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  1. #1
    Meghan Guest

    Default Michigan to California - Need Advice

    My roommate and I are planning a nine and a half day road trip from Michigan to California in March. We'd originally planned on the road trip having no real destination, and just have a spontaneous adventure, but we have started talking about actually driving all the way to California.

    In order to go all the way to the coast in the time we have available, we would really have to make it a one-way drive and fly back home from California. We had already planned on renting a car (because our trucks are both leased and can't afford the mileage), so this isn't a problem. This idea sounds good to us, but there are a couple of problems I foresee that I'd like advice with.

    1) This is definitely going to be more expensive, because we'll have to pay more to rent the car because we won't be dropping it off in the same place we picked it up. Does anyone know of rental car companies that charge a reasonable fee, have unlimited mileage, and don't charge extra to drop it off in a different place? Or does anyone have a good suggestion about how to keep that cost to a minimum? (I have no experience renting cars, so this may be a dumb question)

    2) We had originally planned on taking camping equipment with us and doing a lot of camping on the road. With the flying back option, that's even more desirable because we'd save money on hotels... but we're concerned about what we'd do with the camping equipment once we had to fly home. We'd thought about shipping it home... does anyone have any suggestions?

    Any general advice or thoughts about this kind of trip would be greatly appreciated. Neither of us have ever done anything like this before, so while we're really excited, we're also a little anxious and looking for any help we can find in terms of planning!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Default Mi to Ca in nine days!

    How slow DO you drive? :-) With 9 days, you can go ANYWHERE in the USA and back!! I'm assuming this is your first long distance trip? I'd suggest that you take a couple of day trips to test how far/long you like to drive. Then you will have a better idea of what you can/want to do. With the drop-off fees you would incur, I'd think a long time before I rented one way.
    Just my 2cents worth. Just go and enjoy!!

  3. #3
    debbie in seattle Guest

    Default buy a van, don't fly 1 way

    hi meghan, this is debbie. i just returned today from a 60 day road trip. I strongly advise NOT flying 1 way back because 1 way fares are outrageously expensive. Here's my thoughts, and what we did: we bought a former city fire department mini van at an auction. I bet they have them in michigan. it was $2,000 but the van is worth more. Then we put a futon in it and 2 good sleeping bags. Then we slept in the van at campgrounds and RV parks. From Michigan I would identify a few places you might want to see, not ALL of California. Identify whether you want to see anything flat (Midwest) or if you want to see desert or mountains or what. Then plan the drive accordingly. How about New Mexico, Texas, Arizona? You can wake up super early and drive like crazy, taking turns, until you get to what you really want to see. Maybe spend 2 days driving fast and furious...Then once in the West hang out in different places, don't try to see everything at once. Then you might have 5 days of relaxing/trip, and then another 2 days to drive home. You'd only pay between $10 to $17 per night. If you have a van you don't need equipment. Then when you get home you can sell the van, easily! You can get a loan to buy the van if you don't have the cash, and then just sell it and pay the money back. Renting a car is usually at least $200 per week or more. One way flights are usually at least $300 anyway. We had a great time. Email me directly if you have questions. We traveled the southern way to avoid snow. But having the van enabled us to travel with stuff and not have to worry about it, and not have to pay for flights.

  4. #4
    Meghan Guest


    Well, it's obviously physically possible to drive from Michigan to California and back again in nine days, but, IMHO, it doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

    This is the one vacation I'll get for a year, and I work at an extremely stressful job, so the thought of having to drive at least eight and a half hours a day, every day, just to physically make it there and back sounds pretty unappealing. I want to get at least a little sleep on this trip, too. :) All in all, that would leave very little time for actually stopping and seeing some of what we're driving through.

    Our thought is that we'd definitely drive until we couldn't possibly drive any more for the first day or so (until we get out of the "boring" states we've seen so many times) and then enjoy the rest of the drive, as well as the arrival in California. The expense of taking our time is a concern, but I'm afraid just driving, driving, driving would be too tedious after a while. I love road trips, but there's something to be said for getting out and stretching your legs and seeing the sights. And the whole point of our wanting to do this was to take a vacation in which we'd get to see a lot of different things, and have the freedom to just decide, spur of the moment, to make a detour or go see something that caught our interest. I'm just afraid that needing to drive so much every day would compromise that.

    But trust me... I'm tempted to make this a straight driving trip. The expense is definitely significantly greater. The logistics of doing it one way are overwhelming... but once we decided that California would be a good destination, we kind of got our little hearts set on it.

    My longest trip before this was just Michigan to St. Louis. I know that for that one, the drive home started feeling tedious for me (but that could have EASILY been the company I was keeping, who knows). I guess I just don't want to risk getting myself into something that's going to turn into more of a chore than a vacation.

  5. Default Current driving speeds

    Of course Mi is a BIG state and you might be in the UP. But if (as I assumed) you are in lower Mi, you could drive one day hard going out and be halfway to Ca. But then Ca is also a BIG state. You couldn't see Ca itself in 9 days!! But at current driving speeds, on interstate, you could drive hard the first day and last day. That leaves 7 days to meander. My suggestion is/was to take in as much as you can while acknowledging that you could never experience all that is between you and Ca in 9 days. There are little towns all along the way where you could spend a lifetime exploring. I admire your goal and am envious. But you can see as much whether you are coming or going. If you don't slip into the mindset that your trip is 'over' when you reach your furthest point, then you can also make thetrip home part of the adventure rather than a 'retreat to reality'.IMHO

  6. #6
    Ganelle Guest


    I have actually taken this trip. I did it one way and took two weeks. I would highly reccommend going all the way down to New Orleans and then heading west. There is a lot to see on the way. I wished I had more time to spend in Tennessee. That is a great side trip along the way. New Orleans is also a lot of fun when you're on a long trip. I reccommend at least an overnight stay there. Texas is boring and should be driven through straight. Don't stop until New Mexico. In Arizona, you can take a day trip to the Grand Canyon and then go to Las Vegas for some more fun. From there you're just a short drive to L.A. But I would reccommend Santa Barbara. It is exquisite.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default No place is really boring

    In the last seven + years, I have traveled literally thousands of miles in Texas. It is hard to imagine anyone calling San Antonio, Austin or the Big Bend areas -- boring. The size of Texas sometimes daunts roadtrippers but there are roadside gems there to rival anywhere else in the lower 48


  8. Default Driver's for ebay

    I am originally from Michigan and currently work in San Diego, so I have taken the drive a few times. If you really don't want to drive a vehicle both ways I would recommend looking at vehicle delivery websites I know ebay motors lists a few, but going this way you actually pick up a vehicle drive it to a destination and get paid. My friends and I did this for a college Spring Break from the U.P. Michigan Tech to be exact. Someone in Los Angeles purchased a vehicle on ebay from an owner in Mackinaw. We signed up with a company and they asked us if we were interested and of course we took the job. The purchaser only requested it be there in 21 days so we left on Thursday picked up the vehicle drove back to Houghton and then left Saturday and were in California on Tuesday we took our time but drove through the night and stopped many times. One recommendation I have is to plan your stops and your route we went through Chicago stopped at Shedd, then in Saint Louis took pics of the arch, then skiing in Denver, skydiving in Vegas and finally a Tiger vs. Dodgers game in LA. It was one of the best Spring Breaks ever and we ended up spending around $1000/ person including plane ticket, gas, hotel, food and excursions. But we were also paid $300/ person to drive the car out there. So all in all one of my cheapest Spring Breaks and the best one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Hopefully someone will be able to use that info - I doubt the original poster can, because this thread is 7 years old.

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