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  1. Default Boston to San Francisco and Back

    Hello everybody. Some high-school friends and I are on the verge of finishing our freshman year of college, and are hoping to go on a cross-country adventure while the going's good. While three of us finish school in mid-May, one friend finishes in mid-June, and we figured it would be fun to drive from Boston to San Francisco, pick him up, and then head home. We've done some brainstorming, but I wanted to run our plans by some more experienced road-trippers before settling on anything.

    First of all, our (rough) itinerary is as follows:

    Buffalo > Cleveland* > Chicago* > Minneapolis > Sioux Falls > Keystone > Yellowstone > Grand Tetons > Salt Lake City* > Reno > San Francisco*

    Bakersfield > Las Vegas > Grand Canyon > Albuquerque* > Roswell > Dallas* > Little Rock > Nashville > Knoxville > Durham* > Washington DC* > New York* > Boston*

    We're basically planning to spend one day in each city, arriving in San Francisco on June 11th and back in Boston around June 24th.

    I have a few questions. First of all, the starred locations are those where we have places to stay (relatives, friends, etc). Hopefully this'll cut down on food and lodging, but we still have to find places at the other ~13 sites. We're fine with camping (and I assume we will do so at Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon), but does anyone have any recommendations for places to stay at the other routes, or changes to our itinerary?

    We've budgeted around $2400 total for gas and vehicle maintenance (we're driving a Volvo XC70). I think our budget is around $6000 total (4 of us), but obviously we'd like to keep that figure as low as possible.

    Also, what would be a good way to go about finding local attractions, places to stay, etc? I figured I'd use Wikipedia to find events / tourist attractions in cities, but there must be local gems worth seeing.

    It's late, so I'm blanking on the other questions that will surely pop up, but thanks in advance for your advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Expecting a Long Rain?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Actually, your routes and budget look fine. Now, I assumed that (as stated) you planned to spend 1 day in each of the named locations (24) plus the 15 or so days required for the driving, so that you're looking at around 40 days (and 40 nights). My quick back-of-the-envelope calculation says $8500 for the entire trip, including gas, if you eat many of your meals picnic style from a cooler and vary your overnight accommodations between mooching of relatives and friends, camping, and the occasional motel for a real bed and shower. So you're either going to have to be more frugal than my assumptions or have more than $6000 total for everything, but at least you're in the ballpark. For more details on how to RoadTrip on a budget check here and for a good checklist of what to budget for (and how much) read through this post.

    Another area of concern is just the number of days and people and 'only' one car. The XC70 will be fine for up to 4 people, but absolutely will not work for more than that. In any case, you need to budget in alone time for everyone throughout this trip so you don't end up getting on each other's nerves.

    Otherwise, you're following two of the classic east-west RoadTrip itineraries with plenty to see and do. With all due modesty, I think the many people here are a much better source of what to see and do in each of the states than Wikipedia. Another great source is the Welcome Centers as you enter each new state. Check the racks for brochures and discount coupons, and be sure to get a state map - often the very best at showing scenic roads, state parks and other cheap to free attractions.


  3. Default

    Actually, I was unclear about the logistics of the trip--we intended to include driving AND sightseeing in each day. Those destinations were the intended final destinations on each day (after driving, we would hopefully spend the rest of the day looking around). The trip, as it stands, would be 23 days.

    Given that, should we extend our stay in some areas? Is ~3-400 miles a day possible if we want to get any exploring in, or will we need to slow our pace down a little bit? Within the constraints of our budget, we can certainly extend our trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Some rough guidelines

    We generally recommend that people consider the following when planning a trip of the magnitude you're talking about doing:
    * It takes 5 days to drive from coast-to-coast with minimal stops. So you will need 10 days just to drive this route. (Figure two days to go up/down the coasts.) But since you're not going all the way north-to-south, and vice-versa, you could probably get by with one day on each coast for driving, i.e. San Francisco-Bakersfield and Washington DC-NYC.
    * You can average about 53mph east of the Mississippi and 57mph west of it during the course of an average driving day. This allows time for very brief stops for food/fuel/bio breaks but no time for sightseeing. This also allows for traffic congestion, construction, etc. You may be able to do a bit faster here-and-there but, overall, this is pretty accurate.
    * We also generally recommend that people limit their miles to about 500-550 per day. This means that you'll be on the road for about 10-11 hours that day. Of course, less miles per day is better if you have time and if you want to do more sightseeing.
    * On a trip of this length, you will eventually get tired of driving and need a day off from being on the road. So don't plan on driving every day. I would estimate that 4-5 days in a row will be the maximum you'll really want to drive before taking a non-driving day break. So, in 23 days, I would try to plan for four non-driving days. Five would be even better.

    Just a random suggestion, since you live in Buffalo, isn't it fairly easy to get to places like NYC and Boston at another time? Maybe for long weekends? And couldn't you also get to Wash DC at another time, too? I'm just thinking that I tend to avoid going to nearby places when I'm going on a long roadtrip so I can save those nearer places for shorter trips. I'd rather spend my previous time when going farther exploring the farther-away places. Hope that makes sense. Just my two bits.

    If you drive 3-400 per day, this will take roughly 4.5-7 hours to drive so this should leave you some time to explore without too much problem. Just remember that a trip of this magnitude, in the time you have, means that you won't have any time to really explore any one place. So plan on short look-sees vs. any in-depth exploration.

    If you're going to camp at popular places like Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons, you will probably want to make reservations ahead of time. These places are popular and fill up fast.

    A good place to save money is to eat some/most of your meals out of your cooler.

    We will be glad to help you discover great places to stay, and things to see and do. Also, a quick use of the search tool (see green bar above) wil yield many posts about specific places you're planning on seeing. I agree with AZBuck that you'll probably find way more information here than you'll ever find on Wiki. Give it a shot.

    Think about your route, your budget, and narrow down your trip a bit more and then come on back with more questions. Happy planning!

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