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  1. Default Six week solo roadtrip to the west

    I'd like to start by saying that RTA is a great website, with a lot of information and resources for the novice and experienced roadtripper, my compliments!

    With the first six weeks of the summer having zero obligations, I figured it would be nice to enjoy complete freedom in the form of a roadtrip. I'm a college student (21), and I'll only have classes in the second part of the summer, so I can do whatever I want in the first six weeks (starting May 1st). I live in the very end of the Florida panhandle, and the idea was to go as far west as possible: San Francisco. I've created this thread to see how feasible the plan is, and I'd like your help with it.

    The route I was thinking of taking:

    Pensacola - (Houston) - (Phoenix) - Las Vegas - Los Angeles - San Francisco - (Yellowstone) - (Mt. Rushmore) - (Memphis) - Pensacola

    Parenthesized cities are optional and I just picked them because they were big cities/places on the way or in the neighborhood (relatively, of course ;-)). Google Maps tells me this route is 5700 miles, and if I divide that over six weeks, it would come down to 130 miles a day. Sounds doable to me, but I'd like your opinions about that, too. I would also like comments on the route: things I'm missing, detours I'm taking, etc.

    Again, I'm a college student, so money is tight. I have a job that doesn't require me to be in a certain physical location: all I need is a computer with an internet connection, and I can work whenever I want. I'm planning on living off the money I make while traveling.

    My car gets 35 mpg on the highway, about 30 in the city. If I assume 33 mpg average, 5700 miles, and $4 per gallon (which it'll probably be next month), that would mean $700 on gas. Food and lodging can be really cheap, although I have to say that I eat more than average, which consequently costs more, too. If I can eat for $10/day, for 42 days, that's about $400. Lodging can be anywhere: in the car, a cheap motel, a hostel, camping (although I prefer a bed, and I will most certainly need one every once in a while). Couchsurfing is an option, too. I figure probably $30 per day on average for lodging, which brings me to about $1200 for lodging. $1200 + $700 + $400 = $2300. Certainly more than I'm making with work, but I would have had expenses such as food and rent anyway.

    Is this a realistic estimate, or am I missing serious stuff? Is the overall plan manageable, or is this trip way too intense for a first solo roadtrip? Any comments or suggestions are much appreciated!

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


    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It's certainly an ambitious first trip, but with the time you have it is doable. The budget however is another thing. You are already working on [below] bare minimum costs that are bound to 'grow' as you hit the road. For instance you are using Google A to B mileage figures to work on your gas consumption, but in reality the minimum of detours into Cities and National parks etc will most likely add another 1000 miles to your overall trip. You eat more than average but are assuming you can eat for $10 a day, every day. We would not recommend you sleep in the car for a good nights sleep and if you do, your next day will be miserable. Camping is a good budget option, but you will still need to pay camping fees and the 'odd night' in a Motel will soon add up. You haven't accounted for any spending money, mechanical repairs if needed, having a meal out and so on. Basically, you are trying to live and have fun on a little over $50 a day including food, lodging and gas which in reality isn't going to happen in my opinion.

    Having said that, there is no reason you can't have a memorable trip. If you can't find a bigger budget you can still have a fun trip, just maybe not for the whole 6 weeks. And as long as you have a small fund for emergency repairs and enough money to get you home you can cut the journey short and turn around.

    Have a look around the forums and road trip planning pages and you will find thousands of ideas on routes and attractions. Enjoy the planning !

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