Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. Default Chicago - NY - Miami - Las vegas - LA - San Fran - Seattle - Chicago

    Hello fellow travelers!

    Me and two of my friends are planning huuuge road trip in the US during mid April - start of June /around 40-42 days/. We are coming all the way from Europe and despite the fact that I have bachelor degree at Geography, we know very little about how to travel in the US. According to our planning the trip will cover a total distance of around 10 000 miles, or like 250 per day on average. Of course there will be days with as little driving as 100 miles, and days with 500 miles traveling. Our main point of interest is the stretch between Miami and LA. There alone we are planing to spend 25~ days and the rest 15, or 2 weeks to be equally split between East coast and San Fran - Seattle - Chicago.

    There are so many questions that I would be extremely happy if you help me with!

    I will start with a few and then, parallel with my research of the trip, I will post a lot more.

    For starter:

    1.)Do you guys think that the ratio distance/time is enough ?
    2.)We plan to sleep at camp grounds (where it is possible), and every third~ night at motel/hotel. Our budget is around 8000$. Will it be enough ?
    3.)If we want to sleep in national parks do we have to book a lot earlier ?

    Thank you, friends! A lot more questions are coming! :D

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,380

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    In regards to your distance/time ratio It's very hard to talk about a trip like this in terms of averages. 250 miles a day is not a problem, doing 500 miles on some days isn't a problem. However, if you are driving at least 100 miles every day, then I suspect you're going to get worn out both from driving and from not having time to stop and see anything. Similarly, while 40 days or so might work for a trip like this, when you say you're only planning about a week total do to San Francisco to Chicago via Seattle, that's barely enough time just to cover the miles, and a week total to do Chicago to Miami via "the east coast" also isn't going to leave you hardly any time to actually stop and see anything on the east coast.

    I would really suggest that you roughly sketch things out day by day. It's not something you have to stick to, but it will give you a better idea of exactly how much time you really have to work with and should make it more obvious if there are areas where you trying to do more than is realistic (i.e. driving 800 miles out of your way to visit Seattle, but then not leaving yourself anytime to see anything other than driving through it).

    Is your total budget $8,000 for everything for all 3 of your or is that just your hotel/camping budget? If it's just for lodging, then that's plenty of money, if it's for your total trip, then I suspect you're going to have some problems. Have you figured out airfare and car rental? That alone is likely going to eat up a few thousand dollars.

    Some National Parks fill up sooner than others, and even at busy park there are usually options if you don't book early - many have first come first serve sites (although you typically have to be at the park ready to claim them by mid-morning) or there are often other camping options near, but not inside, the park. However, you do have the advantage that you'll be traveling well before peak season. On the flip side, be aware that you may find areas, particularly in April and early May, where campgrounds haven't even opened up yet - and if you're at high elevation it is a lot colder overnight than you might expect, and would need fairly heavy duty camping gear to be comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,845

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    If you haven't already done so, now's the time to get a good road atlas of the USA. If you can't pick one up locally, you can order one from the RTA store. (Scroll down to the link Store: Atlases and Maps.) MWMichael suggested that you sketch it out day by day, i.e. Day 1: Drive XXX to XXX, #miles. You can use Google Maps or Mapquest for mileage, but don't use either one for driving times. Anticipate 60 mph average on an Interstate freeway, 50 mph on US and state highways.


    Donna

  4. Default

    Thank you for the warm welcome!

    Well, actually I am traveling to US with only one friend, the third one is living there and we will be using his car. So no money for rental will be spend. That 8000$ also does not include our flight expenses to the US. They are only for gas, food, sleep etc.

    About the driving. We are actually two drivers, so I guess it will be a lot easier as the distance covered for a day will be split between the two of us.

    I already started planning the trip day by day/just a rough sketch/ A to B point, miles, stuff to see etc. Will keep you posted about it.

    And to be honest we are not much interested in East cost. The main point of interest for us is the nature and not the cities that much. Living in Europe all of our lives we have seen a lot of cities. But the thing that Europe lacks is the vast nature that there is in the US.
    From Chicago to Miami we plan to visit only a few places.
    1.Niagra falls
    2.Boston
    3.NYC
    4.Washington DC

    @Donna, yes I am aware that the google maps travel time is not to count on. On every hour suggested by google maps I add about 15 mins/gas stops, eat, random stops/.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,049

    Default Less is more perhaps.

    The distances are not the potential problem whether it's 1 or 2 drivers, it's the fact you will all be sat in a car for an average of 4-5 hours everyday of your trip. If you are OK with that it's not a problem, but you have to consider that setting up and breaking down camp will add more time to that and some National parks really require 2 or 3 days to start to appreciate and the more you visit the less travel days you will have. I would take another look at things as Michael suggested, day by day and see if spending a good part of your trip travelling an area you have no real interest in is the way to go. In a lot of instances (because the US is so big) it really is a case of 'Less is more'. Another thing that strikes me is that you are using City's as 'Waypoints' when you say your main point of interest is nature. I am from the UK and have similar feelings but I wouldn't be planning from Miami to LA, I would be looking at the great National parks of Colorado, Southern Utah, Arizona and California going one way and then Glacier, Yellowstone and Badlands etc on the way back.

    My advice would be to work on the places you really want to see and then work around those, because to enjoy nature and camping is going to take time, if you want to really breath it all in and smell the roses.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,380

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by teodor View Post
    About the driving. We are actually two drivers, so I guess it will be a lot easier as the distance covered for a day will be split between the two of us.
    That helps a bit, but not nearly as much as people tend to think. People often make the mistake of thinking, "If 1 person can drive for 8 hours, than 2 people can drive for 16," which just isn't the case. Being a passenger itself is fatiguing and doesn't significantly increase how far you can safely get in a day.

    But I don't think that's really your bigger problem anyway. It seems like you're still in danger of trying to do more than you really have time to do.

    And to be honest we are not much interested in East cost. The main point of interest for us is the nature and not the cities that much. Living in Europe all of our lives we have seen a lot of cities. But the thing that Europe lacks is the vast nature that there is in the US.
    From Chicago to Miami we plan to visit only a few places.
    1.Niagra falls
    2.Boston
    3.NYC
    4.Washington DC
    This is exactly what I'm talking about. You say you don't really care about cities, but then list off 3 of them that you plan to visit - all 3 of which are difficult/slow to navigate and are a significant detour that add a lot of time and miles to your trip.

    Chicago to Miami is a 2.5 day drive by itself. Going via Niagara Falls means you need 4 days to cover the miles, Throw in Boston, and you're now up to 2500 miles, so you're up to 5 days, just to cover the miles. So being that you've given yourself only about 7 days to cover all of this, you're going to have a total of 2 days to explore Niagara Falls, and 3 of the largest cities in the US. (And that's assuming you're not stopping for any of the natural wonders of the Eastern US.)

    To me, it doesn't seem worth it to add several extra days of driving, so you can spend a few hours each (a few hours that could very well just be spent in traffic!), in a few cities that you aren't that interested in seeing. I suspect your SF to Seattle to Chicago leg is just as bad.

    Going through day by day should help identify these kinds of problem stops. 40 days is a nice amount of time, but when you're doing a loop of the entire US, your time is going to get used up quite quickly, and you're not going to be able to fit in everything. Your $8,000 budget should work well, but similarly, you'll have to keep an eye on things to make sure you're not draining your funds too quickly. Really, in terms of both time and money, you've got enough to make a very nice trip, but you will have to make sure you budget things carefully to make sure you get the experience you are really looking for.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by teodor View Post
    Thank you for the warm welcome!

    But the thing that Europe lacks is the vast nature that there is in the US.
    From Chicago to Miami we plan to visit only a few places.
    1.Niagra falls
    2.Boston
    3.NYC
    4.Washington DC
    For Boston-NYC-DC, I would seriously consider flying into Boston or DC, using public transit in those cities and ride Amtrak trains between those cities. Parking a car in those cities is a waster of money, traffic jams are notorious and you will really want to walk or use public transit anyway.

    There is also a train from Boston to Niagra Falls. Or, you could fly from Boston to Buffalo and rent a car to Niagra Falls and back and then fly to Chicago.

    From Chicago you are set to venture out on a good road trip in a car.

    Spend some time at the National Park Service website (nps.gov) to learn about seasonal restrictions and campsite availabilities. Here is a short cut to some maps: https://www.nps.gov/hfc/cfm/carto-detail.cfm?Alpha=nps

    Visit some websites that provide information on the national parks such as:
    https://www.nationalparks.org/explor...s/travel-ideas

    Try to obtain a couple of guidebooks on USA parks and/or scenic trips and highways and maybe a couple of regional guidebooks for the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states.

    As others have suggested, "less is more!" Looping from Chicago to Arizona/Nevada/Utah to Yellowstone/Custer State Park South Dakota and back to Chicago, in addition to a week for DC NYC Boston and another few days to Niagra Falls and a day or two to Chicago, and all of a sudden your 40 days vanish quickly.

    Expanding upon what others have said above, so often a travel day ends up being just that, a travel days, even as short as 100-200 miles. Camping is enjoyable but also adds a bit of time, but by all means try to camp. Allow some time for cooking over your campfire. Most parks need at least a full day by themselves. Parks such as Mesa Verde, Yellowstone, Zion, you will want to have 2 to 4 days dedicated just to the park.

    I find using a spreadsheet for trip planning to very useful. You can add columns for distance and drive time factors, another column to add time to setting up camp on arrival and packing up camp for departure, time for purchasing provisions and supplies, ice, etc. at stores, all fact of life time eaters, but part of the experience. The object is to not be overloaded.

Similar Threads

  1. Chicago to San Fran via Seattle and Pacific Coast
    By sam77 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 01-16-2015, 05:20 PM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-27-2013, 06:11 PM
  3. LA - San Fran - Las Vegas - Chicago - Buffalo - NY
    By ldunning in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-11-2012, 12:49 PM
  4. Miami-DC-NY-Chicago-Route 66-Las Vegas-LA Roadtrip
    By JuliaS in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 08-31-2011, 06:01 PM
  5. NJ-Chicago-Seattle (through N. Dakota)-Portland-San Fran.
    By SaintSimon in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-05-2010, 07:34 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

  • MORE TO EXPLORE