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  1. Default D.C. to West Coast the long way?

    Hi all! I am new to these forums and thought this would be a good place to start!

    I am leaving on a roadtrip mid-November through mid-January or later (I know, I probably should have started planning earlier!). My very basic (and very long) itinerary so far is to start from Washington, D.C., head south towards the Smoky Mountains/Tennessee, then to New Orleans, across Texas (through Austin perhaps?), then up to Utah/Grand Canyon/Las Vegas/Death Valley, up the California Coast, as far North as I can go, possibly to Portland, OR or Vancouver, BC.

    My time is not necessarily limited (1-3 months?) although my budget is. I plan on car-camping/hosteling the majority of the time. Any suggestions for off-the-beaten-path routes, must-see sights, weather advisories, advice for cheap traveling? I realize I can't do EVERYTHING, and probably need to narrow down my destinations I would like to do. This is my first time doing a cross-country trip, and yes, reality checks are very welcome!! Thanks!!!

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

    Default the options and the limitations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You didn't really make it clear, are you planning to make this a round trip, or do you plan to end your trip and fly home from the West Coast?

    As far as "must sees," "off the beaten path routes," etc, there really isn't much we can say. There's simply too many possibilities, especially when your trip covers the entire country and your timeframe covers anywhere from 1-3 months. I will say, that should give you a nice amount of time to see a whole lot of great things.

    Reality check-wise, how much thought have you given to camping and what is your gear situation like? Campgrounds may be closed in many areas, and pretty much everywhere you'll be camping you'll need some serious winter camping gear. Expect most places along your journey to fall below freezing at night (at times well below).

  3. Default

    Hi KerryAnn,

    It's going to get mighty cold, even below freezing at night in some areas to do car camping in the winter except maybe at Death Valley. Make sure you get a winter rated sleeping bag.

    Keep an eye on the weather a day or two out. You could easily run into snow storms this time of the year. If you're driving a rental vehicle, I hear most don't allow snow chains.

    If you could do this trip at another time of the year like late spring, early summer, or fall, I'd suggest waiting and doing it then.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Hostels and budgets

    Quote Originally Posted by kerryann View Post
    I plan on car-camping/hosteling the majority of the time.
    In the years when I was staying almost exclusively at hostels, I used to design my route, depending on where the hostels were. This is probably the most comprehensive site for hostels world wide. Mark where they are on your maps.

    I always found it worthwhile to ring the hostel direct, and not go through the online booking. Even though they say it is free, most hostels will save you the cost of the booking fee, which they have to pay. At the time you are travelling, booking ahead should not be necessary for most of the areas you will be in.

    The best thing you can do is get a good road Atlas, such as Rand McNally, or some good road maps such as AAA, of all the States through which you plan to travel. Maps have an amazing amount of information on them, and allow you to make decisions while on the road. Especially with your open plan and timespan. Maps are free at AAA if you are a member. And for a trip like you are planning, it is worth taking out a membership, if you do not already have a roadside assistance plan.

    Here is a whole forum dedicated to saving money on a roadtrip.


  5. Default

    Hi Kerry Ann,

    I'm 24 years old, and I did my first long road trip along the i-40 last year driving from Los Angeles to the DC area for grad school. We did it in 9 days, which was pretty leisurely. I went to the Grand Canyon (there's a deer farm nearby), Santa Fe, Amarillo (amazing food and antique shopping!), OKC, Memphis, Nashville, Asheville (crunch mountain town, great arboretum).

    For accommodations, I was traveling with my BF, so we just rented rooms at cheap motels (usually around $50/nt). We booked some stays through, which allows you to book anonymous hotels (they reveal the name of the place only after you book) for a discounted price. It's pretty low risk though because each anonymous listing has a percentage of guests who would recommend the hotel. If you choose to book only places that come with 85-100% recommendations, you're going to get decent hotels.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-15-2011 at 03:38 PM. Reason: New members are not allowed to post off site links

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