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  1. Default One way trip from NY to LA with 2 dogs - Would love some advice! Thank you :)


    My boyfriend and I, along with his two small dogs are moving from NY to LA next week (yes, very soon!). Since we already have a car we decided to drive there. We are on a very tight budget and as much as it pains me to say it - a tight schedule too, so sight seeing should be quite limited, but one or two is still possible (I think...). We want to get there in 8 days, and to save money we're considering sleeping in the car some nights. We haven't really decided on a route yet, but the one suggested by Google maps seems fine going North and across as apposed to South and across (Taking the I-80 and I-90). I'm not sure if my terminology is correct, I am both foreign and clearly out of my element :).
    Here are my questions:

    1. Is sleeping in the car permitted on campgrounds?
    2. Is it significantly cheaper than sleeping in a motel?
    3. Have you ever taken a road trip with pets? Do you have any tips or things I'm not thinking about?
    4. Budget - What would you say this should cost? I know that's pretty general, The Fuel Cost Calculator gave me a 540 $ estimate.
    5. What are one or two sites that we should see, that won't take us too much off the road?
    6. Are there any more tips you can give a first timer? Really, anything would help (of course I would also comb the forum for ideas). :)

    Thank you for reading!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    To answer your questions out right:

    1) Probably yes. But you will probably NOT be comfortable. If this were me, I'd make sure that I have a tent (doesn't have to be expensive), sleeping bags and some sort of pad for underneath, and sleep there. You'd be a lot more rested the next morning, which is important since you are undergoing a 2800-2900 mile trip (which could be done in 6 days of about 500 miles per day).

    2) It depends on whether you are trying to stay in a national forest or state park campground, rather than a commercial one. The problem becomes, trying to find a NF or SP campground that is close enough to the highway you are traveling. You can find motels along your route for $50-60 per night for two, but some may charge a little more per animal. A commercial campground (like a Good Sam park or KOA) could cost $30-35 for a tent site. A national forest CG or SP could cost $15-25.

    3) Yes, we used to camp with a dog and RV with a dog. Make sure your pets are restrained in the vehicle, especially these days. Make sure they get plenty of water along the way, and some pets should be fed at night rather than just before you depart in the morning. (You know the pets better than we do.) We never stayed in hotels with a dog, though, so someone else might chime in there. Oh, and do NOT leave your pets in a hot car with the "windows cracked". The car, of course, will heat up faster. We used to tie ours to the outside of the RV and park far away from the restaurant we were stopping at, put a bowl of water out for her, and she was always fine. Your mileage may vary of course.

    4) Fuel Cost Estimator: to play it safe, we look on gasbuddy to find out what the most expensive fuel will be along the way, and use that as the guideline. Then add about 20% to the number of miles you think you'll travel. (For your trip, I think I'd use 3500 miles at $4.20 per gallon.)

    Overnights -- why not estimate $40 per night?
    Food -- this is a big variable. Ya gotta eat. Pack all of your own snacks and drinks so you don't have to succumb to convenience store prices. If you need to restock, there are Wal-Marts and Targets along the freeway. We estimate $60 per day for two.
    Tolls -- taking 80 across PA is fine, but 90 across OH, IN and IL will set you back some in tolls. If it were me, I'd take I-80 to I-81 south to I-76 to I-71 to I-70, and take that across to I-15 south to LA. That will avoid all but about $2 in tolls. Otherwise, you'll be out about $20 in tolls. Avoid the PA Turnpike if you don't want to pay awful tolls. We've done that above route, heading west, about 2 years ago. (We used I-15 to I-40 to I-81 to I-80 going east, three years ago.)

    5) It will depend on which route you choose. If it were me, though, along I-70 are some beautiful sights in Colorado and Utah. You could zip down to Moab and take a look at Arches National Park ($25 fee, I think) -- there are some BLM campsites along UT-128 that are pretty cheap ($10-15). If you decided to go I-80 to I-81 to I-40 to I-15 instead, there's Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Parks in Arizona.

    6) Tip: Read a lot of the articles in this website, and some of the interesting looking threads in the forums. Especially look at the Saving Money on the Road forum, as there are some great ideas in there.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Sleeping in a car at a campground is certainly going to be allowed. However, with 2 people, I really would never consider sleeping in a car, because there's just no way two people can lay down, stretch out, and be comfortable in a car. Throw in that you're planning to travel with 2 small dogs and it becomes pretty close to impossible. Really, just think about it, how would you possibly have room?

    I would very much agree with Donna that getting a tent could be a great move. Campgrounds will usually cost you about $20 a night - if you are staying at public, or low-cost, no-frills private campgrounds. Cheap motels will usually cost you at least $50. If you're going to spend money on a campground, you might as well take advantage of the space!

    There are too many possibilities for "must sees" to start narrowing things down without some insight into what you would be interested in, but I will caution that National Parks usually are very restrictive about where pets are allowed. Generally you can not take them on trails or really very many places at all beyond campgrounds and parking lots.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd take I-80 to I-81 south to I-76 to I-71 to I-70, and take that across to I-15 south to LA.
    I-81 doesn't come in to play, you take I-80 all the way across PA into OH, then I-76/I-71/I-70.

    The only tolls are the bridge into PA and a short stretch of turnpike in KS. If you have an EZ-Pass, it doesn't work in KS, pay cash.

    If you absolutely must sleep in the car, don't waste your money on campgrounds, just find a 24 hour truck stop at an Interstate exit. Ask permission, they will tell you where to park, in consideration give them some business, such as buy a tank of fuel or something.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    My mistake, you're right, glc! I-80 to I-76 to I-71 to I-81 at all. So sorry! (Was trying to do this from memory, as my atlas wasn't close by.)


  6. Default

    Oh my! Thank you so much! This is very helpful!


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