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  1. Default First time major RT- Am I thinking too big?

    Hello all- I always get linked to these forums, and there is always great stuff here, so I finally got around to registering.

    I'm looking for some advice, opinions, insight, or whatever from whoever wants to give it.

    My good friend and I have been talking for quite some time now about seeing the entire country this summer. He has a fairly new jeep wrangler that we are planning on taking. The theme we are going for is to take the country in at our own pace, and for as little money as humanly possible. We are both the types that don't bore easily, and can be generally entertained by wandering around someplace cool, or spending a few days screwing around in a forest somewhere. We really don't want to ruin this sort of rambling spirit by planning TOO much, but I've thought through a general route.

    Start in Boulder, CO (we live here) ---> Yellowstone Natn'l park ---> Washington (British Colombia?) ---> down the coast of California ---> Arizona ---> Texas ---> the south via Georgia ---> DC ---> New England ---> Quebec ---> Chicago ---> Back to Boulder

    Is this a good route? Any suggestions for stuff to see? nice places to camp out for a bit? relaxed, laid back towns along the way? places with the best music scenes? incredible natural wonders? We know we want to buy some surfboards and try out the surf bum life for a while while in California. We also want to hike around as much as possible and climb some mountains maybe.

    General cost by my not in any way scientific calculations is around 1000 bucks each for gas? Not sure what to factor in for lodging, as we are comfortable just throwing up some hammocks, a tent, or just sleeping in the car. We both have relatives and friends across the country to stay with in numerous towns, and we are going to give "couchsurfing" a try.

    As far as time goes, we don't have any real constraints, and plan to be gone for a good chunk of the summer. I was thinking about a month to a month and a half.

    We are both easygoing, love everything about life types of dudes. I am not worried about ever being too bored anywhere, and we both don't ever buy much. This is simply a HUGE adventure and don't want to jump in before I've thoroughly thought stuff through. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not necessarily

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It doesn't sound like you are thinking too big, as you've got some ideas about where you want to go, and your timeframe is reasonable - although the month is probably the minimum for the kind of loop you are talking about, and a month and a half would be much better for the leisurely spend a few days here, a few days there pace you've referenced.

    It is far too big of a route to say if it is a "good one" or lay much in the way of specific stopping suggestions. It basically is a loop of the entire US, plus some of Canada, so the options are basically endless.

    In terms of cost, that may be where you aren't thinking big enough. Your fuel budget along may practically need to be doubled. You're looking at more than 10,000 point to point miles - and once you factor in driving around parks, towns, etc I'd expect you to cover about 13,000 miles when all is said and done. A wrangler fully loaded with a months worth of gear, probably 15 mpg, and hopefully gas that will only be $4 per gallon - that's $3500.

    I also suspect that you're underestimating the other costs of your trip. "Free" sleeping is rarely free. If you are staying at a friend/relative or someone else's house, you should be at least treating them to dinner or providing some sign of gratitude. That would also apply to couchsurfing - which while a good place to find a place to crash, is as much a community as anything and based on my understanding, people just looking for a free motel room will quickly find themselves unwelcome. Sleeping in a car might work for a night here or there, but I highly doubt you'll find that a comfortable option, and camping is certainly a good idea, but that's hardly free. Campsites will generally cost you $20-30 or so. Similarly, while you might not buy a lot of stuff, there are still plenty of on the road expenses, particularly food. Basically, gas is a big cost of a trip, but those other things typically end up costing more.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    You're right - this would be a grand adventure. Quick calculation shows it to be at least 8500 miles, but most likely it would be more than that as this doesn't account for any side trips and uses just the fastest paths between each point.

    You will incur costs for lodging at some point, whether it be a site at a campground or a motel/hotel. Just pulling over on the side of the road isn't going to cut it, and while sleeping at truck stops may be an option for some parts of your trip, you will quickly find that sleeping in a vehicle tends not to be the most comfortable when given other options.

    There isn't any mention of food costs in your post, so you'll have to figure those in as well. I've found a safe bet is for food and lodging costs to each run 30% of the budget, with the remaining 40% split up between fuel, shopping (eg buying a hat), entertainment (eg day use fees), etc.

    Getting the appropriate rest and maintaining a healthy diet can both go a long way towards increasing your enjoyment of being "out there".

    Emergency preparation is equally important. You mentioned this is a new vehicle. What kind of spare tire do you have? Is there an adequate jack available? If you have to change a tire on the side of a narrow dirt road in soft soil, will you be able to do so?

    What happens if one of you should become ill? Do you have any allergies? Special medications? Other medical conditions? There are a lot of things to consider and while I understand your desire to just "go", these would be the highest on my list of items that are worth writing down somewhere.

    Since it's relatively close to where you live, I would suggest kicking off with a shorter trip to Yellowstone for several days where you can work out the kinks and modify your expectations as appropriate.

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