Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. Default Advice on a summer graduation trip, 7 18 year olds

    Hello everybody,
    I've been trying to plan a road trip for this coming July with 6 of my friends for after our graduation. I've read through pretty much all of the forum posts and articles on this wonderful site that I could find, and it's been a tremendous help. However, that only goes so far, and I need all of your expert advice on this trip, on the practicality of this, suggestions, past experiences, anything. Please, anything relevant in any way to any part of this trip is welcome: I just want to have as much advice and information together so that this trip is a success. With that little introduction out of the way, here's the concrete details we have so far, with some explanations of why we decided on some things.

    We all expect to spend between $1000 and $1500 on this trip, and each of us will have that money by then (most of work part-time jobs). We expect to spend 3 weeks on this trip, essentially July 10 or so to the end of the month.

    The first and biggest part of the trip is obviously the transportation. One of our friends owns a 1999 Ford Windstar that seats 7, and as his dad is a mechanic he will be able to have it in good order for us when we leave. Our trip, which as of now looks to be about 6,000 miles, would have to include at least one oil change to be safe, but that is to be expected. Anyway, we chose this first because it's cheaper than a rental car- a rental would be ideal if it was a newer car with better gas mileage, but with all the rental fees, taxes, mile charges, and the huge amount extra we would have to pay for being 18 year olds, the price was astronomical- comparative estimates were around $3000, which would blow our budget. We looked at renting an RV and towing one of our sedans behind it for shorter excursions (more practical to drive into a town to shop at a grocery store than the big RV), and the price was better (about $2000), but none of us has any experience driving an RV, and I doubt if any of us would be able to learn enough about driving one by that point to be safe. So we settled on the Windstar, and we would take turns driving 3 hour shifts.

    Now, with 7 people in the van it would naturally get a little crowded, and with luggage that leaves little room to maneuver, so we settled on borrowing from a friend a rooftop luggage container where we would store our suitcases and larger bags. In the trunk we would each keep a smaller duffel bag with a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, bathing suit, toiletries, and anything else necessary for a day or night on the road, so that we would not have to pull over somewhere and go through the trouble of going through the container to find someone's suitcase. We would also have a cooler or two in the car with drinks and snacks for the road. This brings up the issue of food, and eating at restaurants every day would be both boring and costly, and another thread gave me this idea: bring a small portable grill and cook dinners with that. We would buy food from grocery stores, have cereal and power bars and such for breakfast, sandwiches with deli meat for lunch, and dinners would be steaks or burgers or hot dogs or something easy to grill. We would of course stop at some restaurants (maybe every other day or once every 3 days?) to liven things up a bit.

    Next is the issue of lodging, which again could easily kill our budget. We decided we would, in essence, do a mixture of things: motels/hotels some nights, stopover at truck stops and stay in the cars other nights, maybe stay at youth hostels if we can find any, and, once we get to the National Parks, camp overnight. Would this be feasible? We could always store a folding tent in the container with sleeping bags, and use it when necessary. It'll be the summer, so extreme temperatures shouldn't be too much of an issue (except the southwestern portion of course).

    I think that's mostly everything so far, so here is the rough map we settled on: all the spots up to Denver are places we all really want to see, and everything after that we just settled on as the best and most scenic, and financially practical, way home.

    Again, that's everything I can think of so far. Is this doable? Am I missing any glaring mistakes or false assumptions? Is our budget a fair amount? Any advice, comments, or suggestions is greatly appreciated... thank you all so much :)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default size matters

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The single biggest problem with your trip is the sheer size of your group. It is simply very difficult to travel with a group that large, especially when you're talking about a teenage trip type situation.

    The reality is that there is about a 90% chance that you will have one or more members who will drop out and/or have some other issue that becomes a problem for the entire group. The trip you are talking about requires a huge commitment, of time, money, and resources, and you are doing it at a time in your lives where you'll all have a million things going on. The odds that everyone can really commit to getting away for 3 weeks (all at the same time), everyone being able to have the same amount of money available, and all of you wanting to go to the same places, having the same travel styles, and the same level of enthusiasm are just very very low. That doesn't mean you can't have a good trip, but you do need to plan for the inevitable, that while everyone loves the idea of a roadtrip, you're probably going to have issues when it comes down to the execution.

    I'd also say that 3 weeks is really a bigger trip than I would recommend for a first time trip. Its just a long time to be gone, and the longer you plan to be gone, the more likely you're going to have people who can't actually commit the time and resources to such a huge undertaking. Its also more time where you'll be living together in a tin can, where you will have arguments and other conflicts (and you will have conflicts, no matter how good of friends you are), as you actually discover how each of you like to travel, and learn in great detail the little annoyances that everyone has. Plus, its highly likely that after about a week, you'll probably have at least one or two people who are simply ready to go home and be back in their own beds.

    If you are able to pull a trip together with 6 or 7 people, you do have a transportation issue. Renting a car or an RV is out of the question, because no major company will rent to you for a trip like this until you are 21. However, I don't think the van is completely the answer either. While you might be able to seat 7 in the van, you're just not going to have enough room for all your stuff, even with a cargo bag. There's also the issue of comfort of being packed together so tight for so many miles. I really think the only way you could make it work is with 2 cars - which while it will increase your fuel costs, it will give you the chance to mix up your group and give people some space from each other.

    As far as lodging, sleeping in a vehicle is absolutely not an option because of the size of your group. Again, while you might have enough room to sit comfortably, there's just no way you'll have enough room to sleep. Not to mention, because of the number of people, it will be that much more important to have time out of the car and away from each other. You really need to plan to either spend every night in a motel (you'll need to budget for 2 rooms), or camp (and don't forget camping gear takes up a lot of cargo room.) Hostels could work, except you typically pay per person, so they really won't be a money saving option with a large group.

    I do think you've done a nice job of thinking through some things, and I think you certainly could have a really fun roadtrip in your future, but I also think you might be underestimating just how big of an undertaking you're trying to do here, especially in regards to the human factors that don't necessarily show up on paper. Those human factors are often the things that keep a trip like this from ever actually going from paper to the road. I would really give some serious thought to scaling back your plans a bit, or at the very least, get your entire group together and seriously talk through this trip, considering both the fun things you want to do, but also how you will deal with the challenges that will come up along the way.

  3. Default More

    First off, I want to thank you for your quick response. I took the past day to think on everything you brought up, and I also talked it over at length with my group. You gave us a lot to consider and made some really good points.

    That said, I think we can effectively keep the group together: we're now looking at taking a truck that gets 24 mpg and could stow most of our gear in the back with 4 people in it, and a sedan to fit the other 3 or 4. This of course adds gas, but makes more sense, I think, and going by what you said, than the one van idea.

    There will of course be conflicts and issues and flareups, that is to expected. However, if anyone causes trouble or wants to go home or wusses out... they'd really be getting on the first bus home at their own cost. The group and trip can't be sacrificed for the individual unless it's extenuating circumstances of some kind.

    That all said, this does of course require a ton of planning and a readiness to deal with anything that comes up. Is there anything else I am missing? Also, does the individual cost ($1000-1500 each) sound reasonable?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Getting on the same 'page'.

    You might find the RTA roadtrip Compatabilty test a good way to start your planning discussions on what each and everyone expect from the trip and making sure you are all on the same page as to what you expect from the trip.

    I'd think that your budget is pretty healthy seeing that a large group sharing gas and lodgings etc can help keep costs down. Three weeks is a nice amount of time, but you will have 10 to 12 days of travelling for 8 t0 10 hours a day. That's quite a time for a large group to be on the road each day as you will probably need to stop more, which is fine as long as you are not thinking of multiple days of stopping over in a lot of the places. Vegas is a great experience but as a group of 18 year olds you will be limited to what you can do and therefor, I wonder if you would be better heading as far as southern Utah and exploring some of the natural wonders on the way to Denver instead. [?]

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


    Quote Originally Posted by T23450 View Post
    However, if anyone causes trouble or wants to go home or wusses out... they'd really be getting on the first bus home at their own cost. The group and trip can't be sacrificed for the individual unless it's extenuating circumstances of some kind.
    I've got to tell you, that's a very dangerous statement. If you take a "my way or the highway" approach on trip like this, its only going to increase your chances of having problems that could not only lead to a disappointing trip, but also bring a permanent end to friendships.

    Compromise, and making sure that everyone is having a say in what is happening on the trip - even if they are in the minority - are the only ways to approach a trip like this. Also don't forget, its entirely possible you could end up in the minority once you guys learn about your own travel styles on the road.

    The other thing you need to think about is what would happen if someone did leave the trip. Bussing home at their own expense wouldn't be the end of the world for the person leaving, because it would likely be cheaper than continuing the trip. Everyone left on the trip, however, would be forced to pick up the tab for the costs that will be split with one less person.
    Also, does the individual cost ($1000-1500 each) sound reasonable?
    I think it is reasonable, but you probably need to be on the high end of those figures.
    Just looking at some real rough estimates, you'll need about $3500 just for fuel (depending upon your exact mpg and gas costs at the time of your trip.) Assuming you're doing a mix of camping and motels, you'll likely be spending at least $50 on lodging, again because you'll need two motels rooms and sometimes 2 camp sites, so that's another $1000. Food for 6-7 people, assuming you do a lot of making your own meals with some restaurant stops, that's about 100 a day for the group, so another $2000.

    So barebones, back of the napkin calculations shows you'll need about $6500, and that's just for the basics. You'll also need some extra money for entertainment, entry fees, and other misc expenses that will come up along the way. You also should have a reserve fund to deal with car repairs or other emergencies that might happen. So, you're certainly in the ballpark of what you'll need for money, but the closer to the $1500 each you can get, the better.

Similar Threads

  1. UK 21 year olds- Best Road Trip Possible
    By sdmoores in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-17-2011, 02:28 PM
  2. 2 18 year olds on their first road trip.
    By godgavemestylex8 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-07-2009, 06:48 AM
  3. 18 year olds from UK planning US trip
    By YoungWanderer in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-09-2008, 06:14 AM
  4. Advice on buying car for a group of 21 year olds
    By danieldesler in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-04-2008, 03:29 PM
  5. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 05-20-2002, 02:57 PM

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name