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  1. Default SC to CA to MT & back

    Hi, I'd like to plan a road trip from South Carolina to California to Montana and back. Something not outrageously expensive, I can stay at hotels, motels, but I also am bringing my camping gear to stay at cool places! I'd love to know what cool things to see along the way, where to stop, and good places for food! Any help is appreciated! Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,531

    Default Getting started.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your question really is too open for us to be able to give meaningful advice. California and Montana are big 'targets' and we don't know from where in SC you will be starting out, so possible routes and attractions would run into thousands of options, places to eat, hundreds of thousands !! You don't say what your interests are or how much time you have available, whether it's a solo trip, a family trip or something else. Without some basic information on a trip that covers over 6000 miles and could cover much of the USA we are very much in the dark.

    What I suggest you do to get started is to start searching the RTA forums and planning pages found at the top and bottom of each page for some ideas and inspiration. Together with a good paper map start pinning places of interest and make notes on places that appeal, then once you have made a start you can start to plan how to best route your trip to link it all up and see what can be added along the way. That's when we can be of some help, rather than us randomly throwing darts in a dark room. Planning is also part of the fun so enjoy it and when you have some specific questions we will be happy to help.

    Of course if you are planning this trip in the near future you may want to rethink due to the current circumstances.

  3. #3

    Default

    Ally, sounds almost like one of my hitchhiking trips from the very early 1970s. Unfortunately, the USA hitchhiking culture is long gone. First things first, be sure your vehicle is up for a long, long trip. Second, sign up with AAA if you haven't already, and consider buying one of their more expensive policies with the trip in mind. AAA also provides free maps with membership. You can order them online or visit an office. Grab a USA map, the regional maps, and state maps. There is also a map covering Indian Country you will want to request. Visit your local library for some USA and regional travel guides.

    California is a huge state! And there aren't many camping opportunities. True, there are county and state campgrounds but most of them are sold out months in advance, guaranteed packed to the gills on weekends. Many national parks also sell out. Lodging can be expensive. California literally has something for everyone.

    In the big West you can find less expensive national forest campsites (and other Federal agency campgrounds), mostly basic campsites with vault toilets and water.

    Lots of opportunities out there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,468

    Default

    To add to what was said by SWDave and Landmariner:

    As of 4 days ago, here's what MT has said about visitors to the state:
    Quarantine Suggestions for New Visitors: All visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days, except essential workers.
    That statement is on several states' travel restrictions. Other states are making this statement,
    Quarantine Suggestions for New Visitors: Visitors from Colorado, Florida, Washington, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Louisiana must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    That one is on Kansas' page (Fodor's) but in research, it's supposed to phase out within a month. If your travel is after June 30, you may be in a better position.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 05-25-2020 at 10:10 AM. Reason: realized that an aborted post actually posted, so removed information referred to in my 2nd try

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,468

    Default

    I'll add a few things to what SWDave and Landmariner have said and asked.

    If this is a pleasure trip coming anytime soon, you may want to rethink California. We are only in Phase 2 of the reopening, which means most things are still pretty tight. What campgrounds are open, are pretty booked because they aren't opening to full capacity. What restaurants are open to sit-down meals are not open to full capacity and have to answer to our government about tackling the 6' apart issue, the issue of menus and other high touch stuff. Our beaches -- well, they're open but don't try to hunker down and soak in the sun, you can only use them to play in the surf, run or walk on the sand. Our theme parks are all still closed; none of them have given any indication as to when they may reopen. (I am a Disneyland Annual Passholder, and right now that is the source of my information there.)

    Many states are still in similar modes of reopening. Some (like MT) want you to self-quarantine for 14 days after you arrive. Others are still wary of certain license plates, though if yours is SC, it probably won't cause any eyebrows to raise like ours (CA) would.

    But, generally speaking, trying to keep your costs low, we have a few things we recommend.

    First, we have a Fuel Cost Calculator that will help you figure out how much that portion of your budget would be. Someone estimated 6000 miles would be placed on your vehicle.

    Second, camping IS usually cheaper than a motel. We have an entire forum that is dedicated to public campgrounds on all the major routes (interstate and US highways). You'll probably need to budget at least $15/night for these. If you choose to go motels on some night, you can grab a coupon book from a state visitor center as you enter the state, which should contain hotel coupons. Realize, though, that it is probably going to be more difficult to get a motel room without a reservation this summer, simply because of the cleaning procedures needed, and some motels are only going 50% capacity so that they have 24 hours to clean a room before it's used again.

    One thing that surprises people about costs are the ones you don't often think about. If you don't stay at a motel every 3 or 4 days, how do you get a shower? At some public campgrounds, the showers are coin-op or token-op. Sometimes there's a charge for the tokens, rarely are they free. Some public campgrounds don't have showers. This is especially true of the national forest campgrounds and BLM lands. So you do one of the following: learn to shower with baby wipes or a washcloth/bucket under a spigot, stay in a motel every few days for the privilege of a hot shower and a comfy bed, or you go to truck-stops that will rent you a shower -- for around $10-20 each. During this time, there may be a longer wait for showers at the truck stops as they have to go through a far lengthier process to clean each one between uses.

    For food, it is what you make it. The least expensive way is to eat from a cooler and picnic bag in your car. You'll have to budget $2/day for ice. Going out to eat ... well, if this is in the near future, it may be very challenging in some states. It's also risky. Sometimes it's fun to go grab deli from a supermarket, as often they will have pre-made chicken or other hot foods in there for a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere. Don't forget breakfast foods. These days, the continental and hot breakfasts offered at many lodging places are under change, going to pre-packaged take-and-go.

    DO bring the following on your trip: gloves for fueling up your vehicle. Hand sanitizer (and use it often). A face mask, as many states require them anywhere in public. Clorox/Lysol type wipes or a bottle of spray cleaner "antibacterial/virus". A roll of paper towels and put a roll of TP under one of the seats of your vehicle (in a plastic bag). Shower shoes like flip-flops. Baby wipes or a bucket/washcloth. Your own personal hand soap, shampoo, etc.

    Hope this helps!


    Donna

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