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  1. Default Gigantic dream RoadTrip: Four Greeks need advice.

    Hello!
    Congratulations for thw forum and thank you for your posts. You helped us plan the huge roadtrip we'll try to accomplish which is circling the US (with a bit of Canada) in 30 days from the 1st to the 30th of August.

    I'm posting this huge post to ask your help in some questions we have and i really hope you will read it and help.

    Our planned trip is this:

    Corel102.jpg

    We have never been in the US and since our country is flirting with bankruptcy -we're Greek - this might be oul last chance for many years on to make this trip happen. So, our main goal is to see as much of the diverse landscape both urban and natural and we would also like to taste some local american food.

    --Any suggestions on what we should eat in any place we visit is more than welcome!

    We'll be driving from 6 to 9 hrs/day, split between two drivers. We try to have a stop for lunch, sightseing and perhaps some activities every day and we'll have some evening activity (a drink, or anything local and interesting) before sleep. So it is two places to see every day. Our trip will include a lot of filming and taking pictures but, we'll also try to "breathe" as much as we can of every place we stay or pass.

    Our trip will begin in Buffalo where we'll rent a car.
    We're actually landing in Toronto Pearson at 1800 and we need to sleep in Buffalo the sam night. Given the jetlag we're trying to find a good way to go from the airport to Buffalo without losin too much time and money.

    --1) Could anyone suggest the best way to go to Buffalo from Toronto Pearson Airport?

    After we -hopefully- spend our first night in Buffalo, we'll follow a northern route to Vancouver through both cities (Cleveland, Chicago, Milwakee, Minneapolis, Seattle) and National Parks (Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone Park).

    Hopefully, we'll reach Vancouver in a week's time and then we'll move south by the Pacific coast through Redwood National Park and San Francisco to Los Angeles.
    That should take four (4) days. We know we need a night stop between Portland and SF at somewhere around Grants Pass, OR.

    --2) Could you suggest a nice place around there to have a nice evening, maybe enjoy some sightseing and spend the night?

    We'll then stay in SF for two nights and then drive to La from the coastal road.

    --3) We'd like to swim in the Pacific. Could you suggest a beach between SF and LA to do so? Do you think the coastal road is too slow and we should take 101 or we'll miss everything if we do so?

    After LA -where we'll spend a night too- we'll drive to Las Vegas and sleep there. The drive through I-15 is about 4 hours according to Mapquest.

    --4) Is this the road crossing the Death Valley? Would driving give us the feeling of the lanscape or a stop is neccesary? Where would you suggest us to have a 2 or 3hrs stop for sightseing if so?

    From Las Vegas we'll then cross the Southern States to New Orleans. This part is the one we're most afraid of since it has long routes in the desert. But, it is the most exciting as well! We'll be crossing the most alien scenery for us (we're coming from a Mediterranean country after all). So, we'll get some sleep near Grand Canyon (Williams is a town we found near there), see the Canyon the next morning, then go to Phoenix for lunch and to Tucson for the night. Drive the next day for lunch in El Paso and spend the night in Fort Stockton, TX.

    --5) We've actually chosen Williams, AZ and Fort Stockton, TX just because they suited our driving hours split. Would you suggest any better place to spend our evenings and nights or we were that lucky to pick the best?

    Texas is a must for us so, we'll drive to San Antonio (probably visit the Alamo and grab something to eat) and then spend our evening in Houston.

    --6) What would you suggest in order to have a "complete Texas experience" during the two and a half days we'll drive through the state?

    If things go as planned, after a five hour drive by the Gulf we'll reach New Orleans in our 17th night in the States. And after new orleans we'll turn north again. Within a week we'll be at Boston with our stops being: lunch in Jackson, MS; night and lunch in Memphis, TN; night in Nashville; lunch in Knoxville.

    --7) Then we need a night stop between Knoxville and Washington, DC. Is Roanoke, VA a suitable place or you suggest anything more interesting in Virginia? As it is one of the Thirteen Colonies we wonder if you suggest anything worth seing near the I-81S.

    After that, we visit Washington, Baltimore, Gettysberg Field, Philladelphia and then spend two days and nights in New york. After a lunch in Providence (is it as expensive as we heard?) we'll sleep in Boston.

    The last couple of days we'll have to decide whether we return to Buffalo, give back the car and spent a couple of days in Toronto or take public transport from Boston to Montreal and then to Toronto just to catch our flight.

    --8) What would you say?

    This is our plan at the moment.

    Our general plan is to find low budget motels for our lodging throughout the trip and mix meals between fast food, hand made and restaurants. I suppose having a VISA debit card would be fine for any kind of purchase around the States.

    We would also like to ask you some general information, in case you can help.

    a) Since we haven't found anywhere on the internet a website or an application to tell as so, do you know how much would the tolls cost throughout the journey? Would it be more than $100?

    b) The entire trip is about 8500 miles. Will be renting a Chrysler Cruiser for the trip. Is it sufficient or we should go for something bigger?

    c) The estimated cost of gas for the vehicle is just over $1000. Based on your experience, should we expect a big difference between this and reality? Would a 10% increase be enough for our budget calculations?


    We, really, thank you again for reading and hope to get some answers from you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Mismatched goals

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I have to say, that when I see the outline for your plan, what you say you want to do, and the questions you're asking, a lot of things don't seem like they make a lot of sense.

    We'll be driving from 6 to 9 hrs/day, split between two drivers. We try to have a stop for lunch, sightseing and perhaps some activities every day and we'll have some evening activity (a drink, or anything local and interesting) before sleep. So it is two places to see every day. Our trip will include a lot of filming and taking pictures but, we'll also try to "breathe" as much as we can of every place we stay or pass.
    My first thought is that you really don't have an appreciation for just how big the US is. 30 days is not a lot of time for a trip that's this huge, and frankly, I don't know if you'll have a chance to "breathe" much anything at the kind of pace you'll need to complete this trip.

    we'll follow a northern route to Vancouver through both cities (Cleveland, Chicago, Milwakee, Minneapolis, Seattle) and National Parks (Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone Park). Hopefully, we'll reach Vancouver in a week's time
    There are lots of examples, but this is a really good one. You can certainly get from Buffalo to Vancouver in a week, but this is 3,000 miles of driving, and to do that in a week is practically a speed run. You will need to drive at least 9 hours a day, and that's not going to leave hardly any time to explore any of the places you've listed. Yellowstone alone is a place where you really need 2 full days just to see the high points, and you won't have time to do much more than drive through a small section of the park.

    Similar things I sure could be said about much or the rest of your trip, like planning to get from Portland to San Francisco via the coast in two days, and asking if the coast is too slow from SF to LA. I mean the coastal drive from SF to LA is very slow, and you'd need at least 2 days just for that section, but it is one of the most famous coastal drives in the world. If your priority is speed, then where to you plan to "breathe."

    I could certainly go on. I mean "seeing" the Grand Canyon in the morning, having "lunch" in Phoenix, and spending the night in Tucson means you won't have actually seen anything. The Grand Canyon is a huge place and deserves a full day, and you're barely giving it an hour. At most, you'll have time to stop at one overlook, peak over the edge, and jump back in the car! How is that "breathing"

    We're actually landing in Toronto Pearson at 1800 and we need to sleep in Buffalo the sam night. Given the jetlag we're trying to find a good way to go from the airport to Buffalo without losin too much time and money.
    This just doesn't make any sense to me at all. Why do you need to sleep in Buffalo that night? Why don't you just rent the car in Toronto? Why don't you just spend the night in Toronto for that matter? By the time you get off the plane, get through customs, and make the nearly 2 hour trip to Buffalo, it is going to be well after 10pm by the time you get into Buffalo. There are shuttle services that operate between the two cities, but they are likely going to cost more than $100. You could look for bus options that would be less expensive, but you'd probably have to get from the Toronto Airport to downtown, and then wait for the next scheduled bus.

    The last couple of days we'll have to decide whether we return to Buffalo, give back the car and spent a couple of days in Toronto or take public transport from Boston to Montreal and then to Toronto just to catch our flight.
    Returning the car in Boston is going to add several hundred dollars to your car rental costs because it would be a one way rental. However, all this does is add another question to why you don't just rent your car in Toronto in the first place.

    Will be renting a Chrysler Cruiser for the trip. Is it sufficient or we should go for something bigger?
    Chrysler doesn't make a model with that name. There used to be a PT Cruiser, but even that hasn't been made for a few years. Also, car rental companies don't promise specific models, only classes of cars.

    The estimated cost of gas for the vehicle is just over $1000. Based on your experience, should we expect a big difference between this and reality? Would a 10% increase be enough for our budget calculations?
    That estimate doesn't seem realistic at all. Assuming you only drive 8500 miles, you'd have to get about 35 miles per gallon to have fuel costs that low (expect abut $4 per gallon), and the average car is going to do around 25 mpg. Also, you will drive more miles than just your "point to point" distances, as you add in miles to find a restaurant, hotel, etc. Realistically, you'd be looking at about 10,000 miles, which would put your fuel costs around $1600 - or 60% more than you planned!


    Again, what you've listed is technically possible, but I really don't think your plan matches up with your goals, and I'd be worried at the end of it, instead of having the trip of a lifetime, you might just end up exhausted, and return home wondering what it was that you just drove by.

  3. #3

    Default

    Welcome to RTA . Wow !! Your plans sound great in writing, but they seem somewhat overreaching. There seems to be way too many must-see places that you may miss with a plan so aggressive.
    For example:
    If you are at Mt. Rushmore, you have to see Badlands, Custer Nat Park, Crazy Horse Memorial & Devil's Tower.
    If you visit Yellowstone, then Grand Tetons & Jackson areas are a must.
    While in Chicago, see Navy Pier, Millinium Park and fountain and even go to the Museum of Science and Industry. Bike ride along the Lakefront to North Ave beach.
    While in LA, go to Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Blvd and drive along Pacific Coast Highway, go to Yosemite Nat Park.
    While in Vegas, go to Hoover Dam or helicopter/ plane ride over Grand Canyon. If you do drive to Grand Canyon, be sure to visit Monument Valley and Stay at Sedona, AZ.
    If you stay in Tucson overnight, go to the University's Space Observatory to watch for meteorite storms.

    I would highly recommend to cut down the distance, maybe only travel half of the country: east of the Mississippi River or fly to Denver and do a big western loop trip.

    Whatever you decide , Good Luck and keep us updated . ;)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Few Helpful Tips, Then

    Καλώς. Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The easiest and cheapest way to get from Toronto to Buffalo is by bus. Greyhound Canada offers about a dozen runs a day, and prices are pretty reasonable. Of course, there will also be the need ot get from the airport to the bus terminal in Toronto, and from the bus terminal in Buffalo to a car rental facility, but cabs and/or local city bus lines should be available. You might actually end up saving money overall, because you will not be tied to renting your car from an airport location and thus won't have to pay the extra taxes and fees put on 'visitors'. Just take a few minutes to locate a local franchise of one of the major rental firms in Buffalo.

    You're going to need a full five days just for the driving requirements to get from Buffalo to Vancouver, so that doesn't leave a lot of time to see the sights along the way. Yellowstone alone deserves a full day. Indeed it's hard to do it in less due to the amount of traffic, human and animal, that you'll encounter.

    For your drive south from the Pacific Northwest, you should probably aim for Crescent City rather than Grants Pass. It will put you on the coast for the evening (sunset) and set you up for the second day's drive down the coast through the redwoods to San Francisco. The drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) from San Francisco to Los Angeles is spectacular, much more scenic than US-101, but will require two days. There are several url=http://www.parks.ca.gov/ParkIndex/#region-1]state parks[/url] along the way where swimming is possible, as well as marine sanctuaries and rookeries where it is not, and the Monterey area is definitely worth some time.

    The road (I-15) from Los Angeles to Las Vegas does not go through Death Valley, but it does cross the Mojave Desert. As with the route (I-10) that crosses the southern United States including segments through the Sonora Desert, these highways are very easy to drive and any modern car in reasonably good mechanical shape will have no problems crossing these regions. And while there won't be a gas station/restaurant every 5 miles, you will never go much more than 25 miles between services. Along I-10, I'd suggest that you visit the url=http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/planyourvisit/visitlbjranch.htm]LBJ ranch[/url] outside Stonewall TX and the Alamo in San Antonio to get a feel for 'Texas'.

    If you're heading north out of New Orleans then try to include at least some portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway in your itinerary. Another very worth-while stop as you head north through Virginia would be Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville VA.

    Other than the occasional toll bridge, the majority of tolls you'll see are in the northeast. $100 should be roughly what you'll need to cover the major ones: from Buffalo to Chicago, and from Washington to New York. But $1000 may be quite optimistic on the cost for fuel. Depending on the mileage your rental car gets (I've recently been severely disappointed in this regard), the cost of fuel at the time of your visit, and the fact that you will inevitably end up driving more miles than the simple point-to-point estimates your getting from mapping routines, something more like $1500 might be a good budget figure.

    Hope some of that helps.

    AZBuck

  5. Default

    Thank you all for your really helpful advice!

    Midwest Michael, thanks for pinpointing those problems. You 're absolutely right on the "breathe" matter and, i must admit, it was an unsuccesful expression coming from a bad translation. Certainly our goal is to cover distance through scenery more than staying on a place, mixing with the locals and really feeling the place.
    Nevertheless, we'll probably give another day to Yellowstone since it is a must see and all of you think it requires it. In any case we have a schedule that allows a four-day delay of our planning exactly for that purpose. So, the coastal road from SF to LA will take the extra day it deserves, as well.
    The reason we don't rent in Toronto is because renting a car there was more expensive and we couldn't get the insurance the ALI coverage that the US renting was offering. Renting in Toronto also includes a mileage fee (0.12/mile over 2600miles) and border crossing was an issue as well. In any case we'll have to drive back to Buffalo and maybe pop to Montreal through Toronto...

    The car is not a Chrysler (sorry!) but a Chevrolet Cruze. It is categorized as "Intermediate". Would it be ok or should we jump up to "Standard"?

    edmar434 and AZBuck, thanks for the optional routes and the suggested visiting places. Thank you all for the gas estimation (really helpfull!!!) and I'll surely try to keep you posted while doing it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default on the money

    Quote Originally Posted by GoAs View Post
    You 're absolutely right on the "breathe" matter and, i must admit, it was an unsuccesful expression coming from a bad translation. Certainly our goal is to cover distance through scenery more than staying on a place, mixing with the locals and really feeling the place.
    I actually think it was a perfect expression, based on other goals you indicated you hoped to achieve on this trip, where you also said
    our main goal is to see as much of the diverse landscape both urban and natural
    as well as

    "We try to have a stop for lunch, sightseing and perhaps some activities every day and we'll have some evening activity (a drink, or anything local and interesting) before sleep."
    I'd be very much concerned that the pace required to do everything you've mentioned will not allow you to do hardly any of that. The much larger point is that the only activities you'll have time for, based on the kind of plans you laid out, would be for driving, and maybe grabbing a quick meal. There would be almost no time for activities in the day or evening, and frankly, even diverse landscapes will all start to look the same if all you do is drive by all of them at 60 miles per hour.

    I'm certainly not saying that you have to spend multiple days in every city or at every stop to appreciate them, but when it looks like you plan to race through every stop, everything is going to start to look the same. There is a difference between having a trip where you go at a pace where you are frequently on the move and are always staying busy and a trip where you try to do so much so quickly, that you don't have time to enjoy anything. I think you are in danger of falling into the second category based on what you've told us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If there are 4 of you, traveling that far for that long, I think a Cruze would be too small. I think you would want a full size, such as a Chevy Impala.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    There is a difference between having a trip where you go at a pace where you are frequently on the move and are always staying busy and a trip where you try to do so much so quickly, that you don't have time to enjoy anything. I think you are in danger of falling into the second category based on what you've told us.
    You surely posed some serious second thoughts on our planning, Midwest Michael. We'll surely consider it well.

    Thnk you for the car advice glc! We'll probably do so.

  9. Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    As many others have said, your plans is possible, but you would not be able to really "see" much or relax. Your plans are too ambitious, I think, for what you are trying to achieve.

    I would suggest you cut down your route- For example, focus on the Western half of the country, or from Buffalo, focus on the midwest/east coast.

    If you really want to carry out your plan, and see each region of the U.S., then you should be prepared to do a lot of driving and not much sightseeing. However, if you are content with just cruising through states and dropping by places to say "I've been there", then it could work. I just think it'd be more enjoyable for you to cut down the distance and size of the trip, unless of course, you can add more days to your trip.

    Perhaps if your roadtrip is going to be more interstate based, if you want to cover as much ground as possible, then you should check out Rest Stops and Attraction Aong all US Interstate Highways, one of the most useful pages I've found on this site.
    Good luck!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-13-2012 at 05:51 PM. Reason: Fixed link

  10. Default

    Dear friends, thanks for the advice.

    We've started the trip on the 1st of August as planned.

    So, I've started a new thread to keep you posted. Feel fre to comment there.

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