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  1. Default Maryland to CA - help out two college girls, please!

    Hi there! At the end of this coming summer, my girlfriend and I are taking a trip from Maryland, to Irvine, California. We're both 21, and neither of us have ever been on a long road trip before. We'll be driving a 98 Honda Accord, which will probably have around 90k miles on it, at the time of the trip.

    I've read through a few of the posts in this forum already, and they were really helpful (for instance, I've gathered that I ought to make sure my car is fully inspected, the tires are reliable, that we have a relevant tool kit and car safety kit on board, etc), but I still had some questions.

    Here are a couple of questions/concerns I think I need answers to. Hopefully, someone will be able to give me some advice. I would appreciate absolutely any tips/answers you can give me. Thanks SO MUCH, in advance.

    - This is only partially a pleasure trip - we're also moving to live in California, and while we will be shipping some of our possessions ahead of us, we'll be taking as much as we can with us. My question is: would you suggest we rent a small U-Haul, or simply try to fit as much as we reasonably can into the car?

    - If you suggest a U-Haul, what should we know about hauling, with the type of car we'll be driving? Are there any safety concerns that might arise here?

    - On the subject of safety, what do you suggest two young women carry with them, as a means of protecting themselves? I assume a fully-charged cell phone is a given, along with pepper spray, but do you have any other tips, regarding safety?

    - In the interest of not having to spend too much money on hotel stays, what do you think is the shortest reasonable amount of time in which we could make this trip? What do you suggest, as far as the number of hours we drive per day? I read on another website that it was suggested that one plan for around 10 hours of driving time per day, with breaks every 1-4 hours. Is that reasonable, or would you suggest something else?

    - Neither one of us is very car-savvy, at the moment. What are the most important things we need to make sure we learn about our engine/tires/transmission/etc, before we leave? What tasks should we make sure we're prepared to complete?

    - What kind of a budget would you suggest? As far as food goes, we're planning to save money by mainly eating a supply of nutritious, non-perishable food we can bring with us (along with many, many bottles of water). So, our budget would have to include lodging, gas, emergency repair fund...anything else you can think of?

    THANKS AGAIN, to anyone who answers. Personal experience is really welcome, as are links to other sites where I might be able to get some more information.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Five Days Minimum

    Quote Originally Posted by lamortreve View Post
    Hi there! At the end of this coming summer, my girlfriend and I are taking a trip from Maryland, to Irvine, California.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Generally, we recommend taking at least five days to drive across the country.

    Here are some tips about conducting safe speed runs
    Here are some tips about safety
    Here are some recommendations about how many miles you can safely drive


  3. Default

    Since there are two people driving, I think you should be able to make a really fast trip. I drove solo from AL (Huntsville) to CA (Irvine) in about 2.5 days. So you should be easily able to drive around 2700 miles in 3 days max. Make sure that you keep switching the drivers and napping.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default possible, but not recommended

    While if it was absolutely dire, you could cover 2700 miles in 3 days, but it would be pretty miserable. You'd have to be on the road for 16+ hours a day, and you certainly wouldn't have any room to have anything resembling fun on that kind of trip. It would be all work, you'd have to make sure that people were resting when they aren't driving, and you really wouldn't want to drive anywhere for a while afterword.

    As far as the Uhaul is concerned, if you can go without, I think you'd be better off. You wouldn't have to worry about the extra costs for renting it and extra fuel. Its also going to be a lot easier to drive if you've only got your car to worry about. When its all said and done, its often cheaper just to buy new stuff than it is to move it with you, unless you've got a lot of things that you can't live without.

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

    Default Pleasure vs. Speed Run

    I agree that anything less than 5 days will make this trip nothing but an exhausting speed run with little enjoyment to it. Oh, the first day will be a hoot but the long hours in the car will take a toll. I think to really have time to enjoy the trip a bit, you might want to try for a 6-7 day crossing. This gives you a bit more time to linger at the beauty along the way. Of course, if you can do it, I'd plan for 2-3 weeks on the road so you can really explore along the way.

    No u-haul. I agree with Michael. If you're doing this on a budget, the extra fuel plus cost of rental would be better spent taking a few days longer to really enjoy the drive, imho.

    I'm a woman who has done numerous solo trips. I've never carried anything for safety. Not even pepper spray. Remember, anything can be turned on you and used against you. Common sense has kept me safe without such things. I have considerd getting one of those small gadgets you can attach to your keychain and easily carry in a pocket that emits a high-pitched, loud whistle when you push a button. This will bring attention and help and can't be turned on you.

    We typically recommend planning for no more than 500 miles/day with breaks every couple of hours to stretch and explore a bit. Planning for 10 hours driving per day is crazy. I've done my share of speed runs. I've been on the road for as long as 18 hours in one day (with numerous short breaks throughout the drive). It's exhausting. If at all possible, don't do it.

    If your car is checked out and road-worthy, I think the most you need to be able to do yourself is knowing how to check and add oil, if needed; checking the air in the tires; and, possibly, knowing how to change a flat tire. I can do the first two. I'm too wimpy to change tires. That's why I have a AAA membership.

    Budget for fuel is hard to guess as they are predicting some high fuel costs next summer. I would budget at least $500. This should give you some cushion.

    If you're going to be eating most of your food from things you bring from home, replenishing your cooler along the way at grocery stores, your food costs can be fairly minimal. I typically have a bag with things like protein bars, granola bars, crackers, bread, bagels, tuna fish, fruit that doesn't need refrigeration like apples, oranges and bananas, granola, nuts, peanut butter, etc. And then I have a cooler with cheese, cream cheese, luncheon meats, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots and other veggies. With a knife, can opener, a few spoons and bowls, I can make all sorts of meals out of this that are quick, easy and nutritious. Add a case of water and a case of my guilty pleasure (Diet Coke) and I'm set for several days before I need to stop and replenish.

    You can cut your costs by camping. Of course, even a small tent, sleeping bags, and pillows might take up car space you need for your belongings so this might not work for you. Lower-cost hotels will probably average you about $55-65/night. You can often find lower prices but I would budget for this amount and consider any savings gravy.

  6. Default

    Thank you so much, Judy! This was really helpful - good advice. I'm glad to hear it's realistic to try and stock/re-stock our own food for the trip, and it definitely looks like just packing our most essential belongings into the car is the best way to go.

    Do you know anything about stopping at truck stops for the night? I've read in several places that that's actually very safe, but given your informative, eloquent reply to my post, I thought I'd ask what your take on it was.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Sleeping with Truckers

    I've never stayed all night in places like this. Just late-night naps. Although a couple of times those naps have lasted so long that it may as well have been all night.

    However, there are others here who have done it fairly regularly without a problem. They advise that you purchase something at the truck stop's store, let them know that you'll be sleeping outside, and then purchase something again in the morning...maybe a shower! LOL

    I've also heard people advise that you do things to make your car more private. Things like a sunshield on the windshield and make-shift curtains for the other windows so that people can't watch you sleep. I've never bothered for my "naps". I kinda like to cover myself up like I'm in a cocoon so I just pull the blanket up over my head. But, really, I do think it's a good idea to devise curtains if you're going to do this regularly.

    I'm lucky in that I'm one of those people who can sleep anywhere. So I usually park as close to the action as possible, in well-lit areas, close to the store/restaurant portion. I figure people are less inclined to want to do something where there are potentially more witnesses. So I feel real safe. If you park out on the edge...especially if you are somewhere where your car would be easily hidden from view from the large trucks...I would think you would be less safe. So, hopefully, you can sleep easily with lights and commotion going on around you.

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