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  1. #1

    Default Cross Country Road Trip - 1st Long Trip

    Hi everyone, I have been planning a cross country road trip for almost a year now, and I expect it will take place in the summer of 2016. I know it's a long while from now, but I am still trying to gather as much information as possible- especially about where to visit.

    Though I've been planning for a long time, I DO NOT like to plan every waking second, every stop, place to eat, sleep, etc. The short trips I've taken are just winging it, pretty much going where the road takes me :) But, this is obviously a much bigger deal.

    The trip would begin in Rhode Island, I would like to visit family up in New hampshire, then in michigan, make my way across to washington, down to texas to visit more family, then all the way to florida to visit more family and back up to RI.

    As much as I like being on the road, I would like to make the trip memorable by visiting as many places as possible. Money isn't tight, I've been saving for quite a long time and my college expenses are already put aside. It also doesn't matter how long the trip is, I have a good 2-2 1/2 months. Because it will be my first LONG road trip, I have a lot of questions.. :)

    1- This is a question I've seen a lot, but I figure here I could get the best answers from experienced road trippers :) I have a small car now but not one I would trust traveling far with. Any suggestions on which type of car is good for long distance traveling?

    2- If I get a larger vehicle, would it be possible to sleep in the vehicle on some nights, and is this a good idea? If so, where do people usually park their cars?

    3- Is it a good idea to travel by myself? I would love to travel solo, because I like to do what I want, take an exit if I see something interesting, ya know. But if I brought my sister or one of my friends, I feel like there would be some arguing on where to go, what to do, etc. As much as I enjoy shutting off my phone and taking in new things, I plan on keeping in touch with my family every day, mostly for safety reasons.

    Thanks for reading, I appreciate in advance for any comments :D
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-18-2014 at 04:47 PM. Reason: added some white space for easier reading

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Rolling Solo....

    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    By a huge majority -- most solo road trippers are women. Several of the most experienced ones have been members here for a long time. Here are some general tips about the art of solo roadtripping.

    BirdyBird is one of those now-experienced trippers -- you might find her thread helpful as a way of getting used to the idea.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Go for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 09wanderlust19 View Post
    The short trips I've taken are just winging it, pretty much going where the road takes me :) But, this is obviously a much bigger deal.
    There is absolutely no reason why most of your trip should not be just like what you have enjoyed doing on your shorter trips. Even on a long trip you can 'pretty much go where the road takes you'. That is how I have been travelling for almost 180000 miles. For me, it is the only way to travel, for all the reasons you mention in your post.

    A couple of provisos you need to keep in mind. If you want to stay within a National Park it usually requires booking many months in advance. Often staying near a National Park or other tourist attraction, requires booking in advance. When travelling over a public holiday week / weekend it is highly advisable to book. It is also a good idea to check the websites of larger cities to see if there are any major events on when you plan to be there. This can often book out a complete city and even adjoining towns.

    Other than that, go wing it if that is what you want to do. Follow your dream.

    ... I have a good 2-2 1/2 months.
    That might sound like a lot of time, but with a trip of this scope you will need to plan it in stages, to make sure you get to all your family, and home again in time.

    2- If I get a larger vehicle, would it be possible to sleep in the vehicle on some nights, and is this a good idea? If so, where do people usually park their cars?
    The first time I had a vehicle in which I could sleep, it was a Dodge Caravan. The owners removed the middle and back seats, before they loaned it to me. I had a camp mattress, a sleeping bag, a 12 v cooler (not recommended) and my luggage. It took me to Alaska and back, among other places. Now I have a conversion van with a bed and fridge and extra battery to run it and my computer.

    My most frequent places to park overnight were - and still are - truck stops. These are 24 hr operations, have people coming and going all night and are well lit. Many also have security guards at night, or have the local law enforcement do the rounds during the night. I have never felt unsafe.

    If I am going to stay in a place for more than a night or two I book into a campground. Preferably a State Park, State Forest or BLM site. These are interspersed with nights in RV parks and / or motels.

    3- Is it a good idea to travel by myself?
    Yes, yes, YES!!! For one thing I find that it is much easier to interact with the locals wherever you go. Besides that, chances are you will learn a lot about yourself. My first roadtrip was as a senior citizen, when for the first time I learned a lot about myself.

    I like what I learned.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-18-2014 at 05:39 PM. Reason: fixed paragraph format

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default About the Vehicle and You

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Everyone has a different idea of what makes the ideal RoadTrip vehicle, and there are obviously several criteria that go into the decision (that you'll make for you) of what vehicle to set out in. I'll just list those criteria in what I consider their proper order of precedence:

    1) Reliability. There's no point in taking any car/van/RV that's not up to the relentless driving involved in a 9000+ mile RoadTrip such as you're planning. Ideally, the car should need little more than the occasional oil/filter change to complete such a trip. If you're not sure or worse - you have serious doubts - about the car's ability to complete the trip, start looking for something else now.

    2) Comfort. The car is going to essentially be your home for a few months. You're going to spend several hours a day, on average sitting in it. If you ache when you get out of it, it's not what you want. If it bottoms out on bumps and makes your time behind the wheel a chore rather than a joy, look elsewhere. You don't need plush, but you do need comfortable with a few creature comforts (good sound system, good climate control and ventilation, a place to keep food and drink nearby).

    3) Economy. 9000+ is a lot of miles and you'll be using a lot of gas. You want to use as little as possible. The difference between 15 and 40 mpg might not mean a lot on a few short trips around town, but over a haul like this, it could add up to around $2000 just in gas.

    4) Sleeping. We're actually pretty far down the list already. I really wouldn't worry about this too much. You don't want to be sleeping in the car any ore than is absolutely necessary. Not at all would be better. It's illegal to just pull over and sleep in most places, including most rest areas. Places that allow it, such as truck plazas and the occasional Walmart don't make for the peace and quiet needed for a good night's sleep. And if you keep the car locked and closed up for safety, you'll soon have an interior full of stale, moisture laden air that will be uncomfortable just to breathe. If you can't afford motels, plan on camping to save some money. You get fresh air, a flat surface, quiet, and at least a few hours spent somewhere other than inside your car.

    5) Everything else. Actually, after (1) and (2) everything is 'else'. See to those two and the rest will take care of itself.

    My own favorite RoadTrip cars have all tended to be small utilitarian vehicles: a 1957 SAAB 93, a 1972 Gremlin, my current Honda Fit. They share similar traits: small nimble vehicles that got good gas mileage; relatively unobtrusive; good all-around visibility; and plenty of cargo space. The SAAB came from the factory with the ability to turn the interior into a bed, and I learned from that how to do it rather simply with a basic hatchback and an air mattress.

    As for doing this trip solo, why not? We have had several regular contributors here who are women traveling solo, and the sense I get is the same sense that I have on the road. Everywhere is somebody's home and you're usually just as safe there as you would be in your own neighborhood. If something seems 'not right' your best offense is to simply leave and explore somewhere else. Just like in your everyday travels, your own internal radar is your best early warning system. Trust it just like you always do.


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