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  1. Default Beach Camping in Cali

    Four of us friends are planning a joint road trip to California this summer. Two of us live in Dallas and the other two live in Chicago we were planning on making our own way there then meeting and camping together on the beach but leaving it open to kind of do our own thing and see what happens. We're planning on about a week including drive time (but with two drivers in each car we'd probably just drive straight through or stay one night on the road if we have to). We don't like over planning, however, seeing as we live so far apart and California does get booked fast come summer I do realize that SOME planning is required.

    I guess my questions are:

    What part of California is best for beach camping? We would be in tents not RV's. Do any particular parks come into mind as a great place but with less crowds? And what would the pricing be like? We anticipate having to spend a good bit between gas and lodging but with 4 broke college students how much are we looking at?

    How fast does it fill up? Between the four of us we probably won't be able to settle down a date till March but we're hoping late May or early June. Is there anytime during summer that would be less crowded than others (like the very beginning of summer break versus the middle)?

    Is there anything that I'm not thinking of? I'm not new to road tripping but in the past we always had open ended dates with no particular destination so we could just go anywhere on a whim or where the destination was friends or family so we never had to really worry about lodging.

    I realize I'm not giving much information but that's about as much as I know right now - I'm afraid if we wait too long no one will plan it and we'll end sleeping in our car somewhere!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Driving straight through from either Chicago or Dallas to anywhere in California should not even be considered an option, no matter how many drivers you have. It is frankly very unsafe. Please allow 3 days each way. Sleep in the car in a truck stop if you must, but you need to get off the road for several hours each night.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default agreed

    I'm in complete agreement with GLC, there is absolutely no way you should consider doing this trip if you only have a week. There simply is not enough time to safely make the trip, short of driving there, spending one night on the beach, and turning around to go back home.

    Driving without proper sleep is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and trying to drive from Dallas or Chicago to the West Coast "straight through" or even with one stop would very much be putting not only your own lives at risk, but also would endanger the lives of those with whom you would be sharing the road.

    If you really want to meet up with your friend and spend time on the beach and you only have a week to work with, you need consider a closer option, like Florida. The west coast just isn't a realistic possibility with your timeline.

  4. Default


    See? This is exactly why I asked for help! I have no idea how to properly plan a road trip! Thanks for your input!

    Ok - let's say I add a few days to the road trip so it allows for about 5 - 6 days of travel (and stay at least one night both ways in a hotel for real sleep) and still leave a good 4 or 5 nights there.

    The same questions still go for when we get there we'll just change up how long it will take to get there.

    I realize this seems like a lot of driving and money for too short of a time but the most we all have off together would be 2 weeks and due to other reasons this is the last summer we all have for quite a few years. It would be worth it for us even if we meet in the middle and drive together then spend the entire time on the drive and only have one night on the beach. But this is something we have to do and I could obviously use any tips or ideas you may have!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you guys can do 2 weeks, that would be an awesome trip. Here's an idea if one of you has a vehicle that's big enough for all 4 of you and your stuff - meet around Kansas City or Topeka, KS, spend the night (it's a reasonable 1 day's drive for both of you), find someplace to legally and safely stash the other car for a couple of weeks, and take 3 days from there to CA, either using a hotel or camping for the 2 nights. This would be 4 days each way, which leaves you 6 days to play with in CA - or even take a couple extra days enroute seeing the sights. You will have 1 extra travel day at each end, but the advantage of fuel savings with only 1 car for the long haul, and you will all have time with each other for all but 1 day at each end.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Florida makes far more sense!

    And the Gulf Coast makes even more sense. Even if you add a few days.

    Chicago to Malibu (a beach area I arbitrarily picked) is 2050 miles, about 36 hours driving. The absolute shortest time you can drive this relatively safely is 3 days. And you can't just do "one night both ways in a hotel for real sleep". You will need 2 nights sleeping somewhere in order to be rested enough to be safe for yourself and other travelers.

    Dallas to Malibu is only about 1500 miles and is a more feasible trip in that time.

    However, there is no logical place for you to meet and drive out there together. Well, you could meet in New Mexico if you drove the old Route 66 but this would add about 150 miles to your trip and you don't need that extra pressure.

    If you change your destination to someplace like Pensacola, you're still going to get sun and surf, and it's only 900 miles from Chicago, an easy 1.5 to 2 days. And only 700 miles from Dallas.

    This is going to give you all much more time to play together, whether or not you add days. And the less miles means less fuel cost which might be important to "4 broke college students". It will give you more money to play with while there.

    The California Coast is beautiful. But so is the Gulf Coast areas. California isn't anything magical. I agree with the others that you should do the trip that makes the most sense for your time and your budget

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