My significant other will be traveling from Australia to visit from Dec. 20 - mid to late January before returning. I will be returning to uni on Jan. 14, so it really gives me a window of Dec. 27 - Jan. 13 for a road trip (I can push to Jan. 15 if needed because the first few days of school is just intro's anyways, but I rather not due to work and research obligations). I figured starting the road trip a week later would be needed because she would be getting over jet-lag, Christmas celebrations, avoiding the after-Christmas traffic, and just general getting used to the colder temperatures since it would be summer in Australia.
PS: This is actually the first road trip I've planned by myself.
I think the big things for us are money, certain locations, and interests. Because we are both not as rich as we would like (both studying in uni and she's paying $1.4k out of her own pocket for plane tickets alone = we're broke), money is a big issue here. Certain locations are somewhat necessary because I'll be trying to hit two birds with one stone and visit potential universities that offer the programs she may be continuing her studies in, and these schools include Illinois, Indiana, New York, and potentially other east coast states. Interest is mostly because all I read from travel magazines and forums are great places to eat, historical sites, and national parks. This is great and there is a definite need for those flavors, but I want the road trip to include something more action-packed (yes I know, I'm a bit selfish here...but hey, I'm paying for the other half!)
Anyways, the rough outline would be to start in Bloomington/Champaign/Chicago, IL and head to Indiana (sorry I can't give a more specific location, I haven't really asked about the schools yet). Go to NYC a day or two before New Years to watch the ball drop. After a few days with the city, we'll head to the Florida Keys to enjoy the warm weather and beaches and round about to New Orleans to enjoy the food. Afterwards, head back up north via the Great River Road back to Illinois to complete the circle.
In order to cut cost, I have arranged free lodging in NYC with a friend and is looking into other places. For the colder temperatures, I'm thinking we'll have to cut costs by going with hostels and B&B and for the southern states, maybe bringing a tent to go camping or again, a B&B. I'm thinking about sticking with interstates in the northern states to cut gas costs and due to snowy conditions.
I know some of the key destinations would be NYC area, Florida area, and New Orleans area so we might be staying there for longer than a day and will probably be open to day drives as well (like going to Niagara Falls before or when we stay in NYC).
That is what I have in mind so far at least^
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is:
- Is there any interesting/fun/unique things to do or see along the way to those destinations? and in the destinations?
- Is the trip even feasible?
--- If it is feasible, how do I plan how much to drive, gas cost, etc.? (I've driven for 12 hours at a time before, but I rather not do that again. 5-8 hours is definitely a comfort zone for me though, with breaks of course)
--- If it isn't feasible, how do I shorten the trip?
- In terms of weather, do you think it would be okay to camp in the southern states? I looked up Florida's average temperature and it said the avg high was in the 60's and the avg low was in the 40's
- Any recommendations for cheap, but decent housing?
- Will there be any driving difficulties in the winter - mountains, road closures, etc.?
- Any other tips on the trip?