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  1. Default 48 State Road Trip - Planning & Advice Needed - Late January to Late February

    Hey all! My girlfriend and I are finally at a point where we can make one of our dreams happen. A culinary focused 48 state road trip across the country!

    I am an avid driver in California but not much experience outside the west coast. I have done a few trips to Seattle and back over the years but nothing like this. We are driving my 2012 Honda Civic that only has about 12k miles right now.

    I have mapped out and plotted are points/cities we want to hit.

    I would like any advice or suggestions you could give us.

    Thank you ahead of time and we are looking at a start date of January 26th, 2015!

    Here is the map.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-03-2015 at 05:58 PM. Reason: New members may not link to outside sites

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Really!?

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    So do you have any questions you need answered? Is there anything specific you are looking for, other than driving traffic to your site? We too have a page/forum where you can record your complete trip.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-03-2015 at 09:55 PM. Reason: fixed link

  3. Default

    Hey, Thanks for the reply!

    I guess my main questions regarding cell service along my routes, weather and what I need to have for the car during my travel time frame, anything else I may need to know.

    No interest in driving traffic to my site, mostly for friends and family to follow. I included the link to the map to get feedback.

    My major questions are just the driving through northern state during the end of winter and what I need to know about that.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Cell Service

    This could be a major concern for some of your drive time. Almost independent of which carrier you use, coverage will be good in urban areas and along Interstate Highways, and practically nonexistent elsewhere. The reason is simple. It just isn't cost-effective to stick cell towers up every few miles through hundreds and hundreds of mile of farm and range land on the off chance that somebody some day may want to make a call. While coverage along Interstates is usually fair to good so as to accommodate truckers and other travelers on these arterial routes, these highways were designed to get you from city A to city B in the shortest time possible. That is typically the antithesis of what people do on 'hit all the states' RoadTrips, wandering hither and yon in order to cut off a part of state X here and a corner of state Y there. The only way to do that is to use local roads. To be fair, from what I can make out of your map, you seem to eschew the shortest possible route to hit all 48 contiguous states in favor of following Interstates for the most part. If I am correct in that assessment, then you will have coverage for most of your trip. It will be spotty at times when you're relying on the towers along the highway as your sole connection points, but manageable.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    I guess my main questions regarding cell service along my routes, weather and what I need to have for the car during my travel time frame, anything else I may need to know.
    AZBuck was pretty detailed about the cell service question. I'd like to add - if you're going into Yellowstone National Park, there's pretty well NO cell service anywhere in the park. You may get a ping here and there, but service is pretty weak when you can get it. I was able to get service in Mammoth Hot Springs area, probably because of a tower in Gardiner.

    There were areas along I-90 that also had weak services, as well as on I-8 east of San Diego in the mountains.

    Weather: Each evening, take advantage of the motel's TV service to check the weather - WeatherChannel or WeatherNation. Make sure you have the Weather app on your phone. If you're driving, and the weather looks nasty, hole up some place, preferably a motel. Don't wait until the freeway actually shuts down or you may be holing up in the local truck stop (not conducive to good sleep unless you're a commercial trucker with a bed in your rig). Wait it out, it will blow over. (Literally.)

    What you need for the car: have your mechanic do an oil change if it needs doing, check over your tires, belts, hoses, make sure it's all in good order. (One mechanic of ours found a crack in our windshield, way below eye level, just before we left on one trip.) Have new windshield wipers installed if the current ones are drying out (as they often do here in SoCal). Check the articles here on RTA, as there are a few good ones on winter travel (and one of them has a list of emergency items one should have in the car during winter in areas that get that white stuff called snow).

    We also carry a box of tissues and either a roll of paper towels or a stack of napkins, in our vehicles. A small cooler with either blue-ices (that you can refreeze at the motel every night) or buy a small bag of ice every day, can keep drinks like water available. (Some motels will allow you to use some ice to fill a small 6-pack cooler, but they definitely don't want you filling a 30 gal cooler with the ice meant for customers' evening beverages.)

    Last but not least: carry state maps or a USA atlas with you. Please don't rely solely on electronics (smart phones, laptops, GPS) for your trip. They can be woefully inadequate, especially if you find yourselves re-routing the trip due to change of plans or inclement weather. If you stop at the Welcome Center as you enter each state, they give out free maps and other tourist info for their state. Or, if you're a AAA member, get the maps you need before you leave. There's an office in Lompoc -- I believe I've seen it mentioned in the Westways magazine. AAA is a good idea anyway -- peace-of-mind and free maps and Tour Books!


  6. Default

    Thanks for the tips Donna! We are excited about the trip as a whole. The timing sucks cause we are going to have some snow encounters I am sure of it, but it's either we go now or not have a chance to do something like this ever again.

    Do you think I need to pick-up chains for the tires just in case?

    The car is all checked out and ready to go, its a 2012 Honda civic with only 12k miles. It was my weekend driving car pretty much. Not my work car, but has just regular summer tires on it.

    I will pick-up maps for sure.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by createacat1 View Post
    My major questions are just the driving through northern state during the end of winter and what I need to know about that.
    I think you might first need to realise that the northern states aren't the only areas you need to be concerned with when it comes to winter weather. In fact - already this year, every one of the 48 states you'll be visiting has seen at least some snow! The Southern Rockies and Southern Plains can and do see pretty bad snow and (even worse) ice storms in the Winter. People tend to forget that even I-10 across Texas, NM, and AZ see winter storms every year. Even the southeast isn't immune to winter weather, and while that is fairly rare, when the south gets an inch of snow, it can shutdown the region for days!

    If you have "summer" tires on your car, then you need to get them switched out to all-seasons before getting out on the road for this trip. Since it sounds like you'll mostly be sticking to the Interstates, I wouldn't worry about snow chains. There are only a few places in the entire Interstates system where chains are required during snowstorms (all on the west coast) because in most places, if conditions are so bad that you'd need chains, they simply close the highway until they can be cleared and safe to pass. Plus, if you aren't familiar with driving in snow, chains will not make up for your lack of experience, which is another reason to simply wait for conditions to improve.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-03-2015 at 11:09 PM.

  8. Default

    Michael Thanks for the tip, I actually think the tires are "all season" now that I think about it. But I will check for sure.

    With keeping an eye on the weather and monitor road conditions are there any other worries I should be preparing for? We plan on getting as far as we can. Just want to be the best prepared we can be.

    Thanks for all the info so far, we are excited about the trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Be prepared.

    I know you are excited about the 'challenge' ahead, but you should be aware that it is a challenge over a period of 4 weeks with possible weather disruption making it even more of a challenge. I'm just [gu]estimating that this trip will be close to 12000 miles and if that's close, you will have to cover 3000 miles per week, or 500 miles per day for 6 days of a week, allowing a day to rest from the road and 'recharge' and/or any weather delays. Now with rest and lunch stops, to fill with gas and usual congestion, construction delays, that's around 9 hours of driving for each of those on the road and that's before the weather plays it's part. [Estimated on 4 weeks] I'm not trying to put a downer on things, but just be aware that this is going to test you and feel 'work like' at times. It's not going to leave you a lot of time in any of the places on your list either, alot will have to be 'drive thru'. As long as you know this and are prepared for it and the fact that you won't have a lot of 'Leeway' for major delays to complete the challenge, you should be ok. Pace your self from the start so that you don't burn out along the way.

    I have my fingers and everything else crossed for you. Have a great trip !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Your goals in that limited time?

    It's not going to leave you a lot of time in any of the places on your list either, a lot will have to be 'drive thru'.
    Further to Dave's analysis, how will this work out with your goal of a 'A culinary focused 48 state road trip'? Will you really have time to enjoy your chosen culinary delights in each of the 48 States? Perhaps taking that into account, and the mileage which Dave calculated, you might want to add some time and/or do the 48 States over more than one trip.

    For me, I find that on a multi week trip, much more than 1000 miles per week can become quite exhausting.


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