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  1. #1
    Thomas. Guest

    Default High School Road Trip HELP PLEAAASE

    Okay, here's the deal. My friends and I are planning on doing a massive roadtrip out west right after we graduate because--well quite simply, how awesome would that be.

    Let me first detail you on our proposed trip and then I'll ask my questions, which are many.

    We live in Cincinnati Ohio, and so here we go: up through Indiana and Illinois, through Iowa and up to South Dakota, Mt. Rush, Badlands, Black Hills, into Wyoming and up to Yellowstone, up north through Montana to Glacier Ntl. Park, across Washington to Seattle and then make the way towards the PCH, maybe travelling past Mt. St. Helens and the likes, down the pacific coast highway to San Francisco, and then east to Lake Tahoe, through Nevada, through Salt Lake City Utah, through Colorado, Aspen, etc, then we'll be so sick of eachother by then we'll head straight east through Kansas and Missouri as quickly as possible.

    There are endless things for us to see, too many really, so that's not a problem. Using a string on a wall map in my room I estimated this trip to be about 5400 miles.

    And now the questions.

    It's going to be 5 people in one car. We're planning on camping as much as possible to save money. The car we use might be a hybrid with a navigation system, which would be great, but we dont know.

    First off, any basic advice?
    We're planning on doing a lot of camping and a lot of staying with friends and family--between 5 people there are a lot of people you can force yourselves on. How much would food cost if we're just eating as cheaply as possible? We're all 18, but not 21, so what happens if our car completely dies? I have AAA membership... How long would this take? We were thinking about three weeks, with days sort of following a 2 days of just 2 hours per day driving followed by a day of 10 hours of driving. That sort of pattern. How much do camp sites cost to stay in? Are there national park campsites that can be free using a national parks pass? How exactly does that pass work? Its worth it right? There are endless questions--we just need somewhere to start and I'm hoping thats where some people in this forum come in.

    Thank you so much!

  2. Default Your questions

    Food: Asking how much food will cost is like asking how much a car will cost... it depends on what and how you eat. If you want to subsist on Ramen noodles, you could eat on less than $5 per day. If you want to eat decent food, prepared yourself, you can probably get by on $10-$15 per day. You can spend more than that all the way up to $50 per meal in gourmet restaurants! Eating all your meals in restaurants typically runs $20 to $30 per day if you don't get extravagant. This is all per person, of course, although money can be saved if you share the expenses of preparing a meal that includes enough for all -- things like spaghetti, stew, chili, etc.

    I figure your mileage to be (for the route you stated) more like 6400 -- which at highway speed can be driven in 90-100 hours. How many days that translates to is up to you and what you stop to see along the way.

    If your car dies? You have to push it back home... ;) Obviously, you need to have repair and maintenance funds set aside for your trip -- unless you have a credit card you can use for repairs. Don't forget that on a 5000+ mile trip there will be an oil change or two to arrange, plus whatever service you have done to make sure the vehicle is roadworthy before you leave.

    National Parks passes do NOT cover camping sites, unfortunately. Camping sites are an added expense, the pass just gets you in the gate MOST places (the person who buys it has to be in the car to use it -- you cannot use someone else's, in other words). Yes, they are worth it if you plan to visit lots of National Parks and Monuments. They're about $50. A campsite can range from $6 or $8 in a National Forest campground, to $15-$20 or more in the National Parks. Also, in the busier parks in summer season, it is often hard to find a place if you haven't reserved ahead of time. But, you can find free places to camp (undeveloped) in National Forest lands (this is called "dispersed" camping, and you can ask at the district ranger stations where you can find areas to camp for free), but you'll need to be self-contained -- carrying everything you need at the site. This is not a problem if all you want to do is sleep -- you can use truck stop or other roadside business facilities for cleaning up, showering, etc.

  3. #3
    yawndave Guest


    I think you're biting off a bit much for a 3-week trip. With all of the places you want to see, there won't be a lot of time for you to stop and catch things along the way that happen to interest you. If you cut that list down by 1/2, you'll allow yourselves the option of a sidetrip here and there. As far a finances go...with that many people, I'd suggest that you all contribute a set amount to a "group expense pot" covering gas, food, lodging/camping, etc...and that will give you your basic budget. Have you travelled as a group before? You might want to do a weekend camping trip together to sort out the logistics of packing and what equipment you'll use bringing 2 or three of some items, and there are some things you'd better not forget! Too much stuff to discuss in a single post...perhaps you could ask a few more specific questions?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default too cramped!

    Not just the mileage, but the CAR! 5 people in a hybrid? For 3 weeks?

    You will be SO on each other's nerves that you will hate each other by the end of the trip. Doesn't any of you have a MINI-VAN or something like that to spread out a bit? If you are switching on/off drivers - the one who just drove may want to stretch out a bit and rest. Impossible if cramped into a car.

    Luggage alone for 5 will not fit. You'll have to bring a TENT!, cooler for some fresh food & snacks, water jugs, car booster set, spare tire, jack, emergency flares, that sort of thing too.

    You HAVE to cut your adventure in half. You will not be able to hike or stop in any of the places if you are trying to do it all in just 3 weeks. It is farther than you think! Some are mountain areas in the national parks with twisty slow roads of 10-20 miles per hour ... for hours.

    Desert driving - be sure to have lots of drinking water for yourselves, and keep the vehicle gas tank filled. You may not be able to find a filling station in some places for 50 - 100 miles.

    The national park pass is a must. As the previous poster mentioned, campgrounds are an extra $15 - $20 per night. Many are "reservations" but many are also "first come, first serve". That means you have to drive straight to the campground when you arrive and "claim" your spot. Then you can drive on out to tour the park and return to your spot at night.

    Showers cost an extra $2.00 or more (depending how long!).

    I would emphasize the Southern Utah and Arizona national parks (Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, etc.)


    Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota (Mesa Verde, the sand dunes, the drive from DURANGO to OURAY on the "million dollar highway" - a jeep ride for a day in Ouray with "Switzerland of America", Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, "Beartooth Highway" out of Yellowstone, to CODY, to DEVIL's TOWER near Sundance, to DEADWOOD & LEAD (see a "gunfight"), to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mammoth Site, Custer State Park, and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

    Either of these will be very fun, spectacular scenery, and lots to do & see.

    I'm sure your parents will help with advice about safety & food & your route too.

    Also they'll know what mileage your vehicle gets. You can then figure out how much money (figure on the HIGHEST price possible for gas) is needed for fuel, based on perhaps 6,000 miles.

    There are HOSTELS in some of the bigger cities also which is a possibility if necessary. They can be $20 - $40 per person.

    Be sure to have emergency money in case you run into bad weather and need to get a motel a night or two.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default money

    I would say each person needs to bring their own money for food, showers, camping, their share of the gas money, and their own "emergency" money too.

    I always take an extra $500 more than I think I'll need, OR a credit card just for emergencies.

    You can get more for your money sometimes at a Denny's, Cracker Barrel, or that type of place than at a McDonalds or Burger King. If you eat one good square meal a day (or every other day), you can get by. Stop at grocery stores in the cities along the way to pick up some fresh fruit that will last a day or two, perhaps even some deli meat and a drinking container of milk or juice. It's cheaper that way.

    We'll be better able to give you dollar figures once we know for sure where all you are going. You're going to have to revise your itinerary first.

  6. #6
    Thomas. Guest


    well where exactly should we cut down do you think? we definitely want to take the northwest route, and seattle is almost for sure required in our trip, so what's your advice with seattle as like a final destination maybe?

    and no, sadly, ever so sadly, none of us haev a minivan, all would be solved if that was the case. I have a volvo wagon in fantastic shape, but fantastic shape at 240,000 miles is sort of sketchy...also, the hybrid is a new prius, so yeah, luggage is a problem, we were thinking...well we werent, but as far as physical room for people its actually very roomy, we have someone who's 6'8 coming and he fits comfortably even in the back

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default ok - did some work for you

    Here's a very aggressive itinerary - Based on every day leaving 7:00 a.m.

    Day 1 - Cincinatti straight through to SIOUX FALLS, SD (I-74, I-80, & up. Just overnight stop - 13 hrs 870 miles)

    Day 2 - Sioux Falls to BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SD (I-90 - 4 hrs).

    Drive the loop through Badlands that brings you out at WALL, SD back on I-90. (couple hours to drive through)

    Stop at Wall Drug for "free glass of water" and just for a touristy stop.

    If you've started your day at 7:00, this should put you around 2:00 p.m. ....

    Continue on to - these are all very very close in the same area - (only 1-1/2 hours from Wall, SD)


    CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL (a work in progress - will be bigger than Rushmore - very interesting)


    CUSTER STATE PARK (2-3 hrs drive through - amongst the buffalo!)

    Day 3 - Finish the above.

    Day 4 - Drive to LEAD AND DEADWOOD, SD (about 1-1/2 hrs from Mt Rushmore). Very interesting "old west" towns - see a free "re-enactment street gunfight"! Also the graves of Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill are at the cemetery in Deadwood!

    Day 5 - to CODY, WY (6-1/2 hrs drive) Buffalo Bill Historical Center is very interesting huge museum. Cost is about $14 each though.

    Stop here to see the town & rest up.

    Day 6 - to YELLOWSTONE National Park (2 hrs). Take the "Chief Joseph Highway" very scenic.

    Day 7, 8, 9 - at YELLOWSTONE & GRAND TETON National Parks, & drive into JACKSON to see the town.

    This is a very huge area and it will take that long to see it all, plus wait for the timing to see some geysers go off. (wait for "Grand" geyser -- it's worth it!)

    Day 10 - Yellowstone to GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Montana. (8 hrs)

    Day 11 - at GLACIER

    Day 12 - to SEATTLE, WA (12-13 hrs)

    Day 14 - Seattle

    Day 15 - leave Seattle 11 a.m. to MT ST HELENS, WA (3 hrs)
    (spend 3 hours driving through)

    Overnight somewhere around here (PORTLAND, OR)

    Day 16 - to LAKE TAHOE (12-13 hrs)

    Day 17 - leave mid-afternoon to SALT LAKE CITY (8 hrs)

    Day 18 - see SALT LAKE CITY, UT

    Day 19 - to ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CO (6 hrs)

    Day 20 - at Rocky Mountain Nat'l Pk (coming out on east side at "Estes Park")

    Day 21 & 22 - drive home (20 hrs drive from Rocky Mtn Nat'l Pk)

  8. #8
    Thomas. Guest


    what if we wanted to include a drive down the pacific coast highway to san francisco, then east--what sort of extension would that add to our trip? the three week mark is just a random alotted amount sort of--we wouldnt want to be gone for a month and a half or something, but we could extend it a bit--how much would that extend it? pretty much the original itinerary?

    and also -- my friends mom is the one who bought the national parks pass, so is this still legit for us? or no?

  9. Default Who signed it?

    The person whose name appears on the card has to be in the vehicle. If she didn't sign it, she can give it to you and YOU can sign it -- making it yours. Bob

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default extra time

    If you insist on seeing it all, add AT LEAST a week to your trip, preferably two weeks.

    Then go back to your original plan and figure it out on a map or with a "road trip planner" found on the internet. We can then help you more once you post your itinerary.

    There are many many previous posts about people who did this with their friends and they were ready to kill each other by the end of it.


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