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  1. Default Please help, Round trip road trip from Ohio to West Coast-30 Days

    Hello all,
    I would really like some expert input on the road trip I am trying to plan for May. Time span is the entire month of May.

    Travelling with 3 people in a Toyota Rav4
    Average age 21, so we are not going to be staying in hotels or eating 5 star meals or anything like that

    Plan is to camp mostly, except in the major cities we plan on visiting.
    I'd like to use two lane highways instead of interstates, but it just doesn't seem realistic to do that the whole trip. Plan is to use US101 and Cali state US 1 on the West coast though.
    All three of us are capable of driving 5-6 hrs at a time, so we plan on doing 10-12 hr driving days to buy more time at destinations.

    Planned itinerary:

    Starting from Columbus, OH
    to Chicago, IL spend 2-3 nights here
    to Yellowstone national park (20 hr drive) spend two nights there. Split the 20 hr drive between two days/Probably motel for a night here
    From Yellowstone to Seattle (12 hr drive) probably will tackle this drive in one day
    Stay at friends place in Seattle for two nights
    Drive to Portland stay for a night
    From Portland to San Fran through two lane highways mainly US 101/US 1. (16 hr drive) Plan is to take 2 or 3 days driving down to SF camping along the way.

    Stay in San Fran for two nights
    At this point I'm not 100% sure of the plan, but here is a rough idea.

    San Fran-to Phoenix, AZ one day driving around 10 hrs
    Spend night in Phoenix, then drive to Grand Canyon, camp there one night
    Grand Canyon to Boulder or Colorado Springs or Denver ( around 11 hrs drive ) in one day
    Colorado to Columbus is a 20 hr drive-Will drive this distance over 3 days staying overnight at two stops that are yet to be determined

    In my head this seems really doable. After counting out the days I believe we can stay even longer at the destinations mentioned above. Google maps calculates this at 99 hrs, ~6200 miles.

    Then again I might be being ambitious. I have faith in our endurance, and glancing over what I wrote above it seems possible to me.

    Please give me some advice and tips, I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you,

    Gustopherr

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default shaky foundation

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you're going to have an amazing trip, but I think you've got a couple fundamental issues that you'll need to fix in your plan.


    Quote Originally Posted by gustopherr View Post
    I'd like to use two lane highways instead of interstates, but it just doesn't seem realistic to do that the whole trip. Plan is to use US101 and Cali state US 1 on the West coast though.
    All three of us are capable of driving 5-6 hrs at a time, so we plan on doing 10-12 hr driving days to buy more time at destinations.
    The first issue is somewhat philosophical, but roadtrips aren't just about "destinations," they are also about what you will find in between those destinations. That's exactly why 2 lane roads can hold such appeal on a roadtrip, because you to see a lot more towns and people than when you just fly past them on a freeway. With a month available, you have a lot of time to explore, head down 2 lane roads, and see the things that lie in between your "destinations."

    to Yellowstone national park (20 hr drive) spend two nights there. Split the 20 hr drive between two days/Probably motel for a night here
    From Yellowstone to Seattle (12 hr drive) probably will tackle this drive in one day
    Your other issues are largely practical. These drive times simply don't reflect real world conditions. Online mapping programs never see traffic, never need to get gas, never need a bathroom break, etc.

    In the real world, 600 miles is going to be a full day on the road, using the 10-12 hours you mentioned, and that's if you're treating these drives like a speed run. You're trying to do 700-800 miles on many of your driving legs, and that's just not going to work. They are going to take you closer to 16 hours each day, and that is just too much. It will force you to push too hard, get tired out, and you will start taking that exhaustion out on each other.

    Chicago to Yellowstone requires at least 2 overnight stops, Yellowstone to Seattle is just too far for one day. Portland to SF via the coast is 3-4 days minimum, factoring the much slower drives of the coast highway. SF to Phoenix is another trip that's too long for one day.

    Of course, since you're planning to camp, you need to remember your travel days need to be a little shorter, because it take time to find a campground, set up and tear down camp, etc.


    The bringing it altogether, by planning to race from destination to destination, you're also making it impossible to see a ton of great sites. Trying to sprint from Chicago to Yellowstone means ignoring places like the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, or the Beartooth Highway. Trying to race from San Francisco to Phoenix means ignoring Big Sur (arguably the most scenic section of the California coast.), Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles. You could possibly make it from the Grand Canyon to Denver in a really long day, but you'd be missing the chance to visit about a dozen different National Parks, and a part of the country where you could easily spend weeks all by itself.

    Ultimately, the advice is to slow down. Partially because you're going to have to if you actually want the trip to work in the real world, and partially because you're going to miss a million things if you don't. You've got time, there's no reason to treat this like a race.

  3. Default

    First of all thank you for your quick input.

    I like your suggestions and will take them into considerations. We are still in the preliminary stages of planning the trip so nothing is concrete.

    Also while planning this I didn't really plan on racing through the destinations. We will drive what we can, when we can and we will try to keep it comfortable. We are not in a hurry, but the reality of things is that I want to get out to the West Coast and have time to spend there while still having time to drive back.

    From your advice it seems that time will not be a problem. I'm confused about a couple of things. Originally when I posted this, my main concern was that people would reply saying that we are trying to do too much, and that we're going to spend the whole time driving.
    On the contrary you are suggesting slowing down, and recommending more stops. A few I had considered, but I didn't want to jam pack the itinerary.

    Regarding your overnight stops suggestion-I will most probably adhere to your suggestions.

    Some people have suggested I reverse the trip to lessen probability of snow in Yellowstone.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    More help and advice would be greatly appreciated from people on this forum.

    Random questions:
    1. Anybody can suggest a good electric cooler for the car (from experience)
    2. For cooking on the road? a single burner propane stove is what I was thinking (Suggestions?)
    3. Pots pans?? I was thinking just one pot could be used for most things. Thoughts?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    The easiest way to tell how much stuff you can actually pack into a trip is to plot out a rough, day by day, itinerary. Its not something you have to stick to, and it can easily change many times, but that's really the best way to know how you're using your time. Doing a quick scan, it looks like you've only got about 20 days of your month spoken for, based on the outline you first list. Again, that plan is going to need some changes, but you'd left a lot of time on the table.

    I'll also say when it comes down to it, you might want or need to cut some places out. For example, right now, Phoenix is a pretty big detour from any other stop in your trip, and as you've laid out your trip, you wouldn't even have time to do anything there anyway. You'd only planned to spend 1 night there, with significant drives both before and after.

    If you are starting at the beginning of May, reversing your trip could be a good idea, as much of Yellowstone is not accessible until at least the middle of the month. Along those lines, it will be very cold camping in Yellowstone and likely several other places during your trip. Are you going to have 3-4 season gear available? Summer camping gear will not work for a trip in May.

    I'm not a big fan of electric coolers. Their performance can be fine, but they can draw a lot of power from your battery, which can be a big problem if you're staying in one place for any lengthy place of time (and not recharging via the alternator).

    With 3 people, I'd think you'd want at least a 2 burner stove (or 2 one burners) so you can make both enough, and a variety of food - like meat on one burner, and a can of veggies on another.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Ice a more practical aternative.

    Unless you have a proper compressor fridge, and a supplementary battery, I would forget about an electric cooler. As Michael said, they will pretty much drain your battery overnight. Even if the battery is not drained the first night, it will not necessarily charge up fully enough during a day's driving, to keep a cooler running on consecutive nights. And if you are going to keep food (rather than just have cool drinks) you will need to keep it running overnight. I had one of these once, and it did not last all that long. I find that my Dometic / Waeco compressor fridge ($$$) is much more reliable and effecient, but it still needs a supplementary battery, to run overnight.

    By far the better way to go is with ice. I believe blocks of ice are much more economical and efficient than the bags of ice, though I do not have any experience with them.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    As part of your planning, you and your friends might like to read this page.

    Lifey

  7. #7

    Default

    30 days and 6,200 miles means that you only have to drive 207 miles a day in about 3.3 hours of driving per day.

    At that pace you will be able to stop and see many unplaned things as well you should be able to quite often have breakfast, break camp and be on the road by 8 am be at a destination by 12 pm each day, have lunch take in the sights.

    Repeat again next morning, 30 times.

    Just avoid wasting time by back tracking.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I'd second the motion to get a 2 burner propane stove. Carry a skillet and a saucepan and you should have the basics to do most anything for cooking and boiling water. As for a cooler, get a decent sized one and then budget $2-4/day for ice. (I personally had trouble getting block ice on our trip. Perhaps it was where we were trying to buy ice, but I found it twice on our 7-week trip, both in "heavy camping" areas.)

    My husband and I would have been considered endurance drivers when we were younger. We didn't mind driving 650 miles a day. However, we'd only do that when we absolutely have to. Now, 600 is our maximum. But about 50 miles from our day's destination, we're glad that we're going to be getting in soon.


    Donna

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    As for a cooler, get a decent sized one and then budget $2-4/day for ice. (I personally had trouble getting block ice on our trip.

    Donna
    One day I am going to put an Cooler rack on the front of my suburban. This is what surf casting fishermen use to keep their catch in.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=coole...w=1106&bih=691

    Use that rack to mount a 12v refrigerator with it's own separate 12v battery. Then charge the battery while the truck is running and have a solar panel to charge the battery when then engine is not running. I'll keep the refrig Bat off the auto's electrical system so the main battery wil not be dead in the morning.

    At $4 a bag, not having to waste time and gas finding ice is the way to go. Before one knows it at $4 a bag that set up will be paid for.

    I know that 2 6v batteries in series would probably last longer then a single 12v. Though space for second battery has to be confirmed before one goes that way. Or if that is ones plan then to make sure a rack has enough space to meet one's needs before the rack is purchased. Also can use a rear hitch rack as well. Though I plan on making a rear rack as a chuck wagon platform.

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