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  1. Default Road trip from New York to California.

    Hi, I will like some help planing my trip from New York to California I am no my sure where I want to stop. But I will be traveling with my son 16 and my daughter 8. Can I get some suggestions. I will have 6 weeks for this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    We would love to help you, but we're going to need a little more information. New York is a fairly decent sized state, and California is the one of the largest states in the continental US. Where are you starting? Where do you want to end? Is this round trip or one way?

    As for where you want to stop, hopefully you are allowing at least 5 or 6 days for this trip (one way). Do you want us to help you find your overnight places, or help you find things to see?


  3. Default

    I will be traveling from Long Island to Lake Elsinor in CA I will be traveling with no rush so that I can stop and enjoy the places were I will be going to. I just don't know where to start from. And yes this is a round trip. Yes I will like to find the overnight places and things to see.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    No rush, meaning you have no determined amount of time? From Long Island to Lake Elsinore is about a 5-6 day drive. Decide how much of time you want to spend on the road, and how much time you need to stay in one place and actually see something.

    Then, you need a map. A paper map, not the kind you see on a 5” screen (GPS or your phone) or a 15” screen (your computer). If you are planning a multi-state trip, a USA map, regional map, or a road atlas of the US will do for starters. Take a pencil, some sticky notes, or other way to mark up the map: what do you want to see? What looks interesting? After a few marks, you'll see a route starting to form. Get your kids involved. They will buy into the trip if they have a vested interest in where you're going to stop. They can look at the map, the older one can do some research, and then there will be less "do we HAVE to stop here? WHY are we stopping here?"

    Next comes the nitty-gritty: planning how long you'll need to get to the places you're going. Beginners, unless you drive for a living, probably won't want to plan to drive more than 450-500 miles in one day. If you're going somewhere further than that, plan an overnight someplace along the way. Can't figure out mileage on the maps? Well, either do it the long way (use a calculator), or use a mapping program like Google Maps. You can get exact mileage. But do NOT use their “driving time” estimates. Plan on averaging 55 mph – 500 miles would be about 9 hours on the road, including food, fuel, bathroom, and stretch-your-legs stops.


  5. Default

    Thank you Donna, do you have any suggestions on places I should stop in the different states I will be passing by? My children like parks, hiking, beaches, rivers and all that has to do with nature. Also I will like to go to Vegas and the Gran Cayon. A friend told me about a place I. Utah called windows of utah but I can't find it with that name perhaps is called something else maybe you know. Thank you for your time and help.

  6. Default

    Also will like to know about how much this trip will cost. I can see places and stop on my way to Cali and also when I come back to New York.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You're asking hugely broad questions, where the potential answers could be in the billions.

    You're talking about a cross country trip, so essentially you're asking people to tell you what where there are parks and places for nature in the United States! Obviously, if you're interested in Nature, you should start looking into the National Park system, even there, you've got hundreds of possibilities, and that's just the tip of the iceburg.

    Similarly, we can't begin to know how much this will cost you, because that depends upon how you are traveling - where you plan to sleep, what you're driving, how you'll be eating what you're doing for a route, attractions, etc. Bare Bones, camping, cooking your own meals, driving directly to CA and back in a small car with good mpg, you could probably do the trip for as little as $3000. On the opposite end, you could easily spend that in a week staying at nice hotels, eating at high end restaurants, etc.

    Honestly, you kind of need to get a foundation of what you hope to get out of this trip before others on any internet forum can do much to help you. Of course, there are a ton of resources on the RTA site to help you get started. If you check out the How to Use this Site link at the top of the page, you'll find tons of resources about places to go, and how to get the most out of your trip. As Donna mentioned, paper maps are also a fantastic tool both on the road and for your planning. And of course, make sure your kids are involved in the planning - as the more they are invested in the trip, the more they will enjoy it.

    Once you have a better idea of a plan, we'll be in a much better position to help you put it all together.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Here are a few general tips:

    Budgeting on a trip depends on a lot of things, including your own spending habits, where you are traveling (touristy areas are more expensive), what you want to see (theme parks are also costly), and how long you are going to be on the trip. Lodging can cost $45-up for a couple, eating out is usually about the same as it would cost at home, and fuel can be a variable too, especially in today's yo-yo gas prices.

    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 in the blue box at the bottom of the page) to figure out gasoline costs. Use the average price that you pay at home, unless you live in a really cheap state for gasoline, or a really expensive one.

    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, Marriott, and a few others.

    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 or for a specific chain family.

    Saving Money on the Road:

    1) Fuel. If you travel with a smartphone, laptop or tablet, get the Gas Buddy app (or website). Look ahead, see what's less expensive. You may find that crossing a stateline will save you a lot, or cost more, per gallon. (For instance, California has 30c more in gas taxes than the neighboring state, Arizona.) Costco member? Many Costcos are located close to the freeway. Bring your card. There are fuel station loyalty programs, but always know what you're going to pay, or you may pay 10c more per gallon to save 3c per gallon – not what you wanted, probably.
    2) Lodging. A lot of tips for saving money on lodging are included above. Coupons work. So do RTA, Expedia,, or other consolidator, but be careful about cancellation policies. Think about what you REALLY require for a one night stop, or for a longer stay. Why pay for something that you may not use?
    3) Food. As said above, eating out can cost the same as you pay when you eat out at home. One way to save money is to bring along a small cooler and picnic bag, and tote your own beverages and snacks. A grocery store is going to cost less than the roadside convenience shop. Really want to save? Many grocery stores sell hot foods like grilled or fried chicken, sausages, etc., and they do it at less price than the restaurant. If the motel allows it, you can usually do a microwave meal or even cook in a fry-pan. (Warning: some motels specifically ask you not to cook in the room. Even if it's permitted, though, don't cook fish or other smelly food in the room, out of courtesy to the next folks to rent the room.)
    4) Sightseeing. If you are going to 4 or more major national parks, consider purchasing an annual national park pass. Theme parks? Check your employer, AAA, or even Costco/Sam's Club or other wholesale warehouse.

    And as I said above, you NEED a map. It will show you where all those natural places are.


    Mod Note: The fuel cost calculator moved in the latest upgrade!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-07-2015 at 07:56 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default To each his own.

    As Michael mentioned, you can make this trip cost as much or as little as you (and your children) want. For example, I heard locally of someone recently paying 30K for a three week tour in the west. On the other hand, my regular 5 or 6 month trips, I keep to a max of $10K.

    The variation can be that big. You (together with your children) need to do a lot more research on where you want to go, and why; on what you want to see and do; even on what your travel style is going to be. Until you have defined that, most of the help you get could be irrelevant.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Family planning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marialugo73 View Post
    Hi, I will like some help planing my trip from New York to California I am no my sure where I want to stop. But I will be traveling with my son 16 and my daughter 8. Can I get some suggestions. I will have 6 weeks for this.
    At this stage of the planning you should be sitting down with the children and getting their input on what you would all like to do, the more interest they have in the trip, the more fun it will be for all. The planning is where the adventure begins, so enjoy it as a family. With 6 weeks available you have a nice amount of time to make a wonderful family trip full of great memories, but you need to make a start before we can really help to fill in the blanks and make meaningful suggestions.

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