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  1. Default Florida to California vs Ring Trip

    Hi there.
    My sweetie and I are living in Sweden, but getting married this November in Florida. We were thinking of doing a crosscountry drive, but only have about 3 weeks. Is this even possible?

    We were thinking of doing a California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida route. Another option is flying out west and do a ring trip through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona?

    Any idea if either of these can be done in 3 weeks and if so which is recommended and why?

    Also, how much money should we calculate per day? We plan on staying in hotels and eating out- it will be our honeymoon- although not fancy.

    Thanks for all of your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Do-able if you really like to drive!

    Welcome to the RTA forums and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

    Both trips are do-able. However, doing either trip in 3 weeks means that you will have to balance driving and sightseeing. You won't be able to see it all.

    Personaly, I would do the ring for a few reasons.
    * It's some of the most amazing scenery in America.
    * If you find that you've lingered too long in one area and that you're behind schedule, you can more easily change your plans and cut something out. If you have to get from Point A to Point B like you would on the coast-to-coast drive, your options for making any changes are far more limited.
    * Car rentals cost a lot more when you pick up in one location and drop off at another. Same with airline flights.

    If you're going to splurge on hotels and restaurant meals for your entire trip, you will probably want to budget, at minimum, $150/day. And that is low. I would budget closer to $250 and enjoy spending the excess if I'm coming in under budget on other fun stuff.

    Hotels can be had for $40 to $250 night. The $40 hotels are usually clean but lack amenities and luxuries that you might want to enjoy while on a honeymoon. In non-touristy areas, you can probably find nicer lodging in the $70-100 range without any problem. But in the touristy areas near national parks, cities, major tourist attractions, the price might easily reach $150-200/night.

    Restaurant meals vary. You could each eat 3 squares a day for about $30 if you stick to someplace like McDonald's. But how yucky would that be? If you want to feel good and stay healthy for the honeymoon, this would not be a good choice. At inexpensive family restaurants (chains like Denny's, Cracker Barrell, etc.), you could probably enjoy a meal together for about $20-30/meal without any problem. And then, of course, you could easily spend $100 at a more upscale restaurant. So, for food, planning for spending, at minimum, $60 per day at restaurants with some money in reserve for times you want to splurge on finer dining seems reasonable.

    However, I would really encourage you to buy a cooler at any grocery store and fill it with healthy foods at grocery stores along your route. You might want to do this for these reasons:
    * Cheaper and healthier
    * Quicker....eating in restaurants 3 times a day really cuts into your time to drive and explore
    * When you're driving a lot, eating 3 times a day in restaurants might make your clothes a bit tight by the time you return home. (American portions tend to be quite a big bigger than those in European restaurants. You might find that there are times when sharing a meal makes more sense than getting separate meals. You can always request an extra plate.)

    There are lots of choices for eating out of a cooler. You can pick up very cheap plasticware with lids to store some food items to keep them fresher. Plastic utensils and paperplates are very cheap. So are coolers. One sharp knife won't cost much either. These are all you really need to eat cheap and healthy. Things to put in the cooler might include: cheese, fruit, veggies, salad makings, crackers, granola, granola bars, protein bars, bagels and cream cheese, and anything else you might like that doesn't require cooking. I don't know about Swedish grocery stores, but American grocery stores often have big deli sections where you can buy things that have been pre-prepped, like cleaned/chopped veggies, hard-boiled eggs, sliced meats for sandwiches, etc.

    It's really nice to be able to have a beautiful park and or scenic viewpoint and enjoy the scenery without having to hop in the car and find a restaurant when your stomach starts growling.

    Hope this helps. And come back with more questions so we can help you plan a sublime honeymoon!

  3. Default

    wow. What a wonderful reply! Thanks!

    I was initially thinking a cross country route would be cheaper. I have a car available for use in Florida. But then we run into the issue with time...

    Any ideas about route planning or how much money we should figure on gas costs? I am trying to work out all of the financial details to see if this is even possible. Otherwise the option is Thailand or Egypt. And I really have my heart set on the states as my honey hasn't seen much of it.

    We will be renting some sort of economy car- as long as it's comfy! I have no problems with bringing some meals along with us in the car! A great way to save some money and be able to spend a bit more on fun things! I also have no issues staying in motels, as long as they are clean ;).

    Thanks a ton! :)

  4. #4

    Default california to florida

    You could easily drive I-10 from California to Florida in 3 weeks, plus see alot of sights.

    1.Straight driving with very minimal stops only when needed would take about 40-45 hours.
    2.Now in 4-5 days you can make this trip with overnight stays and minimal sight seeing.
    3.One week can make the trip and see some sights not to far out of the way.
    4.In 3 weeks, you can see a whole lot and not be rushed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Gas costs

    That's a bit tougher to figure. First, you have to get an idea of how many miles your itinerary will be. Then pad it by a factor of at least 1.25....although I would probably use 1.5 just to be sure...for those incidental little trips off your route to hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, whatever.

    Then you need to find out what kind of vehicle you will be renting and determine it's fuel consumption. You could probably just find the manufacturer's website for that car. But, remember that they are usually a bit more optimistic than the average driver experiences. Then use the Fuel Cost Estimator to determine your budget.

    If you need to find the price of gas, you might check out Gas Buddy.

    BTW, I do agree with azo that the cross-country roadtrip is do-able in the time you have....if it's a one-way trip. And if you don't criss-cross the country too much (north to south and north again) from your basic route. Too much of that could easily double the miles and the driving time needed. And I guess I'm just partial to the Southwest!!!

    Also, if you do have to rent a car and you're on a budget, the drop-off fee might be a factor. You do mention having a car available in Florida. If you pick up a car there, go cross-country, and then have to get back to Florida to drop it off, you're really going to be rushed to get your trip done in time. A round-trip would be brutal in 3 weeks, in my opinion.

    So, take all this into consideration and then plan your trip around the places you most want to see. You will definitely see more variety of scenery, people, architecture, lifestyles, you name it, if you do a cross-country trip. So it's definitely worth considering. Sorry if I might have given you another impression.

  6. Default Ring

    I live in NJ and have done the cross country trip 6 times. I would choose the ring. The west offers many National Parks and scenic beauty. While the country has many beautiful sights, most of our trips were spent viewing the west. If National Parks are of interest to you, an annual pass may be purchased for $50.00. Since most parks charge between $10.00 ande $20.00, the pass is a bargain. In planning our trips, I researched each state and national park that we intended on visiting. Much of the info along with info I requested to be mailed to me was compiled in a binder for a day by day itinery. If you would like any additional help, please ask.

  7. Default Can it really cost that much?!

    Hi there.
    I posted a while back about planning a ring trip for my honeymoon. We live in Sweden currently, but will be married in my home town in Florida. It will be my husbands first trip to the western USA so I want to show off as much of my country as possible!

    We have around 18 days or so and had planned on the following:
    Las Vegas
    Hoover Dam
    Grand Canyon
    Painted Desert
    San Diego
    up the coast to San Francisco
    going through Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley
    back to Las Vegas
    (We are 100% up to route additions!)

    Based on 18 days I came up with the following:
    Flights from Florida $700
    Car Rental (he is dead set on a convertible- a luxury to Europeans) $1000 (based on the websites... will there be hidden fees??)
    Gas (by using the calculator on the site) $500
    How much should I figure into the daily budget? I had guessed around $150 just to be able to see sites and have a nice meal per day, plus sleep in clean hotels.

    That brings our honeymoon to more than we are spending on our wedding!

    Am I missing something? How can we save? Does this iteriary looks reasonable for 18 days without stressing too much? Am I way off our daily budget?


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I am afraid so

    Quote Originally Posted by theamericanNtheswede
    Based on 18 days I came up with the following:
    Flights from Florida $700
    Car Rental (he is dead set on a convertible- a luxury to Europeans) $1000 (based on the websites... will there be hidden fees??)
    Gas (by using the calculator on the site) $500
    How much should I figure into the daily budget? I had guessed around $150 just to be able to see sites and have a nice meal per day, plus sleep in clean hotels.
    Judy has provided a number of tips (above) about lowering your daily costs, but, yes, I think your budget is reasonable. With respect to the rental costs -- $1000 for a convertible for 18 days seems low -- are you sure that the sum includes the city and country use taxes?
    That brings our honeymoon to more than we are spending on our wedding!
    That is not at all surprising to us. You are attempting to drive hundreds of miles and it is costly. Fun, worthwhile and costly.

    How were you planning on doing Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley? That is some serious zig-zagging.


  9. Default

    wow. So I think we will probably be back to the drawing board on the honeymoon front.

    Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley are just 3 places I want to see. Not 100% sure how or when they would fit into the drive.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Easy ways to save

    First, don't travel so far. Stay near Vegas or near California and just explore the nearby areas. There is plenty to do within 500 miles of Las Vegas to keep you busy and enthralled for 18 days. And there is more than enough from San Diego to San Francisco to see in California for 18 days. Heck, you wouldn't even have to leave the coast to enjoy all that time there.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that gas adds up. If you can create a great trip without driving so far, you've already saved yourself a lot of money and you will still be able to have a great time. Personally, I'd pick the Las Vegas area and spend most of my time exploring the various national parks close by in Utah. Most of the attractions in California are going to cost you.

    Second, about $100 at any discount store to get camping gear and camp during your trip. You will probably average about $20/day for camping fees. This is a big savings right there.

    Third, eat out of a cooler. Save restaurant meals for once per day or even once every-other day like I usually do. You will eat healthier, be able to create fun picnics outside in the beautiful scenic places you're visiting, and will save money. What could be better!

    Besides limiting your trip timeframe, these are about your best options for saving money.

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