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  1. Default First time going on a road trip without parents, Chicago to California (Coachella!!)

    Hello Everyone! Please share your road trip wisdom with me!

    So for this April I am planning a road trip with 5 good friends including myself. I have never done this before and need some beginners assistance! First off, the main objective is to make it to Indio California's Coachella Music Festival. Along the way I would love to possibly make a stop in Denver Colorado and Las Vegas Nevada. Since we are all currently students I think It may be a bit unrealistic to hit up both of those spots, so lets just leave Vegas out of the picture for now! This is what I have brain stormed thus far....

    we will need to aquire...

    A car - as of now, I believe renting a car would be best, does anyone know of any sites that may help me calculate gas consumption according to the cars engine size or something along those lines?

    Tent - Taken care of

    Food - We will be bringing a cooler for snacks and generally inexpensive food (Apples, fruit, granola bars, trail mix, water, pb&j, etc) apart from those snacks, would it be smart to save about $10 a day for food?

    Festival fee's - Ticket prices taken care of and the $85 fee to camp on festival grounds.

    Basically what I am trying to do is plan the most inexpensive road trip to Coachella, I am aware that a great deal of money will still be required but Im fine with eating Ramen noodles every night and stopping at a couple mom and pop dinners along the way. Can anyone give me some advice on what to expect, further planning tips, price range, amount of days it would take (I only plan on stopping in Denver for a day at the very most. Might even have to scratch Denver due to school) Any help is greatly appreciated, this is my first time planning something this extensive and its a bit hard finding a right place to start to be honest! So please help make this road trip a great memory for me and my friends! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! Hopefully we can help with your planning! can rent a car, certainly, but be aware that in addition to the fees for renting, you'll have at least $25 extra PER DRIVER, PER DAY, added to the rental for any driver under the age of 25. (If you are all under 18, forget trying to rent a car .. it's not likely to happen.) If this is a round trip it would probably be less expensive, too, as a one-way drop fee will run you another $500. As for gas consumption, there's a calculator tool right here on the site (look to the right of the messages for a link to "Fuel Cost Calculator"). If you're not sure what the mileage is, use 18 mpg for the mileage you expect to add (then add 10-15% extra miles).

    Food -- I'd say AT LEAST $10 per day per person for the "extra food", more if you'd like to eat decently periodically. It's hard to live on fast food all the time, besides that it just gets old after a while. Don't forget to budget $2 per day per cooler for ice.

    Other expenses -- you might want to budget for a shower periodically, at around $7.00/each, or plan to pull into a cheap motel every few days for a real bed and showers. Also souvenirs and the like at Coachella, those aren't free.

    Finally, one thing we've learned over time here -- often times, a trip planned for 5 friends just doesn't gel. One person drops out for finances, another because they suddenly realize that they have to work, and other types of reasons. Then the pool of funds gets smaller because less people to share the fuel money pool.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Quiz.

    As part of your planning, you may find it useful if you and your friends each independently complete this quiz, and then have a chat about.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default red flags

    I see a few areas that look like they could be very big problems with your plans.

    The first is transportation. How old are your group members? I get the impression that you are teens, and if that's the case, renting a car just isn't an option. No major car rental company will rent to you unless you are at least 21, and even there, it requires a significant underage fee. There's also the issue that it would be very difficult to find a single vehicle big enough to carry 5 people, plus luggage, plus camping gear. You'd need at least a minivan or large SUV, both which typically include a major premium rental rate.

    You also seem to be massively underestimating how much time you need for this trip. You CAN NOT drive from Chicago to California without stopping, or even with stopping just once. You need a bare minimum of 4 days each way to safely make this drive. Any less and you will be endangering yourselves and everyone else on the road, not to mention, there's simply no way you'd be in any position to have any fun in California if you're falling over from exhaustion during the concert! That works out to at least 6 nights of camping total, on a speed run, which is another expense you need to budget for.

    For food, planning to survive on Ramen and Granola bars is another recipe to fail. It is easy to say that you don't mind it, it is another thing entirely to say that 6 people will actually feel the same day after eating the same thing over and over, and not getting any real nutrition. All its going to make you do is spend more by splurging on restaurant meals and expensive gas station snacks. Plan to cook real meals, with food you buy from a grocery store, is a much more realistic way to actually eat on a budget, and even that is going to require at least $10 per person per day.

    I have no doubt that you could head to Coachella and have a great trip, but right now it seems like you've got something more like a hollywood movie script, than something that will work with the realities of the real world. A roadtrip can be a great time, but you have to pay attention to the responsibilities and real issues that can turn a dream trip into a nightmare on wheels.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd like to make a suggestion in regards to logistics - you could take Amtrak from Chicago to LA, then rent a car from Fox at LAX. They will rent to people as young as 19, and the underage fee is only $14 a day.

    Looks like a round trip ticket on Amtrak would be in the $300 range, and the base rate for a large car or small SUV is about $35 a day.

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