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  1. Default An academic request....

    Hello! I have a fairly unique (at least I think it is) request for help... I'm hoping you don't mind that I've posted this request here!

    My colleagues and I are in the process of planning a student project in which students have to research, plan, and budget for a theoretical cross-country trip. The project will incorporate US geography skills, math/economics/budgeting, science, etc. We are really excited about this and think the kids will enjoy it (as much as any 7th grader enjoys a project!) and want to make our requirements relatively realistic. As such, I have a couple of questions I'm hoping those of you with cross-country experience can help answer....

    (1) For their project, the kids will have 60 or so "travel days" they can use. They will need to visit "x" number of states, capitals, national parks, and landmarks/memorials/museums. What would be a reasonable expectation for the number of each -- states, capitals, national parks, etc.? In other words, if you had 60 or so travel days to travel cross country and wanted to spend some quality learning time at a variety of destinations, how many states, etc. would you expect to see?

    (2) The kids will have to plan their trips to be relatively realistic. What recommendations would you make to them in completing their planning? For example, one site I read suggested planning no more than 4 hours of drive time per day....???

    Now, if only we could actually take them all on such a trip..............

    Many thanks,

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    As far as the 1st question, I understand for your purposes having a set number of "destinations" makes a lot of sense, but it really is contrary to what we do here. You need for your project to work as set of "one size fits all" standards, but the beauty of a roadtrip is that there is no single answer to any question. There are plenty of people who would stay 60 days means a chance to visit 60 different places, while there are people who would love 60 days to go an visit a single national park. It doesn't help you much, but I certainly would never want someone to say how many places I'd have to go on a trip! Having said that, one approach would be to have your kids say what they would do each day. So if they want to spend the entire trip exploring one park, then they come up with what they would do with each day!

    Your second question also isn't one size fits all - as there are plenty of people who don't want to travel more than 4 hours a day. However, in terms of realistic, a good rule of thumb is that you can travel 500-600 miles in a full day on the road. That's about 8-10 hours on the road. However, that doesn't mean that in such a day you can also visit 6 national parks or spend all day driving on 2 lane roads. That's pretty much a full day of freeway driving, with only time for a few short stops and detours right off a freeway. Most trips tend to have a mix of driving days and siteseeing days, with some days being a mix.

    In the sense of realism, and probably simplisity sake, I probably would suggest you limit the virtual trip to 30 days. Certainly, we'd all love to go on a 2 month trip, and some of people are able to do such an amazing trip, but its also difficult for many people to get away for that long. As a dream trip that is a bit more within reach for most people, a month is still a glorious amount of time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default But With That In Mind

    Michael is correct in that such 'canned' trips are not what we do here, and not what we typically recommend for people. But as a grandfather to a 12 year old who helps with his similar projects, I understand where you're coming from. So..

    1) 60 days is too much, I think. One could realistically see pretty much anything (but not everything in a couple of months. I actually think a two week time frame might work better, both by putting the first realistic constraint on their planning and keeping the ultimate result within the 'event horizon' of a 7th grader.

    2) How much you want to tell them beforehand about what's perishable/possible is up to you, but a realistic daily limit on miles is around 550 with no sight-seeing involved down to just 100-200 on days when a relatively major natural attraction or historic site or amusement park is going to be visited. so rather than hard and fast rules to be followed, some guidelines with flexibility might be in order.

    3) Costs. This, along with time, is the major constraint on most family RoadTrips. They'll have to figure in gas costs (miles, miles per gallon, cost of gas), tolls, accommodations, food, souvenirs, admissions, and options for keeping these down (camping vs. motels, restaurants v. picnics, shorter trips, etc.)

    4) Goals. As Michael pointed out, the point of RoadTrips is to be able to do what you want to do, so you might want to start by having them each set their own general goal(s) [N.B. that I said goals, not destinations] and then grade them on how well they meet those goals while staying within pre-stated temporal and monetary budgets. As an example, if one student stated that he wanted to have a relaxing trip to explore nature but then spent 10 hours a day driving and spent most nights sleeping in motels by the Interstates, that's not a great way to achieve the goal.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-22-2012 at 07:46 PM.

  4. Default A fun project

    I think you have a great idea -- blending history, economics, environment, government, etc. into a stimulating project. And, the report of the trip is an exercise in English compostion! The device of "trip planning" is a clever means of bringing it all together. By your setting the goal of coast to coast the number of states is pretty much self defined. You could reasonably, depending upon the class time constraints, ask for research to each state's geography and some high points of historic places along the way. Some students may concentrate on environment, others on cliff dwellings, etc. Some students will probably opt for the southern route and study the desert while others may go to the Rockies and have a different experience to share with their classmates.

    (When our oldest daughter was 10 we gave her a map of our state and let her plan a long weekend outing -- we all enjoyed it and it was a good learning experience for her. You're doing it on a grandiose scale.)

    We are presently planning a five month trip coast to coast and return so to me your 60 day trip is a real nice summer vacation.

    Please refer to your private message.

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