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  1. #1

    Default Detroit - LA Road Trip

    Me and one friend are planning a road trip from Detroit, MI to LA. We wanna stop at places along the way and also do things in California. We have 36 days to do stuff in. Do u think that would be enough time for a trip like this? Also we have calcualted it out to be about 800 dollars in gas driving a '03 Impala. We are both estimating on taking about 1600 dollars. Do you have tips on how we could save money also some ideas for attractions along the way and some must sees/dos in California? Thanks!

    (Our potential route)

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

    Default time = money

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A little over a month is certainly enough time for a trip like this - you can drive from Detroit to LA in 4-5 days each way. However, I think money may be a big issue.

    While $800 would probably be enough money to drive to LA and back, when you also include driving around to specific places, parks, and within California, I'd bet you end up spending at least $1000.

    That only leaves you with a combined total of $2200 to live on for more than a month. Living very frugally - cooking all of your own meals and camping every night - you're going to need roughly $1500 just for camping fees and food. That leaves you with about $350 each for everything else, which could be ok, but again that's assuming you keep things very frugal. If you start spending a few nights in a motel for example (even budget chains), or want to visit big expensive theme parks like six flags or disneyland, your funds are going to quickly run out.

    As far as what to do between Detroit and LA, there are millions of possibilities, and without knowing your interests or having some guide for what you are looking for, there's not really any way for anyone else to start narrowing them down for you. I would recommend taking a different route each direction, and I'd spend some time looking for a few "must sees" for you. Certainly there are lots of Major Cities and National Parks along the way, and you can also use the RTA Map Center to find more ideas for places to stop and explore.

    Once you've got a better idea of an outline of your own trip, then we can be in better position to help you fill in the gaps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default As well....

    Make sure you have an emergency fund back home, or some other access to funds in case of the unexpected. Even the best maintained vehicle can have a hiccup.

    Take Michael's analysis as very conservative. You will end up spending more. If you have not already done so, read a good selection of threads in this forum, but note the dates on threads. Prices have gone up!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I will third the nomination that you are under-budgeted for this trip. Expect the following:

    Gasoline will probably be over $4/gallon by next summer out here in California. I'd budget at $4.50/gallon or higher at your car's lowest average fuel mileage.

    Overnights -- camping will run $15-20 a night, if not more. A cheap motel for two can be around $40/night. You will want a combination because the cheaper campsites will not have shower facilities. If you don't stay at a motel, budget $7-10 each for a shower at a truck stop (and bring shower shoes).

    Food -- Bringing your own food and a campstove can be pretty cheap, but it's still going to run $20/day for each of you. Eating out can be up to $40/day for each. To avoid excessive expenses, carry a cooler and buy your sodas etc at WalMart or similar along the way, rather than at convenience stores.

    Park fees -- it can cost $10-20 to get into a national park, plus camping fee.

    Theme park fees -- a day at Disneyland can run $100 for a park-hopper pass. That's per person, and does NOT include food or drinks. You can drop a bundle inside each park for food and drink, and it isn't much cheaper going outside the park (as we found out the hard way back in 2009). Knotts and Six Flags Magic Mountain aren't much cheaper either.

    Lifey had a great idea about that emergency fund. Example: this past summer, we had an alternator that was starting to go out on us. We made it into our destination that day, but worried the whole way. It was rather expensive to replace. You also may want to have an oil change done, in mid-trip, if this is a round trip (MI to CA to MI).


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