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  1. #1

    Default Summer Road Trip -- East Coast to West Coast and Back!

    My family (husband, wife, 21-year-old son, 19-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son) have decided to take a road trip this summer from Virginia to California and back. We do not want to camp or drive an RV. We will have a large SUV and will stay at (cheaper) hotels/motels along the way.

    Our plan is a southern route going west and a more northern route coming back east. The problem is that we have lots of places we want to see and I (the mom) keep saying that we are trying to do too much. So, I'm hoping to get some advice. Here is what our trip looks like now:

    Virginia to Vicksburg to New Orleans to Houston to Galveston to San Antonio to Fredericksburg, TX to Dallas to Santa Fe to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas to Hoover Dam to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Yosemite to Salt Lake City to Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore to Chicago to Cleveland to Canton, OH and back to Virginia.

    We have about 3.5 weeks and I'm worried that we can drive through these places but not actually "see" most of them.

    Would appreciate any advice from people who have done this kind of thing before. Thanks in advance! Pat

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

    Default Mom is right.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You are right to be concerned ! Atrip such as this would probably mean you would have to be on the road for 5 to 6 hours every day for 25 days. [Ballpark figure] With the number of places you wish to visit there is just going to be no time to do anything then stop, take a couple of pictures and tick it of your 'been there' list. When you start to consider that you really need to spend 3 or 4 days in Yellowstone a couple of days in Yosemite and the Grand canyon to appreciate them then you can see what you are up against. I would imagine everyone will soon get tired of being couped up in a car for so long each day and when tired and irratable will probably start taking it out on each other. You don't have to see everything in one trip, if this is made enjoyable there will most likely be others, although the current plan could leave the kids hating road trips. You need to cut back big and spend more quality time enjoying a roadtrip rather than trying to race around to see so much, it's a case of less is more and Mom is right, as always ! ;-)

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


    I think you've got good reason to be concerned, although not alarmed.

    You're looking at roughly a week each way to drive from coast to coast, if you did full driving days. So that's about 2 weeks for driving, leaving you about 10 days for your exploration. With all the things you've said you want to see, it would be tough to fit it all in, without really rushing through a lot of places.

    What I find helpful is to plot out the trip day-by-day. It's not something you need to stick to, but it should give you and idea of what you can realistically fit into your available time, and help you identify areas that you would really have to rush through to visit. Ultimately, I suspect you'll want to cut out a few places, and probably trim down the miles a bit, but that should help you make those decisions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you use software to plan the trip, add 20% to the computer-generated drive times. Drive times are determined by the speed limit with no stops or delays whatsoever.

  5. #5


    Thanks for agreeing that Mom is right! I love that! I will spend some time this weekend planning exactly what we want/need to see on the first trip understanding that we need some days where it is a lot of driving and others where there is no driving. I'll also add 20% to the estimated time to ensure we account for traffic and delays and bathroom breaks.

    I'm excited that my kids are enthusiastic about doing this trip so I want to do it. I think cutting some places out will help, as well as being more realistic about the time we need to see things. After some editing, I may come back to ask for some additional advice!

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Get the Kids involved.

    It's important you involve the Kids with the planning and let each one have some input on the trip, it'll make it more fun and interesting for all. Once you have done some research we will be happy to help fine tune things and make suggestions. Enjoy the planning.

  7. #7


    Thanks again. The kids have been heavily involved in the planning, which I think is why the original plan included so many stops! There are so many things to see and they wanted to do them all! Over the weekend, we all agreed to drop New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Fredericksburg, Salt Lake, Cleveland, and Canton from the trip. That made it a little more manageable.

    We have started planning out by days using more realistic driving times and including days to actually sight see!

    We have two college students -- one is a history major and the other is an art major -- who have very different things they want to see. Our youngest is just excited and said he would go anywhere to see anything!

    So trip (there are sleeping stops along the way but these are the big places) is now Virginia to Vicksburg to Irving, TX (to tour Cowboy Stadium only) to Santa Fe to Grand Canyon to Hoover Dam/Las Vegas to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Yellowstone to Little Bighorn (this is still being debated) to Mount Rushmore to Chicago to Virginia.

    We have several driving only days and several days in specific locations where we want to spend more time (2-3 days).

    Based upon this revision, would appreciate any comments or suggestions. Thanks in advance!!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    It seems that you are getting on the right track with your planning as long as you don't have any days of driving over 550 to 600 miles and not too many like that. Its still going to involve quite a bit of driving but if you can find time from the car to break the journey up and take in some sights then all well and good. As it unfolds you could post up your revised plans and we can take a look.

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