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  1. Default Planning phase of Cross Country RT in July 2016

    Hi Everyone,

    One of my friends and I are planning a Road trip from NJ to San Fran next year - July 2016. We know a few things but are very much clueless on a lot on the logistic sides.

    * We plan to rent a car (just so that we can share expenses equally) but we are open for other or better options. Our reasoning to rent a car is that the car can be replaced if there is a problem with the car by the rental company. I was researching and saw $10 per day from enterprise.

    * We are nature loving ppl. My friend camps all the time and thus we do plan to camp a lot. I was reading on this websites from many ppl that we can get National Parks membership for $80 and then each night we stay at national park or camping site it might only cost us $20-$30 per night where as Ramada Inn, Clarion INN, Days INN and such would be $40-$60 per night. What would you guys suggest. and any tips on camping - I have never camped and thus would like to get more honest opinions.

    * What would you suggest on Meals and snacks? We are trying to keep minimal budget on food - however, we do want to have coffee with the locals and have beer at local pubs and brewery.

    * We also thought of having a running grocery list (PBJ, bread, Sandwich ingrediants, cereals, instant coffee, ramen noodles, water kettle that we can use at rest areas) and plan to stock up on fresh fruits and snacks (granola, trail mix, some chips and dips)

    * Visiting Sight seeing places.... well have never explored beyond knoxville (just 50 mile radius from Knoxville) and Kansas City (30 mile radius from KC) We have only explored the East coast - New State, North and South Carolinas, Florida... And then LA in California. So we are completely open to explore. While reading many many posts on the website here, I came to know that the Rockies would be something that we both would enjoy. But we need suggestions. We definitely want to go to Las Vegas - that is for sure.

    * As of right now the timeline of July 2016 is quite open on how many days we can be on the road. Both of us end a project around June and thus July would be a perfect time. As of right now we have not decided on how many days can be 15 or more or less. So if possible we would like to cover more.

    * Also, we would like to do different different things. what i read is Grand Canyon, Bryan Canyon, Zion - all of these are similar - we would like to mix it up and explore more as well. And we are very much open for suggestions.

    * I havent come across a check list for road trip here - do we have one available handy


    We are trying to take this road trip on a shoestring budget so we can use all the help we can to plan.

    I would like to have a travel + photo journal and would like ideas. Can anyone suggest someone's blog or travel journal that i can get ideas from.


    We both know that both of us will never get a chance like this and this trip is going to be the best part of my life yet so we want to plan properly. I am one of those who enjoys planning and researching as much as experiencing so I would like to have a proper plan (and contentgency plans - Plan B and Plan C just in case :-)


    Any and all help is very much appreciated.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Mil

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Getting Started.

    Hi Mil, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Phew! that's quite a list you have there. Of all the information you give, the most important is not there. How long do you have for this trip, and is it one way or a loop trip?

    The philosophy here is that a roadtrip is unique for each person, each trip. Hence you are not likely to find a checklist, as that would be different for each person, each trip.

    Your reasoning for using a rental car seem quite logical. Be aware of the extras added to the base price, especially if you are under 25.

    The NP Pass is an excellent budget option if you are visiting more than 4 NPs. However, it only covers your entry - car and all occupants, but not the camping. That is extra, and needs to be booked many months ahead in the major NPs. Get onto the website and check out availability as soon as you have your dates locked in. Hotel/motel rooms for less than $50 are few and far between, even when using the discount coupons, the add-ons usually bring it up around $50. Hotel/motel discount coupon book which can be found along the way, give some really good deals. Always worth checking out.

    A budget place for camping is on public lands, such as State and National Forests and State Parks, as well as BLM lands. You can usually get spots in them for less than $20. It worth always to call into an office when you see one, to ask in advance. Maybe you have one near where you live, to get familiar with the services they offer.

    If you are planning this trip with good detailed maps, you will see most of these marked with a little triangle or tent where camping is allowed. In fact, good maps are invaluable during the planning, and essential when on the road. Maps have so much information you will never see within the confines of a little screen.

    At this point in your planning, may I suggest that you spend some time reading through the Saving Money on your trip Forum and the Field Trip Reports Forum In fact, the latter of these is the very place where you can record your trip, and journal your photos.

    Here is another page you may find useful.

    These pages will all give you lots of ideas for your trip, and show how others have coped with issues raised in your post.

    Happy planning.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 11-11-2015 at 02:45 AM. Reason: correction

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default A few thoughts.

    . I was researching and saw $10 per day from enterprise. ]
    This sounds like a 'Headliner' figure to me that you may struggle to find for your dates, so I would research some more by getting a proper quote with basic info like your ages and 15 days in June/July. Renting is a safe option for the reason you mentioned and there is no other option unless one of you own a vehicle. If you do and it is checked and mechanically sound and serviced before you leave and you join the AAA then there is no reason not to use it.

    I have never camped and thus would like to get more honest opinions.
    It can be a great way to get among nature but it's not for everyone. If you are to plan your trip around camping I would suggest you spend a couple of nights locally camping so you get the feel of whether it is for you or not. It's also a good way to discover the things you 'wish you had' ready for the main trip. Here is a link to a list of useful camping items.


    * Also, we would like to do different different things. what i read is Grand Canyon, Bryan Canyon, Zion - all of these are similar - we would like to mix it up and explore more as well. And we are very much open for suggestions. -
    Anyone who said this I would think are not Nature lovers as you are, to be frank these statements are ridiculous. Sure they have red rock and canyons but each has an amazing and unique identity !

    I would like to have a travel + photo journal and would like ideas.
    People do create their own travel blog sites but we do have the Roadtrip field reports section where you can write about your travel and upload photos. Take a look, friends and family will be able to follow your adventures even if they don't want to sign up.

    We both know that both of us will never get a chance like this and this trip is going to be the best part of my life yet so we want to plan properly.
    We all understand what you are saying and planning should be a fun part of the journey as a whole. The truth is that you will have many more opportunities for 'Once in a lifetime road trips' and like all us regular RTA members, you might well catch the bug !!

    Keep researching, you will find endless amounts of info here at RTA, check out the blue footer at the bottom of the page. Once you have a few pins in the map and a clearer idea of the places you really want to visit we can jump in and help you tweak it and make suggestions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default the fine print

    Quote Originally Posted by miliep323 View Post
    * We plan to rent a car (just so that we can share expenses equally) but we are open for other or better options. Our reasoning to rent a car is that the car can be replaced if there is a problem with the car by the rental company. I was researching and saw $10 per day from enterprise.
    While renting a car is a perfectly fine idea, it's going to be a whole lot more expensive than you are planning. I know Enterprise as a weekend rate that's $10 a day, but it only includes 100 miles per day, and doesn't apply for 1 way trips. I'm not sure if that's exactly what you saw, but I can pretty much assure you that renting a car is going to cost you a whole lot more than $10 a day.

    Even in the somewhat unlikely event you actually find a rate that is $10 per day ($20-30 a day is more common), extra fees are going to drive that rate up higher. You'll likely have to pay at least $10 a day in an additional driver fee, if you both want to drive the car. And then the big fee is going to be a one-way drop fee, which could easily cost you about $500. However, if you want to go to California, and you only have 15 days or so available, doing a one-way trip is about the only way to make it work, without just sprinting to the west coast, and then racing back home, stopping at almost nothing in the middle.

    I was reading on this websites from many ppl that we can get National Parks membership for $80 and then each night we stay at national park or camping site it might only cost us $20-$30 per night where as Ramada Inn, Clarion INN, Days INN and such would be $40-$60 per night.
    As Lifey mentioned, $80 for the National Parks Pass does not include camping fees, you'll generally be looking at another $20 or so per night for camping in a National Park. Of course, there are lots of other places you can camp too, but as Dave mentioned, a big roadtrip is not the place to start camping for the first time. If you discover you don't like it, then you'll either end up pushing through despite being miserable, or shelling out a lot more money on motels, neither of which is likely to create good roadtrip memories. Take a couple weekend/overnight trips and see what you think, and then if you really enjoy it, you'll be in good shape.

    * As of right now the timeline of July 2016 is quite open on how many days we can be on the road. Both of us end a project around June and thus July would be a perfect time. As of right now we have not decided on how many days can be 15 or more or less. So if possible we would like to cover more.
    15 days is a nice amount of time for a trip, but that amount of time will also fly by if you're going all the way to the Pacific. It take about a week to drive from coast to coast, and that's at a steady pace, not factoring in much exploration. Sometimes "covering more" actually means you end up seeing less. Be careful in your planning that you don't try to do so much that you end up just checking places off a list, without actually having time to enjoy them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Another comment regarding the camping vs motels: many, if not most, of the cheaper places for tent camping (such as BLM lands, national and state forest campgrounds) do not have shower facilities. My husband and I had a rule-of-thumb: no more than 3 nights in a row camping, then find a motel so that we could clean up in some way besides "over the dish tub".

    I would also agree with the suggestion to take a few weekends to camp out (in the springtime) to see how you like camping. That's how we started - we'd get reservations at a local state park, rent some equipment (the first couple of times), and go for a weekend. After a couple of weekends, we had a good idea of how we'd like it (we did!) and what equipment that we would find essential.

    Checklists -- I have one, but it's for US. Still, it's a start. I'll see if I can find it - if I can, I will post it in the Gear Up! forum. It could be copied, pasted, and then tweaked to meet YOUR needs.


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    OK, Check List for Road Trips is now posted in the Gear Up section.



    Donna

  7. Default

    You are planning a 6,000 mile trip. At a REAL LIFE AVERAGE of 50mph (yes, even if you consistently drive 75 mph) that will take 120 hours. If you drive 12 hours per day, that will be 10 long days on the road with 5 left over for sightseeing, and Vegas. And don't forget that setting up and breaking down camp can take a surprisingly long time. Just a reality check. Is that what you really want to do? Fine if that's what you really want, but there is a lot to be said for ending your trip at Vegas and spending the time elsewhere.

    There are several fantastic and unique National Parks out West, not to mention some State Parks. Rocky Mountain, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon each deserve a full day of your time. For something really memorable, do the NARROWS WALK IN THE VIRGIN RIVER at Zion, if the weather permits.

    If you do go all the way to SF, then I highly recommend that you find a way to include the PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY in your plans. From SF, you could take this astonishing drive down the coast and make your way to Vegas from there.

    One alternative, although it might be too expensive for your budget, is to fly to a destination city such as Vegas, and make a large loop trip from there. You could pack enough camping gear in a couple suitcases and still camp. I did this several years ago. One dedicated suitcase held a three man tent, sleeping bag, stove, and lots of other camping supplies. I got free airfare using my credit card miles and took the money I saved to rent a convertible.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    eastern North Carolina
    Posts
    32

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by miliep323 View Post
    * We plan to rent a car (just so that we can share expenses equally) but we are open for other or better options. Our reasoning to rent a car is that the car can be replaced if there is a problem with the car by the rental company. I was researching and saw $10 per day from enterprise.
    This is not necessarily a bad idea. I haven't rented a car in a while, but $10 a day sounds really cheap. If you're able to snag that price with no strings attached, it might be worth the peace of mind. Our car is newer and is under warranty, so we feel comfortable with it, and it gets good gas mileage, but if your car is older, has issues or isn't under any type of warranty, I certainly understand the desire to rent something reliable. Plus, in some cases, I imagine you can actually save money by renting a smaller car vs. driving an SUV or other gas guzzler.

    I would carefully examine the fine print, though, because something does not sound right.

    Quote Originally Posted by miliep323 View Post
    * We are nature loving ppl. My friend camps all the time and thus we do plan to camp a lot. I was reading on this websites from many ppl that we can get National Parks membership for $80 and then each night we stay at national park or camping site it might only cost us $20-$30 per night where as Ramada Inn, Clarion INN, Days INN and such would be $40-$60 per night. What would you guys suggest. and any tips on camping - I have never camped and thus would like to get more honest opinions.
    I am not a camper and would never suggest camping just because I'm not into it. That doesn't mean it's not a good idea. Plus, you wouldn't want my advice anyway, since I don't know what I'm talking about. ;)

    Try Priceline's Express Deals to find even cheaper rates on hotels, though. They can be cheaper than you think if you aren't picky. We've stayed in cheaper hotels and have overall been fine with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by miliep323 View Post
    * What would you suggest on Meals and snacks? We are trying to keep minimal budget on food - however, we do want to have coffee with the locals and have beer at local pubs and brewery.
    Stock the car before you go. What kind of stuff do you like to eat at home that's easily portable on the road? Granola bars, cereal bars, applesauce cups, fruit cups, pudding cups, etc. are good because they keep well even when they aren't on ice. Bringing a cooler with bottles of water, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks or whatever you and your crew drink.

    Stop by grocery stores and get rotisserie chickens, fried chickens, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by miliep323 View Post
    * We also thought of having a running grocery list (PBJ, bread, Sandwich ingrediants, cereals, instant coffee, ramen noodles, water kettle that we can use at rest areas) and plan to stock up on fresh fruits and snacks (granola, trail mix, some chips and dips)
    Not a bad idea.

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