I'm new to forums in general, but I'm pretty desperate for good advice on where to go.
My class is going on a trip to Europe next summer, but seeing as though I have no savings from when I fell asleep behind the wheel coming home from work a month ago and totaled my car, I'm looking for something cheaper but very fun to do, in attempts to dull the sting of seeing all my friends experience the cultural wonders of Europe without me. I'm a little nervous, though, being only 17 going on 18, and taking a road trip without my parents. I know I'll be able to afford it (I work 30-40 hours a week), I'm good at packing, planning, and organizing, and I know I've got some friends who will be down for a good time, and who will share the price and driving burdens. But I'm wary of going across country, and simply being so far away from home.
I suppose my main concerns/questions are:
-Finding something close to North Carolina, preferably out of state, where we can camp (hotels are for wussies), hike, and maybe see some beaches.
-Finding places that aren't too touristy, but where we can still do a little shopping.
-What are some critical tips for young, inexperienced travelers?
And another thing: I originally had my hopes up for planning a road trip to the Grand Canyon (I'm itching to go rafting and hiking on the North Rim). But it's around thirty hours away from where I live, and practically across country. I realize that the do-ability of this trip would depend on my car's gas mileage, and the maturity of the friends I decide to bring, but assuming that my next car gets around 30mpg and I have some really good friends to go with me, would this be a good idea? The farthest I've ever driven in one shot was four hours long, and I'm thinking that my friends and I would take turns driving in shifts. But please be honest. I'd rather do a trip maybe 10-15 hours away and get back in one piece than a thirty hour trip that leaves me scarred. Is this destination practical?
Thanks so much for your time!