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  1. Default 5000 mile Road Trip (TN to WA)

    Me and a good buddy of mine are planning to have a 5000 mile road trip from Tennessee to Washington to meet a mutual friend. We've done most of the math, but we know road trips can be unexpected and surprise you, so I'm here to ask for pointers. The car we'll be driving is a 2001 Ford Taurus. It gets a good 35 mpg highway, so we've set aside roughly $500 for gas. But what other expenses would we need to account for? Where do we stay on the road that has good security so we don't get robbed or the car doesn't get stolen? We will be staying with our friend for a week or two before we drive the other 2500 miles back to Tennessee. What should we expect, as this is both of our first road trip? We plan on going late June through to early-mid July.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Other expenses - food and lodging. Meals are going to cost pretty much the same as what you are used to at home, you can save by staying at hotels that have a free breakfast of some sort and packing a cooler with lunch foods and snacks. You can restock it and get ice along the way. I generally have dinner at moderately priced restaurants near the hotels - think Denny's or similar. Allow $75 a night for hotels. Also have a contingency fund or a credit card with plenty of room on it in case you need to get repairs to the car. Have it serviced and thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic before leaving.

    If this is a 2500 mile trip each way, plan on at least 4, if not 5 nights on the road each way. Do not try to drive well into the night - get an early start in the morning and get off the road in time for a decent dinner and good night's sleep. You have to look at a multi-day drive as work. If you stay in chain hotels at Interstate exits, not inside large cities (generally more expensive and difficult to get to and out of), you should be safe. Look for exits that have truck stops and evidence of plenty of activity. Trust your instincts - if something doesn't seem or feel right, then it probably isn't. If the hotel has several large trucks in the lot, it's probably safe and affordable - if it wasn't, the professional drivers wouldn't stay there.

    If you have a smartphone, I'd recommend you get the hotels.com and Gas Buddy apps. You can research location and prices for hotels and gas stations.

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

    Default Travelling on a budget.

    To add to all the advice above....

    When checking into a hotel, ask to see the room before committing. Make sure that it has a lock which can not be opened from the outside, such as the chain lock or the bolt lock, and check that the smoke detector has not been disabled.

    For more budget ways to travel check out this thread.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    I think your gas budget might be a little thin. You might drive further than you've calculated and the vehicle might not get that high mileage due to headwinds or driving 80mph where legal.

    Have access to at least $1000 for emergency repairs. Even if the repair is inexpensive the towing bill can be pretty big from some places.

    Do a preflight on the vehicle every day. Finding problems before setting out for the day is the cheapest most convenient time to do so. Be sure and check the oil dipstick as oil consumption rates at interstate cruise can be much higher than during around town driving. (I know a gal who destroyed a motorcycle engine because of not checking during a road trip because she "knew" that it didn't use oil around town.)

    Verify the spare tire is good and properly inflated. Without a good spare what should be an inconvenience can turn into way too much adventure.

    Carry lots of water in case of stranding. Hanging out for an hour waiting for a tow isn't unreasonable and an hour in 100 degree sunshine is a LONG time to go without water.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Even if the repair is inexpensive the towing bill can be pretty big from some places.
    With a 2001 vehicle, I'd highly recommend an emergency road service plan of some type. If you have State Farm insurance, check with them regarding their towing plan. Another thought is a AAA membership, AAA Plus if you can since it will tow you a little further than their standard plan. You'll also get free maps and tour books as part of the membership - all you have to do is ask.

    Make sure that you do what you can to keep your belongings safe. Be sure to lock up your car when you leave it, unless one of you is in it. Put valuables out of sight -- no laptops, smart phones laying around inside the car in view of the world. Your car itself is probably the least of your worries to be stolen; what's inside might be more of interest to the average thief.


    Donna

  6. Default

    Thank you all so much for your advice. There are many things in this thread I didn't even think about, so we'll have to set aside a bit more money, but that shouldn't be too big a problem. As for theft, I'm very paranoid about my belongings being stolen, would it be safe just to haul them into the hotel room with me for the night?
    Also, we have a contingency plan worked out for if we need it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default You'll be fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by gordothefunnyman View Post
    There are many things in this thread I didn't even think about......
    These are the things you learn as time goes on. Keep a note pad handy to add more things, as you think of them along the way.... or have to go out and buy them.

    As for theft, I'm very paranoid about my belongings being stolen, would it be safe just to haul them into the hotel room with me for the night?
    Stop worrying. In all my decades on the road, both in the US and other parts of the world, I have never had anything stolen. Lost yes! Stolen No! Be sure to practice the same security as you do at home. Lock doors, lock the car, put things out of sight, and don't tell strangers what you have or persoinal matters.

    If you want to take everything into the hotel each night, that's fine, but you might get quite sick of it. Just don't leave valuables in the car.

    If you are going to be using a credit card, don't let it out of your sight. If a restaurant wants to take it to the back room to process, just tell them you'd like to come. I always tell them I do not let my credit card out of miy sight. I have never been refused.

    Lifey

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