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  1. Default Month-long road trip!

    Hi there,

    Myself and three others (one from the UK like me and 2 from Missouri) will be embarking on a road trip this summer and I was hoping for some advice or things to see.

    Our rough route is St Louis, MO > Boulder, CO, Somewhere in Utah as a rest stop > Sequoia, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Las Vagas, NV > Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon) > Santa Fe, NM, Austin, TX > New Orleans, LA, then something before returning to MO, possibly Memphis, TN.

    If anyone has any must-dos for those places that would be great. We're looking to stay 2 or 3 nights in each location, staying with the American's family or friends in St Louis, Boulder, Flagstaff and Austin to cut costs. Other than that, I am looking to take roughly $3000 for gas, accommodation and general spending. We will split costs between the 4 of us, is this an appropriate amount for me?

    Any help would be great, I can't wait to see this beautiful country! Thanks,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Your trip sounds doable and fun, but I am concerned about your budget. Does that include car rental for a month, or are you looking to use one of your friend's vehicles? Renting a sedan for a month is likely to cost around $800-1000....more if any of you are between 21 and 25 years old.


  3. Default

    Hi Donna, thanks for replying!

    I should have mentioned, we are using my American friend's car so no need to hire one!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    OK, that's a little better. A couple of things to help you plan finances:

    A room for two, two beds, will run you about $70/night. You might get a less expensive place here and there, but other places may run you more (around the touristy places).

    Figure out your total mileage on this trip by using electronics. Then add 20-25% more for sightseeing. Get your friend's car's miles-per-gallon for combination highway-in town driving, figure on $3/gallon average price (it may be lower), and use the Fuel Cost Calculator below to get your actual fuel cost.

    Food will be what you make it. You can get overnight that will include a continental breakfast. Carry lunch stuff in a cooler in the car. Carry drinks, especially water, in the car, so that you are not reliant on convenience stores (which are notoriously expensive for things). Same with snacks. Buy food and drinks at a local grocery store, Walmart or Target. A meal out can be something cheap like fast food (not necessarily healthy) or a sit-down place.

    You will need to budget for ice if you carry your own food and drink - $1-$3/day is what we paid in 2014. Most motels DO mind if you try to fill your cooler from their ice machine. So plan to buy ice.


  5. Default

    That's great, thank you very much! We are planning on filling a cooler for the long drives so we don't have to stop and eat at expensive places along the way. Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I hope you aren't planning on driving from St. Louis to Boulder in 1 day - this is a 2 day drive. You need to limit each day to 600 miles or less for safety reasons.

  7. Default

    We're staying in Kansas City the first night and going from there to Boulder in a day. All 4 of us are driving so it shoulder be 2.5 hours each at the most

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Further Comments

    Your budget is actually pretty healthy. Even if the $3000 is for all four of you rather than just your individual contribution, the availability of a 'free' car (you are going to reimburse your friend for the roughly 6,000 mile of wear-and-tear you're going to put on it, no?) and 'free' lodging in a number of places will help stretch your available dollars a long way. Lifey has given you some of the best cost-saving advice, but you can find some more suggestions here. One other thing you can do is to make your routing a bit more efficient by slotting Las Vegas in between 'somewhere in Utah' and Sequoia rather than later in the trip. Yet another is to purchase an America the Beautiful annual parks pass ($80) that will get you and everyone in your car into all national parks and monuments for a year. You can buy that at the first park you come to that charges an entrance fee.

    As for other things to include that are on or close to your route, you don't mention it but Rocky Mountain National Park is just outside Boulder, and in Estes Park there's the Stanley Hotel which was the inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining. The drive westward through Colorado and Utah on I-70 is one of the most scenic in America, so plan on taking time for at least some photo-op stops. Then in southern Utah, you will be within visiting distance of a number of great national parks including Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. After Las Vegas you can easily include Death Valley before hooking around the southern end of the Sierra Nevada to get up to Sequoia National Park.

    Next up would be your return route from L.A. to St. Louis where you could include and Mojave National Preserve on your way to the Flagstaff area. This is also a place where you might want to consider adding a day due to the number of great sites around town including Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, and Wupatki National Monuments, as well as Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered), the Museum of Northern Arizona (archeology and anthropology), and Oak Creek Canyon. Continuing eastward from there, you'll pass through Petrified Forest National Park and by Petroglyph National Monument on your way to Santa Fe. Then as you head down to Austin, there are a couple of sites of 'historic' note: the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock and the LBJ Ranch outside Fredericksburg. And then the Space Center in Houston and the Creole Nature Trail as you head on over to New Orleans. Finally, as you return to St. Louis, consider the Blues Highway up to Natchez, the Natchez Trace Parkway from there to Tupelo, and US-78 to Memphis.

    Are you sure a month will be enough?

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-19-2016 at 03:10 PM. Reason: Route # Correction

  9. Default

    I'm very glad to hear that the budget is sufficient, as that was my biggest worry!

    That is an amazingly comprehensive list of National Parks and things I hadn't considered so am very grateful for you taking time to include links etc, I'll be sure to look at every single one.

    Going to Vegas before Cali is something we toyed with so may do that as it does make sense. I'll also look into the National Parks pass as we're all keen to see as much of the country's beautiful parks as we can!

    A month may be tight but it's all us English folks can manage due to work. But we'll make it work.

    Thanks again for your advice AZBuck, it's very kind and I really appreciate it!

  10. Default Road Trip Budget


    A quick bit about me: I am from England and I am heading over in June for a road trip with my other half who is from England and our two friends from Missouri.

    I am now just 8 weeks from my road trip in the US. My route is as follows: St Louis MO > Memphis TN > Amarillo TX > Santa Fe NM > Flagstaff AZ > Las Vegas NV > Los Angeles CA > Santa Cruz CA > San Francisco CA > Napa CA > Yosemite CA > Richfield UT > Boulder CO > Springfield MO.

    We have a month for our trip and have booked the hotels, roughly 2 or 3 nights in each place. We have our car sorted, my friend in the US has kindly allowed us to use her car, so we don't have to worry about hire costs. Ignoring the cost of hotels, as I have already budgeted for that, I am looking for a ballpark figure for spending money.

    Our route planner says that this is roughly 5300 miles, and we will be splitting gas 4 ways for the most part. For days when we are on the road we will have a cooler full of food and water, but will eat out in the towns and cities we visit, although not every meal. We will be going out in most places to check out the nightlife but won't do anything really expensive that hasn't already been planned.

    If anyone has done a route similar or been on the road for that long (1 month), it would be great to know roughly how much money you took, excluding hire car and hotel costs.

    As I live in the UK I'm finding it tough to get an idea of how much things cost so any help would be great.



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