for per gallon gas prices this summer.

    So, you have some work ahead of you to figure out a cost range for your trip, but those guidelines should give you a pretty accurate idea.


  7. #7

    Default Outdoors for the win

    Being a 23 year old Eagle Scout who is planning his first RT, I am going to be camping as much as possible. One of the things Mandy and I are trying to do is get away from electronics as much as possible. Why stay in a cheap, questionable hotel/motel you would never want to bring a UV light in to, when you can sleep under the stars and enjoy the very nature you are setting out to see? It's cheaper, more fun, and will be a great bonding experience. Some of my fondest memories are camping with my mom and dad.

    Just my thoughts.


    National Geographic Adventure Atlas is a great tool for finding campgrounds on the go!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-26-2011 at 02:49 PM. Reason: added link to atlas in RTA's Roadtripping Resource Store

Similar Threads

  1. Newbie questions. Aug 2010/2011 Utah/Arizona 3 week vacation.
    By sunseeker in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-03-2009, 09:14 AM
  2. Brief Chicago Vacation
    By JasonCP in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 08-01-2008, 02:40 PM
  3. The Best Trip For One Week Toronto To Chicago
    By eitangal in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-09-2006, 07:15 AM
  4. week vacation
    By imported_Linda in forum Saving Money on Your Trip
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-24-2005, 12:16 AM
  5. Teenage Road Trip
    By Dennis Maine in forum Gear-Up!
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 01-13-2002, 08:26 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name