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  1. Default 44 day road trip summer 2015

    Hi everyone!

    I am currently planning a road trip for next summer, with me, my boyfriend, and our roommate. We range from 19-21. We currently live in Georgia and we are planning on going across the US and back, basically through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and then back home to Georgia. I want to visit as many National Parks as I can, with the main ones being Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier NP. I figured it out to be 44 days, and we would be leaving in the middle of June. Is this a good time to leave and do you think this is enough time to visit everything? We also plan on camping sometimes, sleeping in my car sometimes, and finding motels as little as possible. My car is a sedan and it gets 39 mpg highway. I used a road trip website and the milage calculated out to be about 8,000 miles. What is an appropriate cost for everything? What is the best way to save money on food? Are there any awesome places I shouldn't miss along the way? Thanks so much for any advice you guys can give; I'm trying to do as much planning as I can while at the same time still having a pretty loose schedule.

    PS-We are all rock climbers, so if there are any cool places I should know about along the way, let me know!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    44 days is a great amount of time to see a whole lot of things, especially if you want to do a big loop of the west. Having said that, it is also a long time to be on the road, especially if you don't have a lot of experience traveling together. I'd strongly recommend you start by taking a few smaller trips, especially because you're traveling as a group of 3 - with 2 of you in a relationship - and that has some potential to have some problematic dynamics when it comes to decision making. You will really have to be careful that everyone has equal input, and you don't end up with 2 against 1 situations.

    The other concerns I'd have with your plan surrounds your car. First, there is no sedan on earth that can comfortably sleep 3 people. On a trip like this there are few things more important than sleep and personal space, and even trying to sleep in a car means you won't have either. This is one place where trying to save money would cost you big time. Camping is a great way to save money while still having space and room to get quality sleep.

    However, I'm curious what car you actually have here. There aren't many cars that are actually big enough to comfortably fit 3 people for thousands of miles, and have room for camping gear and a month of supplies, and still get 39 mpg, especially when fully loaded down.

    Some general thoughts for costs, camping will generally run you $20-25 per night for a basic tent site (sometimes more, sometimes less), I'd calculate at least $15 per person per day for food and daily expenses, assuming you mostly cook your own food and limit your restaurant stops, and when calculating your gas expenses, I'd expect to drive about 20% more miles than your point to point distances, to factor in time driving within cities, around parks, to campgrounds, etc, so your 8000 mile trip will likely be about 10000 when all is said and done. Those 3 things are your major fixed expenses, beyond that, its up to you how much you spend on attractions and other "fun" extras.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the quick response!
    I have a 2014 Toyota Corolla; its pretty roomy and large in the back seat, and on highway trips I have gotten 42-43 mpg so I assume it will probably drop to about 38-39, considering the car was fully packed last time and we are only adding one more person.
    Also, the three of us live together currently, so I don't think decision making will be an issue. We will most likely only sleep in the car if it is absolutely necessary based on what you've told me. It will probably be a last resort type of thing, because i do enjoy camping and did spend a good bit of money on camping gear.
    Lastly, do you really think it will add an extra 2,000 miles to the trip? That kind of threw me off, but i have never done a trip like this before so I'd rather overestimate the cost than underestimate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A few thoughts.

    Here is a forum specificallyto help you safe money on a roadtrip. Read as much of it as possible.

    There is no way one person can get a decent night's sleep in a corolla, let alone three people. Furthermore, three people in a car in summer makes for a hot car. For safety's sake, you probably won't want to leave the windows open. You can't leave the aircon running. It could be most uncomfortable.

    However, spend some time doing reasearch on State Parks and State Forest as well as BLM campsites. Most do not have showers and have basic toilets, but none-the-less are safe. These are widely spread and a little research should enable you to find some near many of the major NPs. .Most will be less than $20 per night, and allow two tents per site. Good paper maps have these marked on them. with either the symbol of a little tent or a little triangle. [If you have a BLM office nearby, see if they have information and maps for out west.If nothing else, they may be able to give you some contacts.]

    Living together is not the same as travelling together. Remember you will be together 24hours of everyday. It would be wise to schedule regular time for each of you to go your own way, and have some alone time. You may also like to take this quiz, just to make sure you are all on the same page.

    Be generous in your food calculations. Over six weeks, eating out of a cooler gets pretty tiring, and the temptation to eat out will grow as the trip moves along. Be sure to shop at supermarkets, rather than convenience stores - even for drinks - it will be so much cheaper.

    And yes, Michael is spot on with adding those miles. You may find even further. By the time you find shops in unfamiliar places, find camping spots, as well as interesting spots not on the original plan. (not to mention getting lost) you'll find you will cover those miles.

    Sounds like a great trip.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-26-2014 at 02:20 AM. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As an example on mileage, getting to one of Yellowstone entrances is one thing, driving around the Park exploring could add a couple of hundred miles and that's just one ! Forget about sleeping in the car, it's just not worth it and you will be wrecked next day taking a lot of the fun out of it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I will concur with Dave, Lifey and Michael: the mileage does add up. We took a trip this past summer and easily added 2000 miles by driving around parks! Our trip was similar to yours and we had 8,600 miles more on our vehicle when we got back. As Dave pointed out, just Yellowstone adds miles: we put over 350 miles on the vehicle over 3 days there.

    Always estimate "worst case scenario" so that you don't leave yourself stranded someplace. We always overestimate on price of fuel, mileage, and cost of the overnights. Camping is a wonderful way to save money, but sleeping 3 in a sedan is not a good way.


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