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  1. Default The Great American Treasure Hunt


    2/3 of my friends and I are planning a large road trip for the end of this summer and I have some questions to pose for the well-traveled members of this forum. Thanks for making the resource available and thanks in advance for your help! I apologize for the length of this post!

    We are all recent college graduates and share an interest in geocaching, an outdoor scavenger hunt activity that can be played almost anywhere. Our trip will take us to each of the 48 lower state capitals, where we will search for geocaches and explore for a small amount of time before moving on. Furthermore, one of our party went to college for film production. We will be filming much of this trip to cut the footage into a documentary upon our return, showing the adventure of geocaching, the beauty of the USA, and the fun we have along the way.

    Here are some of my questions, I will just list them:

    -I have scanned the forum and found that 10 hours/600 miles is generally accepted as the maximum safe/"comfortable" travel distance in one this accurate? We have driven to Florida from NY many times, without stopping except for fuel, so we are not new to long drives, just looking for confirmation on these numbers.

    -We have scoured the internet and have plotted a very efficient route to accomplish our goal. We will be starting in Long Island, NY. My issue is planning the itinerary. I am between two extreme options: a speed run, stopping in each capital only for a half hour and 8 hours a night to sleep...or the opposite, spending a night in every city we go to. A speed run isn't what we want to do. And 48 capitals = 48 nights, which would be great, but is too long of a trip. We want something in between these two extremes. How should I decide how long to stay where, and how many stops to make in a day?

    -We considered avoiding interstates at times to get that back-country feel and possibly stumble across some "hidden gems", as I have seen it termed on this forum, knowing that this will make for slower travel. Good idea? If so any suggestions on which interstates to avoid and which alternate roads might be fun to drive?

    Transportation is a very pressing issue for us. We all own our own vehicles, and are debating between taking one of them, renting, or buying an older vehicle for cheap to beat into the ground on the trip.

    Option one is my car. It is a 2000 Honda Accord with 116k on it. It has been maintained extremely well, never been late for an oil change, no faults, driven daily. I am willing to take the car on the trip (which will total between 12000 and 14000 miles), but I am wondering if it will be able to handle the drive...anyone able to offer some insight here? Also I am wondering that barring a serious break down and obvious oil change expenses, what would a best/moderate/worst case scenario of maintenance to be done after/along the trip cost for a vehicle like this...if it is a feasible one to drive in?

    Option two is one of my companions vehicles, which is a mid- 2000, also a Honda. It's also a hybrid :) The driver of this car has not decided if he wants to subject his car to this trip though, and so we cannot rely on this option at this time. If he comes around we'll take it, no question.

    Option three is renting...we are all 23 however so there is an extra fee for being too young...and many (if not all) services seem to have limits in place on where you can drive and how far you can this option seems to be out for us. If anyone knows more about this from experience please let me know!

    Option four would be pooling some of our funds to buy a van or other vehicle solely to use on the trip. This would significantly increase the cost of the trip however, and leaves us wondering what to do with it after...etc. This would be more preferable if we were traveling for an entire summer.

    This is a very long post so I apologize in advance, I hope you have survived to read this long and can help us in our planning process!! Thanks very much!

  2. Default

    Another question I have thought of is how much to plan on spending! Cash isn't an issue, but a ballpark figure would be nice, barring roadside emergencies and breakdowns.

    My car gets 400 to a tank on mixed hwy/stop and go
    13000 miles at 400 miles to a tank = 32.5 tanks of gas
    32.5 tanks of gas * a max of 65$ to fill up my tank = 2200 estimate for fuel

    Four oil changes = 120$

    We will be cooking our own food on a camp stove. 400$ a person would be safe per person for food and supplies.

    Camp sites seem to cost 10-30$ average. if we stay for 30 nights..30*30 = 900$.

    Tolls are an expense but I have no idea what to expect to pay on a trip like this.

    This leaves me with a total or 4,420$, or 1,105$ per person. Everyone has their own funds with which to pay for entertainment along the way, as well as to serve as their own emergency fund. Sound like an accurate guesstimate?? This is all based on a month long trip, which is just a guess as to how long we'll be traveling.

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

    Default good start

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've done a nice job in your planning so far.

    I'd say time is the biggest concern. 30 days is not much time to try to hit all 48 capitols, and it would almost certainly have to be a speed run where you'd have very little to see anything or do any hunting for geocaches.

    Even as you've estimated, 13k miles would mean having to average about 450 miles per day. Certainly driving that many miles on most days isn't an issue, and you are correct that you can do 600 miles in a day. However, 600 miles is a long day of about 10-12 hours on the road, where you have very little time left for anything other than what you see right next to the road. Its also not something you want to be doing every day for a month. There needs to be a balance between long driving days, days for fun and exploration, and just some days where you can rest and not be required to do anything. I think you need either more time or a smaller goal to avoid burning out.

    For your car, I think taking your own is the best bet of those you've listed. Its age/miles are certainly within reason for taking on a big trip, but you should also factor in some time and money for potential repairs on the road. a AAA membership could also be a good idea to provide some help if you do have a problem. With your age, renting is likely going to be very expensive, and buying a car just gives you all the same risks you have in your personal vehicle, but you won't know anything about its history and repair records. Basically the problem with buying a car to "drive into the ground" is that it might decide its reached the ground well before your trip is complete.

    Cost-wise, I think you are on track, although I'd recommend figuring your gas costs by looking at actual MPG and fuel costs rather than trying to guess the number and costs of "tanks." The RTA Fuel Cost calculator on the right side of the screen can help you there. Also don't forget to include money for fun, entertainment, and other misc expenses that will come up along the way.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the reply!! As it turns out, our hybrid companion has decided that his vehicle is the best option so thats a lot of stress gone! I am a member of AAA also. Ill have to start working on a possible intinerary. Thanks again for tour help, im sure ill think of more to ask along the planning process :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Don't forget, that AAA membership will be good for getting yourself some free maps, tour books (which have listings of AAA-accepted lodging, as well as some good ideas for sightseeing), and more, in addition to the Emergency Road Service peace of mind.

    I'm glad you settled the vehicle issue. We just completed an 8000 mile trip last summer (CA to NJ and back) in a car that started out with more than 120,000 miles on it. It's got quite a bit more than that now. Moral of that story: take care of your car, and it can last you for 200-300K miles easily. Hopefully your hybrid companion has taken care of his car!


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