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  1. Default East to West Coast road trip! (First timer, any/all suggestions are appreciated!!!)

    Hi All,

    My name is Tiffany and I live in NJ, My fiancÚ and I are going to take a pretty ambitious road trip for our honeymoon in April 2017. It's going to be 3 weeks and we booked a campervan with unlimited miles :-). I'm so excited to get planning! We have a pretty long list of places we would love to go check out and I'm not sure if anyone has any suggestions - we're open to anything at this point! The rental is based out of Jersey City so that's where we will start.. We're planning to head west to check out Chicago really quick and then off to Denver > Colorado Springs > Albuquerque (have a friend there to visit for a day or 2) > Grand Canyon > Zion National Park > Pass through Las Vegas (we're not big gambling people) to LA. Then we want to head up the west coast on Rt 1 to Aptos, CA (a friend also lives there) > San Francisco > Redwood National Park > Portland > Seattle > Vancouver > Yellowstone National Park > HOME!

    My big question is if we can actually do this or if it's TOO ambitious.. We do want to enjoy ourselves along the way and I know that we're not going to see or do everything we want but has anyone else done this? It's over 8,000 miles in 22 days.. We're planning on getting a national park pass so we can camp out and the van has a bed, sink, small fridge, 2 burner stove, etc so that should be good for lodging/food. Any help/suggestions is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks! :-)

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

    Default Let's start at the beginning.

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

    To start to plan your trip, go out and get some good detailed maps of the areas you plan to cover, and preferably also a wall map of the country. If you are a member of AAA you can get maps free there. Otherwise you might like to invest in a good road atlas.

    When you have them, and at your leisure (after all, you have a full year to plan) 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 quite a few dots on the map already. As you put these dots on the maps a route will develop. You can then tweak it to make it the most efficient use of your time and miles.

    Considering that one can drive coast to coast in five hard days on the road, three weeks should give you a nice trip, but be careful, as time flies visiting all the wonders the country has to offer.

    Calculate that 600 miles is a hard day (up to 12 hours) on the road. 500 miles is a moire comfortable day's driving, but does not leave time to go sightseeing. 400 Miles leaves room to stop at places you want to see, and so on, assuming you are travelling on interstates. Allow more time for off interstate routes.

    The national parks pass is a good idea, but it only covers entry to the park. Camping is extra.

    Enjoy the planning. It is so much part of the trip.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default "Free" Miles Aren't Free

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    At first blush (and at second read) you're initial plans are way too ambitious. Let's just start with the miles. While it's true that you won't have to pay the RV rental company a per mile charge, it's not true that you can just drive as many miles as you want with no consequences. The first is the cost of gas. If all you did was drive point-to-point to every place on your list, you'd have to drive roughly 8,000 miles depending on exactly where in New Jersey you're starting from. Now consider the fact that your camper van is likely to get only 15 mpg or so and that gas will cost $2/gal or more on average this summer, and you're looking at well over a thousand dollars just to push it down the road. And have you looked into the 'extra' costs involved in a camper rental such as bedding and kitchen equipment? No, they're not included in the base rental coast. And campground fees... And a real motel/hotel every so often for a good bed and shower...

    And even if money is no object, time is. You say you have three weeks. But you will need a minimum of about 16 days just to drive your itinerary. Remember camper vans don't accelerate as quickly as you might be used to and their high profile increases wind resistance leading to lower top speeds and the aforementioned lousy gas mileage. Add in the fact that even with a self-contained home on wheels you'll be spending a fair bit of time every evening driving to a camp site and getting set up, and another fair bit of time every morning breaking camp and getting back to the highway. At best, with your current plans, you might have three or four days worth of time to spread out amongst all of your various friends and attractions.

    I love your enthusiasm, but I would hate to see your first major RoadTrip, especially when it's your honeymoon, dashed upon the rocks of easily foreseeable reality.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Making memories.

    Normally we would recommend you reverse the order of your trip so you head south down the coast which puts the ocean and scenic pull outs on your side of the road. However in tis case if Yellowstone is a 'must see' for you it's probably a case of the later you arrive the better. If you are travelling early April then it still might be too soon as Spring comes late to the park and a lot of the roads are not open until mid-May. Check out the Yellowstone site for details.

    I would also agree with Buck that 8000 miles plus in 3 weeks is too much despite the fact it is doable on paper. There is just so much to see and you will just end up rushing through. Personally [given the time of year] I would head through Colorado and Utah to the California coast and back through Arizona etc and leave Yellowstone, Seattle etc for an Anniversary trip further down the line. Be warned though, even that will be a packed trip, but at least you will have time to stop and savour some moments to remember at this special time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by trussell728 View Post
    My big question is if we can actually do this or if it's TOO ambitious.. We do want to enjoy ourselves along the way and I know that we're not going to see or do everything we want but has anyone else done this? It's over 8,000 miles in 22 days..
    As others have mentioned, yes this is way too ambitious. I wouldn't even consider doing the trip you laid out without having at least 5-6 weeks. There are two big problem with trying to do everything. First, it's impossible. You could have 3 years for this trip and not see everything you could see along this route. More importantly, and more practically in this case, if you try to see everything, you often end up seeing nothing! All you'l end up having time to do is race from place to place, and you'll have to be so focused on staying on schedule that you won't have time to enjoy anything.

    In other words, there is a huge difference between seeing everything, and checking off places from a list so you can say you've been there.

    We're planning on getting a national park pass so we can camp out and the van has a bed, sink, small fridge, 2 burner stove, etc so that should be good for lodging/food. Any help/suggestions is greatly appreciated!
    As Lifey mentioned, a National Parks pass only covers entry fees, it does not include extra money for campsites - and no, you can not just park your van somewhere in the middle of a National Park and spend the night there. Camping fees in the National Parks are typically $20-25.

    Also keep in mind, many of the places you want to visit are at high elevation, and it will be cold overnight. I'm actually in Colorado right now, and while temperatures during the day have been fantastic - in the 50's and 60's, overnight temps have been dropping into the 20s, and I've seen snow! Campervans provide very little insulation, so you will need sold cold weather camping gear to be comfortable overnight in many locations on an April trip.

    You can absolutely have a great honeymoon roadtrip, but you will need to rework your plans quite a bit.

  6. Default

    Lifey - Good idea with the wall map of the country, time to invest in a big one! I totally didn't even realize the park pass doesn't cover camping, thank you for the heads up. I appreciate the tips!

    I think everyone else is right when it comes to the trip being a "little much". We want to check out the scenery and not rush around and I just don't see that happening. As for the campervan, we made sure to go with a company that has no hidden fees - and they mean it. I have a friend who has rented from them before and it was true. They are called "Escape Campervans" (check it out, they are so cool!) :-).

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

    Default A good reputation.

    Quote Originally Posted by trussell728 View Post
    They are called "Escape Campervans" (check it out, they are so cool!) :-).
    We have heard good reports on these forums about them. But they do not have plumbing, so you will need to pay for a campground each night for shower and toilet facilities.

    Lifey.

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