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  1. #1

    Default Massive cross-country Summer 2011 roadtrip questions :)

    Hey guys,

    First off, as this is my first post, I want to say that RTA is the most resourceful site on roadtripping I was able to find. I have read through many threads in search of some answers for my own roadtrip, but still have some questions.

    I am planning to go on a 9000+ mile roadtrip around America with one of my friends. The trip is supposed to take place in the middle of June 2011 and last somewhere around 45 days. I realize it seems early to start planning everything out, but we want to do the research now so we don't have to leave everything for the last minute. It would be awesome if you guys would help us out by answering some questions, since we are not very experienced with such long roadtrips.

    I do have the entire trip with stops and duration of stay mapped out in Microsoft Streets & Trips and would like to upload it when I get home from work. That way you guys could tell me if it's a doable plan. We are planning to sleep in tents most of the time, so we could use the money we save on seeing more cool stuff. Is 1500-2000 dollars per person enough? We are driving a Honda Fit, and the cost of gas was calculated to be under 700 dollars with somewhere around 9000 miles to drive (car has great mpg). Also, since the seats in the back fold into the floor, should be invest in one of those Thule top of car cargo containers? Or would we be able to fit most of the necessities in the car?

    As far as camping goes, are there any campgrounds that are free of charge? As in, are there primitive sites in forests off the highways where you can just drive into and set camp for the night?

    More questions to come :D thanks for your help!

    - Chris

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First Answers

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First the good news. 9000 miles over 45 days is a very doable pace, no matter where yo plan on going. I also drive a Fit, but think your gas cost estimate is a bit optimistic. Even with the car's excellent mileage (which will go down with the heavy load of two people plus gear) you need to budget closer to $800-900 for gas, and more if prices start to climb next summer. I would not get an external cargo carrier, As you note, you have plenty of storage space in the back and adding drag will further reduce your mileage.

    Now the bad news. Even $2000 each will simply not be enough for even a bare-bones trip. While you may be able to find occasional 'distributed' or 'dispersed' camping in national forests, a typical camping site in a state park or forest will run you about $20/night. You can NOT just pull over at random and camp. You WILL be trespassing and subject to being rousted out or worse. So, even if you manage to do unbelievably well and find free camping 25% of the time, the other 33 nights will cost you around $700. So $1500 of your combined $4000 are gone just on fuel and 'lodging' leaving you each about $35/day for food, admissions to parks and attractions and everything else associated with living. And no margin for emergencies.


  3. Default Have you ever camped this way?

    We were in a rented RV, and still my wife felt uneasy about camping in the desert around Goblin Valley State Park. You definitely feel more secure if there are SEVERAL campers around you.

    There are several websites that list free (dispersed) camping areas. Here is one:

    Be aware, although you can drive right up to a paying campground, you can spend CONSIDERABLE time trying to find the "right" place to set up camp for free. This is much less fun as the sun is setting and your options are dwindling.

  4. #4

    Default Points of emphasis, and something of a softening on one point

    Hello cllesko15,
    I fully agree that a car-top carrier is the last thing you want on the Fit. The aerodynamic drag is particularly noticable in the way a smaller car drives and handles, and it's sure to slaughter your fuel mileage, absolutely sure to.

    If the Fit can be outfitted with a 1.25" receiver hitch, the whole range of hitch-haul racks is available for extra storage, the advantage being it's not catching the 70mph wind atop your little car.

    I am somewhat more optimistic about your costs associated with National Forest (NF) camping. As long as you orient yourselves to the more primitive campsites, many are free or are <$10/tent/night. These are somewhat off the beaten path, mind you, and typically have only water and an outhouse and perhaps a picnic table, but they can be in very nice, scenic areas. There's a guidebook published describing the location and facilities at NF campgrounds. I forget the title, but it should be easy to find. I faintly recall it includes BLM campgrounds, too. If not, I suspect there's a separate guidebook for BLM campgrounds.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  5. #5


    Thanks guys, I appreciate the responses. At this moment (even though I really want to) I cannot upload details of my trip, as my laptop charger decided to stop working. I'll post a screenshot of the map and the detailed itinerary as soon as I get a new one.

    I know it does look a bit of a stretch and I didn't really consider the car load increasing the gas consumption. But a few of the nights we plan on staying with family/friends around the country. We would preferably want to find primitive campgrounds otherwise, so the cost would be lower than $20 bux a night, right? We would find some good deals for the nights at motels, so we would have more money for food and other attractions. We plan to use the cooler more than dining at restaurants anyway, so would you still say that we are able to pull this off with $2000 a person? I am an amateur, so any advice would help :).

    I'll admit, I've only camped at occupied campgrounds, but am not a person that will be freaking out at night because nobody else is around lol. I've actually tried to do a search for some free campgrounds along the way, but wasn't really sure where to start. We are also planning to do some backcountry hiking up in Glacier, so we would be using primitive campgrounds as well. I was thinking along the same lines as you that finding such a site would take up a considerable amount of time along the way, therefore I figured I'd start researching it now. Any more tips are more than welcomed.

    I'm glad we don't have to invest in a car-top carrier. Since AZBuck vouches for the Fit's capacity, then I don't have to worry about that anymore. As for the camping, it's good to hear that the campgrounds we were hoping for are available. So what are my options, Bureu of Land Management, National Forests and dispersed campgrounds? Are there other options I should be aware of? I have my mind set on keeping this as low cost as possible to have funds for other activities.

    Again, thanks for the help guys.
    - Chris

  6. #6


    Hey guys,
    I haven't been on the forum since the summer, but a lot has been done since then regarding my massive road trip next summer. I have set up a blog where I describe the details of the trip, along with a map and destination list. Take a look:

    I'd appreciate any comments/advice on the route we have chosen, as I am sure there are tons of things we've missed that would be awesome to see.


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