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  1. #1

    Default 2 Month Cross Country Trip

    Looking to plan a trip for myself and a few friends for this summer (after high school graduation). We will probably have around two months for the trip, likely June and July and possibly the late part of May or the early part of August.

    This is in very early planning stages right now, but here is a list of what we definitely want to see, more or less in order travel-wise:

    (Leaving from Atlanta)
    Memphis
    New Orleans
    Austin
    Rocky Mtns
    Grand Canyon
    Zion NP
    Las Vegas
    Yosemite
    Redwood Forests
    San Francisco
    Stanford / Palo Alto / Silicon Valley
    Crater Lake NP
    Portland
    Seattle
    Islands off of Washington State (meeting a family friend who lives out there)
    Vancouver
    Yellowstone?
    Chicago
    Toronto
    Boston
    New York
    Washington DC
    Back to Atlanta

    So it's sort of a circle / square around the country.

    Questions:
    Is this doable in two months, and about how rushed would we have to be?

    Assuming we lived frugally, used our own car, etc. about how much would this cost per person?

    Are there any must-see attractions in the areas I've mentioned?

    I have some areas that are pretty empty - across Texas and Oklahoma and also from Vancouver to Chicago. Anything in these stretches that might be worthy of notice?

    I appreciate everyone's responses - I'm sure I'll be back with more questions in the future. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It Depends on your definition

    Quote Originally Posted by JimiHendrix
    Looking to plan a trip for myself and a few friends for this summer (after high school graduation). We will probably have around two months for the trip, likely June and July and possibly the late part of May or the early part of August.
    Welcome to the Forum! Are your folks on board with the extent of this trip?
    and a few friends
    How many is a few friends? I am working on an article right now that discusses a few of the perils that can arise when you attempt to undertake such a mission with folks you haven't traveled with before.
    So it's sort of a circle / square around the country. Is this doable in two months, and about how rushed would we have to be?
    By the most direct route such a journey would cover a minimum of 8,700 miles and would require a minimum of 31 days of driving. It would be easy to spend 2-3 months covering the same distance.
    Assuming we lived frugally, used our own car, etc. about how much would this cost per person?
    This hard to estimate, because we don't know what you would constitute as frugal living. But I suggest looking here for some ideas on saving money on the road.

    mark

  3. #3

    Default

    My parents are fully supportive of this - they've sent me into worse unknowns before.

    A few friends will probably be 2 to 3; these are people that I go to high school with and hang out with all the time. We've gone on trips together before to the beach and whatnot.

    So 8,700 miles direct. I doubt we would venture far off that, but still I'll call it 10000 miles. We'll probably have about 60 days, so that would come out to an average of about 160 miles per day. Which is I guess between 2 and 4 hours depending on the speed of the roads we're traveling. That's not bad at all, in my opinion. Even if we stayed in one place for three or four days it would only take one or two long days to catch up (Right now we're looking to spend three days in Las Vegas, Seattle, New York, and DC and two days in a few other places.) That means that it wouldn't be very difficult to stay on schedule. And if we get down to it we can always decide to cut off part of the trip to go quicker.

    Frugally for us I would expect to mean all sharing a room in the cheapest motel possible 80 to 90% of the time, with only an occasional more expensive night. Eating would be pretty basic too - some snacks and drinks from a cooler, and figure about $20 food per person per day, with a few exceptions. I know that through the South and Texas we'll probably eat breakfast and lots of lunches at Waffle Houses and diners. We'll probably get a national park pass ($50, right?) and bring a few hundred dollars each for miscellaneous attractions. Right now, living like this, we are figuring about $3000 per person. Is that analysis fairly accurate, or are we underestimating the costs?

    Appreciate your help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default

    I wish that I had two months when I did my circle around the U.S.

    I did over 12,000 miles in under 28 days, but that was more for a physical goal than enjoying your destinations, and I wouldn't recommend it. :)

    If I were you, I would probably take the top 5-10 destinations you consider a priority, and spend 48-72 hours at those destinations. The next 5-10 destinations I would maybe do a full day (or overnighter). The rest of the destinations would probably be worth a few hours of looking around and not much more.

    I spent about $3500 in a 30 day period. That included the van rental ($1100), hotels ($750), gas ($1200), food ($400), and souvenirs ($200). And that was being ultra-conservative. Your mileage will vary, espeically if you're taking your own car. :) Just remember instead of the rental, you will have maintenence costs on your car, and you'll want to have funds to repair the car if something breaks down. (And make sure your tires are in excellent shape!)

    Our average driving time per day was 6-8 hours (sometimes up to 14!), so only having to drive an average of 3-4 hours is patty cakes. It's easily doable between friends. I would probably recommend a budget of $4000-5000 if it's going to be 2 months. You'll be surprised how fast your gas money goes. If you're under budget, then great. It's better than running out of money 80% of the way through the trip and bailing out on the rest. Just have a bank account with $4000 in it, take $1000 with you, and bring along your ATM check card and/or credit card.

    This is based off my personal virgin experience on the road. Hopefully it helps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default A Solo 10,000 miles

    Quote Originally Posted by JimiHendrix
    I doubt we would venture far off that, but still I'll call it 10000 miles.
    I did my first 10,000 solo road trip shortly after I graduated from high school. I still have vivid memories from that experience. So, it is certainly a doable and excellent adventure to look forward to.

    I should add that this 10,000 miles was a round trip journey that only touched on eight states -- it is real easy to drive twice this distance when doing a trip on the scale of what you are describing.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-19-2006 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Added a comment

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default not exactly a trip to the beach

    Quote Originally Posted by JimiHendrix
    A few friends will probably be 2 to 3; these are people that I go to high school with and hang out with all the time. We've gone on trips together before to the beach and whatnot.
    Not to be too discouraging, but there's a very big difference between hanging out all the time and taking trips to the beach and living with someone in very close quarters for 2 months.

    The biggest challenge of a trip like this is finding friends who you'll be able to stay friends with after the trip. You'll essentially be with your friends 24/7 for the length of your trip, with very little time or space to have all to yourself. That can get uncomfortable in ideal situations, much less when you're driving hundreds of miles a day and living out of hotels.

    I can say from my own experience, I've got a group of friends I go on a roadtrip with every year. We've been friends for a decade, we've even been roommates without any problems, but even though our trips only last a week or two, there's always at least one point during the trip where I want to start tearing heads off (and I'm sure they'd feel the same way about me).

    I'm not saying these problems can't be overcome, but before you go make sure you realise that you will have situations like this, make sure you and your friends can cool off without holding a grudge, and start thinking about how you'll decide when you and your friends have different ideas of what you want to do (having at least a 3rd person helps here to be a tie breaker).

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    The biggest challenge of a trip like this is finding friends who you'll be able to stay friends with after the trip.
    I couldn't agree with Midwest Michael more. Sadly, I have to be an example, as I lost a best friend after our month-long roadtrip.

    I won't get into details here (if you want them you can read my roadtrip blogs if necessary) but it is possible that one of your friends will get upset over something you may consider to be a petty issue, or there may be simple disagreements can turn nasty and full of accusations. It is a totally different ballgame on that open road, so just be prepared and try to keep an amicable atmosphere.

  8. #8

    Default

    I can understand the potential issues in getting along over the course of a roadtrip, and obviously we would need to sit down and discuss the basic structure of the trip prior to leaving. (IE sleep schedules, eating preferences, a few "must see" attractions that everyone has in mind, etc.) I think that so long as we address most of these issues before hand, and are patient with whatever problems we encounter on the road, we would be alright.

    Is this being too naive? If so, what would you all reccomend doing to heighten the chances of success?

    And also I would still love suggestions about routes, attractions, costs, etc.

    Thanks for the great feedback, everyone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Do a trial trip

    Quote Originally Posted by JimiHendrix
    Is this being too naive? If so, what would you all reccomend doing to heighten the chances of success?
    Take a week trip with these friends -- chances are the challenges will become apparent sometime in that period.

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JimiHendrix
    Is this being too naive? If so, what would you all reccomend doing to heighten the chances of success?
    It doesn't matter, just plan it, do it and try to adapt, it's part of life's experience. At just about 50 I've almost figured it out myself... (I like to travel alone but stop with others - not easy to arrange)

    Since you are graduating high school I'm wondering what you are going to spend 3 days in Las Vegas doing? Many of the, erm, "more interesting" activities will be off limits.

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