Hello - it's been a while since I posted here (4 years!) and I'm once again attempting to put together an epic 5,500 mile road trip, from Wisconsin to the West Coast and back this August. Unlike 4 years ago, this time it's actually happening: I have a total of 4 people (including me) committed, we have an ideal vehicle (new VW Jetta wagon diesel - 35 mpg city!), and 3 weeks to do the trip. My plan is to spend 3 or 4 days doing 'speed runs' so that we can take it more slowly for the rest of the trip. It will be a fairly low-budget affair: I'm planning $700-800 each, camping most nights with hopefully at least one night at a family friend's and occasional stops at cheap motels. I've had a look through other budget threads and am fairly comfortable we can do the trip within our budget constraints and that it's all pretty realistic. As for the group, we're all experienced tent campers, able to drive, and have travelled extensively around the world. I've also lived with or travelled with each of the other 3 people for significant periods of time and am confident we'll all be able to get along with each other for the duration of the trip. I've done solo and group road trips before, so I understand the challenges and pressures of being on the road for extended periods of time (I once drove Wisconsin - New York in a day by myself, and then did the same in reverse 5 days later).
So basically, I'm looking for advice on just a couple points (which I'll obviously need to discuss with the group as well):
1) Whether we should book hotels/campsites in advance? I've thought about 3 main options: booking the whole trip in advance; booking as we go (1-2 days in advance); or taking our chances and hitting the road without reservations. Is it possible to find sites on-the-day in prime August travel season? In particular, we'll probably be travelling through some fairly popular places: Yellowstone, Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco, Colorado Rockies...
2) Any cost-saving tips for along the way? In particular, how to see Seattle and San Fran on a budget.
3) Any practical tips for life on the road: how to share costs, do day-to-day planning, settle disputes, etc.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thank you :)