Alright, so a few weeks ago I posted about a huge cross country trip with myself and this "dude I'm seeing" (heh). Anyways, I've done some more planning and I'd like ya'lls imput and advice, plus I have a couple questions so this might turn into a long post, so I'm apologizing ahead of time.
So first of all, my origional idea was to go out west then south then up the east coast, and I've changed it quite a bit into two seperate trips, because the first one just was going to be too much in one summer. So, I've changed it to just the east coast.
Here's my...very loose idea.
Starting in Indiana, heading south into Kentucky to see Mammoth Cave, then heading straight down to Louisiana where we plan on staying overnight at the Myrtles Plantation, then heading to New Orleans for a few days. Then down into Florida to my home town, then up to Orlando to spend a day at Disney, then up the east coast, hitting Savannah, Charleston, Ft. Sumpter, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City, Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras (in NC) To see blackbeards sunken ship and Roanoke..also hitting Washington DC, Philadelphia, Fall River, MA (lizzie Borden's Bed and breakfast), Providence, New York City, Boston, Salem, Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod, Acadia National Park, Niagra Falls, Cedar Point (where I used to work), and then home. We'll be taking some side trips, for instance to WEst Virginia to go white water rafting and the like. I also included two of my friends along with us, so it will be two girls and two boys in my 98 Dodge Stratus. *by the way, the destinations are NOT in order.*
So, here are my questions.
1. Any good places up that way that I shouldn't miss that maybe aren't in all the brochures, haunted spots (we're all really interested in Haunted America)....or just fun historical things or things of that nature, CHeap perferrably.
2. Best Routes? Scenic, things you've driven before, easy driving, staying away from Tolls, etc. Just any ideas you may have for me.
3. Budget. My budget is kicking my ass.
Here's what I've got so far:
Food, Gas, Admissions (Caves, Museums, Attractions, etc.), Emergency (Medical and Transportational), Parking, Laundry, Parking Fees, Permits (Fishing, camping in NP), Personal spending, Misc..but I have to be missing something. Anyone have any ideas of the BEST way to budget this out when I have no idea how many miles, how long it's going to take (especially if we take side trips), Ugh, it's just totally kicking my ass.
Basically I want it planned, because it almost has to be planned out because of the length and amount of stuff we want to do and because it's going to be so expensive, but then I don't want it to be strictly planned because I want to give ourselves as much time as we need, AND I want to be able to just go off and do something else if we want to.
By the way, I think this site is great. There's hardly anyone around here who I can talk to because nobody here has any sense of adventure at all. Plus, Ryan's still of hiking the appalachian trail so he's not any help and there's only so much Meg and Thomas can help me with. You guys are just so incredibly awesome.
Planning is great, but
Thanks for the kudos -- how do you like the format changes on this forum?
Pre-planning is a good excercise but you shouldn't let planning get out of hand. Roadtrips are guaranteed to behave differently than you expect -- too many variables. Take five minutes and read Megan's "Art of the RoadTrip" (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/mftdb/053198ca.htm)
My preferred idea of budgeting is to drive until I run out of money and then figure out what to do next. The only category I might add would be money I plan to give away aka "Mad Money."
Route ideas in a couple of days.
TO PLAN OR NOT TO PLAN
JESSICA : Traveling with others planning can help you enjoy the trip. Discuss the trip and what folks agendas may be before you get going. Agree on how long you want to be away, time you want to get started in the a.m., who will be paying for what. what places you cannot live without visiting, how and where you expect to spend your overnights (motels,camping,staying with friends). any thing you can get agreement on before you go will help to avoid problems on the road. By the way the editor and I disagree on planning. so be it. enjoy your trip.
You can get an idea of how many miles you will be driving by either using software like MS Streets & Trips, or go to a website like www.mapquest.com. You plug in your start and stop locations and your planned stops for in-between. This will give you the total mileage and, if you know how many miles per gallon your vehicle uses, you can calculate about how much money you will need for gas. Of course, this is only a guestimate because your plans may change along your trip but it should be close enough to give you an idea. You might want to add a bit of extra bucks to this pot of money in case you drive farther or have any flat-tires, etc. to deal with.
BTW, you may want to look into something like AAA. Not only will that help with a break-down, but members can get assistance with road-trip planning. Their agents can help you design your trip and supply you with TripTix...I've never seen these but I believe they give you routing, lodging, and other info on the places you are going.
Food can vary a LOT. Do you eat McD's or only gourmet or are you going to be preparing most meals yourself? You can save a lot of $$ on meals by carrying a cooler with sandwich fixings, yogurt, cheese, etc., and having stuff like granola bars, and other healthier foods in the car. I will often budget just one restaurant meal per day and eat out of my cooler the rest of the time. This should give you a starting point to plan that expense.
Admissions & Other Fees: Visit the websites of the places you plan to go to and find out what their fees are. Simple.
Emergency (medical and transportation): AAA+ is very recommended for transportation situations. I hope you have medical insurance for those types of emergencies. I really don't ever budget for this type of stuff. I do have a credit card with a $5,000 limit that has NEVER been used. I carry it only if I am in an emergency situation and don't have access to any other funds. Maybe this will work for you? But, remember, don't ever use it for anything else...ever!
Laundry: Contact a local laundry-mat and find out how much it is to wash/dry your clothes. Then figure out how many loads you think you will need to do a week and go from there. Some ideas can be hand-washed and dried overnight in a hotel room or a campsite. If you get the right types of fabric, some things look great after doing this. Tencel and CoolMax are just two fabrics that wash in the sink, dry overnight by hanging out, and look great the next day. You might want to check out a website like www.travelsmith.com for some ideas. Although most of their clothes are too dressy for me, they do have some great hiking pants that zip off at the knee for shorts, etc.
Personally, I think you're making this too complicated. You don't need so many categories of spending. Figure out your basics like gas, lodging/camping fees, food. You might put this money in one envelope. Figure out what are your must-see & do activities and put the fees for them in a separate envelope. Then put some money in an envelope that you might call your "getting home when we're broke" envelope. Seal it, put it way back in the bottom of your glovebox, and don't touch it so, if all money runs out you can still get home. Last envelope: the one for your personal spending that I assume includes things like souveniers, etc. Personally, I don't budget much at all for that as my only souveniers are usually magnets from special places I go.
Hope this helps a bit.
In PA: See Gettysburg & Philadelphia
If you're in to getting spooked and enjoy history, make sure you spend a night in Gettysburg, PA. The battlefield is open until 10pm and, whether you believe in ghosts or not, it's a *very* erie place at night.
Along similarly spooky lines near Philadelphia is the Eastern State Penitentary. It's one of those old, stone-cold prisons designed way back when cruel-and-unusual punishment was the way to go. After you leave, there's a few great watering holes a block away where you can talk about the chill going down your spine.
There's also several haunts in and around Lancaster, PA (Amish Country) if you're going out there.
I agree with everyone else about the budgeting and planning-- don't go overboard. I think a very rough plan is the way to go. Pick a few choice places and reserve your rooms in advance. These will serve to set the "milestones" for the trip and keep you where you need to be timewise. But in between those places, have some ideas on where to go/stay, but let the trip take its course. Excessive planning will get in the way, and you'll always be hurried and behind schedule.
Just curious: How long are you going and how much are you budgeting? Me and a friend hope to do 30-days PA-to-CA and back again on about $1500/each (lots of camping and cooking our own food, but with some splurging too)