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  1. Default NJ to Long Beach--4 Teens, $7000, 8000mi--Doable?

    So anyway, three of my friends and I are planning a road trip from NJ to Long Beach, CA for June, 2008, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Seattle, WA, Yellowstone Park, and once we get back to the east coast, Boston MA (maybe NYC?). We have planned on approx. $1500-$2000/person, in a span of about 21 days (this is flexible). Since we'll have four drivers, we figured we could do three or four hour rotations of driving, then navigating, then napping in the back seat if tired.

    Let's see, the Jetta that I have gets around 28mpg highway, but with four people and luggage... I'll knock that down to around 24-25mpg. We planned on gas probably being close to $4/gal and us traveling around 8000-9000 mi, so that's... close to $1300? I think we'd plan $400/person for budgeting gas.

    Lodging: We didn't really plan on camping, we planned on doing a hotel every other night kind of thing, and driving straight thru the night if/where possible. Good, bad, ugly? Otherwise, we were thinking, budget motels are our friends. Bring a can of lysol or two and an air mattress, and we should have sufficient room for four, methinks... right?

    Food: We were thinking of bringing a cooler and packing things for breakfasts and lunches, and maybe hitting a restaurant for dinner (Cracker Barrel is our friend). We were thinking about $15-20 each per day?

    Compatibility shouldn't be too bad of a problem. Our personalities are similar enough such that we're out to get the same things out of the trip but different enough to not feel like we're talking to ourselves or arguing with ourselves.

    Other things we think we might need--Edit as necessary:)

    -AAA (and Trip-Tiks)
    -Extra Oil
    -Credit Card-$5,000 limit, each, just in case of emergency
    -Cell Phones & Car Chargers
    -5 Each of Shirts, Shorts, and undergrments (Laundromats--Wonderful things, they are)
    -Travel SpaceBags (...for the clothes, of course. 15 cubic feet of trunk space can go fast :p)
    -Toilet Paper/Tissues
    -Paper Towels
    -Water (1 case bottled, at least)
    -Glasses & Sunglasses
    -Allergy card, laminated, in case of accident, specifying allergies to medicines, food, religious preferences, etc. for medical personnel
    -iPods, Cassette Adapter, Car Charger

    A. Is this realistic?
    B. Anything else we should bring?

    Tips are appreciated. Just bear in mind that a local road trip doesn't really appeal to us, because we won't have the opportunities to see CA or anything out west for another four years due to college. (And I really want to see the Queen Mary)

    Thanks in advance :)

    Last edited by JohnEZ; 03-19-2007 at 03:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default In Round Numbers...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    ...which is the only way you can plan ahead:

    Gas: $1500
    Lodging: $2000
    Food: $2000
    Margin: $1500

    So - all well and good. The one objection I have to your general plan is the sleeping in the Jetta. Please, this is one way to turn what could be a great trip into a bad one. While it might work for one night, much more than that and everyone is going to be cranky at best, no matter what great friends you start out as. All of you need to get a good night's sleep every night for this to work, so just resign yourselves to that fact. Camp out every other night if you need to stretch your money, but do not rob yourselves of the one thing you really need more than all others to make this work: sleep.

    Also, be prepared to splurge every few nights and get TWO motel rooms. You are going to have way too much together time over these three weeks, Plan on splitting up occasionally both in towns and on hikes and meeting up later. Trust me, no matter how compatable you all are, three weeks spending every waking (and sleeping) moment together is going to get old fast. We've all been there at one time or another.

    While I like Cracker Barrel too on occasion, there is far better fare out there. And besides, what's the point of driving 4000 miles to have the exact same food you can get down the street from your home? Explore! Experiment! Go into small towns and find the local diner or café. Eat the local food. Do the same with your cooler. Occasionally stock it from roadside stands with fresh fruits and vegetables.

    As for what to bring, while this thread takes a while to come around to it, it does eventually have a lot of great ideas and reminders of what people who've actually been there have found useful. Just remember that you're going to be cramped with 4 of you in a Jetta, so keep the paraphernalia in the cabin to a minimum.

    Look, you've got the time, the youth, the cash, and the car to make this a really memorable trip. Just realize that it is work (to some extent) and everything you do to make that work easier will be paid back tenfold in making the trip fun.

    Oh, two more things. One - when you say teenagers, the difference between 17 and 18 is enormous - so how old is everybody? And Two - You will need to drop either Long Beach or Seattle from your itinerary. This trip is going to be considerably longer than you think.


  3. Default Cool! someone is trying to be prepared!

    That's a good list..

    Hmm.. I'm going to echo the suggestion about not trying to sleep 4 in a car every other night. That will get old really fast. If you can figure out a way to put in some simple camping equipment, you'll be as safe, and a LOT more comfortable, and just about as cheap at things.. Another advantage of this, if if you bring 2 small tents instead of a big one, it means you can mix and match people more -- get them away from seeing the same 3 faces every day every hour.

    But speaking of finding room for stuff -- you might give some thought to some additional room for things. This will free up space inside, making it easier to live in the car for 3 weeks -- and will give you a bit more options in picking what stuff you can bring. THis could be a rooftop cargo bag, or a trunk-top cargo bag -- which may double your cargo volume. They're pretty cheap too -- potentially like $50 or so from WalMart or the like.

    Lastly, you might encourage everyone to bring a daypack with their personal stuff for the car in it. Books, iPods, etc. They daypack can be useful later, and gives a nice compact place to stuff everything in that is their's... no one elses.

    And don't forget to plan a "R&R" day about every 5-7 days. Its the day when everyone does their laundry at a laundromat, walks around the town, cruises a book store, goes swimming and lays by the pool, etc --- your group's day to do the necessary chores (like laundry), get out of the car and away from everyone else, and unstress.

  4. Default

    Thank you very much--points taken. Yes, I suppose a Jetta isn't the most comfortable thing to sleep in, is it? Ok, so camping equipment and 2 rooms every few nights--doable. :) Thanks for the suggestion of the rooftop bag, too--I've never really seen them.

    The food situation: Definitely will refill the cooler with local food, when possible. The only reason I mention Cracker Barrell is that it seems pretty reasonable with good quality. But agreed, it could get old.

    In response to our ages, the four of us will be 18.

    Thanks for the advice!
    Last edited by JohnEZ; 03-19-2007 at 04:03 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Two more articles with resources

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnEZ View Post
    So anyway, three of my friends and I are planning a road trip from NJ to Long Beach, CA
    Tou might want to look at the featured article for this week -- even though it targets Spring Break roadtrips, it has a variety of tips in it. Also, you can give this one to your parents.


  6. Default

    Thank you very much. Will do :)

  7. #7
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest


    Any reason Long Beach is your destination?

  8. Default

    I'm a bit of a ship buff and the former RMS Queen Mary is now resting in Long Beach as a museum/hotel/convention center. She is a relic of the Art Deco era and a piece of history--she held the Blue Ribband for the fastest Atlantic crossings from the late 1930s to 1952, is the third largest Cunard liner ever built, and she and her running mate, Queen Elizabeth, were credited with shortening WWII by a year or more.

    Sorry, that was probably way more information than I really needed to blurt out. But yes, the reason Long Beach is on our to-do list is because stepping aboard a real life ocean liner (or former ocean liner) is on my list of life goals. The Queen Mary seems to satisfy that requirement, short of boarding QE2 or QM2.


  9. Default Other options?

    John -- if you're in the Long Beach area, you might also give the Long Beach Cruise Ship terminal (next door to the Queen Mary) or the one in San Pedro (about 20 minutes from the Queen Mary) a call and see if you can arrange a tour of the cruise ship terminal. If you're into Ships it might be interesting.

    Also, down in San Diego the USS Midway is docked as a nautical musuem -- if you're driving all that way, you might do the 2-3 hours drive south to SD and catch that one, as well as a harbour tour around the navy base in San Diego. (Last time I was there, they had 2 other carriers in port). If you call the Navy Base, on the weekends they usually have a ship or two open for public visits -- sometimes a carrier.

    And for the really unique ship visit -- beside the Cold War era Soviet Submarines you can tour in San Diego and Long Beach (there's one next to the Queen Mary last time I looked), you might check out to see if the private sightseeing submarine is running at Catlina Island (which would be a day or overnight trip from Long Beach). I had a friend do this, which is a real submarine which does a tour through one of the kelp forests near Avalon on Catalina Island. But I know the submarine operator doesn't operate year round. (There are also "semi submersibles" which are just glass bottomed boats, which run year around there.)

  10. Default

    Thank you very much for the suggestions. They all sound pretty awesome, and you're right--if we drive all that way, may as well take advantage of our positioning and see a few more interesting things. That sightseeing sub sounds particularly interesting, will have to check it out.

    I'll pass this on to the rest of our group and see what they say. :) Thanks again!

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