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  1. #1

    Default Advice for a four month road trip

    Hello everyone! I am a 26 year old road tripping enthusiast, and this is my first post here on the site.

    I have been planning an epic U.S. road trip for many years now. I have been all around the forum on this website, as well as read books and visited websites of others who have blogged their trips. I just purchased the book Live Your Road Trip Dream and will be reading through it soon. I think Iím fairly versed on what my trip will entail, but I figure itís always good to learn from the experienced travelers on this site.

    I am taking the trip by myself because I havenít convinced anybody (my wife included) that a trip this length is feasible and worth it. I have already established a route- approximately 18,500 miles counter-clockwise around America starting at my home in New Jersey. I figure it will take me about 16 weeks, averaging 160 something miles per day (some more, some less). I think I have a comprehensive sights list together, but if anyone has an unusual or unknown place they would like to mention to me, be my guest. I am covering nearly the whole country so donít worry that your suggestion is out of the way!

    I own a 20 year old (but still a baby) Jeep Cherokee, and I intend to sleep at least half the nights in the back of it, either on city streets, campgrounds, state or national parks, Walmart parking lots, etc. I figure I may pull into the local police station where I intend to spend a night and ask them for a safe place to park overnight. I have looked into websites where people offer couch sharing and the like, but I donít know how much I could trust that method, so I may stick with the truck. Any input or experiences with this would help me a lot.

    The remainder of the nights I will sleep in Super 8ís or with the few friends and family I have around the country. Iím hoping for some input about the sleeping in the truck idea. I am open to perhaps getting a Chevy Astro van to make myself a little more comfortable, but I am accustomed to my Jeep and know it is easy to fix, easy to drive, and relatively safe.

    Also, any input about what I would need to pack, and how to pack a Cherokee to fit everything would be appreciated. I have already figured I would remove the front passenger seat and fold the back seat flat to sleep out nicely. The little Cherokee is actually really spacious inside! I have looked into Thermarest camp mattresses- they make a very nice 3Ē thick mattress that would probably work perfectly in the truck.

    Another aspect of the trip I am hoping for info about is technologies. I want to document my travels to hopefully write a book later (see Blue Highways or Travels with Charley and various others), and need to bring cameras, videocameras, and a tape recorder. I am not sure if anyone has any advice here, but I need these items to be easy to use but make quality documentation devices. Also, has anyone out there ever used the Trackstick, and is it worth it for documenting a road trip like this? It seems like a fun tool from their website, but I donít want to waste money for nothing.

    I have calculated a rough estimate for the tripís budget and got $10,000- $12,000. This included approximately 35 nights in motels, 18,500 miles of gas at approximately 18 miles per gallon in my Jeep, eating perhaps one meal a day at a restaurant (cereal and fruit for breakfast, cold cut sandwiches for lunch, and a nice dinner), anticipated repairs, entrance fees and attraction costs, and all the necessary purchases for the trip (technologies, packing organization supplies, mattress). Is there a standard budget number per day for a trip like this, or at least a number for food, attractions, etc. that I should try to stick to?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have completed a few one to two week road trips in the past, but never alone and never with the intention of sleeping in the truck. I want to make sure I am prepared for this before I set out.

    Happy travelling everyone!!

    -Chris S.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you plan on sleeping in your car, the safest place to do that is at a truck stop. Ask permission first. Do not try it on city streets or Interstate rest areas.

  3. Default

    I would not rule out couchsharing. It's a great way to meet unique people and you would definately have more to write about. I can say that I have never had an unsafe experience and I have couchshared with my 6 year old son. Plan to again this summer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Minor Details

    You seem to have things well under control, at least at the big picture stage, so I'll just offer a few odds and ends. First off, I'll yield to your own experience with sleeping gin your Jeep, but I really think that it's going to get very old very fast, and that after a few weeks, you'll be spending many more nights in motels than you're currently planning on. The technology I'm most comfortable with for documenting a trip on the fly is a small hand-held tape recorder, available at any Office Depot or Office Max (whichever is still in business). Load up on the small tapes that fit it when you buy it. These are much easier to use than trying to write on paper or manipulate a keyboard while driving. As for daily costs, have a read through this discussion and see if there's anything you haven't thought of and that your guesstimates agree with what's there.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Couchsurfing

    Like jsherwood, I too have used couchsurfing. It is a wonderful way of getting to meet the locals. Even if you do not want to stay with them, they will share their little corner of the world with you, and tell you about or take you to their favourite little gems.

    In NYC, even though I was staying at the HI hostel, I was invited to dinner at a couchsurfing city ambassador's home, had lunch with an actor, morning tea (in Central Park) with an artist who lives opposite where John Lennon was murdered and afternoon tea (at Starbucks) with a visiting journalist from Russia - not all on the same day. They all shared wonderful stories about their little corner of Manhattan.

    My suggestion is that you contact people in some of the areas you will be visiting, and set up an email friendship with them, well before your departure. This will give you a feeling as to whether you would like to accept their hospitality.

    My trip to Alaska is not till late May - June, and I started contacting couchsurfers in the relevant areas before Christmas. Have been corresponding with a few for some time now, and have some already waiting to find out exactly when I will be in their area.

    So even if you are not sure of the date, get to know the locals in the areas you'll be visiting. You might be surprised what there is waiting for you out there.

    Lifey who'd rather learn from the locals than tourist brochures

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