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  1. Default From Saint Paul to Saint Paul: 3 months on the road

    Hi there. I am planning a road trip, and you guys seem to be the experts, so I'm coming for advice.

    On June 1, 2010 I am going to leave Saint Paul, MN and not return until September 1 (unless something goes horribly wrong). Some vitals about myself and my existing plans:

    * I am a 21-year-old male.
    * I drive a 1986 Volvo 240DL station wagon in good condition.
    * I am doing this drive solo.
    * I am planning on having about $5000-6000 saved up for this trip by summer start.
    * I am not taking a computer, nor will I be using the Internet along the way.
    * I have GPS on my phone. I'm going to focus on using maps, but will have the GPS if I get lost, need to find a gas station or something, or have to get to a specific address.

    Lodging: With maybe some exceptions, I'm not going to be staying in a hotel or a motel anywhere along the way. Thanks to my college drawing kids from all over the country, I know people in a lot of states who I can hopefully crash with. Barring that, I am planning on either sleeping in my car or doing some couchsurfing. I've slept in my car before and it's plenty comfortable, so I'm not worried about that; I also skimmed through some old threads here about sleeping in cars, but if anyone has their own suggestions or advice please offer it up!

    Food: I'm going to buy a campstove (any suggestions on brand?) and eat mostly things that I can cook by boiling. I'm going to avoid perishables, and drink only water along the way. I have no dietary restrictions but I'll probably go dairy-free except when stopping to eat. Any recommendations for high-protein, high-calorie, and/or high-fiber foods that are cheap and easy to cook/store? I'm planning on lots of rice, beans, jerky, and noodles, but I'm not a very creative chef.

    Route: I don't have a definite route, and probably will never make one. My general outline is as follows:
    Saint Paul to Omaha
    to Denver
    to Salt Lake City
    to Idaho
    to Vancouver BC
    down the west coast to LA
    to Vegas
    to Las Cruces
    to Marfa, TX
    to Austin
    along the Gulf Coast
    (maybe to Miami, if I have time)
    up the eastern seaboard to NYC/Boston
    to Montreal
    to Toronto
    to Detroit
    to Chicago
    to Madison
    to Saint Paul

    I think I'll probably log somewhere between 10,000-12,000 miles. My car averages around 19mpg right now (which is mostly city driving, so I'm sure it'd be better on the highway), so I'm expecting gas to cost no more than about $1800-2300. Currently I eat on about $100-150/mo, and I'm hoping to keep under $200/mo for this trip.

    I guess largely what I'm posting to ask is: what am I missing? What necessities that I need to buy that I might overlook? Any cost-cutting tips? Any must-see attractions along the way? My only real destination is getting back to Saint Paul by the end of summer, so I'm more than willing to go somewhere not in my initial itinerary if it seems worth it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    $150/month for food - that's quite amazing. I would think you'd get tired of rice and beans or boiled dinner after a couple of days, and truthfully perishables are okay to have with you to broaden your meal options. You would want to stick with a diet similar to what you normally eat on a daily basis on your trip. I think that changing your dietary routine would be a bit much on top of the other things that go into a trip of this magnitude. The body can have strange ways of reacting to change.

    With three months you can go just about anywhere in the country and "have time" to do so. It's good to hear that you've read through the "sleeping in the car" threads that have become somewhat popular.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Sleeping in the Car and Eating

    A station wagon can be quite comfortable to sleep in, if you put the back seats down, have something for a mattress, and have a sleeping bag and pillow. I have done it often. (An SUV is better.) However, it is where you sleep in your car that counts. In State Parks there is a minimal charge, and commercial parks can get quite expensive. But hey!! Truck Stops are free. Here is a most valuable resource in which are listed which truck stops make RVs welcome, have showers and restaurants, etc.

    On my recent trip I spent many nights at truck stops, had a hearty meal in their restaurant, sometimes breakfast as well (mostly I carried my own cereal and bought a bottle of milk) and a shower, and still came out well under the cost of even the cheapest hotel/motel, and in most cases less than a campground.

    You can also get a list of free camping sites if you google free camping USA. But don't be seduced by the temptation to pull over just anywhere, or on interstate rest areas. Not only is it often illegal but it is mostly unsafe to do so.

    Have you allowed for an emergency fund, in case of breakdown, and for car maintenance, etc. These things can come at you in the most unexpected ways. Post 8 in this thread is just one example.

    And as for any destination which you may not have thought of..... have you ever considered driving to Alaska, Anchorage, Seward and Homer as well as Fairbanks. And then the Canadian cities along the way, Lake Watson, Ft Nelson, Dawson Crk, Whitehorse and Dawson City to name just a few. My trip last summer was was for two months, but what I could not have done on that trip in three months.

    Lifey who trusts you will live this dream

  4. Default

    I'm going to stick to the contiguous states (and a handful of Canadian cities) for this trip. I do want to do Alaska next, but I think when I do that drive I might actually just be moving there.

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