I'm a third year undergrad and I'm planning on taking a BIG trip this summer (LA to Seattle, to Billings, down through to New Orleans, across and up to DC & New York, and then back through Chicago home to LA: see this map). I have friends coming with me for different legs and I have our route somewhat planned out, but I still need a lot of help & advice.
We're trying to save as much money as we can while still having a good time. I'm estimating the gas will cost at least $2,000, and if we give ourselves a budget of $20 for food each day, we'll still be spending about $1,200 on food. How can we bunk cheaply? What are the best ways to sleep for cheap? (and shower?)
On top of that, what should we see? I'll be with friends from college for most of the trip. We like food, quirky small-town attractions, more food, history, and anything else that shouldn't be missed.
Finally, is there anything I should know of or be aware of or think about in particular on the road? This is my first really big trip, so any advice is extremely, extremely appreciated!