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  1. #1

    Default First major road trip!!!!

    Hello everybody! I am super excited to be taking a trip around the country next year, 2016. Originally I was aiming for a summer trip May/June or June/July but I am from Los Angeles and would LOVE to experience Fall (leaves change colors, say whatttt???) so Im thinking I am gonna move my trip to Sept/Oct, what do you guys think? Some of you probably take Fall for granted but I don't know seasons, and they sound amazing!

    Second my trip is about big city stops. I am couch surfing via couchsurfing.com (please don't give me the safety talk, I am not 12) and I am taking this trip to experience new cities and meet awesome people form around the country. Landmarks and mountains and National Parks don't interest me too much, Ill stop at one if its on the way but I am more of a city traveler. I am starting (map attached) in LA, up to Reno, Portland, Seattle, Boise (family), Salt Lake, Denver, Oklahoma (family), Memphis, Nashville, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philly, NY, Boston (friends), Baltimore, Charleston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Grand Canyon and end it with a major party in Vegas (yes, you are all invited). I am using furkot.com to map all this out, but I am not married to this route or all of these cities at all, its just a rough plan right now, so any advice on stops/routes/whatever would be GREATLY appreciated. I want to stay in each city about 3 or 4 nights and I am thinking my trip will take about 2 months or so, maybe a little more. Is that realistic?

    I have never done anything like this before so any tips or tricks or really any advice at all would be super appreciated!!! I couch surfed in Portland OR (flew there) a month ago for 5 days and had an AMAZING time and met AMAZING people and the trip changed me for the better and that is why I am taking this trip.

    THANK YOU!!!!

    Oh and I am traveling solo, if anyone has any financial advice, that'd be awesome too. Couch surfing is free (only have to pay for lodging if I pull over somewhere for a night) but I want to be sure to have extra money to spend on nights out and fun social stuff, plus all the essentials of course.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Financial advice -- we have a whole forum about Saving Money on the Road. Among some of the best tips for that are to travel with a cooler and a bag of food supplies. The cooler can be filled with drinks and ice, or snacks that have to stay cold. We bring a big commuter cup, then we can fill it with ice and a drink without stopping at an expensive convenience store. Another way to save is to look ahead for fuel needs, for the "best price". We've been known to save 30c a gallon just by checking GasBuddy when we pull into a rest area. For those nights when you can't find a suitable Couchsurfing, there are coupon guides available at most truck stop/travel plazas and many rest areas, with good motel coupon deals. (Bear in mind they may not work on Fri/Sat nights.)

    Speaking of Couchsurfing....it isn't completely free -- as you probably have found out, it's always a good thing to offer to take your host family out for dinner, bring a bottle of wine, make dinner FOR them, or just offer to clean the bathrooms or something. It's a nice thing to do.

    For fall leaf peeping, Sept/Oct and the New England states are your best bet.



    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A great way to travel.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    First thing you should really to do is get yourself some good maps which show you your whole trip,m and the land it traverses. These would be available from AAA (free to members. For a trip of this scope a AAA membership would be well advised. Then you might like to follow the advice in this paragraph:

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    You have all the cities you would like to visit so you can check what interests you along the routes in between. It's all marked on the maps. Maps are invaluable for planning, and essential when on the road. Never a good idea to rely only on your electronics.

    As a couchsurfing member of many years, I have never regarded it as a 'free' night's accommodation. You either do something for your host, or bring them a gift, or perhaps take them out to dinner (my preferred reward). Do something to express your appreciation for your host(s). Having hosted lots and stayed with many as well, it is one of the safest ways to travel. Just make sure you leave a reference for every person you meet, host or stay with.

    Since this trip is still some time off, why not use this time to host couchsurfers. It is such a rewarding experience. Or even just show people around your little part of the globe.

    As for travelling solo, to my way of thinking it is the best way to travel. You are in control of everything, stop when you see something interesting and many more opportunities to meet the locals - in shops, at rest areas, etc. (Just make sure you leave your gadgets in your pocket and greet those you meet.)

    Have a great trip

    Lifey

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for the advice LifeMagician and DonnaR57! And yes, you are both right about Couch Surfing not being completely free which is why I said I need extra money for nights out and what not. People who don't understand couch surfing think its like Air B&B and you have to pay $100 a night, so thats what I meant by free. When I Couch Surfed in Portland, I bought my hosts breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks...I am a good Surfer, I promise ;)

  5. #5

    Default Scenic/touristy/fun Route suggestions

    Hey everyone, planning a 3 month or so (no time constraint but dont wanna get stuck in shitty weather) road trip around the country in September. I am starting in LA going up to Seattle over to Colorado to the East Coast, down to Charleston, Tenesse, Texas then finishing in Vegas. I am stopping way more then that but just to give you an idea of my route. I have attached a screen shot of my route so you can get a general idea of my stops. I am using Furkot to map out my route and also Roadtrippers (but I dont like their layout). Anyway, I am just looking for some suggestions on great routes to take to each of my stops or if anyone knows of a great app or site I can use that will help me with this. I dont wanna just use Google Maps and miss some fun routes/stops on my way just cause I went the "google maps" way. This is my first SOLO road trip so any advice, tips, anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

    {Mod Memo: PLEASE keep all posts about the same trip in your original thread -- it makes it much easier for us to keep track of everyone's trips}
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    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-28-2015 at 11:20 AM. Reason: merged threads

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default a few thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by cookiemonster2 View Post
    I am using Furkot to map out my route and also Roadtrippers (but I dont like their layout). Anyway, I am just looking for some suggestions on great routes to take to each of my stops or if anyone knows of a great app or site I can use that will help me with this. I dont wanna just use Google Maps and miss some fun routes/stops on my way just cause I went the "google maps" way.
    As Lifey previously mentioned, if you are limiting yourself to electronic mapping tools, then you're already planning with one hand tied beyond your back. Real maps will show you a range of information and detail that you just can't get when only using electronic tools. Even more importantly, if you are only using electronics, then you are setting yourself up for major problems on the road, as you'll be blindly following electronics, rather than being able to decide for yourself where you want to go.

    If budget is an issue, you'll likely save a huge amount of money, in both car rental and airfare by finishing back in LA, rather than stopping a few hours short of a full loop in Vegas.

    If you're not leaving until September, and you're going to be on the road for 3 months, then you can't avoid the chance of winter weather. By November, even the southern-most parts of the US can and do see snow and ice from time to time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default RTA Custom Maps

    Quote Originally Posted by cookiemonster2 View Post
    I am using Furkot to map out my route and also Roadtrippers (but I dont like their layout). Anyway, I am just looking for some suggestions on great routes to take to each of my stops or if anyone knows of a great app or site I can use that will help me with this.
    In addition to the personal advice you receive on this Forum -- you might look at the RTA Custom Maps program/App that would show you some of the attractions we've written about around the USA.

    For routes -- you might consider some of the routes we've outlined here...

    I use a blend of electronic and paper maps. Pretty much exclusively electronic -- RTA Maps in the pre-planning stages and paper on the road. I do use my smart phone for locating motels/campgrounds when on the road -- but always keep paper maps handy for getting a broader view of the routing options when on the highway.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default It's local information.

    Quote Originally Posted by cookiemonster2 View Post
    I dont wanna just use Google Maps and miss some fun routes/stops on my way just cause I went the "google maps" way. This is my first SOLO road trip so any advice, tips, anything is greatly appreciated.
    As already mentioned, you will get much, much more information from paper maps than you will from any electronics. But for fun things.... these are the things the details of which you find out when you speak with the locals. For a three month trip, there is no need to plan each and every day/week. Keep some flexibility, and when you are in any place, speak with the locals....... stocking up on groceries, speak to the folk in front and behind you at the cash register, speak with the checkout, the bag packer, the customer service or the person stacking the trolleys. One of your best resources is the local law enforcement, they usually know what is going on and where. Often at truck stops you will run into either a police officer or someone from the sheriff's office.

    In other words, speak with the folk you see all around you and simply ask the what and where and when. If you find a place which has much more than you had planned for, be flexible enough to stay longer and enjoy.

    These local events and routes and attractions you can't necessarily plan long beforehand. But be sure you journal them at the end of each day.

    Lifey

  9. #9

    Default SOLO road trip- taking naps on the road

    Hey all! Gearing up for a SOLO 3 month road trip around the country. The number one thing I am worried about is getting drowsy at the wheel. A lot of people have recommended power naps, which does help in my daily life so I thought this was a great idea but being a girl and being alone on the road, parking in a far away lot or pulling over somewhere to take a quick 20 minute nap sounds a tad dangerous. Any advice anyone? Do naps actually help? Am I being a "stupid girl" by worrying about this? Where are the best places to pull over and nap? Any tips for road hypnosis welcomed. THANKS

    Moderator Note: As you were told earlier today, Please keep all questions about this trip in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-28-2015 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Merged Threads, Again

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    What exactly do you mean by taking naps ? If you don't drive too far each day and have a good nights sleep in a bed then you should be fine, if you need a nap in the daytime in a rest area or convenient spot. If you are talking of taking Naps while trying to drive through the night to the point of exhaustion, then it's a different ball game and not a position you should put yourself in. You should be well rested and feel fresh at all times when driving so you have maximum concentration, so stop before you get tired.

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