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  1. #1
    no one Guest

    Default NJ to CA & Everywhere In Between

    Hello all! I am planning a road trip from 6/9 - 7/2 that will in involve a hefty amount of driving but should be a great time. I would like to know if I am being over ambitious as well as any other great places, off the map treasures and such, that I should stop at along the way. I do not plan on staying at a hotel, I will be bringing a tent and stopping off at camp sites along my route or just sleeping in the car if need be. This is mostly a trip to get the heck out of NJ for a while and clear my mind, just being on the road and seeing the country is enough. Not looking to spend more than a day or two at any given location (this may change if I find something amazing :P ).

    So here's a rough draft I put together on Google Maps

    * Leave NJ @ 6pm on 6/9 (Saturday)
    * Drive to Denver CO and arrive on 6/12 or 6/11, pick up my good friend Joe.
    * Leave CO and head to the 4 Corners than the Grand Canyon; camp at Grand Canyon.
    * Leave for San Diego to get my other friend Dave, arrival date being 6/14, he will have a hotel so crash at hotel.
    * Leave San Diego and drive up the CA coast to Big Sur; camp at Kirk Creek on 6/15 or 6/16.

    -*This is where my dates are unclear, I need to calculate drive time to each location.*-

    * Leave Big Sur and head to Las Vegas (this will actually be the only day we stay at a hotel; my friend Joe will also be heading back to CO after Vegas leaving Dave and I to do the rest of the trip, estimating 17 days remaining at that point.)

    * Leave Vegas and head to Roswell; camp overnight.
    * Leave Roswell and head to Dallas; stay at a friends or camp.
    * Leave Dallas and head to New Orleans; camp overnight.
    * Leave New Orleans and head to Miami; camp overnight.
    * Leave Miami and head to Myrtle Beach; camp overnight.
    * Leave Myrtle Beach and head to OBX; camp overnight.
    * Leave OBX and head home; maybe stopping in DE to stay with a few friends.

    Estimated Mileage: At least 8,000-10,000
    Estimated Fuel Cost: $1,200-$1400
    Vehicle: 2007 Civic Si Coupe


    Any suggestions, comments, criticisms, etc... are welcome. I want to have realistic expectations and not have any huge ugly surprises along the way.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and throw your 2 cents in :-D
    Last edited by no one; 05-12-2012 at 09:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Keeping It Real

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As is often the case here, we have to warn you first and foremost to NOT believe the drive time estimates you get from Google Maps or any other silicon chip based mapping routines. They live in a fantasy world where you get to drive at or above the speed limit for every second of every minute that you are on the road, never stopping for food, gas, traffic, sleep, or even to use the toilet. The drive to Denver is going to take a minimum of three days and you simply cannot arrive before late in the evening of the 12th, let alone on the 11th. Similarly, trying to drive from Denver to San Diego in just two days by way of the Grand Canyon will leave you, at best, paying the $20 entry fee for the privilege of taking one quick look over the edge before getting back to the grind of endless driving that your current plan calls for. New Orleans to Miami at over 850 miles is another impossible leg, as is Miami to Myrtle Beach (nearly 700 miles).

    So right now, your plans are not terribly realistic. You can count on covering no more than 550-600 miles in a hard, but safe, day of driving. If you really want to "clear (your) mind, ... and see the country", then you should plan on less, maybe 400-450 miles on days when you actually want to stop to see something. Simply sitting in the car and burning gas for hour after hour, day after day, will be neither pleasant nor rewarding.


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

    Default expectations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got some unrealistic expectations about how far you can get in a day. You've got several legs that would be 700, 800+ miles, and those just aren't going to work. Even if you don't stop to see anything, you shouldn't plan to do much more than about 600 miles on any single day on the road. Even that is still going to be 10-12 hours of driving, and its along the lines of the maximum that a professional driver is allowed to drive. Throw in your plans to camp, which mean you'll need to be off the road a bit sooner to find a site and set up.

    For example, looking just at the first part of your trip. Its a full 3 days to get to Denver, and you really can't expect to get there before the 12th. Its a very full day to get to the Grand Canyon from Denver, especially by the route you've listed, and then its another very long day to get to San Diego - so essentially you would not have any time at all to see the canyon.

    Personally, if I was going to take the time and effort to drive all the way to the west coast, I'd want to actually spend some time there.

    I'd also put at least a word of caution about your plan to sleep in the car. With one person, it might be possible, but there is no way you'll be able to sleep comfortably once you've got a second person on board. Even with one, you've got a compact car that's going to already be quite full with camping gear, leaving very little room for you to sleep. I'd also say budgeting to spend a night or two in a motel in case you get bad weather or just want a real bed is a good idea.

    For that matter, fuel really is just one relatively small part of a trips overall expenses. Trying to cut things too much, be it with sleep or other expenses, can really be pennywise and pound foolish, as it really cuts away your ability to enjoy the trip. Just keep that in mind as you continue your planning.

  4. #4
    no one Guest


    I do realize that the Google Maps mileage estimation is just that, which is why I have accounted for an additional 2,000 miles.

    As far as driving from NJ to CO is concerned it will be two hard days of driving, my good friends live there and have done the trip multiple times, each saying the max drive time will be 3 days if I take it easy and a little over 2 days if I can drive for 15 hours per day as I plan to and have done in the past. Leaving on the 9th and expecting an arrival of the 12 is doable, I estimate 30 hours total road time to get there; I know people who have done it in 24-26.

    I also don't really want to stay in one place for more than half a day, I am looking forward to what you consider "sitting in the car burning gas; not being rewarding". I like driving for long periods of time, listening to music, thinking my own thoughts. That is a huge part of what I am looking forward to; wandering, driving, and ending up where I end up.

    As far as realistic expectations, I think I am being over ambitious and maybe planning a bit too much. Las Vegas is something I would cut out, as well as the Grand Canyon, Roswell, and Dallas (I factored these in because I want to drive back along through the south and figure they aren't too far out of the way all things considered).

    The things I do not want to to cut out are Big Sur, New Orleans, and Miami and I cannot cut out San Diego since I am picking up my driving partner there on 6/14.

    I will be in San Diego by the 14th or 15th, it is doable. The goal is to get out west as quickly as possible, the return trip being what I am looking forward to. I should also note I have gone on long road trips before, I went south, not west. I have driven from FL to NJ straight through in 14-15 hours. I will be covering more than 600 miles in a day on the way out there, this is a guarantee.

    *Edit* There will also be several times we do stop at a hotel or have a place to stay and rest. Once I arrive in CO I will be at a house, once I arrive in CA there will be a hotel, Las Vegas will be a hotel, New Orleans I have a couch to surf on, as well as in FL.

    *Edit 2* As far as the route is concerned, that is more than likely NOT how I will be traveling. I wanted to plot destinations on something that I could refer to easily, so the roads, routes, etc... listed on there are a very rough outline of what I would LIKE to do in an IDEAL situation. I am more than open to excluding things, as I stated above.

    There may also be a misunderstanding of why I am doing this and what I want to do. My purpose is to get away, I am not planning a real static XYZ type trip. I feel that once I am out there things will not go as planned and we will change things as we see fit.
    Last edited by no one; 05-12-2012 at 11:15 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I'm going to chime in here and agree with both Michael and Buck -- too ambitious! My husband is a former long distance driver, and even with 2 of us, we don't often try to drive more than 625 miles in one day. I am not sure exactly where you are in NJ, but last summer, it took us 5 days of driving (500-600 mi day) to get from NJ to CA. We started in north NJ, along I-80, taking 80 to Akron where we dropped down to I-70 via I-76 and I-71. From there it was I-70 all the way across to Utah where we picked up I-15 down to San Diego. Overnights were in Springfield, OH; Columbia MO (family); Burlington CO (2 hrs east of Denver); and Richfield, UT.

    Going out, we took 6 days from CA to NJ via I-8 and AZ 347 up to Tempe AZ; I-17 and I-40 all the way out to TN, then I-81 and up to I-80. Two of those days were around 400 miles, but most were 500-600.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default misinterpretation

    You know, when 3 people see your trip and all reach the same conclusion, I think its safe to say that others have gotten a pretty good idea of what you want to do, and they think there are some serious problems with it. Whether or not you choose to listen to that advice is up to you.

    I will say, I didn't see anyone say you couldn't make it to Denver by the 12th or to SD by the 14th, but trying to do those things and have time for anything other than driving, including spending any real time at the Grand Canyon, is where the problems lie.

    I think you're also clearly badly missing the point about bucks "burning gas" statement. That doesn't mean you have to stop and spend days at a time at any one place, but it does mean that if you want to have a trip that you can actually enjoy being on the road, that you need to have a more reasonable pace where you can actually see what you are driving by. Having an "ideal" plan where you would be driving 12+ hours a day on the freeway is going to get very old very fast. What you are listing as an "ideal" plan would be a pretty miserable march for about 99.99% of the population. Even if you are in the .01%, is your friend of the same mindset where he only wants to see what flys by a window at 75 mph?

    I will also tell you that you won't find anyone here you thinks its a good idea to endanger your safety and the safety of others by trying to drive 800+ miles a day and/or 15 hours a day (especially as a solo driver) as you say you have done and are apparently guarenteeing us that you will do again. There is a very good reason that professional drivers aren't allowed to do anything close to what you are planning, and it ultimately becomes a very real game of russian roulette. We can't stop you from doing it, any more than we could stop you from doing other equally dangerous activities like driving under the influence, but we certainly are not going to encourage such dangerous activity that is responsible for thousands of deaths a year.

    I'm not quite sure how eliminating places like Vegas or Roswell from your plan would really help it - as that's really not the issue that's been raised at all - but ultimately its your (and your friends) trip, and you'll have to decide what you really want to get out of it.

  7. #7
    no one Guest


    From what I read the way you and AZBuck respond to people comes off as negative and arrogant. I am not sure how old you both are, but you may have an entirely different idea of what you want to do compared to what I want to do. I want to drive. I want to sit in my car for 12 hours per day for 3 weeks just driving. Pulling off where I want, when I want, to do what I want. No commitments just a general idea of where I may head next.

    Does my friend want to do 75mph flybys? We've already discussed the plan of action and that consists of a lot of driving, just driving. Also I will not be solo after I reach CO. From there on I will have 1-2 driving partners for the duration of the trip, meaning each person driving in 8 hour shifts or until tired.

    From reading other responses to people on here I wonder how many adventures you squashed with negative "no you can't" and "this is not a good idea" type comments.

    I am done with this site for my pre-planning, not that it matters, but I will make a point of coming back once I have completed my trip and giving an in depth break down of how everything panned out.

    Again, thanks for the advice, but this really wasn't helpful at all. The only tips I got were "drive 400 miles in a day", "being on the highway is boring", and "we're all old people". Peace out honkeys.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    What's really funny is that you started by saying you wanted honest opinions and criticism, and then once you got that, you completely tuned out everything you were actually told and switched to an "I'll prove you wrong" mentality.

    You actually got a lot of other advice beyond the 3 things you supposedly got from the above posts. Of course, based on the fact that you've completely ignored or misinterpreted nearly every piece of advice you've been given, its pretty clear that you don't want to hear anything other than glowing praise for your plans. Obviously, when you don't want help, you're not going to be able to get help.

    So we wish you well. (From someone who is probably about the same age you are.)

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