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  1. Default 6 Week Roadtrip June/July - Thoughts?

    Hi guys,

    Glad to be a part of the forum, I've been on and off the site for years and now I'm actually doing a road trip I thought it was about time I joined up :)

    Me and 2 of my friends are doing a huge American road trip from the 6th June until the 18th July around most the USA. I've written our itinerary below, it would be good to know from the more experienced what they think.

    Do you think we are doing to much? We are 3 young guys from London so are mostly set on seeing a few sites and hitting a few good bars and having a crazy summer. Are we missing out somewhere we should really be going? do you think we need longer in any particular place?

    06/06/2012 – Fly to Seattle Arrive, Sort out car etc.
    07/06/2012 – Day/Night in Seattle
    08/06/2012 – Day/Night in Seattle
    09/06/2012 – Drive to Idaho Falls – 16 hour drive
    10/06/2012 – Day/Night in Idaho Falls
    11/06/2012 – Drive to Yellow Stone National Park – 11 hour drive
    12/06/2012 – Drive to Rapid City – 16 hour drive
    13/06/2012 – Day/Night in Rapid City
    14/06/2012 – Drive to Minnesota – 12 hour drive
    15/06/2012 – Day/Night in Minnesota
    16/06/2012 – Drive to Milwaukee - 8 hour drive
    17/06/2012 – Day/Night in Milwaukee
    18/06/2012 – Drive to Chicago – 2 hour drive
    19/06/2012 – Day/Night in Chicago
    20/06/2012 – Drive to Cedar Point – 5 hour drive
    21/06/2012 – Drive to Country Fest – 10 hour drive
    22/06/2012 – Day/Night in Country Fest
    23/06/2012 – Day/Night in Country Fest
    24/06/2012 – Drive to New York – 20 hour drive
    25/06/2012 – Day/Night in New York
    26/06/2012 – Day/Night in New York
    27/06/2012 – Day/Night in New York
    28/06/2012 – Drive to Washington D.C/Myrtle Beach –14 hour drive
    29/06/2012 – Drive to Orlando – 8 hour drive
    30/06/2012 – Day/Night in Orlando
    01/06/2012 – Day/Night in Orlando
    02/07/2012 – Drive to Tampa Bay – 2 hour drive
    03/07/2012 – Drive to Miami – 5 hour drive
    04/07/2012 – Day/Night in Miami
    05/07/2012 – Day/Night in Florida Keys
    06/07/2012 – Day/Night in Florida Keys
    07/07/2012 – Drive to New Orleans – 15 hour drive
    08/07/2012 – Drive to Dallas – 8 hour drive
    09/07/2012 – Day/Night in Dallas
    10/07/2012 – Drive to Las Vegas – 20 hour drive
    11/07/2012 – Day/Night in Las Vegas
    12/07/2012 – Day/Night in Las Vegas
    13/07/2012 – Day/Night in Las Vegas
    14/07/2012 – Drive to Los Angeles – 8 hour drive
    15/07/2012 – Day/Night in Los Angeles
    16/07/2012 – Day/Night in Los Angeles
    17/07/2012 – Day/Night in Los Angeles
    18/07/2012 – Fly Home

    Any help or advice you can offer in advance is really appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Dave

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The problem with computer planning.

    Hi, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    That is a great trip the three of you are planning, and in six weeks, it certainly is possible to do a loop of the country. It will be covering a lot of ground, but if it is what you want, then that is fine.

    At first glance it strikes me that the times quoted come straight from some computer program. Those times are not realistic. What you need to realise that computer programs do not ever come to traffic congestion, road construction, accident up ahead, and furthermore they do not need to stop for fuel, food, bathroom, nor do they ever stop to admire the scenery or take a photo.

    So to start off, the first thing you need to do is add about 20% to all times, and that makes for driving times alone, not sightseeing. Seattle to Idaho Falls is not realistic in one day. It will mean leaving at the crack of dawn, and arriving well and truly after dark, and not stopping to even have a glance at some of the great areas through which you will be driving.

    The other thing which strikes me is the imbalance between nature and cities. You have multiple days in several large cities, (after a while they all look the same to me) yet you only devote a quick drive-thru to Yellowstone NP - a place which surely deserves at least a day, if not several days. And to think that you could drive from Yellowstone to Rapid City on the same day is grossly overestimated.

    Maybe it is back to the drawing board. Start with a day's driving around 500 miles, with minimal sightseeing. That should give you a rough guide of the time it takes in the real world.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-06-2012 at 03:41 AM. Reason: grammar

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default back to the drawing board

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry to tell you that Lifey is completely right, you really need to go back to the drawing board with this plan. You've got dozens of days which just aren't possible or realistic.

    Basically all of the days you've listed as 12 or more hour days - and there are a lot of them - are just far too much to even attempt to do in a day, some of them, like Key West to New Orleans or Dallas to Vegas are nearly 3 day drives that can't physically be done in 24 hours. Not to mention, you'd be skipping the Grand Canyon and other pretty amazing sites.

    Even right from the start, the trip to Idaho falls is far too much to do in one day, and frankly is kind of a bizarre point to pick, as it is significantly out of the way.

    You've got a lot of time and will be able to see a lot of amazing things, but this plan isn't one that will work.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Another thought.

    Dave, if you have not already done so, get yourselfves a good wall sized map of the US. I like the National Geographics the best, for all the detail it shows of NPs, highways and urban centres. It really is the only way to plan a trip of this magnitude. It is just not realistic to attempt to get an overview within the confines of a computer screen.

    See how many different routes there are between any two points. See what major cities you will be near, and which National Parks, and other areas of outstanding significance and beauty are along the route. You can check out the details of all of these on the web and in the map centre on the green bar above.

    One thing to remember, the around 500 miles a day is assuming driving on high speed interstates. For instance, the 'Over the Sea Highway' to Key West is one lane each way on all the over water sections, and definitely not high speed. It only takes an accident, and the holdups are counted in hours. I have had locals tell me that they have been held up for as long as four hours, when there has been a bad accident.

    Since you say you have been reading on this site for years, I am sure you will be aware of just how much information there is about all these places. Use the search function above, and the similar threads at the bottom of the page to get more ideas on what and where.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  5. Default

    Thanks for all the replies already, it is really appreciated! Lucky I did choose to post here, otherwise we could have been in for a big shock when we started!

    I'm going to take all your advice on board and try and come up with a different plan, I'll post it here when we have it.

    If anyone else has any golden snippets of advice then please post them, I'll keep tabs on this post while I'm planning further.

    Thanks again! :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Sort out car???

    Quote Originally Posted by dave9713 View Post
    We are 3 young guys from London ...

    06/06/2012 – Fly to Seattle Arrive, Sort out car etc.
    If it is not being too nosey... just what do you mean by 'Sort out car'? Are you renting? or buying? You don't give the ages of any of you. Are you aware of the age implications when renting?

    The other curiosity I have is your flying into and out of the West Coast? Why would you do that, seeing you are coming from London?

    Lifey

  7. #7

    Default Yellowstone

    Just wanted to reiterate how big Yellowstone is. I really underestimated the size of this park when planning my first road trip. We only saw a fraction of it, and we stayed two nights (one full day of sight-seeing in the park). The highlights of the park are spread out. The traffic moves slowly in the park, and there are frequent "buffalo jams" where you sit for a long time waiting for the critters to meander across the road. I'd say you need at least a full day to actually get a taste of the park - 2-3 days is even better. We went back this summer and stayed 3 full days, and still didn't see the entire park.

    Also, you might consider including at least a drive-through of Grand Teton National Park, as it's adjacent to Yellowstone and offers some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I've ever seen.

    Finally, it looks like you'll hit Myrtle Beach in peak season. Just be aware that if you arrive or depart Myrtle Beach on the weekend, the traffic in and out of that area is a nightmare that time of year. Allow yourselves lots of time to get there & to leave.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    If it is not being too nosey... just what do you mean by 'Sort out car'? Are you renting? or buying? You don't give the ages of any of you. Are you aware of the age implications when renting?

    The other curiosity I have is your flying into and out of the West Coast? Why would you do that, seeing you are coming from London?

    Lifey
    Of course it is not being too nosey! We'll be renting and we will arrange that way in advance of us arriving, I spoke to one of the car rental places on the phone and they indicated that it is a $14 per day young drivers fee and that is it (23, 23 and 25 are our ages). Do you think I should take his word that the $14 per day will be the only extra fee?

    Without wanting to sound stupid, why wouldn't we want to fly out to the West Coast? It just seemed like a good point to start the trip at the time of booking the flights!

    Thanks for the extra input morgail. I'm meeting the guys tonight and we are discussing flying the last leg (Miami to Vegas) in order to cut 4-5 days and save more time for Yellowstone etc - although we do want to be in Miami for the 4th July as I'd imagine that would be a fun place right? We understand that flying isn't technically a road trip, but we're stuck with the dates we've booked and think it might be the best idea to make the most of the time we have. We can then get a smoking Mustang or something similar for the last drive from Vegas to LA - which we weren't going to do before as we thought it wouldn't be suitable for such a long drive, opting for a 4x4 - Jeep Patriot or similar.

    Before I meet them, does anyone think we are missing out other key areas which we should be considering? Although we've all been America previously we are by no means experts!

    I'll be posting the new plan here tonight to see what you all think. Thanks for everyones thoughts again, really really helpful!! Once we have the route I'll probably have a million other questions :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default To save money and time.

    Without wanting to sound stupid, why wouldn't we want to fly out to the West Coast? It just seemed like a good point to start the trip at the time of booking the flights!
    The east coast is closer.

    As you are driving around the country and the east coast is on the itinerary, it is usually cheaper to fly in and out of NY [east coast] and a lot quicker. It is just under 3500 miles from London to NY, it's around another 5600 miles across the country and back of unnecessary flying. Direct flights to the west coast can be expensive and a 'change over' flight, time consuming. You could actually double the time you spend in airports and flying between the east and west coasts.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    A mustang would be a horrible choice for 3 people (there's just no room in back for an adult on a long trip), however, a 4x4 is going to cost much more than a standard sedan and won't provide any real benefit. Value-wise, looking at a full-sized sedan would be your best bet.

    The $14 young driver fee (which is actually pretty small, typically it is around $25) may not be your only fee. It could be per underage person per day, or there may simply be other fees for additional drivers. However, the big fee you need to be concerned about is the one way drop fee. That's pretty much standard and will likely add a couple hundred dollars to your total, however, distance makes a big difference. You'll likely pay significantly more if you drop the car in Miami vs. in LA.

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