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  1. Default Coast-to-Coast -- LA to Boston in mid August

    Hello dear community of Roadtrip America! I have heard from people I met since moving to the US that you are the people to take advices from regarding planing a coast-to-coast trip.

    The premiss as follows: I came to LA for 2.5 months to work, I bough and old car so I could survive LA (a well maintained 100k mileage 98' Volvo S-70 from someone I know) and thought 'Hi! I can use this toy as a film student in Boston and already spent money on the car (which I will lose substantial amount of it once I'll sell it again) — why not just drive it on. That is how came the idea for a coast-to-coast roadtrip, which I hope starts out of kind of a necessity (transporting a car) and will turn to a crazy fun times.

    I want to share with you the little I got so far and use your wisdom and experience on if and how I should approach this trip.

    So what I know?
    1. I have 12-14 days — mid to the end of August — to get to Boston.
    2. I will most likely will have 2 more drivers with me.
    3. I started guessing a preferable route. As I'm trying to enjoy this trip I tried to choose places I wanted to go and see — but because I know nothing about roadtriping and little about the US, I might have chose unwisely. I thought building the stops and the route around this three cities: Austin, New-Orleans, Nashville ; and I thought I can try and find cool stops between LA those three and Boston.
    4. I am traveling on a budget. I know roadtriping isn't a cheep thing. But as a student I will have to stay creative and find ways not to spend much. I thought I could skip big expensive big cities (except NO and Austin that I really like to visit and Nashville where I'll have where to stay if needed), but sure you have other good advices on how to travel economically smart.

    So what I think I need to know?
    1. I guess I have to first decide if you can drive 3500-4000 miles in less than two weeks and still enjoy yourself. I don't want only to do a roadtrip if it means only to drive all the time, and I want each day to include at least one cool activity besides car games.
    * do you think that if I could get get out of work earlier and turn it into a 15-16 days trip, would this be a game-changer that would dramatically improve the quality of my groups trip?)
    2. Do you have any suggestions about the route? Does south makes sense in the midst of August? (going south isn't set in stone, and we would consider other routes if they make more sense) How can I smartly fill the big gaps (for holes then cheese right now) I have in my current route. Do you have a suggestions for a reading that could help me decide? or any other creative way to research the matter? maybe any specific suggestions for stops?
    We will try to at least partly avoid major touristic attractions and go through a more alternative route - to accommodate the nature of our group.
    3. Any suggestions on stuff I would need to prepare for this trip? any technical stuff? maybe regarding my mature car for instance (and how to improve the chances for a smooth sailing)?
    4. Again, on how to make this ride cost efficient?

    I am only the first stages of preparations so really please I implore you to share any thoughts that can help me start planing the best trip possible.

    Thank you all -- really appreciate you reading it, and I'm thrilled to join your lovely community,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Start with some good maps.

    Hi Yuva, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    What particular interest do you and your fellow travellers have, other than the places mentioned?

    A good place to start is with good maps. If you are not already a member of AAA, it may pay you on this trip to have a membership. You will need it on the road, unless of course, you have some other roadside assistance plan. It's great insurance in case of breakdowns, especially with a 16 year old car. (I too have a 1998 vehicle and just turned over 120000.)

    The extra benefits of AAA membership is that you can get maps free. I would start of by getting a State map of every State between LA and NOLA and up to Boston. In fact you could get a map of every State other than those you know you will definitely not hit, such as WA, OR, MT, etc.

    On these maps you will see many options for routes which you could take, interstates, old highways and backroads. It will show you where all the great national parks are, state parks and forests, etc. You will note that these maps also have notations of historical places and touristy attractions.

    Make a list of those which interest you, even if you don't think you can make it. The experts here will help you refine the trip, and make clear what fits and what could be stretching it.

    LA to Boston can be driven by the most direct route in six days, so you have some time for sightseeing. Of course, more time will allow you to do more, but 12 - 14 days should give you quite a few options. Be aware though that having extra drivers does not mean you can do more.

    For ideas on budgeting on the road, you might like to check out this forum.


  3. Default

    Cheers LIfey!

    Thanks for the detailed answer! I will sure check the AAA thing -- and after the disappointments of losing internet connection when driving out of town (so losing google maps) will sure make me use an actual map for this trip.
    Could you care to shortly explain what the AAA cover adds on my normal Gaico insurance plan? (one which also have roadside stuff, if I'm not mistaken).

    As far as our interests (not in any particular order): not too hard hiking, culture (arts,music,cinema), meeting new cultures (several anthropologists on this trip), meeting different from us people, exciting food, stupefy landscapes, crazy adventures.

    And last but not least -- what you mentioned about our time-frame: do you know people that cross the states in this less then two weeks time frame and survive to tell the story? I really have hard time imagining how an average day would look like in this kind of trip, not that I'm seeking having average days, but want to know how much time there would be left for non-driving stuff.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default It's quite doable.

    Quote Originally Posted by uvshapira View Post
    Could you care to shortly explain what the AAA cover adds on my normal Gaico insurance plan? (one which also have roadside stuff, if I'm not mistaken).
    That is something you will need to speak to both AAA and Geico about, and see what each covers.

    And last but not least -- what you mentioned about our time-frame: do you know people that cross the states in this less then two weeks time frame and survive to tell the story?
    I have done it several times. The most time I have had to go coast to coast has been ten days. Each time I looked at maps to see what there was along my chosen route and selected that which interested me. The important thing is to set yourself a timeframe for where you have to be every two or three days, and make sure you do not fall behind.


  5. Default

    So how was your days look like when you did it in 10 days?

    I'm asking because the other people that would join me wouldn't join me if there wasn't time also to enjoy ourselves outside the car and explore the surroundings. That is why I'm asking you to help me realise how much free time we will have.

    Maybe also other members have inputs on our time constrains

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    A good rule of thumb is that you can do about 500 miles in a full day on the road - if you are taking time for a couple of stops each day. That's roughly 9 hours in the car, leaving time for some other exploration and small stops.

    If you did 4000 mile trip, that would be about 8 days of driving, so if you had 2 weeks, that would still leave you 6 full days to really dig into things. Of course, you could do some half days of driving, half days of exploring, but that's an idea of what's you've got to work with.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Good guide above.

    That trip was way back in 2004. In those days I did not keep the records I do today and frankly, I do not recall just what I did or where I stopped. I drove from San Diego CA to Gloucester MA in roughly a direct line, and looked for things to do along the way. What those things were....?? Suffice to say I enjoyed it enough to do it, and much more, all over again.

    Michael has laid out the basics for you. Work within that guideline and decide how far you'll travel and how much time you spend exploring.

    Enjoy the trip.


  8. Default Coast-to-Coast -- LA to Boston in mid August - advices on a jams across our route

    Dear people of Roadtrip America,

    After I took your advice a month or so ago about actually taking this trip, now I'm getting ready for it and wouldn't mind getting help with the specifics of my journey.

    I will be heading out of LA Wednesday night the 6th of August and plan on getting to Boston by the night of 16th. I planed our 10 days trip route I'll detail next basically through Lonely Plant's table of contents:

    The 7th:
    Getting to Phoenix (Will start driving there the day before)
    Staying in Phoenix
    Getting to Tucson

    The 8th:
    morning in Tucson
    Driving to El Paso
    Afternoon and night in El Paso

    The 9th
    late morning in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
    Driving towards Austin
    A late drink in Austin

    The 10th
    Morning and lunch in Austin
    Huston dinner
    Start driving towards New Orleans

    The 11th
    A day in New Orleans
    Start driving to Jackson, MS

    The 12th
    Jackson, MS
    Montgomery, AL
    Sleeping in Birmingham

    The 13th
    Morning in Birmingham
    Getting to Nashville by noon
    spending the rest of the day and sleeping in Nashville

    The 14th
    Late morning-early noon at Louisville
    getting by night to Bluegrass region.

    The 15th
    Early wake up - driving to Monongahela National Forest
    Getting there by lunch time and having half a day there
    Driving towards Dutch Country (But where in specific??)

    The 16th
    Starting the Day at Dutch Country
    early afternoon heading towards Boston
    Dinner at Hartford, CT

    I'd love for any kind of advice:
    1. If there are cool places along those trails that you recommend
    2. where to stay or where to eat
    3. if there is something I should avoid (we prefer not to go too mainstream and boring sightseeing).
    4. Maybe if in general this is a good route. I basically build this trail around Austin-NO-Nashville, and besides those city would love to get any ideas on good ways to explore Texas and southern US. I my father and my 98 Volvo can't be more excited about it. Please help a friend, maybe you can help me makes this trip the best it can be.


  9. Default

    I wanted to let you know guys that I have started to read through the "RoadTrip Field Report" section and I find it very helpful.
    I'll love the idea of giving back for this community, and I see for myself how much this help us. I definitely plan on giving back through this forum spot, this is great!

    Also, while reading through "Planning Summer RoadTrips" I saw you were also great with pointing out stuff to avoid from, and I will love to get some of those for my trip too. Thanks !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Looking at your plan, I see a couple potential problem spots.

    El Paso to Austin is a 600 mile drive. While that is possible, doing that and having time for a detour to Guadalupe Mt. and having time to do anything else at the end of the day is a very tall order. You're looking at about 12 hours on the road, before exploring GMNP or Austin.

    Similarly, Austin to New Orleans, it looks like you could run into some problems. That's a 500 mile drive - a full day of driving, and not really something you can really do if you don't get on the road until afternoon. Now, you don't make it clear if you're actually planning to spend the night in NOLA (you say start driving) but if you aren't starting there, and you need to drive all the way to Jackson that next day, your time in NOLA will be very limited.

    Those are some areas you might want to look at tweeking.

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