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  1. Default Road Trip Time... From Oklahoma!

    Hey, all, I'm new to the forum! My name is Logan, I'm nineteen years old and I live in Oklahoma.

    I plan on taking a road trip up to Bend, Oregon to pick up a good friend of mine who is moving back to Oklahoma. From OKC to where she is, this will take around 24-28 hours according to estimates.

    However, on the way back to Oklahoma, we really wanted to live it up. We plan on leaving Oregon and traveling down the coast, hitting San Francisco, Los Angeles, to drive through Nevada and experience Las Vegas (without gambling I guess, not being twenty-one), and to stop by Denver before returning home. I mapped all of this out (not without the help of the internet), and a non-stop drive would be about 40 hours tops (estimate).

    I just wanted to get a few tips from everyone. Our budget is limited, so we really do not want to stay at any hotels, and we both have experiences with sleeping in vehicles (she took a three day Greyhound bus trip to Oregon from here) and I have gone from Oklahoma to Florida and back whenever I was younger. I know travel stops are a great option too. One tricky thing: she does not have a driver's license, so I will be responsible for all of the driving.

    Also, how can I optimize this trip? I'm a little worried, it is so much driving... and to be honest, I really do not even want to stop at all on my way up to Oregon, but that would be quite dangerous—driving ~28 hours with no sleep...not going to happen!

    So, thoughts, experiences, tips? This will be a great time for both of us, but it is a huge undertaking, and even more so on a limited budget. The closer it gets, the more anxious I get.

    EDIT: I do want to add that the trip back is fluid and changeable if anyone has better suggestions. I have never been to the west coast before.

    EDIT #2: I have taken a whole week off of work for this trip—it includes going up there and the return trip. I would like to at least stay a night at her soon to be former place in Oregon. Tips on the timeframe would be much appreciated as well.

    EDIT #3: I really need to stop doing this... but an idea popped into my head—since staying the night in vehicles is nearly condemned by everyone here... and I know we could do it, but it's best to heed that advice, would "couchsurfing" be an appropriate alternative? Does anyone have advice concerning that?
    Last edited by Pure Reality; 06-05-2015 at 12:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Sleeping in the vehicle is not living it up.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Oregon is a large State. Without knowing the exact destination, all I can say that it is just on 2000 miles to Portland, by the fastest route. That is something which cannot be counted in hours, it is a trip to be counted and planned in days. This will take you at least three overnight stops - travelling for 4 or three and a half days.

    This is all the more important since you are a solo driver on what sounds like your first long distance trip. You need to remember that computer mapping programs have never driven the route, and assume that you will be travelling at or above the speed limit every minute of every day. They also do not account for stops such as food fuel and rest areas. Neither have they ever seen a red light, construction or traffic congestion. Computers live in cyber space but unfortunately you will have to do this trip in the real world, with all the stops, slow downs, etc of real world driving.

    How long are you planning for the return trip? Is your friend at least 18 years of age? Very important, as otherwise you will not be able to get accommodation.

    Sleeping in a vehicle with TWO people is firstly not recommended, and secondly very dangerous. Sleeping in a vehicle at rest areas especially dangerous. You will not get the rest and sleep you need to be able to hurtle a ton of metal down the road the following day. Fatigue will set in without you knowing it, and by the time you are feeling tired you will already be beyond the ability of being a safe driver.

    On the bus it may have been very uncomfortable for your friend, but she did not have to drive. Since you will need to do all the driving, you will need to have a good solid night's sleep. If your budget does not go to hotels, then buy a cheap tent and sleeping bags and mats. There are any number of State Parks and Forests in which you can camp between Oregon and OKC.

    First thing you better do is go to AAA and pick up some good detailed maps of all the States through which you want to travel, or go to a big box store and pick up a road atlas such as Rand McNally. You will see all the routes available to you, the places you want to visit and the little triangles (tents) mark where you can camp on public land for a minimal cost.


    EDIT: Couchsurfing would be an excellent idea. If you go to this thread, you will see I have written quite a bit about it.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the welcome, Lifey!

    You made a great point about the computer mapping thing... I never even thought about that! Since you made that point, my dream of hitting all these cities on the way back might only be just a dream for now. My total allotted time is probably nine days (estimating at this point, but I definitely have a full week off).

    Do you think that it would require three overnight stays on the way up there? She lives around Bend, Oregon by the way, and is over eighteen years old. Would two overnight stays and some serious driving time be adequate for such a drive? What I am thinking is probably stopping somewhere, most likely camping or couchsurfing and getting five, six hours of sleep, or whatever the minimum would be to be in a safe and sound mental state for the road.

    Since I do not have a huge amount of time for this trip, 7-9 days, it seems that I will not be able to do this whole west coast trip on the way back. What do you think?

    EDIT: Also, checking out that thread.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not worth considering for many reasons.

    There is no way you can do this in two days without putting yourself and everyone who shares the road with you in danger. The fact is that the human body suffers from fatigue and fatigue, along with drunk driving, are among the top causes for road fatalities, another is speed and when you add fatigue and being in a hurry together, well you know the rest. You can do the trip with 2 overnight stops with a good nights sleep at each. If you want to get out as quickly as possible, you should look at no more than 600 miles each day, this is a marathon and not a sprint. If you get tempted to push too hard on day one when you are feeling fresh, you will be fatigued on days 2 and 3 and could turn into a nightmare, it's best to get there fresh and alert than not at all. The other point is that if you did attempt to get there in 2 days you would be totally exhausted when [if]you arrived and in no condition to be good company to your friend who will be awake, alert and excited to see you.

    If you want to take more time coming back then you will find some great attractions through southern Utah and Colorado without adding so many miles as heading down the coast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Still some time to see some of the sights.

    As David mentions, 600 miles is the limit for one day's driving. But I was taking into account that you will be doing this on your own, and that it is your first trip. Doing this trip with 2 overnight stops will be three very long days on the road. Be prepared for that. Be well rested before you start, and make sure you have a good eight hours sleep each night. These are essential to keep you alert on the road, and not fall into road hypnosis. Maybe you can do this by staying in hotels/motels or even hostels (which would be a bit cheaper).

    If your friend is fully packed up and ready to leave when you get there, maybe you can get on the road at a reasonable time next day. You would then have five more days to get back to OKC. By taking I-84 and I-15 to I-70 it would put you near Bryce Canyon NP, a park which can easily be seen in a relatively short half day. I-70 one of the most scenic interstates from there to Denver would also take you close to Arches and Canyonlands NPs as well as Colorado NM.

    Check them out on your maps. That would make for a very nice trip back. That area also has lots of public lands camping areas.

    If you want to go couchsurfing, I'd get onto that right away.


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


    It really can't be stressed enough that you need at least 3 days to make the drive to Bend, and you should forget any reference you saw to 28 hours for travel time. Online mapping programs assume you'll never have to slow down below the speed limit, never see traffic, never need to stop for gas, or anything else. Even at 3 full days, you're going to have to be on the road for at least 10-12 hours each day, and as others have noted, that's already the maximum of what professional drivers are allowed to do in a day.

    As others noted, sleeping in a moving car or bus, when someone else is expected to do all the driving is very very different from getting the rest you need to safely operate a 2 ton machine at 75 mph. Driving to Oregon, when you are by yourself, you might be able to find a way to safely get the sleep you need (there's just not enough room in a car for 2 people to stretch out enough to get real sleep), but keep in mind the importance of giving your mind a rest - which you need to get out of the car to do - after you're done driving, but before you fall asleep. Planning to find a place to spend the night, like a hostel or couchsurfing, will be much safer (especially because you won't be tempted to do the, I can't fall asleep, so I'll just go a few more miles down the road), and will really make for a much more enjoyable trip.

    Being that you need at least 6 days for the round trip, I'd do everything possible to get at least the 9 days you've mentioned. That will give you at least a couple days available to make the trip back enjoyable, and that's if you stick to a fairly direct route. Going down the coast wouldn't be in the cards, unless you can add some more time.

    I would also cross Las Vegas off of your list, because it will be nearly impossible for you to enjoy the city at your age. 18-20 is a lousy age to be in a city where you need to be 21 to do almost anything - and that's not just limited to gambling. Unless you're content to drive down the strip, see the lights, and move on, I think you'd be better off using your time elsewhere.

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