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  1. #1

    Default Road trip DC to SoCal

    I'm prepping for a road trip loop beginning mid-October. So far the plan is to hit several parks of the southwest: Grand Canyon and Big Bend definitely, maybe Arches, Bryce or Zion. And of course, hitting a few cities along the way: probably Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, through San Diego. I'd like to go up the coast and hit Monterey, but that may be a bit far in terms of getting back.

    My plan is to spend as many nights as possible car camping. I've got a good amount of camping experience, though usually not by myself. I wil bring a cooler for most meal options. Saving money is important, and I will be doing this on my own.

    I am planning on being gone a month, but that's a lot to pack into a month for a roundtrip drive. Anyone on this forum have ideas as to what I'm going to be looking at time-wise or $-wise? Suggestions on how long to plan for a roundtrip drive like this, or how much to budget? I do plan on staying in hotels every so often....but campgrounds with showers are fine by me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Sounds Reasonable

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a reasonable plan here. You can basically follow I-10 out to Arizona, cut up to the Grand Canyon and Vegas, go back to San Diego, take the Coast north, and then come back via I-80 and I-70, visiting Arches and the CO Rockies on the way back home. If you've got a month for this trip, you should have enough time to see most everything you want to see.

    Budgeting is a tricky thing because everyone is different in terms of how much they like to treat themselves, but you can use the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator to estimate your gas costs, I'd say $20 per night would be average for campgrounds with showers, I plan for about $50 per night for budget hotels. For food, I'd plan for $20 a day, if you are going to eat most of your meals from a cooler, with the occational restaurant meal along the way. The rest of your expenses should be entertainment related, and other than $50 for an annual National Parks pass, you'll have to deside how much you want to spend there.

  3. Default

    Sounds almost exactly like the trip I am on right now except I'm hitting Memphis instead of New Orleans. (Not because of the 'cane but because i have a free place to stay in Memphis.)

    Good luck on your trip. If i see anything truly astounding that cant be missed, I'll let you know!

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

    Default Advice

    That sounds like a fun trip, and the weather should be on your side.

    The thing about budgeting is - it always seems like you have plenty at the start, and then towards the end, when you tally up what you've spent, you ask where the money went. You should be able to find reasonable rates at campgrounds since this is the "off-season", though by that same token there may be less of them available.

    One bit of advice I can give you is, since you're going this alone, if you don't feel up to driving on a particular day, just don't do it.

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

    Default More advice

    I think Michael's advice on money sounds pretty good. On a long trip like that, you really need to have a way to track your spending though so you go over and find yourself short. A couple ideas....if you're diligent, just having some kind of paper with spending categories where you write down your expenses consistently, then totalling them up to see where you are at the end of each day would work.

    For me, that doesn't work though. I'm not detail-oriented enough. I will usually carry cash with me for either 2 or 3 days worth of expenses. I'll stop at an ATM every 2-3 days and replenish. Then I'll have 2-3 envelopes and put money for one day's entire allowable expenses in each of them. If I spend the whole day's envelope before the end of the day, I know I have to take from the other envelopes and will have to cut my spending on those days to make up for it. And, of course, if you come in under budget for a day or two, you know you have splurge money! This really helps keep me on track.

    For this long of a trip, I think it would be helpful to pick locations where you want to be at the end of every 5 days, or 7 days, or so. I'd hate for you to have a daily schedule to meet. Enjoy having flexibility. But having some kind of guidelines every so many days will help keep you from getting way too behind schedule.

    On the other hand, don't let your itinerary and list of desired places to go rule your trip. If you meander somewhere exciting and decide to stay and explore and this means you can't get to all your planned stops. No big deal. Adjust. Enjoy. Explore. You can save the missed places for another trip.

  6. #6

    Default Thanks!

    Thanks for all the helpful advice! This is my first solo big road trip, as well as my first time to drive across country. Needless to say, I'm incredibly excited!

    I do plan on buying a parks pass ASAP, as well as tracking expenses day by day. And the best part about the whole trip is the flexibility. If I like a place, I can stay there longer. A month is the plan, but there's nothing bringing me back except the cost.

    I am trying to calculate mileage-does anyone know of a website that allows you to plug in many locations and then tally up the total mileage?
    Also, I've seen a number of books on roadtrips and little hidden roads to take while on them. I will be using mostly interstates getting out west, but is there a book someone here would recommend that would give me a great guide to these areas (Grand Canyon, Utah, etc)?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Internet and other options

    Mapquest just added a plot multiple points feature to their website, and Rand McNally has a "plan a roadtrip" feature that will let you plug in upto 10 destinations.

    While I find both of them to be good enough for my needs, there are several members who swear by the MSN Streets and Trips software. It costs money, but It certainly will have fewer limitations than the free internet options.

  8. Default

    Try this site for your travel help:

    Editor's Note: We suggest you look at our reviews for this product:
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-28-2006 at 07:28 PM. Reason: Added a link to the reviews for this type of product

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