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  1. Default Planning a Road Trip

    Hey everyone, I'll try my best to explain what it is I'm trying to do and maybe some of you can help me out.
    My boyfriend and I are traveling the country this summer. We are taking three weeks in June and most of our adventuring is out west. We are from Portland, Maine and cannot figure out the best choice for route. I originally wanted to only road trip it and not take a plane but the more research I do I'm not sure this is the best choice. If we chose to fly, we would (maybe, I need as much help as I can get so I'm open to anything) fly into Farmington, NM and then rent a car from there. We would drive to the four corners monument, then route from there (probably vegas, to the grand canyon to san diego then upward from there, eventually driving back to Maine)
    The other alternative is to drive which is what I originally wanted to do, but given the time constraint of three weeks is this realistic? I am not so concerned with stopping too many places down the east coast but I feel like the car is the only way to ensure we will have everything we need for the drive back. Any and all help is very appreciated since I know many of you are veteran road trippers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    So, for starters, getting out to where you want to start your trip from would take at least four days of 600 miles or more on the road. Certainly doable, but remember you'd have the same amount of time heading back. Let's say it's five days each way - that's 10 days total out of 21, or roughly 50% of your available time. So, it depends on how much you are expecting to see primarily in the West and if you weren't so concerned on seeing or traveling through the Midwest. It is unlikely that you would spend much more than your first and last days on the East Coast.

    If you fly into New Mexico and then return home via car, you will incur some hefty one-way car rental fees.

    I think the decision rests on these factors:
    Time - how much time do you want to spend out West?
    Mindset - do you think you want to spend five days driving each way?
    Budget - do you have enough for either of the options?
    Goals - what are the key places you want to see in the duration of this trip?

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

    Default farmington?

    I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I'm following the logic of your plan.

    Certainly, with 3 weeks, driving from Maine, out to the west coast and back would be pretty rushed so I think a fly and drive trip could make a lot of sense.

    What I don't understand is why you'd fly into Farmington, a small airport that's likely going to have pretty high fares and rental car rates, drive west to San Diego, and then head back east to go home. Wouldn't it make more sense to fly to California first, and then start your drive back from there?

    Since you say you aren't that concerned about the east coast, have you thought about simply doing a loop of the west? You could find that's actually cheaper, especially since you'd avoid the one way drop fees (likely several hundred dollars to go back to Maine), and you'd have a lot more time to spend at the places you want to focus your trip.

    No matter which way you go, I think you'll find it is much cheaper to fly into a major airport. If you want to stick with your plan to start in the 4 corners, it would likely be much cheaper to fly into Denver or Albuquerque. If you go with a loop, you can start with any major airport in the west, and could save a lot if you take the time to shop among all of the potential cities on your route.

  4. Default

    I know, it's confusing because I've never done this, I'm all over the place haha. I guess I thought that I would fly into Farmington because it's closest to the four corners and it made sense to move left from there then up through California. I just feel like no matter where I fly into, there are so many things that are in California east of California that I would be driving up and down all over the place. I guess I just need to try to become more familiar with the maps and try narrowing down what I consider essential to see.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Large paper maps.

    Quote Originally Posted by ashliee11 View Post
    I guess I just need to try to become more familiar with the maps and try narrowing down what I consider essential to see.
    By far the best thing you can do, is get yourself a good paper map of the US, or maps of the individual States. If you are a member of AAA, you will be able to get many good maps there. Actually, AAA have (or did have) a map called 'Indian Country', which would cover most of what you are interested in. It covers (from memory) northern NM and AZ as well as southern CO, UT and NV and extends (I think) into eastern CA. I found this to be a most valuable map, as it covers all of the great national parks and attractions of the southwest.

    Once you get a good overview of where things are - something which is almost impossible within the confines of a small screen - you will get a much better idea of your options. It will help take the confusion out of your planning.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Start with the basics.

    As Tim mentioned in the first reply, you have some questions to answer for yourself before you can move along. If your budget can manage it and your main goal is to visit the west, I would fly out and back and concentrate your time in the west. You could easily do a loop trip as mentioned and start and finish in the same City [Vegas, Denver, San Fran etc] or start in Denver and finish in San Fran for example, drop the car and fly home. [You will most likely face a one way drop off fee.]

    We can help you route it, once you have figured out what you want to do and places you really want to visit. I'm not sure I would base a trip around the Four Corners Monument though. It's great for a photo opportunity when passing through, but at the end of the day it is just a plinth in the middle of nowhere ! Compare that to the likes of the Grand canyon, Yosemite, Sequoia, Zion and Bryce canyon NPs', Monument Valley etc and it doesn't come close imo.

    Once you have a few dots on that map and have decided whether to fly or drive [or a combination of both] let us know and we can help put it together.

    Enjoy the planning, it's a great part of the journey as a whole!

  7. Default

    Okay I'm working on that and then I'll definitely send it to you, thank you so much it's so nice to have experienced people helping me on this. You guys rock.

  8. Default June Road Trip

    Hey everybody, I joined this site a couple of months ago when I first began planning my road trip across the US. I realized that I had a lot of research to do before I tried asking questions about it so after about two months, I think I have most things planned out. Any and all advice will be really helpful. There are two important things to know: We are leaving June 5 and arriving back home around June 28. I will be doing the first half of the trip with my boyfriend but he can only take two weeks off so he has to fly home on June 19.. Here we go... Keep in mind these are very approximate times with added stops along the way

    June 5- Leave Portland, Maine at 7 (when hes out of work) and drive about 7-8 hours to Victor, NY.
    June 6- Leave Victor, NY and drive 9 hours to Portage, IN- stay overnight
    June 7- Leave Portage and drive about 7 hours to Blue Earth, MN- stay overnight
    June 8- Leave Blue Earth and drive 6 hours to Badlands National Park where we have campsite reservations for two nights
    June 10- Leave Badlands and drive to about 10 hours Yellowstone (stop at Mount Rushmore)- stay overnight for three nights
    June 13- Leave Yellowstone and drive about 7 hours to Salt Lake City, UT- stay overnight
    June 14- Drive to Grand Canyon and camp for two nights
    June 16- leave the Grand Canyon and head for Vegas- overnight
    June 17- leave Vegas and head to San Diego (staying with friends) for two nights
    June 19- drive to LAX...

    the rest of the trip is still working itself out depending on who flies out to meet me and finish the trip with me.. Thank you in advance for any help! I should also mention. We plan to camp and stay in hotels depending on where we are so all in all, we are bringing along with us about $6,000. Is this a good estimation for everything included? (parks, camping, hotels, gas, food, misc.?)

    Merged with already open discussion. Please do not start multiple threads for the same trip.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 04-22-2012 at 05:13 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default first step is a train wreck

    You're going to work a full day and then drive a full day? That's a horribly bad idea and a way to wreck your trip before you even start. Getting on the road and covering some miles is one thing, but trying to drive 500 miles when you aren't even starting until late evening and are tired from the job is quite another. Assuming everything goes perfect and you get on the road right at 7, you wouldn't get to your hotel until 4am!

    A common theme is that your travel time estimates are all way too low. In fact, they are even more optimistic than even Google suggests - and the only way to hit googles times is to drive without ever stopping for food, fuel, or slowing down for traffic.

    The basic framework of your trip is ok, but that first day is simply not a good idea. If you aren't leaving until 7, I wouldn't plan to cover any more than 250-300 miles tops that first night.

  10. Default

    Yeah I may have to tweak that I think the excitement of the trip tended to overrule some of my logic.. I not working that day so he would drive for a couple hours or so and I would pick up the rest..

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