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  1. Default Summer 2012: US Perimeter road trip. Help?

    Next Summer after I graduate from college I am planning to take a cross country road trip. Seeing the must-see places, but also want to hit local favorites and chill places. I'll pretty much be doing a perimeter run of the country; starting in Virginia Beach, going down to FL panhandle and then across, up Cali and then kinda diagonally down from Seattle til the Mississippi-ish where I'll keep going south 'til Tennessee where I'll make my way back east to Virginia Beach.

    The main things I need help on are financing questions, and if there are any specific route/attraction suggestions for the basic path I just described.
    I've figured about $800 for gas would work? and I am VERY frugal. I live on practically nothing now, and to say the least I'm pretty much just a bum, ie: I don't need nice places to sleep or fancy food to keep me happy. The open road and a great experience would be enough to fuel me, I think. I hope to couchsurf and camp. I have about 3 months for the trip. Or whenever, So I can take my time and stay places for however long.
    Basically I'm wondering how much money is needed approximately to eat for 2-3 months, cheaply, but to not starve, and what other expenses should I tally in?

    I will be with friends for a few legs, and by myself for some as well.

    (sidenote: I will be receiving a new car around graduation from my parents [they're nice people, i know] so it shouldn't have too many miles on it and it will obviously be in new condition.)

    Thanks for the advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by ajc1991 View Post
    Basically I'm wondering how much money is needed approximately to eat for 2-3 months, cheaply, but to not starve, and what other expenses should I tally in?
    With 12 months to plan, this should be the easiest question to answer. Why not for the next twelve months check on what you need and use, how much you use and eat, what the prices are, and how often you like to eat out, or cook for yourself. It will give you a basic figure, which you would then have to increase for a road trip. Start a journal or log, and keep track.

    It will not only be good preparation for such a trip, but a great lesson in life.


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Are you looking for someone to travel with you? You put this in the "Share the Gas" section but didn't mention anything about it.

    I will say your fuel cost estimate is way too low. You're going to drive at least 10,000 miles doing what you're talking about (remember, you won't just be doing city to city driving, you'll be driving within town, parks, going to destination, finding places to stay/eat, etc) and it actually could be even a couple thousand miles more if you end up being on the road for 3 months. If you have an average car with 25 mpg, and gas is "only" $4, that would be $1600. You might have a car that gets a bit better mpg, but gas could also cost more and I'm factoring a pretty minimal amount of miles.

    I would just urge you to think about similar things when you are planning the rest of your budget. Its a very common mistake to underestimate just how much it costs to be on the road - especially when they are coming to the trip with the idea of being as cheap as possible. It can very easily get to the point where you either simply don't have enough money, or to meet your financial goals you have to cut things so sharply that you have to only worry about not spending money and can't focus on enjoying the journey.

  4. Default

    I figure you're looking at well over 7000 miles for this trip. So to make sure you have plenty of gas money, you should probably figure 8000 miles. If gas stays the same price next summer you should probably figure $4.00 a gallon as hopefully the most you will spend per gallon. If those two are the case, then the car is going to have to get 40 mpg. If not, then you will need more gas money.

    When DH and I were first married we took a large cooler in our vehicle and ate lots of sandwiches, cheese, crackers, salami, fruit, cereal, easy to make in one pot dishes like mac and cheese with tuna or chili. We weren't camping yet so didn't even have a camp-stove only an electric pot. Food can be done as cheaply on the road as at home/college by using grocery stores instead of restaurants. The cost of ice can add up quickly, so keep that in mind.

    There are a lot of BLM and national forest campgrounds that are free, but they usually are off the main roads so it can take more miles and gas to get to them. This is what we did in our early years but gas was so much cheaper then. Camping in national parks will average between $7 to $20 a night. But there are exceptions, like the campground at Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona that is free! Great campground in cottonwood trees. Once you have your route more or less, I can help with some of the camp grounds.

    If you are going to go to more than a couple of National Parks or National Monuments, you should figure on purchasing the National Park pass for $80. One national park like Grand Canyon or Yellowstone can cost $25.00.

    There is so much out there to see. Do you want scenic, historic, weird, educational, cities, or all of the above?

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