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  1. Default Winter Break Road Trip

    I am a college student, and graduating this year I feel that there is alot of things that I wish I would have done and want to do something this year worth remembering. I want to plan a cross country trip, from pa to either california or washington and then back. I have about a 3 week time table to do this. Any idea what would be a good route, for entertainment and enjoyment purposes. And also how much would something like this cost(trying to get 4 total people on it), I'm gonna need a little luck convincing some of my friends to go with me, but I feel it would be well worth it. So what would be the best places to visit and what would be the best way to go there and back?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's an Open Road

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    First of all, you're a bit young to be having life regrets just yet! But I applaud your desire to get out, explore, and make memories. Secondly, there is no need to choose between Washington or California. It is entirely possible to drive out by one route (say to Washington), continue long the coast to the other, and then return by a different route. However, three weeks would be a little tight for such a journey and you would have to keep up a pretty steady pace and not really dawdle anywhere. If I had to choose between the two, then I'd choose California, because you could then start out by going southeast and seeing the Appalachians and South before turning west through the Ozarks, and cowboy/oil country before crossing the Rockies.

    As to cost, that is, in large measure, up to your tastes, but there are minimums. Judy has laid out the basic things to consider in this post, but for four of you for three weeks, staying in moderate motels, eating frugally but well, and seeing some of the sights, you're probably looking at $5000-$6000. Nobody said it was cheap!

    The best places to visit will depend on where you decide to go, how you decide to get there, and what your interests are. Once you firm up your plans on whose going, what your budget is, and have a rough itinerary, we can be of much more help.


  3. Default plans

    I feel that in order to get others involved in this trip I'm gonna have to find a way to get to be about 2000 total, I know that means skimping, but I figure cheap motels might be a main stay as well as figuring out a plan for food. Considering I have not done this before I mainly want to keep it simple, basically pick a route there and back, thats different each way, but will come into contact with as much entertainment along the way, but maybe more along the lines of unique than quality? if that makes any sense.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Quality

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America forum!

    The friend(s) that take the least convincing to do this will be the best to take on the trip.

    Entertainment and enjoyment can be anything. Unique things have a quality all their own.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Dreams

    One of the hardest things to do is to point out to someone that their dreams simply cannot become reality. But you cannot make the trip you have described for $2000. From Philadelphia to San Francisco and back by the most direct route possible is nearly 6000 miles. If your car gets 20 mpg and gas costs $3/gal, you will need to spend $900 just on gas. If you search really hard and are willing to stay in low-end motels, you might find a room for 4 each night for $50, but over 20 nights that's $1000. You now have $100 left to feed four people for 21 days. That's $1.19 each per day. And we haven't even started talking about side trips, admissions to the sights, shopping, car maintenance (you will need at least one oil change), or any contingency fund for unforeseen problems.

    That is not to say that you can't make a great RoadTrip with your friends to celebrate graduation, but you will have to trim it back to reflect your circumstances. Rather than three weeks, make it one. There are plenty of places within two days' drive of Philadelphia (or Pittsburgh or wherever) including Florida, the Appalachians, the Great Lakes, Ontario and Québec, New England and the Outer Banks. Any one of these would make a wonderful place to go explore and enjoy for several days before returning home relaxed and with fond memories.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Or stay go 3 weeks but don't drive so much

    AZBuck gave you a good option for how to do your roadtrip with only $2000. Here's another. If you like the outdoors, go for 3 weeks but don't go as far. Do some kind of regional trip that includes a lot of camping and hiking. For example, if you choose Florida, spend 3-5 days camping in a state park near the Everglades, and then drive up to an area of Georgia that you find interesting and spend 3-5 days camping in another state park there, and so on until you're home again.

    State parks typically charge about $20, give or take a few, to camp at. Preparing food at the campground doesn't really cost any more than if you were eating at home so food expenses would be a wash. When you need to replenish your food, go to a full size grocery store, not mini-marts, and make good choices to keep your costs down and maintain health.

    Then spend your days doing short day trips to explore things outside of the state park, and swimming, hiking, etc. in the park.

    Unless you spend a lot of time clubbing or doing other activities with high costs, you should easily be able to do a trip like this with $2000 for 3 weeks.

  7. Default reality strikes

    Yeah I understand what is being said and that cross country might be out of the realm of possibility. If i were to shorten up the distance of the trip, what would be some interesting options, noting that south to florida would probably not be a direction, maybe one either west or northwest to areas we have not seen before.

  8. #8

    Default Your Trip is Doable!

    I did a very similar roadtrip last year with two friends. Ontario to California/Nevada/Arizona/Utah and back to Ontario. We took a van, so we were able to spend a few nights sleeping in the car to save money. We also brought camping gear, camped & made our own food. The total cost for each of us was between $1000-$1500 depending on spending money. Your trip is doable, if you are willing to make the sacrifices. We planned it so we rotated the driving between us, and often drove through the nights. When we did it we drove straight through to California. Lassen Volcanic NP, Avenue of the Giants, San Francisco, Surfing, Yosemite NP, Sequoia NP, Death Valley NP, Vegas, Grand Canyon NP, Zion NP, Bryce NP, then home. North of Seattle along the coast is the Avenue of the Giants which was really cool (and free!) Yosemite NP, Grand Canyon & Zion NP were amazing! Maybe try to plan it so those are at the end of your roadtrip as you head back home?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Avenue of the Giants is in California

    Quote Originally Posted by staceykozak
    North of Seattle along the coast is the Avenue of the Giants which was really cool (and free!)
    Actually, it is south of Eureka in California. Here is a field report from there.


  10. #10

    Default Oops

    Oops! Thanks for the correction. Got my cities mixed up.

    Eureka -> Avenue of the Giants -> San Francisco


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