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  1. Default 4 to 6 week trip itinerary

    We are hoping to take 4 to 6 weeks in the summer of 2017 with our children who will be 9 and 11 at the time. I'd like to start and end in the Seattle area and hit Montana, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, lakeside area of Michigan, the Tri-State area, DC, Carolina's, Georgia, Tennesee, Kentucky, and Grand Canyon. I think we will skip most of New England for this trip unless we can realistically hit it in this time frame. Can anyone suggest a route? I'm having a hard time finding good information to get started planning. Also, do you think about $100/day is reasonable? I'm planning on mostly camping.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Easy to Impossible

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Some of your questions are pretty easy to answer; some are nigh onto impossible. Let's start with the nigh onto impossible ones first. We can't possibly plot out a full route for you. What we can do is give you some pointers on how you'd go about it. Get a good wall-sized road map of the US and put it somewhere everyone can have access to it. Start marking on it, with sticky notes or markers, places you'd like to see. At first, don't worry about whether those places are close to each other or make sense as part of a larger trip. Just mark the places any of you would like to include on this trip. Pretty soon, and absolutely with some significant input from the kids, a pattern will start to emerge. Then you can start 'connecting the dots' and looking for smaller venues along those connecting roads that you hadn't thought of but which you also might enjoy. I'd say you should keep the overall driving length to between 6,000 and 8,000 miles, maybe less. Trying to do more will just mean that you'll be spending too much time driving and not enough enjoying the places you're getting to.

    Now the easier questions: I really don't think that $100/day is going to be sufficient. You will blow through that on just food and fuel most days. Then there are entrance fees, camping fees, souvenirs, tolls, and those inevitable but unexpected 'other' expenses. Really, I'd plan on more in the $150-200/day range. One place to economize a bit is to get an annual pass at the first national park or monument you come to. That will cost $80 but will be good for you and everyone with you to get into all parks and monuments in the national system, Unfortunately, it doesn't cover the camping fees, concession fees such as parking where it's charged for (e.g. Mount Rushmore), or other such 'extra' costs. But it does cover the 'cost' (free) of the Junior Ranger Program at each park, a set of activities for the kids to do to help them learn more about each park and to earn some nice souvenirs. Inquire at the Ranger Station or Visitors Center at each park.

    Camping in National Parks is by a reservation system that opens early in the year (I believe) and fills up rapidly. Those are your best options if you want to truly experience the park, but are hard to come by. People do cancel, so keep trying. More plentiful and generally cheaper options are generally found in state parks, national forests, and in the west - BLM lands. Still, these generally aren't free or as low cost as you might like, but at the lower end of the price scale, look into distributed or dispersed camping in the national forests. It's primitive, basically bushwhacking, but it does really get you back to nature.

    But the best thing to do at this point is just start considering possibilities and considering the consequences of decisions to include or exclude certain attractions. As your own best laid plans start to take shape, check back in with us for refining tips and suggestions. But the best possible trip you can have with your family is the one you design for yourselves.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Further along.

    Following on from Buck's advice, when you have the map, and the major spots you want to hit, it might be of benefit to get some good detailed maps of the States you plan to hit. If these are not available locally, you could get a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. Good maps have a wealth of information for things to see and do along any route, natural, historical and touristy.

    Good maps are also available from AAA (free to members). They are invaluable during the planning stage, and essential when on the road.

    You might also like to encourage the children to keep a journal of the trip (and the planning) in which they could record the best thng that day, including their part in the planning process. These are wonderful to look back on in years to come. That also works best if you do so as well.

    When I am on the road for a long trip, I typically average 1000 miles per week. I find that a comfortable pace.

    Enjoy the planning.


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