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  1. #1

    Default Long awaited summer road trip!!

    Howdy all,

    First i'd like to say how great this site is and how helpful its been over the months to really give me some great ideas and knowlege.

    For about three years now i've been dreaming up and planning a trip to explore, visit, and have the time of my life traveling all throughout this great country of ours. But with summer fastly approaching I decided to start a thread and hopefully get a little info from some more seasoned road trip vets.

    My basic outline for the trip is to hopefully visit all 48 states (but i'm not completely set on that if things unfold that way) over the span of about 3 months im my Jetta which gets pretty good mpg. If everything works out as i hope, the crew will consist of myself and two good friends. Probably like most people, we plan to camp the majority of the time, stay at a cheap motel to freshen up sparingly, and stay at a few friends and family members along the way. We'll eat out of a cooler, cook when we can, and eat out for a nice break here and there.

    As for what we want to see on our trip is really hard to pin point. I guess we plan on visiting a lot of National Parks, most of the Major Cities, and a few off the wall things we might hear about along the way. But our main goal is to take our time, stop if we feel like it, and just let the trip unfold as we go. I have a basic route as to which direction we'll be going, but no real timetables or planned roads we'll be traveling.

    I'll ask a few questions here and there, as the trip comes closer, but my first major question is on our budget. I plan to have at least 3,000 dollars, and possibly four. My other friend can contribute at least 2,000, but probably a little more as well, and the my last friend can be a little sketchy at times when in comes to saving money, but he says he'll be able to contribute around 1,500. So at a minimum we should have roughly 6 to 7 thousand dollars, but i'm thinking we might be able to stretch it to eight. I'm just curious on any of your ideas on that budget from previous experiences?

    Thanks for your time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    This is quite the adventure you have planned out! Since you will be traveling with others, we suggest taking our compatibility quiz.

    I think that budget is kind of tight to stretch this trip out over three months. Figure you have 90 days with three people, and that budget has to include lodging (of some form or another) and food for those three, as well as fuel. I would roughly estimate the fuel budget alone to be around $1000 (quite possibly more). Lodging - let's assume you stay at a $50 motel once a week, that's $600 there, plus camping the rest of the time, let's call it $20, so that's another $1800. Right now we're up to $3400, and we haven't fed you guys yet. If you can somehow manage to feed three people on $30 a day, then that's another $2700 - we're up to $6100 and haven't yet figured on going to any attractions.

    One way to keep costs down, since you're planning on going to many national parks, is to buy a National Parks Pass. We have many other pages of valuable advice here, including how to roadtrip on the cheap.

    We have been keeping track, of sorts, of roadtrip costs on this page.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Equity

    I think Tim has given you a pretty good breakdown of what to expect for budgeting. That means you're probably a little on the low side right now, but its not unworkable. Saving a little more money and cutting a few corners should help you make up the difference.

    The biggest red flag I see with your trip is the large differences in money each of you will be putting into this trip. I would really forsee some serious issues developing because you will be putting in twice the financial resources as your friends.

    You need to be thinking of this in terms of living in very close quarters for 3 months, which will put strains on even the best of friendships. What will happen when you have a disagreement about what to do on a given day? Will you expect to have the final say because you are paying far more money than your friends? How are you going to feel when your friends are spending their money on fun during the trip, while you are subsidizing their food and shelter?

    These issues can be overcome, but money issues are always a concern. Planning ahead for these issues will improve the likelyhood all three of you will remain friends at the end of this adventure.

  4. #4

    Default solving some issues :)

    Thanks a lot for your input.

    Mass Tim, that really helps put it in perspective and gave me a good start as I continue planning. I think one thing that might help me out is the fact that I have a decent amount people I can stay with during the trip. My brother lives in southern FL between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, so i plan to stay there maybe a week and do some mini trips to the keys, everglades and of course the beaches. I also have a place to stay in Ocean City MD, VA Beach, AR, Northern CA, Vancouver, Eastern MI, Chicago, and possibly Vermont. Some are family and others are good friends from college. I've spoken to all of them and they are more than welcoming me to come visit. Another detail is while i'm in Las Vegas, i may be able to stay in my parents time share for a few days which would really be helpful, but thats still something to be worked out. As for food, we've all been starving college students for many years, basically implying that eating cheap is something we have mastered. But with all of that said, I'm definitely going to try and save and collect those extra coins:) and take a look at those links you gave.

    Michael, you definitely bring up a great point about friends, and the strains of a trip like this. I can only say that having a lot of friends just leaving college, I have had a lot of interest in this trip. And just thinking about going on such a trip with some of them seems like a tough task. That is a good reason why one of my friends is not contributing as much mainly because he's the first person I thought of when going on this type of trip. I've known him for quite some time, and have gone on a few long vacations together. My other friend is currently my roommate, and we have actually gone on quite a few road trips together. Mainly short trips, but a couple have reached 8 or 9 days. But both, and including myself, are some of the most laid back and even tempered people I've known, so I've definitely thought about who I want to bring and I have a pretty positive feeling we'll be able to survive each other.

    As for the money issues, like I said before, I know some people who could probably contribute a little more, but I'm going with who i want to travel with as my biggest priority. I think they both understand that this trip is something that is sort of my "baby." And i've gone over with them what to expect and what some of my plans are.....but I'll have a discussion with them before we leave to say that it's all of our trip, and we all will have a say, but if any issues come up, I'll be the final decision maker. But again, knowing these two as well as I do, it's really going to be a shock if anything MAJOR happens.

    Thanks again and i'll have some more questions as I continue planning.

  5. #5
    Traveldude Guest


    This sounds really nice and the budget thing can be worked out. If can accept you putting in more money than some issue's can be avoided. My personal opinion is that without alot of steady driving I don't see how you would ever be able to hit all "48 states" . I apoligize if that was just your analogy. Due to the geography, Interstate locations, and your desire to see and do alot may not work if you want to see all the states. But! You can plan a very nice trip and do it soon summer is approaching fast.

    I don't any exact number but I'm guessing this will be at least 12,000 miles. "To see all the states" and in town traveling in cities.

    So firgue 12,000/ 30 mpg (giving good milage, city/interstate average) =400 gallons of gas needed. So take and that and multiply by a national gas price for summer months. Just a guess 3.75 this year. So 400 x 3.75=1500 for gas, wow and that may be a low number. Better budget and set a side 1800 for gas. Mass Tim said 1800 for camping. At least 1200 for motels.

    1800+1800+1200=4800$ For lodging 2/3 of the trip and gas. So could leave you 3 thousand for food and attractions and spending money on random stuff. That's pushing it a bit for 3 people. Maybe eat really really cheap and try to eat at your friends/relatives along the way. 3 people, 3 thousand. Ask yourself, can you make it 90 days on just a 1000 dollars to eat and enjoy yourself to be "fair".

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

    Default Another budget item to consider

    Personally, I think it's good manners to contribute something to the people you will be staying with. You shouldn't expect them to give you free place to stay, use their shower, dirty their towels, probably do some of you own laundry at their home...all of which costs them money...and eat their food, too.

    You should buy your own groceries to supplement what they have in their fridge. And, at the very least, you should take them out for a nice dinner or something else as a way of saying thank you.

    So don't forget to budget those types of expenses into your budget.

  7. Default

    $7000 or so
    3 guys
    90 days

    That doesn't sound do-able; the other posters have given you some realistic break-downs. Even if you're staying with friends (let's guess half the time), you're still going to be paying a good bit for all those nights of lodging. Gas isn't getting any cheaper. Even people who are used to being starving students will rack up some large grocery bills in three months. If you cut the time in half, you'll be okay -- though you'll still need to be frugal.

    Questions to ask yourself:
    Are you sure you're going to be okay with paying the lion's share of this trip? Especially for the friend who can be "sketchy"? It makes me think that you're a good bit more committed to the trip than the others. I wouldn't be okay with that scenerio.
    Three guys, one suitcase each, a tent, three sleeping bags and pillows and sleeping pads, a cooler, a picnic basket or something for bread and other non-cold food . . . that's just BASICS . . . will that fit into a Jetta? There are four of us (and 25% more person is a big difference), but we can't fit the camping equipment into my Civic.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Good point on the room, Mrs. Pete

    My New Beetle can easily haul the gear needed for camping/roadtripping for two people. That's with using the back seat (or the whole back-end by putting the seatback down) AND using a duffle bag that the lighter-weight things like sleeping bags, pillows, etc. go into that we tie on the luggage rack we added to the hatch. Yes, a Jetta's trunk is quite a bit bigger than my NB's but it's definitely going to be a tight squeeze without using a roofrack, a luggage rack on the trunk like I have (and I don't think the Jetta's trunk is shaped right to do that) or, possibly, adding a hitch and getting one of those storage units you can slide into the hitch.

    I think you might want to do a practice packing and maybe a short shake-down trip to see how things work out over a weekend with the all that gear in your car.

  9. Default

    I don't doubt that you're fine with TWO people in a small car -- as you said, you have the whole backseat for gear, AND you need less stuff for only two people.

    An experiment for anyone who's thinking of camping /driving a small car: Just lay out the sleeping equipment that you need to be comfortable while camping (and don't even kid yourself that you'll camp for more than a weekend without all of it): sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, and tent. One person's sleeping equipment is BIG! When we camp, we always drive our Ford Explorer . . . but that's not a realistic choice for a lengthy road trip; it's just too expensive to drive far.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-07-2008 at 05:03 PM. Reason: navigation

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

    Default Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsPete View Post
    I don't doubt that you're fine with TWO people in a small car -- as you said, you have the whole backseat for gear, AND you need less stuff for only two people.
    And that's exactly why I already suggested that they do a shake-down packing of their vehicle to see if it would all fit as well as a shake-down trip with all the gear to see how it works for them.

    The type of gear can make a huge difference as well. We can get everything in our teensy trunk if we just take backpacking-style gear, and the Jetta trunk is probably 3-4 times the size of mine so, if they packed that type of stuff, they could make it work. But that's not the type of gear most people use for car camping. We don't either because the big fluffy, fleece-lined sleeping bags are more comfortable than the nylon-lined mummy bags, for example. But if we had to, we would.

    And, again, there are ways to make it work like car-top carriers or putting on a hitch and getting one of the many styles of hitch-attached storage units.

    I believe that there's a way to make it work. But it might take being extra-creative with what you pack and how you pack it and buying a few new items. It just depends on how bad you want it.

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