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  1. Default Cross-Country in 27 Days

    My girlfriend and I will be leaving Bangor, Maine on June 29 to take our first road trip (for both of us). We've made some pretty ambitious plans; let me know what you think.

    Bangor, ME
    Blackwood, NJ (staying w/ friend) 1 night
    Baltimore, MD (staying w/ fam) 1 night
    Nashville, TN (staying w/ friend) 2 nights
    New Orleans, LA (hotel) 2 nights
    Dallas, TX (campground) 1 night
    Denver, CO (campground) 2 nights
    Grand Canyon, AZ (campground.. Pike's Peak on the way?) 2 nights
    San Diego, CA (campground) 3 nights
    San Francisco, CA (hotel) 2 nights
    Seattle, WA (hotel) 2 nights
    Yellowstone Nat'l Park (campground) 1 night
    Mount Rushmore (campground) 1 night
    Minneapolis, MN (campground) 2 nights
    Chicago, IL (staying w/ friend) 2 nights
    Canton, OH (campground) 1 night
    Connecticut (w/ family) 1 night
    Back home to Bangor

    We reserved all of our lodging for $350 each... it's about 10,000-11,000 mile trip... I'm estimating 11,000 to be safe... and I'm estimating a few mpg less than I actually get at $3.75 a gallon to be safe (think we get that high?). We're guessing $25 per person per day for food and we're still trying to figure out costs for activities.

    Are we being a little too ambitious?

    What do you guys think we should save for gas+food+activities?

    Appreciate it. I will link to a photoblog as I'm on the road.


  2. Default

    what happens if you go over your $25 a day per person budget one day, say by $1 per person, does that mean you can only spend $24 each the next day?!?! ;)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default a little too ambitions?

    No, I'd say a lot too ambitious.

    Think of it this way, you have an average of 7.5 hours per day driving.

    For all the places you are staying two nights you'll have just one day to spend seeing that place. But for the places you spend one night you'll be driving 7.5 hours to get there and have to see it the same day or early the next, then drive 7.5 hours to the next place. The worst example is Yellowstone - 1 night. You'll just be driving through.

    If this is the trip you want to do, I'd take out Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis. Then I'd add 2 weeks to the schedule, minimum.


  4. Default

    Thanks for the reply.

    The places we're staying 1 night aren't places of key importance to us. I grew up near Blackwood so I'm showing my girlfriend the area there. She's got family in Baltimore so the same thing there. We didn't really want to go to Dallas but it seems like an ideal stopping point in between New Orleans and Denver, both places we do really want to see. Yellowstone might be a little rushed but I think it'll be okay. Rushmore I feel like I can see in a short period of time. Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I've heard you can thoroughly take it in in 2-3 hours. Connecticut is just a stopping point on the way home.

    Those are the places I stay 1 night in... the ones with 2 nights (or 1 full day of sightseeing, rather) might be rushed, but I don't think I'll MISS things entirely.

    What's everyone else's opinions?


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

    Default Ambitious? Big understatement!

    If your goal is a whistle-stop tour with virtually no time to explore and probably not much energy either due to the long hours behind the wheel, then go for it. I like a good speed run...for 2-3 days! But for 27 days? No way.

    We generally recommend that people limit their daily travel to no more than 500 miles. Even this can be wearing on a longer trip and only leaves minimal time to sightsee/explore along the way. Thousands of miles of road-tripping has convinced us that you need to figure that you'll average about 53mph east of the Mississippi and 57mph west of it. This average factors in time for traffic congestion, stopping for fuel, and very quick stops for something to eat. No lingering.

    Since you're camping a lot, I'd advise you to get on the road early. It's a good thing that you're traveling during our longest days because there's nothing worse than getting to a campground after dark to put up your tent, imho. However, even though it's light, most parks do have "quiet hours" starting at either 9 or 10pm. So you'll want to get there to have your tent up before the quiet hours start so you don't disturb others. On some of your legs, this is gonna mean getting up and going at the crack of dawn.

    I took the time to plug your route into MS Streets & Trips. Here's a breakdown with comments:

    * Blackwood, 543 miles, do-able. This is fine.
    * Baltimore, 146 miles, leaves lots of time to visit friends and family. Good.
    * Nashville, 703 miles, 13 hours on the road. Yikes! Good thing you're staying 2 nights. You won't have time to enjoy all the sights along the way but at least you'll have a day to enjoy Nashville.
    * New Orleans, 531 miles, this is fine
    * Dallas, 521 miles, this is fine, too.
    * Denver, 881 miles, 15 hours on the road, another Yikes! Too bad you won't have time to explore along the way. If nothing else, you might want to squeeze in the memorial in Oklahoma City but even that will be tough in the time you have.
    * Grand Canyon, 680 miles, 12 hours on the road. This is a double-Yikes! due to the fascinating sights you'll be missing here. No, you won't have time for Pike's Peak. And you won't have time for all the other fascinating things on the way there like Mesa Verde, Durango, Leadville, Aspen, Vale, Million Dollar Highway, etc. Your quickest route is to take I-70 west to 191/163 to Grand Canyon. Too bad you won't have time to enjoy Vail, Glenwood Springs, Moab/Arches National Park, and more along the way. This is a fascinating section of the country.
    * San Diego, 559 miles, 10 hours. You'll have real limited time to enjoy some of the Route 66 types of sights like Kingman, Seligman, burros in Oatman, Barstow, and other points along the way. It's a do-able day but it really limits your time to explore these places.
    * San Francisco, 512 miles. This is if you go up I-5. There's no way you can do the far more beautiful coastal highway in the time you have. Too bad. Taking the coastal highway is about 600 miles so the mileage isn't that much farther but the time to drive it is much faster due to many narrow, curvy roads and traffic. But it's so worth it. You would need 2 days to do the coastal route. Along the way, you could have enjoyed Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Hearst Castle, Monterey, and more. Too bad you won't have time. So I'll have to say Yikes to this one, too, just based on what all you'll be missing along the coastal route.
    * Seattle, 808 miles, 14 hours on the road. Another big Yikes! This is if you go up I-5. You really should take at least 2 days for this drive. You're going to miss out on enjoying places like Ashland, OR (a charming town), Crater Lake, The Oregon Vortex, Wildlife Safari, the many beautiful things to do/see in Portland, Mt. St. Helens (the biggest must-see in Washington, imho), and more. Of course, you're totally skipping the coastal highway which would need a good 3 days to take between SFO and Seattle. 3 days minimum, that is. The northern CA and Oregon coast drive is one of the most beautiful drives there is, imho. Again, it's a shame you'll miss it.
    * Yellowstone, 803 miles, 14 hours on the road. Another Yikes. And, again, the stuff you'll miss along the way. I don't bother listing them at this point but I just really don't see how you're going to have time to enjoy Yellowstone. You'll be able to drive through it but you really won't have time to see much. The crowds will be thick and just driving to see the highlights there will be slow-driving. It's a shame to zip through this so quickly.
    * Mt. Rushmore, 505 miles, a reasonable day. But if part of this is spent driving through Yellowstone, it's going to increase the travel time a lot. You might have time to squeeze in a drive-by past Devil's Tower on the way but you won't have time for all the other wonderful stuff near there like Deadwood, Badlands, Black Hills, Wounded Knee, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave, Wall Drug, and more. I have to say Yikes! to this one, too, just based on what all you'll be missing here.
    * Minneapolis, 634 miles, a bit long but do-able. Why 2 days here? I would take at least one of those nights and add it to either Yellowstone or Mt. Rushmore.

    I'm not going to bother with detailing the rest of your trip. You start getting into more do-able mileage/distances at this point. Too bad you're rushing through most of the rest of the country.

    My advise is simply don't do it! I think you'd have a wonderful trip if you just went as far west as Colorado or so, no farther, and back for this trip. Then another time fly to the west coast and rent a car to tour the western portion.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 05-31-2007 at 09:40 AM. Reason: formatting

  6. Default

    Just adding that this trip was followed through with, and completed successfully. The only thing we did differently was stayed 1 night in Amarillo, TX and 1 night in Albuquerque, NM rather than 2 nights in Denver, CO to decrease some driving time. I really didn't feel that rushed and I think we got to do most everything we wanted to. Time of my life, was a blast. There are some pictures up at

    If you haven't made it to San Diego or Seattle, do so! Great cities.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Congratulations


    That must have been some trip. I'd be curious to know what your mileage turned out to be and how close you came to hitting your budget.

    Glad you made it safe and sound.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  8. Default

    I believe it was either close to 11,000 or just over. Didn't jot it down.

    We actually ended up $150 under budget surprisingly.

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