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  1. #1

    Default Lone Travler and frist time to the states

    G'day guys,

    First time poster... i am hoping for some worldly advice to help map out and advise on an impromptu trip I have decided to take on from the 1st Aug to 31st Aug. First time to the states and looking to keep it simple and enjoy the road with everything around it.

    My starting point will be San Francisco, potentially head north into Washington the trek across to Wisconsin/Michigan, then south through the southern states then finish up in Miami. i approximate that it will be 5000 miles not including detours.

    I would ideally like to only spend a max of 5-6 hrs per day driving, is this distance acceptable for a solo traveller within a 29 - 30 day travel period?

    Does anyone recommend these parts of the US at that time of year? Or would alternate route be a wise choice (i.e. central or south routes from San fran. to Miami)? Are there any major weather concerns i should look out for in certain parts?

    I am looking to steer clear of major cities (apart from start and end points) and focus on small & sleepy towns. Can anyone make any suggestions on towns or areas to visit in the top states?

    Camping and fishing, are there permits or licences that are required to do these with the states? Also can anyone suggest any great areas within the above travel route to camp and fish?

    Accommodation, i am not looking to pre-book any accommodation, as destinations will be on a whim and on a toss of a coin. Is accommodation easy enough to come across and is there an approx $ per night i would be looking at?

    Mode of travel.... Car rental, does anyone recommend a type of car that would be ideal for a solo traveller and for that length of time.... Small, Convertible, SUV, luxury? Would i be better off looking a vehicles with high MPG’s or pumps are plentiful for a gas guzzler?

    Travel off the beaten path in rental cars, do rental companies allow this?

    If anyone has any another advice they would like to add to help me out that would be much appreciated?

    Thanks in advance for everyone’s help

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Decision time.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The distance to cover, in the time you have should be pretty relaxed, and depending on your finalised route could possibly mean having to drive 5-6 hours a day, every other day.

    I think that at this early stage in your planning, you will be better off exploring the RTA forums and roadtrip planning pages [check out the tool bars at top of page] with a good map to hand, as there are millions of possibilities open to you, and impossible to start making meaningful suggestions at this point about towns and places to visit.

    First of all you need to decide whether to head North, through the middle, or South as each have there own merits, and although you might get people recommending alternatives, it is what you are looking for that is important.

    A lot of people "wing it" without booking reservations in advance and you should always find somewhere, but expect to struggle around popular tourist areas, Yellowstone as an example.

    The car you need should meet your needs and budget, if you want to splash out on a converible then do so, but a mid size Sedan should offer you comfort and value for money.

    Taking the car off the "black stuff" and onto an unmade road is not permitted, not even in an SUV.

    Enjoy the planning and when you have decided upon places that interest you and have started to build your own route I am sure we can help to "fine tune" it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Whatever country you are from, when you get here the price of gas will undoubtedly be considerably lower than what you are used to, so it doesn't really matter what you are driving. Our current prices are averaging less than $3 USD per US gallon (3.785 liters/gallon). The typical "mid sized" sedan with a 4 cylinder engine should average around 25 miles per gallon.

    Nightly accommodations can vary widely in cost. The average price for a room in a "budget" hotel chain (Motel 6, Super 8, etc.) should be in the $40 to $70 range except in resort areas and in large cities, small "mom and pop" motels can be less. Hostels, when you can find them, should be around $25. Commercial campgrounds should also be around $25, state parks somewhat less. Some forest service lands have free "dispersed" camping where you have to hike in. Permits may or may not be required to camp on public land, you must check on that, you can't just pitch camp in any old place. Fishing generally requires a license, and it's on a state by state basis.

  4. #4


    Cheers guys for the initial advice. I have spun the map, closed my eyes, dropped the finger and landed roughly north, so i have mapped out the initial stages of the drive.

    1. Start point - San Fran.
    2. Follow the coast line north all the way to Seattle
    3. Head east up into the Wenatchee national forest and connect back up on 90
    4. Stay on 90 through Montana and into Wyoming for a cheeky stop at Yellowstone
    5. Continue along 90 to Sth. Dakota, stop off at Rushmore
    6. More 90 until I hit 29 then north into Minnesota, continue north to Bemidji
    7. Head east to Grand Rapids then Duluth

    If some help could be given in fine tuning this initial route that would be much appreciated.

    Many Thanks

  5. #5


    Continuation from last post;

    8. Continue through to superior then down US53
    9. East onto Hwy 13 and follow shoreline around, past Baysfeild & Washburn ad reconnect on US2
    10. Follow US2 into the north of Michigan through Ottawa National Forrest through to Escanaba
    11. Track south to Green Bay, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Chicago

    At this point I seem to be heading all over the shop and not sure if this is an effective route
    12. From Chicago head east on 80 to Cleveland
    13. 76 to Pittsburgh
    14. US40 to Columbus then Cincinnati
    15. Follow 75 south to Lexington and Knoxville
    16. West on 40 to Nashville
    17. North/west on 24 to St Louis
    18. South on 55 to Memphis
    19. Continue down 55 to Jackson then New Orleans (Or would it be suggestible to just follow the Mississippi, from Memphis to New Orleans
    20. East on 10 then Join 65 into Alabama to Montgomery
    21. Head south East to Jacksonville, FL, then straight down the coast to Miami,57.084961&z=5

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Things I Might Change...

    ...and I emphasize might since there is no single, perfect RoadTrip. 1) Since you say you want to avoid large cities, rather than come around Lake Michigan on the west and south shores through Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago and Gary, go around to the north and east, across the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan to St. Ignace, over the Mackinac Bridge and down I-75 rejoining your mapped route at Toledo. Keep in mind that Michigan got the UP as compensation for losing Toledo to Ohio.

    From Pittsburgh, I'd continue southeast to at least have a look at the Appalachians, either via I-76/I-70 to Hagerstown, MD and I-81 south, or via I-79/I-77 to Wytheville, VA. Either route would give you a chance to both drive a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway and to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    South out of St. Louis along I-59 is fine, but I will note that one of my favorite riverfront towns is Ste. Genevieve, off of I-59 on US-61. US-61 also connects Vicksburg, Natchez and several other historic old southern cities, and in its southern stretches is known as the Blues Highway.


  7. #7


    AZBuck, Cheers for the route advice, especially Hagerstown to Wytheville, looks like it could be a nice drive. From Wytheville do you think that it would better to then head to Knoxville, Nashville then Memphis skipping St Louis all together reducing the drive time (as i will not be heading north then loop back south)? Or will I be missing out to much by not heading to St Louis?

    My interests in the southern states are Food and Music, in particular Blues. Good local food goes for the whole trip but in particular down south.

    Now back tracking re: Michigan, from the boarder of Wisconsin/Michigan, do you or anyone else have any thoughts on if i should follow Lake Superior around to St. Ignance, or head down US2 to Lake Michigan then north/east to St. Ignance?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Keep St. Louis

    Several cities along the Mississippi are known for their Blues traditions, including St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans. If seeking out the Blues is a major objective of your trip, I'd keep all three on your itinerary. Nashville, on the other hand, is known for its Country Western tradition, and you can probably give it a miss. Between the Appalachians and St. Louis, you might want to look at some back roads through the hill country of Kentucky and visit Mammoth Cave en route.


  9. #9


    AZBuck is "Right-on" Memphis, and New Orleans are definitely cities to stop in. I myself love to eat - the local cuisine in Memphis and New Orleans will make it worth while. St. Louis??? However, if you are in Memphis, ya gotta stop by Graceland.
    Also – just a few quick thoughts: in California: Sutter Mills, the Sierra Nevada - Beautiful drive to Tahoe. In Wyoming, don’t forget Devils Tower. In South Dakota can't miss Deadwood, the Badlands, and Wall Drugs (roadtrip joke).

  10. #10


    If anything to remember from all of this is if you are ever in Northern Wyoming, GET ON ALTERNATE RT. 14 AND FOLLOW IT THE WHOLE WAY ACROSS THE STATE!! Wow, breath taking AND white knuckles all the way. Oh yeah, it is closed in the winter

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