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  1. Default Need help routing my cross country trip!!!

    I will be traveling cross country at the end of this month Leaving from Chesapeake, Va heading to Bonney Lake, WA.
    From WA I was planning to travel down the PCH but, due to the road collapse Im unsure of what to do about that. I pretty much had my heart set on seeing the Red Woods. Eventually Ill end up in San Diego for a few days then heading to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Id really like to stop on Austin TX on my way home also.

    But heres my road block, I have no idea what route to take on my way to WA and the second half of my trip home. I would like to see Mt Rushmore. But should I stop in Chicago? Indianapolis? What cites are really worth it? I have a tiny budget and plan to sleep in my car a lot or stay with people I know in different cities…which is also proving to get in the way. Also since I am female and traveling alone, where is the best place to sleep in your car?? That can prove to be pretty dangerous.

    I have searched and searched the internet and read reviews on where to stay and what to see but, it seems to all eventually become the same!! I want to see the best of what America has to offer! ANY suggestions would be great.

    My time frame is July 20- Aug 31.

  2. Default

    What kinds of things would you most like to see in cities you visit (famous landmarks, performances, historical sites, etc)?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Make it yours.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Researching and reading up are all well and good, but then you have to decide what it is that appeals to you and your tastes and interests, and then start to make the trip your own. Chicago, Indianapolis ? If they appeal to you then you should go, but what works for other people might not for you. Once you have a few places that you really want to visit marked on the map, the rest will follow. Certainly we can help fill in the blanks once you have made a start and decided on where you will be staying with relatives, but it would be meaningless if we started throwing names out there when we nothing about your interests and roughly where you are headed, there would be thousands upon thousands of options !

    I can't see anything that says any part of the coastal routes are closed [other than one unfounded rumour] through Oregon or California, so perhaps a link to where you saw this would be handy. It's certainly not on Tripcheck [OR]or Caltrans [CA] sites other than some overnight closures that shouldn't affect you.

    I would certainly not plan on sleeping in your car other than for an odd night here or there [still not recommended] as it's tough to get a good nights sleep unless you have a vehicle that is large and has foldable rear seats that would take a mattress. You can't just pull up anywhere as that would be potentially dangerous and you could also be trespassing or breaking state law which could result in a rude awakening in the middle of the night.

    Have a good read around the forums and check out the tool bars above for planning ideas. The Map centre for example is ideal for creating routes and finding attractions along the way. Once those dots are on the map and we know more about you, we can start to help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As a single female, you may want to look into hostels for overnights. They're not everywhere, but there are enough to allow you to sleep in one at least every other night or so. Plan on between $50-65/night for a simple motel, and use either the hotel link above or the coupon books at every state's welcome center. (We got a REALLY nice hotel in Chesapeake with a $59.99 coupon. All suites!)

    For routing -- You could go out via I-70, and jump up to I-90 somewhere in your trip. Mount Rushmore is along there, along with Wind Cave and more. Come down the coast -- like Dave, I haven't heard about any closures of the coastal route -- and then go back via I-40/I-81/I-64.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    In regards to the PCH closure/collapse, are you talking about the section near Big Sur? That collapse was from last year and was fully repaired several months ago.

  6. Default

    Well I think my main concern is finding places that offer more than one to two cool sites to see if I'm gonna stop in a city I want it to be worth it. I was thinking of making pittsburg my first stop since I have a friend there and can stay witht him. I also have people in Ohio and st Louis that I can stay with but, if I want to see mt Rushmore it seems a little out of the way?

    I did read somewhere on one of these forums that the drive through CO and UT is amazing? Thoughts?
    As far as sleeping in my car I have a hatchback so the back seats fold down to make the perfect "mattress like" place to sleep. I have looked into hostels but, since I'm not sure my direct route there makes it a little difficult to map those out just yet.

    PCH collapse was around big sur and I think maybe I over looked the date on that post glad to know its up and running :) I'm really keen to historic sites and modern artisy places. but, like I mentioned above I want my stop to be worth it not to budget is tiny haha

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The reality is you're talking about a little over a month for your trip, so you really have time to go just about anywhere you want. Its frankly too early to start worrying about what places might be too far out of your way.

    Start first by figuring out what places are your biggest priorities, and then start thinking about other places that would be nice to get to if you can - I think you'll find that many of them are quite easy to work into your trip.

    For example, St. Louis is not on the direct route from your home to Mount Rushmore. However, compared to going via Chicago, it only adds 100 miles to a 1800 mile drive. In other words, you're adding about 2 hours to a drive that will take you at least 3 days - no big deal. Now going to both might start adding enough miles that it would be impractical, but don't worry about that yet.

    Focus on what you want first, and then the details can start to sort themselves out.

    I also wouldn't overthink this idea that a place has to be "worth it." Every destination has lots of things worth seeing, and many of the smallest spots on the map can have hidden things you wouldn't possibly find unless you really stopped to explore. This is kind of RTA's keystone article that I think you'd find useful.

  8. Default

    I found that article very interesting thanks so much for sharing!! I think what you said about adding 2 hours to an otherwise 3 day trip,is very accurate however 100 miles is the difference in money that I may or may not have as far as adding a night in a hotel or filling up on gas. I know there is something to do and see in each place but I guess what I'm really asking for are peoples experiences. What they have seen in these areas of the country that they found enjoyable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default What's enjoyable?

    What might be enjoyable to me, maybe the last thing you would want to do, and vice versa. You need to spell out what you regard as enjoyable, or, as I do, decide that you are going to enjoy everything you see and do... enjoying it for what it is.

    If your budget is so tight that 100 miles could be a breaker, then you seriously need to reconsider the scope of your trip. This thread may illustrate what I mean.

    As for budget accommodation, this is probably the most comprehensive site for hostels. Check it out when you know your route. You may also find it useful to join Couchsurfing. And don't overlook the coupon booklets at rest areas, truck stops and welcome centres. Some good deals can be found in them. Sometimes they can be cheaper than a hostel which may be a few miles away (add the cost of the fuel). When looking at hostels, don't ever book them over the site. Call the hostel on their direct number. That will save you at least $3 (booking fee) per night.

    As far as sleeping in the car goes, truck stops are by far the best and safest place. They are 24 hr operations, well lit and have people coming and going all night. These are mainly, but not exclusively, along the Interstates. Here is the best resource showing which truck stops facilitate RVs. (I never say I have a van, I say I have a small camper. That puts you in the RV category.) Be sure always to check with reception where the best place is to park overnight, and give them your business... fill up with fuel / eat in their restaurant / buy a shower, etc.

    Perhaps you also want to consider an air mattress, or a thick foam mattress to put on the seat when laid down. Unless the seat is made to sleep on, it most likely will not give the best night's sleep. It is always a good idea to try this out in your driveway for a couple of nights, to see how you feel about it.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I really have to agree with Lifey,

    There is a difference between being frugal and watching your budget on a trip, and trying to do a trip so cheap that you can't actually enjoy it.

    100 miles is 4 or 5 gallons of gas in an average car, so you're talking a difference of less than $20. Now, I'm not going to be driving down the road tossing $20 bills out the window, but if $20 is the difference between you going someplace or not going there, then I really have to wonder if you have nearly enough money to make this trip happen.

    You should be making the assumption that you're going to go significantly more miles than just point to point distances anyway, factoring things like driving to store, within parks, etc. That usually will add about 20% to your total miles. You also simply need to have money in your budget to deal with the unexpected, which could be a mechanical repair or a million other things that might come up.

    Even doing this trip very frugally, the size and scope of this trip is going to put the bare minimum costs at $2,000-3,000, and if you are worried about something costing an extra $20, I wonder if you've really given yourself a realistic budget.

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