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  1. #1

    Default Two Teenagers Going On A Cross Country Road Trip Summer of 2016

    Hey everyone! I am a 16 year old girl planning on going on a cross country road trip with my best friend for a few weeks/a month during the summer of 2016 (After we graduate). At the time of the trip, I will be 17 years old and he will be freshly 18. We plan on starting just outside of Cincinnati OH and driving westward to San Diego, California, stopping many times along the way for attractions and some major cities and the like then driving back a slightly different route through the southern states and up through New York then back to Ohio. I am roughly estimating with google maps and other resources to be about 14,000 miles

    To save on costs we plan on sleeping in the car we will be using (A Ford Explorer from the 2000's with the back seats taken out and a mattress in it's place). Once back on the east coast/NYC, we may make other arrangements for lodging.

    I am severely under-experienced when it comes to taking these trips alone. The folks are alright with us going as I have a lot of travel experience with the family, but I am at a loss for little advice like where it would be good to park and sleep, eat, and take care of ourselves; how much should we plan to save for this trip; and things that we'll need since this trip is the longest that I've been on.

    We both have camping experience and have no problem using camping sites along the way. I also have a AAA premium membership and a YMCA membership at my disposal. Please help me fill in the details so that this trip may be well planned. Also I would love some tips about travelling since I will still be under 18 and we both are under 21 years old. Thanks a lot in advance!

    I will list the advice that I've been given below and add onto it as I find more things so that many advice doesn't have to be repeated and you can easily see what I have already been told; This post may become a log for me so I can keep track of everything.

    -Best places to sleep would be camping sites or truck stops. Most of the time they have places to shower/eat but camping sites cost money and truck stops may be a little noisy or unsafe. The next best thing may be parking lots of hospitals or 24 hour stores like Walmart but I should be wary of being arrested for trespassing.


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While you will probably not like hearing this, I would strongly encourage you to wait until you are 18 to embark on this trip. There are a whole host of problems that come with trying to to a major trip like this when you are still a minor. You've got to factor things like curfew laws, the reality that you can't do basic things by yourself (like authorize your own medical care in case of an emergency), and more practical things, like it is virtually impossible for you to be able to rent a motel room in your situation, and even many campgrounds will not allow you to stay as an unrelated minor.

    Even if age wasn't a factor, your plan to sleep in your car on a cross country trip is short-sighted. The importance of personal space can not be understated when you're planning a major trip like this. If you're sleeping in your car, not only are you going to be with your friend non-stop all day, you'll be with them all night, with no breaks at all for any alone time. It doesn't matter how good of friends you are right now, that's the kind of thing that will make it impossible to enjoy your trip and will almost certainly seriously harm, if not destroy your friendship. There's also the other issues that if you replace the cargo area with an SUV, you're not going to have much space left for all the gear/luggage you'll need for a month long trip, not to mention, just from a mental aspect, that being in a car all day and all night is not something you'll want to do day after day. Camping and Hotels are good ways to get a break from the car, from the road, and from each other, but as mentioned, doing this trip before you are 18 would make that very difficult.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I am going to completely agree with Michael and say, wait until you're 18. You get sick, you get in a traffic accident, you trip and break your arm in a fall - and he can't authorize a doctor to take care of you. In a public campground, maybe nobody will ask your age unless you are being loud or doing something that is oddball that gets somebody's attention, but you definitely will get questioned about renting a hotel room. (Even years ago, when I was traveling alone and wanted to check into a motel room, I got carded. I was "of age", but one motel manager said, "we don't rent to people under 18". And that was YEARS ago - things are even pickier now!)

    As for how much you should save for this trip when you turn 18: there's a fuel cost calculator on this site, though how much $ fuel is going to cost in 2016 or 2017 is anyone's guess. Estimate high, and at your average MPG. For overnights, $50-75 per night in an average motel not on a weekend or in a touristy place, or $20 for campgrounds. Food is hard to determine, because restaurant costs are rising. My husband and I used to estimate $60 per day for food, but have had to go up. Sometimes, we go to the grocery store and pick up something pre-made, or if our motel room has a microwave, we buy something that can be cooked in that. So many ways to save on food costs! Don't underestimate souvenirs, toll costs, and the costs of ice.

    But wait until you are both 18. In the meantime, go to AAA and get some paper maps to do some preliminary planning.


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