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  1. Default Pittsburgh, PA to San Francisco, CA

    I'm planning on driving from Pittsburgh, PA to San Francisco, CA from May 31 to June 15. I will be in a 2003 Dodge Neon with 2 other people (3 drivers total). Our goal for the trip is to see as much of the US as possible and come back with unbelieveable pictures. I have a list of our tenative route, which is basically stops where we have a free place to stay. Would you recommend cutting anything stops? How much money should we expect to pay for food and gas?
    Here's our tenative route:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Chicago, IL
    Pinedale, WY
    Salt Lake City, UT
    San Francisco, CA
    Grand Canyon, AZ
    Denver, CO
    Fort Smith, AK
    Nashville, TN
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Is this a realistic trip?
    Is it a realistic time frame?
    What stops do you recommend?
    What is the maximum number of hours we can drive?
    Is Google Maps accurate with the time/miles?

    I'm new at this so any tips will be much appreciated.

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

    Default The basics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you could really benefit from learning the basics of what we typically recommend.

    Is Google Maps accurate with the time/miles?
    Internet mapping programs are great for telling you miles. However, the estimated time is typically off significantly.

    A good rule of thumb is that 57 mph in the western US and 53 mph in the east is about the fastest you can average when you factor in the required stops for basic needs, including food and fuel. Even those numbers assume travel will be done on the interstates at or above the posted speed limits.

    What is the maximum number of hours we can drive?
    You're only limited by your own physical limitations, but we generally don't recommend more than 500-600 miles a day on a multi-day trip. Those distances require around 10 hours a day on the road, and will give you a chance to make some brief stops to make your trip enjoyable. Most importantly, its a distance that can safely be sustained over multiple days without serious fatigue issues.
    How much money should we expect to pay for food and gas?
    The amount you'll spend on food is going to depend upon where you eat. If you eat almost all of your meals out of a cooler, your costs will be similar to what you'd spend on food at home. If you're going to eat at a lot of restaurants, then your costs will be significantly higher.

    As far as fuel costs, you can use RTA's fuel cost calculator to get a good estimate on what you'll spend.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Tight Squeeze!

    Your Neon might be a tight squeeze for 3 people. And the time-line is going to be a tight squeeze, too.

    Your route is about 6120 miles and this doesn't count miles for pulling off the highway to eat, re-fuel, explore. You'll probably be driving closer to 7000 miles. Using The Editor's tried-and-true formula, let's figure you average 55mph. This comes out to about 128 hours. Over 16 days, that's an average of 8 hours per day. This doesn't leave much time to explore, play, and relax in beautiful places along the way.

    Do-able? Yes. But if you want to spend some of your trip playing outside the car, you might need to do some re-thinking your plans.

    Just one tweak saves you some miles. If you do Chicago-Denver-Pinedale, makes your route 5880 miles, saving you 240 miles on your base trip mileage. This takes you from Grand Canyon to Fort Smith via Amarillo-Oklahoma City-Little Rock-Memphis. Something to consider anyway.

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