Five girls, two adults, a mini-van, and a prayer...
Call me crazy! I am a girl scout leader from Delaware. We have been saving for a trip to London for two years and finally gave up and decided to take a road trip. These girls are 13 and 14 years old. We have decided on a budget of $1,000 per person and also that we would go "west". We plan to take a northwesterly route and pick up rte 66 in the midwest. We would like to keep the trip between 7-10 days, but I realize that 12-14 might be in our future as this IS a big country. They have been researching attractions and they would like to visit: Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon, and Sea World-San Diego. I KNOW there has to be a whole lot more to see and do on a shoestring budget. Whatever info you would like to share: itineraries, maps, "don't miss" attractions, etc would be most appreciated:~)
Thanks so much,
AKA Crazy Leader
Yeah, that's crazy.
I don't know if your trip is logistically possible.
First of all, if you're going to take 7 people across country, I think you're going to need either a full sized conversion van or two vehicles. I just don't know how you would fit 7 people and 2 weeks worth of luggage for those 7 people into one mini-van.
Your timetable is also on the shortest end of making this possible. Without doing the math, I'd guess you'll need at least 4 days to get to the grand canyon and 5 days to get back from San Diego. Thats 9 days of hardcore 8-10 hours a day on the road (not including stops which could easily push that up to 12 hours or more from hotel to hotel). Throw in one more day to get from Arizona to California, that leaves you with only 4 days to enjoy yourself if you give yourself 2 weeks. Is that something you really want to do, and do you think thats something that a car full of 14 year old girls will be able to tolerate?
This is the reason I came to this site. Experience is the best teacher.
I am not an experienced "road tripper". My road trip experience thus far has been:
-From Upper Penninsula of Michigan to Pennsylvania several times when we lived in MI and my family lived in PA.
-From Maryland to Florida.
-From Pennsylvania to Missouri.
There were all experiences with my family. I think the longest trip we have taken as a troop would be to the Poconos to ski which was a three hour trip.
HEre's what I was thinking. Let me know what you think.
We would get a roof carrier for the luggage. We would pack two cooolers inside the van with each girl bringing a small backpack or purse to have for the ride. I also think that one of the girls won't, so that will be more room for "stuff". We had planned to get a map, figure out number of inches we could drive in one hour and start plotting our course with stops about every four hours. Since we have two drivers, we can drive through the night if it becomes necessary. (I actually prefer it). However, I do realize trying to sleep all crowded together isn't all that fun either. We have talked about renting an RV. I haven't checked into yet. My argument was that the reduction in food cost (by cooking our own in the RV) might outweigh the cost of the RV. Also, the girls can sleep whenever they want and we could cover more ground by driving through the night. I guess my problem is that I haven't done enough research yet. I saw a lot of books, but might you recommend one in particular?
You couldn't eat enough...
I think a road trip would be a wonderful alternative to the London trip. However, I think, as "Midwesterner" has mentioned that your cross-country trip might be a little long in concept and short on time.
RVs can be a great way to see the country, but there are significant chores required to keep one running over a several thousand mile trip and there is no real way to offset the cost of the rental by cooking your own food in the RV. I don't think anyone could eat that much. There are a large number of variables, but the smallest RV that would provide sleeping for your entire group would be a 29-foot Class C and the likely rental cost would be about $2000 for the week.
You could certainly drive coast-to-coast in the 10-day period you specified, but it will be a very tiring trip. Perhaps it might make more sense to choose a section of the country to explore and really enjoy your time on the road. Might I suggest a loop that would include the Blue Ridge Parkway, a circular route through Arkansas, St Louis and then home. Plenty to see and do along that route and you won't need to kill either the trip leaders or the passengers enroute.
Along with adding in the cost savings for food, we should also add in the cost savings for hotels. I have no clue, that's why I'm asking. Do you really think RVing it would be more expensive?
Cost of RVing is a paradox
If you don't drive very much, RVing can be the most economical way to see the country. But a really fuel efficient RV gets about 10 mpg (check out the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/roadtripamerica_cfmfiles/calculator.cfm">fuel calculator<a/>) so for the 7500 mile trip you are considering, your fuel cost will be at least $1500 in fuel. Other vehicle incidentals will run at least $200 and the cost of RV parking camping spaces is about $27/night. (Now, you can find less expensive places to stay overnight, but that is a useful average). So the vehicle related expenses of traveling in a RV will easily top $4000 -- When you add in the costs of food and entertainment...
too far / too little time
Loop (not necessarily in this order)
Lexington KY horse farm tour
Mammoth Cave National Park, KY - two tours
(Girl Scout learning experience! & fun)
I can see that the 7 of you could easily do it in an extended van (the 9 or 12 seaters). No need for tons of luggage if you set limits.
We did a 4 weeks cross country trip this summer with our 10 yr old son and 13 yr old daughter, from PA to AZ, CA, OR, WY and back home. As the mother of a very tolerant and usually level-headed 13 y.o. I cringe at the thought of a whole bunch of 13-14 girls traveling together for that long in that crammed a space. All those different moods to contend with! That said, I think it's wonderful that you are taking on such an adventure, but think you need way more time than you have to do what you want.
you're only a little crazy...
Folks said we were crazy, too, when we planned our 4 week cross country trip from PA this summer with our 13 y.o daughter and 10 y.o son. We looped to NM, AZ, CA, OR, ID, WY, MI and home, with some overnight stops in between. As the mom of a really level-headed, but sometimes moody daughter, I can't imagine traveling with 5 13-14 year-old girls and dealing with 5 moods. Put that many teenaqge girls together and you're guaranteed to have some squabbles, even with the best of girls.
That said, I think you could have a lot of fun on a shorter trip. We found that staying in one place for at least two nights was okay, but three was even better. You could take a loop down through VA and Kentucky (most teenage girls like horses) or head up to upstate NY and New England. We've have great experiences at state parks, so you should check into them wherever you end up going. Each state has a state park website and will send you info for free. A while back we stayed in Douthat State park in Western VA and it was really nice. Last summer we stayed at 4 different state parks on our trip, rented cabins in 2 (KS & MN) and camped in 2 (CA & SD). The cabins were nice and very reasonably priced. One even had a bathroom with a shower and a fridge and microwave. The other was more basic (i.e. outhouse) but still we were inside and not dealing with bugs, or having to put up a tent after a long day's drive. The campgrounds were well-maintained with friendly rangers. The only other thing I can think of is, having somewhere for the girls to swim at the end of the day might be helpful... a pool, a lake, even a creek to splash around in. Most kids can't help having fun in the water!
Besides, being a little crazy is a good thing
Since we launched this enterprise, including the RTA website, people have called us crazy and now over a decade later I can fully attest that being crazy is really a very, very good thing. Sometimes, such craziness can make it tough to find sufficient funds but any day spent on the road beats one at home.
So, go ahead -- get a little crazy.