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  1. #1

    Default Excited First Timer Going From NJ to CA Alone in 14 Days- ADVICE NEEDED PLEASE!

    Hi All,

    I'm planning to take a roadtrip in July for 2 weeks with a rental car. I've been reading up on items to take and how to plan routes but I'm still very overwhelmed with the planning. So I have a few questions for all of you experienced folks out there. Here we go!

    1. I was considering driving through the following states (taking no toll routes), but I need suggestions on cool (FREE) places to visit along the way.
    Day 1: Linden, NJ-Macedonia OH
    Day 2: Macedonia OH-St Louis, MO
    Day 3: St Louis, MO- Witchita, KS
    Day 4: Witchita, KS- Denver, CO
    Day 5: Denver, CO- (seeing Brice Canyon along the way) Albuquerque, NM
    Day 6: Albuquerque, NM- Grand Canyon, AZ
    Day 7: Grand Canyon, AZ- Fresno, CA
    Day 8: Fresno, CA- Kanab, UT (Grand Staircase)
    Day 9:Kanab, UT- Santa Fe, NM
    Day 10: Santa Fe, NM- Dallas, TX
    Day 11: Dallas TX- Greenville, MS
    Day 12: Greenville, MS- Atlanta, GA
    Day 13: Atlanta, GA- Myrtle Beach, SC
    Day 14: Myrtle Beach, SC- Virginia Beach, VA
    Day 15: Virginia Beach, VA- Linden, NJ (HOME!)

    2. The time spent driving daily is an average of about 9-10hrs. Is that OK for one person?
    3. I was told that I should do some research on what these states are like during the time of the year I'll be driving (weather trends, etc). Any considerations?
    4. Some items that I thought would be necessities are: a cooler,suitcase, portable phone charger, GPS, map, some snacks, cold cut sandwhich ingedients, fruit, an inflatable pillow, back pack and hygeine products. Am I missing any other essentials?
    5. I plan to take a rental car. Shooting for a Hyundai Accent or a vehicle similar in size. I found some good plans at AVIS with unlimited mileage and insurance included for $600 (LET ME KNOW IF THERE ARE BETTER DEALS OUT THERE). I'm planning on taking $1,100 for gas. Will that be enough?
    6. I plan to bring emergency toll money just in case I get lost and find myself having to pay toll. Should $100 suffice?
    7. This is my current budget plan:
    Rental Car- 600.00
    Groceries- 70.00
    Dining- 210.00
    Hotel/Lodging- 700.00
    Gas- 1,100.00
    Emergency Toll- 100.00
    Laundry- 20.00
    Ice- 30.00
    Total 2,930.00

    Does this seem realistic and sufficient?

    8. I plan to stay at really cheap hotels (about $48 bucks per night). Is that smart (by smart I mean safe)? I plan to read reviews and look at the areas first but I cant afford anything more expensive.

    This is all I have for now! I hope this isnt a horrible plan! Any advice will be greatly appreciated and PLEASE let me know if I'm missing anything. My family thinks I'm CRAZY for doing this, but IDC! Thanks in advance! :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Priorities.

    Hi and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by geneus_ View Post
    4. Some items that I thought would be necessities are: a cooler,suitcase, portable phone charger, GPS, map, some snacks, cold cut sandwich ingredients, fruit, an inflatable pillow, back pack and hygiene products. Am I missing any other essentials?
    The most essential items to keep you safe are good quality maps. They should be a priority above and over the rest. It is with good maps, not with electronics that you can lay out and see your complete trip as one, get the BIG picture and see all the attractions in between your must see points. Get a good map of the USA first and lay out your trip. Then get maps of all the States through which you will be travelling, and adjoining States in case you should hear about another attraction. Good maps such as those from the AAA (free to members) have most attractions marked on them along your routes; show toll roads and scenic routes. You cannot and must not do this trip without good maps. In fact they have much more information that you get on a little screen. Use your gps to find addresses - very handy for that.

    I would also recommend that you have a roadside assistance plan such as the AAA, just for peace of mind..

    9 - 10 hours per day can soon get very tiring for a first time roadtripper, especially on such a long trip. Be sure you have enough sleep each night, and make regular stops along the way at any of the points you have marked on your maps.

    Along the way you will see at rest areas and some fuel outlets hotel/motel discount coupons. These ocasionally have great deals, but be sure you check out the room before you commit. Check it is clean, the smoke detector has not been disabled and that the room has a lock which cannot be opened from the outside, such as the chain lock. But I doubt you will find many places below $50 once tax, etc is included.

    Since you are travelling alone, you might also consider hostels, as they are often much cheaper as well as being great for the solo traveller.

    Have a great trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a couple things that stand out. First is your route - it really doesn't make much sense out west. The biggest thing is that Bryce Canyon is in Utah and no where near the direct path from Denver to Albuquerque. Even if that is a mistake, or you're looking at a different Bryce Canyon than the National Park, I'm not sure why you would go from Denver down to Albuquerque, and across to GC and Fresno, then then come back by going back up to Utah and again down to New Mexico.

    The other, and really the more important, issue is that your trip is going to be exhausting and you really aren't giving yourself time to do anything other than drive. Yes, driving 9-10 hours a day is doable for a single person, but doing it every day for 2 weeks isn't much fun. That kind of pace also doesn't leave any time to actually do any exploration at the places you've listed as stops.

    I also suspect many of your drives are much longer than you are expecting. For example, Fresno to Kanab is at least a 12 hour drive, and that's if you just take I-40. If you wanted to drive through Yosemite - and I'm assuming that's why you're going all the way to Fresno - it's pretty much impossible to do in a single day (I'd estimate around 18-20 hours, minimum). Travel Time Estimates provided by online mapping programs simply can't be trusted - a trip will usually take at least 20% longer.

    Your budget looks reasonable, and you seem ok on that side of the planning, but I'd really look at your route. Personally, with 2 weeks, I wouldn't try to go all the way to California, because it just doesn't leave you time to do anything other than drive all day, every day. Having at least a day or two to actually explore a place (like the Grand Canyon, which right now, you don't really have any time to actually see) and not spend all day in a car would go a long way to making this a more memorable and enjoyable trip.

  4. #4


    Wow! This was very helpful. Luckily, a friend of mine got me a world atlas with state maps and landmarks. And it's the latest version. So that's a relief. I'll also check hotel reviews for what you mentioned above. I appreciate it.

  5. #5


    I spoke to a few people about my route and they had the same opinion. I didn't realize how exhausting it would be. And I'd probably be cranky by the time i get home. Very good advice. I'm recreating my route again to be more reasonable. I definitely want more relaxation than i do stress. Thanks for the input!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Feel free to post your new itinerary in this thread if you would like further suggestions and/or advice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by geneus_ View Post
    Luckily, a friend of mine got me a world atlas with state maps and landmarks. And it's the latest version.
    I hope you mean a road atlas of Canada, US and Mexico, such as the Rand McNally. You will find it one of the best, and most valuable things you have packed.

    [I like to sit down each night and highlight the roads on which I travelled that day. Makes for a great trip souvenir.]


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