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  1. #1
    imported_Nick Guest


    For almost two years now I've been planning and saving for a year long North American Road Trip. I personally rebuilt a 5spd Dodge Caravan from lugnuts to pistons and have it ready for the road with many custom attributes. I have no debts or responsibilities now, and have saved almost all the funds I need. It's taken me awhile to do, but I've submitted my resignation letters at work, and I'll be heading west from Massachusetts May 13th, 2004.

    I plan on doing alot of hiking at National Parks and touring capital cities, hitting Alaska for the month of August, driving all over Mexico from DEC'04 - FEB'05, and returning home April of '05.

    I have a couple people with me for roughly 2 months of the trip, but I'm looking into possibilities of picking up like minded people along the way. All you'll have to do is buy your own food (or split grocery costs with me if we have compatible tastes), split tolls/fill-ups at the stations (the van gets 35mpg), pay your own way at places like museums, and be able to get home when you decide to split off from my course (I can drop you at a bus station). Only extra cost would be if more than one person wants to come at any given period. We will have to stop at a junkyard, and you will need to split the cost of a rear bench seat (about $50ea) as I have removed both from the caravan for space.

    Heres some more info about me. I'm 21 years old, male, non-smoker/non-drug user. I drink socially now and then, but no more than a couple beers. Politically I'm an independant, and love intelligent debates on almost any topic. My hiking pace is average, about 2mph + 1/2hr per 1000ft of elevation gain. I speak enough Spanish to crudely get by, so no worries in Mexico. I'd like anyone accompanying me to Mexico to have a passport to make things easier than fumbling with papers. Religiously I'm an agnostic, and have no problems with any religion/race/sex/culture.

    This will not be a motel to motel style trip. Most of the "on-the-road" sleeping will be done in the van or in close proximity to it. You can buy whatever food you want, but I will be grocery shopping most of the time unless in capital cities. I have a large cooler and a mini fridge, coleman stove, and all required camp equipment. You will need your own backpacking equipment. I plan on hitting a motel/hostel once a week for shower services, in which case it will be the cheapest available (which you will need to chip, probably $35 or so). The rest of the week will be rag-baths/showers at gas-stations/truck stops. Depending on local costs in Mexico, I may spend a few nights a week in motels.

    eMail me if any of this strikes a chord, and we can discuss things further. If you live way out of the way of my path of travel, you may need to get a bus to meet me.


  2. #2
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default Additional Information...

    My last day at work will be on May 13th. I work nights, so that means I will be getting out on a Saturday Morning. I will be leaving on the morning of Monday the 16th. I Can't wait!

    While I have had a bunch of eMails from people interested in joining me,

  3. #3
    imported_Nick Guest


    My last day at work will be on May 13th. I work nights, so that means I will be getting out on a Saturday Morning. I will be leaving on the morning of Monday the 16th. I Can't wait!

    While I have had a bunch of eMails from people interested in joining me, no one has made any definte commitments. I'm willing to take no more than 2 people, as I have a friend who will be coming for part of the trip, and the van will comfortably hold no more than four. Here is some more info regarding the trip...

    You should budget roughly $120-$140/wk for the trip. You'll pay for half the gas & tolls ($0-$60wk depending on how much time is spent on the road, touring cities, or hiking), split the cost of 1 motel a week (~$35), cover your own fees should we stop at a museum or take a ferry, and buy your own food, or split the grocery bills with me if we have compatible tastes. Thats pretty much it. I'm absorbing all other costs such as American & Mexican Car Insurance, Vehicle Maintenance Expenses, Group Equipment, Etc. A month will cost you about $500, the whole trip (~12 months) would cost about $6500. These are just estimates of course, and your personal needs may increase or decrease (not much) these costs.

    You do need to have a passport if accompanying me to Mexico (to make things easier), and while I have group equipment for the occassional campsite, you'll need your own backpacking stuff.

    But I can't stress enough that many parts of this trip may be uncomfortable, and that it's an adventure of experiences, not accommodations. Except our once a week motel stop, and when sleeping on the trail, 95% of the sleeping will be done in/around the van. You may not shower days at a time (except for some quick gas station clean-ups/truckstops). While the vehicle I am taking has been gone through (personally) almost part by part, and has been modified to be quite utilitarian, it's not going to be like riding in a Lexus. I purposely sought out a van with no options, and although I have invested over $5000 into rebuilding/modifying it, I've chosen not to paint it. It has the eau de partridge family if you catch my drift.

    Anyhoo, it ought to be a blast, and anyone interested can get more info by eMailing me ( ). I also plan to make more updates as the leave date approaches.

    Hope to here from some people!

    - Nick

  4. #4
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default RE

    Well, I'm down to 71 days!

    The Van is 95% ready to go. I need to weld-up a ladder to better access the roof rack/cargo carrier, and tint the back windows for privacy while sleeping. Other than that it's ready to hit the road May 15th. I've included a picture of the road-beast below (now that I've figured out how to post photos!).

    Work has been hectic lately. I've been gobbling up all the overtime I can before I leave. Last week I put 87 hours in (excluding my commute time of 7 hours a week). I figure that I only have about 2 months left before I get 12-14 off, so I might as well make as much dough as possible. Every dollar I make buys a box of Near East Rice or 5 packs of Ramen right!

    Savings are doing good. I have over 80% of the funds I plan on needing. I should have more than enough at the rate I'm working. I've also decided to include this rough itinerary of how I will divide my time amongst states. Its fairly open ended, and will doubtlessly (and hopefully) change as I go. The format is days per state in the given month.

    <b>ROAD TRIP 2004</b>

    3 New York
    3 Pennsylvania (Western)
    3 Ohio
    8 Michigan

    2 Indiana
    7 Illinois
    4 Wisconsin
    4 Minnesota
    4 North Dakota
    4 South Dakota
    2 Nebraska
    3 Colorado

    5 Colorado
    13 Wyoming
    8 Montana
    4 Idaho

    31 British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska

    10 Washington
    5 Oregon
    15 California

    25 California
    5 Nevada

    10 Utah
    10 Arizona
    10 New Mexico

    Baja & Baja Sur

    West Coast & Central Mexico

    Southern & Eastern Mexico

    7 Texas
    7 Louisiana
    2 Mississippi
    2 Alabama
    2 Georgia
    10 Florida

    5 South Carolina
    5 North Carolina
    5 Virginia
    4 Washington D.C.
    3 Maryland
    3 Delaware
    3 Pennsylvania (Eastern)
    2 New Jersey

    Well there you have it. I think it's going to be a blast. Currently I have someone joining me for the month of December, but the rest will be solo!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Sevierville, Tennessee, United States

    Default You skipped Rhody

    All that travelling and you skipped Little ole Rhode Island. Seriously, Looks like you've done a great job planning this trip. Well thought out, Alaska in August, Mexico in January. Good Luck. My son is a U Maine ( Farm) student and we did all 50 in 8 days last summer. Keep us posted on your progress. What a great trip you will have.


  6. #6
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default UPDATE

    Thanks Gary, I

  7. #7
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default UPDATE

    Thanks Gary, I've definetly put alot of effort into making the best of my time, while also leaving things open ended for "spur of the moment" sidetrips.

    Heres how the thought process began...
    I started by making a list by state of all the places I wanted to visit/hike. Then I plotted all the points on a giant map and determined the best route that connected them all in the shortest distance while simultaneously trying to keep to secondary highways. You should have seen the .txt file I had. After playing with this itinerary for almost a year, I decided it would get me stressed out if I tried keeping to a rigid schedule for an entire year. So I halved the points of interest, and doubled the in-between time. This will compensate for side-trips, problems, weather, and also allow me to pick the original points back up if I want. In addition, if you look at the rough itinerary above you will notice that I've planned 15 days short of a full year. These 15 days will be an additional buffer for the reasons given above. I think this will provide me with a schedule that has enough plasticity for unfound adventure, and enough structure to keep me moving. Hopefully anyways :)

    I just bought 4 rubbermaid storage containers to begin packing-up the few belongings I have to go into storage. I'm also going to repackage my computer into a space-saving size and install it into my van. Around the same time I will have to call Verizon and cancel my phone and DSL service. While traveling I plan to take alot of photos with my 5 megapixel digital camera, and maintain a journal. I was hoping to find a website I could send these photos and journals to that would have an interest in them. Unfortunately, the possibility of me sharing these experiences with others (as they happen) is seeming less and less likely as my leave date approaches. So far I have contacted 6 websites, been turned down by 2, and haven't heard back from the others. It's going to be a blast either way, only 62 more days to go!!!

  8. #8
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default 3/27/04

    It's been a couple weeks since I've posted, but I didn't leave (yet!). I'm still doing some last minute modifications to the van. I had the windows professionally tinted with "3M" 35% film, and started testing different combinations of stuff in the rack. 70mph is about the max velocity I can go before tearing apart like a booster rocket in atmospheric re-entry. I plan to drive as many secondary highways as possible, so most of the time 55mph will be my top speed. I have yet to design and weld a ladder to gain roof-access, so I have to get going on that. Monday will see me at the Junkyard to complement the spare belts/hoses/filters/clamps I've purchased. I'll be able to fix almost anything that goes wrong short of getting hit by a 2000lb bomb.

    My savings are coming along great. I have 90% of the money I plan on needing now (about 325 days worth). Sometimes I get a little nervous about quitting my job to do this, but it usually goes away when I pull out an atlas or get 10 hours into a 12 hour shift (lol).

    <b>Only 49 days left to go!</b>

  9. #9
    imported_Nick Guest

    Default 4-3-04

    Yesterday I called up Verizon to cancel my phone number and DSL service. My last post from this computer will be on Friday the 16th of April, as the 17th is my service cancellation date. Hopefully with the family computer I will continue to make updates until the 15th of May.

    I give my thanks to all of you who have eMailed me, and I've tried to respond to everyone. It's great to get eMail from others who are so enthusiastic about road-tripping. I enjoyed every one I've received.

    After putting in 75 hours worth of work last week, I've managed to save all the funds I will need for 365 days of travel. Everything is slowly coming together. Forty more days of work left, it almost seems scary.

    This week I'm going to look into getting a Pass for visiting national parks. Still making some last minute modifications to the van as well. I picked up 4 bottles of 100% DEET for those pesky mosquitos, 6 AquaMira kits for treating suspect water, and some spray on sun lotion. My room is about 1/2 packed now too. White walls and boxes sure do hit you with that "Transition Phase" feeling.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Thanks for the pics


    I was going to feature your "ultimate road trip ride" on this week's edition of RTA, but the cow horns didn't "read" well enough to show on the page.

    Looks like you are almost ready to go. Got butterflies yet?

    Have fun!


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