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  1. Default Jersey shore to SF, CA Mid Jan Trip Advice

    Hello all,

    I am new to this forum and am seeking advice regarding a road trip I am hoping to plan. On January 18, 2018, I am starting graduate school in SF. I currently live at the Jersey Shore and am hoping to make the cross-country road-trip to SF/San Jose region.

    I am hoping to leave possibly the 6/7th of January and would like to be there either by Jan 12th or the 15th of January. I have a friend who is road tripping with her family from the same area and stopping in Denver, Colorado. So I could follow them and have my bf and another friend come with me or my boyfriend and another friend could go the south-west route.


    I have never road-tripped before and my car is a 1998 Honda Accord with 74,000 miles on it.

    Is it better to take take the Northern route through or the south western route given the time frame? I am worried about weather conditions.

    My bf who is currently living in San Jose will also be turning 25 during this trip on 1/12 so I would like to do something special. Any idea for a cool place to celebrate the 25th birthday during this trip?

    Important Questions I have
    1. Which route is best (I have been to parts of Tx, NM, and AZ before) but my bf and friend haven't.
    2. Average amount of gas
    3. General and cheapest to spend on the trip (My budget is limited. Probably less than 2,000)
    4. Tips for safety in driving and general areas
    5. Do i need snow tires
    6. General amount of hours to drive per day
    7. Cheap places to stay (no need for luxury... just don't want to be robbed or killed)
    8. Best cities to visit and places to stay or attractions to see (i enjoy nature, hiking, parks, recreational activities).
    9. Best types of food to pack.
    10. Necessary supplies

    I am a triple-A member so I have that.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default lots of good options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You have a 20 year old car that's got less than 75,000 miles on it? That's impressive! It is also a case where you may be at risk of parts wearing out from age, rather than use so a good check over by a mechanic would be a good idea before you leave. Tires could be one particular spot where that would be a concern. While you don't need snow tires, you should have good all-season tires, and most tire companies recommend replacing them after 6-10 years, even if the tread hasn't worn down.

    For route, you really have your choice. You can (very generally) choose to follow I-40, I-70, or I-80. All 3 are similar in distance, about 3000 miles, which should take you 5-6 days in good conditions, but having an extra day or two to wait out a storm would be helpful - so you look like you're in good shape there. Any of the routes could see winter weather, so there isn't an option that is better or worse by itself, but you could look at the forecasts just before you leave and try to anticipate which looks like it will have the best weather.

    Otherwise, you can simply pick the route that looks the most interesting. If you want to follow your friend to Denver, that's certainly fine. If you want to avoid, TX and NM because you've been there before, then you could go north - or if you'd like to revisit those places, then you can do that too. There will be lots of parks and similar opportunities no matter which way you go, but that certainly could play a role in the route you pick.

    For a birthday spot? It seems like that would be somewhere near the end of your trip, so perhaps Vegas would be of interest? Otherwise, if you want to stick to that same nature idea, the Grand Canyon, or really any of the National Parks in Utah, Nevada, or California could potentially work.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    5. Do i need snow tires
    6. General amount of hours to drive per day
    7. Cheap places to stay (no need for luxury... just don't want to be robbed or killed)
    8. Best cities to visit and places to stay or attractions to see (i enjoy nature, hiking, parks, recreational activities).
    You don't really need snow tyres, if you see snow laid down you should really just pull off somewhere safe and rest up until the crews have cleared it and the storm has passed.

    You should never drive beyond your comfort levels but for safety you should not be on the road for more than 10 hours a day. With basic stops along the way that will equate to around 550 miles.

    You can usually find reasonably priced lodgings just off the Interstate. City centres and National parks etc demand higher prices.

    For 'best' places you will have to see what appeals to you when you have chosen your route but taking detours into City's and parks is time consuming so allow for that.

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

    Default Lots of answers for you!

    1. Which route is best (I have been to parts of Tx, NM, and AZ before) but my bf and friend haven't.
    Since you are traveling in the winter, I would really check the weather before you leave and decide then.

    2. Average amount of gas
    We have a fuel use calculator, how much you'll spend on fuel, on this site. What I generally do, before a trip, is take my Gas Buddy app (smartphone) and key in some spots where we might fuel up, and see what it costs per gallon. I look for an average. If your car uses regular unleaded fuel, you can probably use $2.50/gallon as an average to figure out your fuel costs in January.

    3. General and cheapest to spend on the trip (My budget is limited. Probably less than 2,000)
    What you spend depends on what you look for. You can pick up cheap motels for about $50-60/night, in rural areas, but you could spend 4-5x that with a higher priced brand or in city centers, as mentioned earlier. I just did a mid-February price check for my daughter and found that to be true.

    For food -- most places offer breakfast these days. Now, that can range from Danish, donuts, coffee and juice, to cereals, even steam trays of eggs-bacon-sausage and a waffle maker. The lower end prices offer less, usually. Carry a cooler in your car with lunch fixings, snacks, and beverages bought at the grocery stores rather than going out for lunch, buying snacks & drinks at convenience stores where they're more expensive. Take yourself out for dinner. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it's not very healthy to do fast food all the time.

    4. Tips for safety in driving and general areas
    Use the same instincts you use at home, and the same driving safety. Use rest areas for searching out cheap gas with your cell phone, don't try to look on your phone while you're tooling down the highway. If the rest area is deserted, move on and use a truck stop/travel center instead. (Some will even offer free WiFi.)

    BTW, watch out for free wifi in public places, even motels. These aren't places to access your bank account online.

    5. Do i need snow tires
    6. General amount of hours to drive per day
    All-weather tires would be great but not needed in SF. If you have to replace your tires anyway because of age or wear, then get the all-weathers. I would be on the road no more than 10 hours a day. It's like a work day! That averages out to 500-550 miles.

    7. Cheap places to stay (no need for luxury... just don't want to be robbed or killed)
    When I was just helping my daughter plan her moving trip, we are using the Internet a lot for this purpose. She is looking for lower-cost places as well. Read Google and TripAdvisor reviews before making any tentative reservations. When you make a reservation, find out what their cancellation policy is, and specifically ask "if I reserve with you then I get held up earlier in the trip by weather, can I cancel or reschedule without penalty?" If they say Yes, be sure to get the name of the person you spoke with!

    9. Best types of food to pack.
    I always pack cheese sticks, veggies and fruits that aren't as easy to bruise, nuts, chips for my husband, soft drinks. From experience, don't try to pack bananas -- they bruise so easily!

    10. Necessary supplies
    Car safety kit. Your phone charger, including the kind to charge in your car. MAPS and ATLAS.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 11-20-2017 at 09:50 AM. Reason: Quote problem

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