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  1. #1

    Default 2015 Senior Road Trip

    Hey, my name is Blake Bowman.

    Three of my close friends and I are planning a senior road trip for this summer; all four of us will be 18, I'm the youngest and my birthday is June 9th, so it will be soon after that. We are from Western Maryland (Cumberland and Frostburg) and will probably be departing from Cumberland. We just started planning earlier this week, so I get that the plans will change and I just wanted to see if you, those who have more experience than I, could give us advice.

    Our plan is to travel south west, either to Texas or New Orleans, but we may go a bit further if we decide to. We were originally going to, ambitiously, drive to California for multiple reasons, but decided that the idea was less likely an option. If we go to Texas or New Orleans, we then plan on traveling back north up the east coast, through Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and maybe Deleware and then head home.

    On the way, we want to see the beautful scenes America has to offer and take in the cultures of the other places we visit. We may also film a trip documentary to chronicle the events, cuz that would be a cool experience. We have no locked plans right now, but we may set a goal to achieve over the trip, like to see something, or to meet someone. We're all interested in music and sports, so heading that way we might stop in Graceland, TN or see some sports team's stadiums. National Parks are an option.. What other places and sights should we check out to and from?

    We might take one of my cars, either a 2012(?) Nisan Rogue or a 1984(?) Chrysler Fifth Avenue, I'm not sure on the years off the top of my head, but both cars are solid driving, so they'll be cool. We're going to split gas and if we have any group stuff, but other than that we'll all bring money. How much in gas money, as a group, would you suggest to bring to be safe? How much other money, for food, shopping, recreation, etc. would you recommend? We're planning on camping or sleeping in the car for the most part, so hotel money isn't needed. I'm about to get my license in the next month, so I'll be driving hopefully, but two of the other three also have theirs.

    We're going because we don't want to go to a lame beach (Ocean City) like everyone else, but we wanna spend time together as the SQUAD we've grown as. We're pretty crazy, and anything can happen when we're together, we'll try anything, so feel free to suggest... anything. :)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's Not Our Trip

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    And welcome to the world of RoadTripping, where the primary tenet is that the 'best' RoadTrip is whatever you decide for yourself. What you'll find here are some suggestions, but no hard and fast rules or 'must-see' attractions. That said...

    Let's deal with destination first. There are a couple of factors to take into consideration. First thing to take into account is the time you all have available. That will place constraints on how far you can get before you have to turn back. As a rough rule of thumb, you can multiply 150-200 miles times the number of days available to give you an absolute outer limit on how far you can get before you have to turn around. Thus for every week of your RoadTrip you can plan on getting about 1500 miles (at most) down the road. Remember, that leaves time seeing things on the way and at your final destination as well as getting back home. If anything, err on the short side of that estimate.

    Another constraint is money. Currently gas is around $2.80/gal nationally, a little lower in some areas, a little more in others. So, budget for about $3.00/gal. How far that gets you or how much money you'll need for gas depends, of course, on which vehicle you end up using, how far you end up going, how many side trips you make, etc. You can use the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator once you have those details worked out, but for a quick reference and using rough figures a trip to the Grand Canyon and back in a moderately fuel-efficient car should cost you around $750 - just in gas!

    The next major cost is food and lodging. You say you'll handle these independently, but in fact they are much better done as a group. For example it simply won't work for one of you to plan on staying at the nearest Hilton and eating at four-star restaurants while another expects to camp and roast hot dogs. Those are just a few of the travel-style details that you all need to work out now, before your trip. Again, as a very rough rule-of-thumb, you should plan on around $75/day/person for food and lodging at very modest establishments.

    For some more unforeseen problems that might come up when traveling with friends/strangers, check out the Compatibility Quiz. Which brings up one more object of consideration in your planning. Be sure to schedule 'time-outs' during your trip. However strong your friendships, they are going to be hard pressed to endure even a couple of weeks of 24/7 togetherness. So build ways to get away from each other into your trip, such as a couple of motel rooms each night and switch out who shares a room with whom; days where you each simply go off on your own in a city or at a major attraction and then compare notes at night; certainly days where you are not just spending eight solid hours cooped up together in the car.

    Finally (yes - finally), comes the choice of where to go. With an idea of how far your available time and money will take you, and an idea of what you all want out of the trip, sit down with your friends and a good road atlas and take a look at what's available within that range. Since you'll be traveling in summer, there should be no weather restrictions so almost anywhere within range is a possibility. Look not only at your end destination but especially at what's between Cumberland and that destination since it's 'in between' where you'll be spending most of your time. It was my privilege, when I attended high school outside Baltimore many years ago, to have several classmates from Cumberland and Frostburg. The phrase I later learned (when I lived in Maine) to describe them was "Finest Kind". I wish you and your friends all the best.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-16-2014 at 10:59 PM. Reason: Fixed a few typos

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


    A few thoughts to add onto Buck's excellent advice.

    First, sleeping in a car is NOT an option with 4 people. Two of the biggest enemies of a trip like this are lack of rest and lack of space. There simply is no way for 4 people to get any kind of rest while sitting in a car. Camping is an excellent idea to save money - but even that does require money. $20-25 a night is pretty common for an average campsite at a state park or similar place. Even there, I'd recommend you budget at least a night or two for every week of your trip in a motel, in case you get bad weather, or just want a real bed for a night.

    Speaking of camping, a roadtrip is not the place to see if you like camping. If you don't have experience camping, going on a weekend trip together before a long trip on the road is highly recommended. For that matter, a weekend warmup trip is highly recommended in general, so you can get a feel for what you like, don't like, need, don't need, etc.

    Your transportation is something you need to figure out. There is a big difference between a 2 year old SUV and a 30 year old sedan - and I'd have serious doubts about taking a 198x anything out on a trip like this. Even if it is well taken care of, there are things that simply wear out from age.

    For food, it is easy to underestimate how much food costs, especially if you don't often buy groceries yourself. $15 per person per day is close to a minimum, if you are cooking nearly all your own food.

    Finally, I'd can't recommend enough that you take the compatibility test that Buck linked to. Yes, I know you are all the best of friends in the world, and nothing would ever change that - except that life on the road is different, because you are all packed together with very little time apart. Plan for conflict, and how you will deal with it. Roadtrips can and at times do damage or even destroy friendships, and it's the people who say "it will never happen to us" are those most likely to have a trip that ends poorly.

  4. #4


    Thanks guys, appreciate all of your feedback! We're going to make our plan over the holidays, all of your advice is awesome!

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