Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. Default Hello All :) First timer here - NJ > CA

    Hello, how is everyone today? :) Hopefully good and well, staying warm in this summer heat.

    Brief summary, my brother and I will be leaving in two days for a cross country road trip, from NJ to CA.

    We both recently graduated from college and we wanted to do something adventurous and challenging. My brother will be gone for 4 years in another country studying and living, so we figured this would be a nice way to say our good byes with a cross country road trip.

    We will be using our own car (Toyota Venza) to travel. (I know it's not the best car to use, but it saves the hassle of renting a one-way car)

    We will be first going to New Orleans where we will stay for two nights. New Orleans was a city we've always wanted to explore and see. Then heading west, where we will hit cities such as Dallas, Phoenix, then eventually hit San Diego. And we will hit, L.A and then eventually camp out at Yosemite national park for one night. We are planning on traveling on the road for about 2-3 weeks.

    We're very new to this, I have a couple of questions:

    - Roughly how much money of gas will be needed ? Are there apps for this (?)
    - Should we sleep in hotel/motels every night or to save some money some days, sleep in the car(?)
    - Since we are traveling through the South, what are the best scenic route in the South I can take that would be enjoyable.
    - Best way to save money (Food, stays, gas)

    These are many questions, but if anyone has the time and are willing to answer a few of these questions. It would be awesome and a help to our quest !

    Thank you in advance, looking forward to hear your experienced responses

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA! What a special thing, a trip for you and your brother. NJ --> CA is about a 5-6 day drive all by itself, so 2-3 weeks to go one way is a nice amount of time.

    Fuel: if you know your car's average mpg, how many miles you are going to drive round trip (plus about 25% for sightseeing mileage), use the calculator on RTA (look to your right) to figure out gasoline costs. Use the average price that you pay at home, since NJ and CA notoriously have about the highest fuel prices in the US.

    Lodging: the cheapest way to go is a tent and some sleeping bags. Don't try to skimp and sleep in your car, unless you have the ability to fully stretch out in the back. You simply won't get a restful sleep trying to sleep with a steering wheel at your stomach, or crunched up in your back seat. If the budget's tight, try a cheap tent, a sleeping bag, and a mattress pad of some sort. State and county parks can cost around $15 -25 night.

    The next tier up is the cheap motel. You can find coupons for good deals in a coupon book found at the state visitor center, some rest areas, and some truck stop/travel centers. Bear in mind that these are often only good for the first percentage of travelers who come into the motel, so it pays to pull in early. With no coupon, budget chains include Motel 6, Rodeway Inn, America's Best Value Inn. If you'd prefer something a little more upscale, yet still budget friendly, Super 8, EconoLodge, and Ramada Inn have good values, as does Days Inn in a few locales. Best Western moves up the budget ladder, followed by Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, and a few others.

    Most scenic routes: get a paper map, and don't be afraid to leave the interstates behind. Interstates are *great* for fast travel. Usually they aren't too scenic, with a few exceptions. A map will have a scenic route noted, usually with a dotted or broken line next to it.

    Budgeting:How do you find lodging in your budget? If camping, you can look on your paper map for little green triangles. Those usually indicate a public campground. Or ask locally. If you can find the local BLM, national forest office (often indicated on brown signs along a highway), ask there first. The local police station would be another place. For motels, you can use coupon books, signs on the highway, or smartphone apps such as hotels.com or for a specific chain family.

    Eating: Eating on the road can be more adventurous than eating out at home, because you don't always know what you're going to find. With today's Internet and smartphone apps taking some of the guess work about that, though, the job is easier today (and a lot more fun). There are various ways to find good places to eat on the road. You could just see something that looks good, pull in and hope for the best, just as travelers used to do many years ago. You could rely on the same chains that you know from home, because they're familiar. You could look on a website or app such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, and see what looks good in a given area. (This writer and husband have done that a number of times, with good results.) When you get into your night's lodging, you could ask the hotel desk (concierge) for recommendations. Tip: If you're looking for something local when asking the hotel desk clerk, say so. Otherwise you may get pointed to the Denny's across the street, or the McDonald's down the way.

    Other ways to save money on food include bringing along a cooler and toss in your favorite drinks and snacks. Bring a small picnic bag for the foodstuffs that you don't want to keep in the cooler. This saves a LOT of money because you can stop at your favorite grocery store before you leave home, and then stop at local places (or the big-box stores you find along the way) to pick up replacements, instead of spending more $ at convenience stores and markets.

    Saving money on gas: Get the Gasbuddy app for your smart phone, laptop or tablet. Look ahead in your travels to see where the better priced fuel is. When we traveled in 2012, Mississippi had really good prices for gasoline, cheaper than Louisiana, but we wouldn't have known that without GasBuddy.

    Planning is half the fun of a long trip, so have fun when doing your research!


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'll start by saying that sleeping in the car is a very bad idea. What you save in cash, you'll pay for ten times over by the lack of real sleep you need to have both a safe and enjoyable roadtrip. There's just not enough room in a car for two people to stretch out and really sleep. You'd be far better off bringing a tent and looking to camp more often, although that can be difficult if you're going to focus on cities.

    As far as vehicle, I'm not sure why you think a midsized SUV like your Toyota would be a poor choice, but I am curious as to how you're planning to do a one way trip with your own vehicle? How are you and your car getting back to NJ?

    RTA's Fuel Cost Calculator can help you figure out your fuel costs, although keep in mind you'll probably drive about 20% more than your point to point distances (once you factor driving in cities, parks, etc). For more money saving tips, check out this classic RTA Article. It's pretty old, so the prices are a bit out of date, but the principals still apply.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Donna, NJ actually has some of the lowest gas prices in the US.

    If you are leaving in 2 days, I'd use $3.00 a gallon for average - that's a bit above the national average. To be safe, use 20 mpg, so the math is easy - figure 15 cents a mile. I'm guessing by the time you get done you will drive 8000 miles, so that's $1200 for gas.

  5. Default

    Hey, thank you all for the great responses.
    I am very excited for this event and already learning a lot from everyone.

    Donna, Michael, and GLC. Thank you guys for your responses.

    I never thought about camping out in the state parks, which is awesome actually because me and my brother are bringing our tent. (Fits about 4-people). 12-25 dollars a night, is very cheap and doable.

    And Michael, I have to bring a mid-sized sedan because we are trying to cut costs. Because renting a one-way car is about $2000.00. Which will save us...$2000 :)

    Also I will be stopping by friends houses to save money and see their cities on the way there. Just finding out the best ways to cut costs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NJtoLA View Post
    And Michael, I have to bring a mid-sized sedan because we are trying to cut costs. Because renting a one-way car is about $2000.00. Which will save us...$2000 :)
    You completely missed the point of my question. I said you had a perfectly good choice of car.

    What I don't understand is how you plan to do a one-way trip with a car you own? Are you planning to drive back to NJ, and if so, are you factoring that into the 2-3 weeks you say you have available?

  7. Default

    Not a one-way trip, I was typing on my smart phone which could be a reason why I messed up. But we will be driving back from the Mid-North. Mostly driving, not really stopping by anywhere. Just driving straight back, unless me and my brother want to stop by Utah, Colorado, Nebraska.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    For a round trip, even 3 weeks is pushing it - I would recommend you plan on a month. NJ to LA or back is 6 days via fastest route.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default then we've got a major problem

    Well, doing a round trip on your timeframe changes things dramatically.

    You need to realize to safely drive from California to New York, you're going to need at least 5 days each way - and that's going direct. Going all the way down to NOLA, back up to Dallas, and then down San Diego ups that to about 7 days, just for the driving, sticking to the freeways - not adding in scenic detours. You need more than 2 full days just to get to New Orleans. If you spent just one full day at each of the places you've already listed, your 3 weeks more than filled.

    While it's not impossible to do this trip in 3 weeks, it's pretty much impossible to do in 2, and with 3 you're going to have an extremely rushed trip with very little time to do the kinds of things you say you want to do.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-14-2011, 01:45 PM
  2. Hello ALL!!!!!
    By jeeper92 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 12-16-2010, 09:06 AM
  3. Hello. Newbie here. No questions just yet...
    By Meps in forum Going to Las Vegas!
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-15-2009, 05:14 AM
  4. Hello!!! New Member here planning a trip
    By kevinb1450 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-06-2009, 10:24 AM
  5. First timer - Hello!
    By Pinklepurr in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-21-2008, 02:39 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES