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  1. #1
    Spokey Guest

    Default See the USA in a week / month / ...?

    I have a desperate urge to do a lap of the USA. If I was to do this, how long should I budget for the trip?

    Can anyone suggest a better way of me getting to see as much of America in as short a time as possible?

    I'm not big on touristy things, especially crowded ones, so Disneyland and stuff like that are not on my agenda. However, I would like to fit in the Grand Canyon; Chicago, Texan and Mississippi blues bars, Route 66 and possibly Roswell (sad, I know!) No great urge to see NY or LA, but I'll have to visit friends in Seattle -- not negotiable!

    My time frame is not immediate, it's more of a 3-to-5-year-plan kind of thing, but I need to start working out how much money I'll need, leave planning and all that sort of stuff.

    Also, what is the best time of year to do this?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Default Leave out the East coast?

    Welcome to the Forum! Thanks for the post in the other thread on driving in Europe, by the way, lots of good information there.

    Most everything you mention is mostly in the west of the US (except for the Blues stuff) -- so is it safe to assume you don't necessarily care if you hit the eastern seaboard?

    If so...

    I'd do a loop starting from a good gateway city perhaps LA, Las Vegas, Dallas or Denver. Chicago or St Louis could even work for you. Making it a loop will save you money on car rental (as opposed to one-way). If this sounds OK to you, let us know and we'll be glad to help you plan the route. The gateway city you choose doesn't matter all that much, all of them can easily be worked into the route.

    Personally, I love the Fall for traveling by car or motorcycle -- cooler days, still lots of sunshine, crisp cool nights. Spring is the same, but can be muddier and some high altitude roads will still be snow-bound. Mid-Sept to late October would be just about perfect. Bob
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-22-2005 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Add link

  3. #3
    Spokey Guest


    Thanks for the welcome and the kind words. The things I asked about were really the known things that I wanted to see. Most of my problem is that I don't know what the really great things are that I can see.

    I'm really looking for a list of things that I HAVE to see while I'm over there. I don't know what's on the East Coast. For example, the Florida Keys look like an interesting drive, but I don't know if that's the case or not.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Speed Runs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Spokey
    I have a desperate urge to do a lap of the USA. If I was to do this, how long should I budget for the trip?
    Would this just be the continguous 48 states or would you want to include Hawaii and Alaksa? Personally, I like speed runs and the notion of driving all over the USA in a week is appealing, but there is a more fundamental question you need to address. What would constitute "seeing" stuff for you? There is a huge difference from driving past geographic features at 75 mph and actually seeing what makes a particular local unique and special. In your later post on this thread, you raise the issue of "seeing" the Florida key's road. It is, on many days, possible to drive from Miami to Key West and back in a single day, but it would be shame to do that drive in less than 5-6 days, because there is so much to see and do. Ditto for every single highway in America.

    We do have some tips and suggestions for getting the most out of Speed Runs written by Judy Carter. And we have some links to some other notable speed endeavors here.

    We also have some suggestions for other RoadTrip Challenges here.

    Roadtrippers, Brian Ardinger and Chris Moeller hit the road in July 1998 and mapped what I still think is one of the best routes for seeing most of the USA. The route can be found here. And one of the posters on this board -- completed a circuit through every state in the USA in less than eight days.

    By a lap around the USA -- are you only talking about the borders? If so, if you really were diligent and drove 8-10 hours every day, it could accomplished in about twelve days (unless you really tried to reach the actual borders and followed the coastlines, etc. -- such a project would require, at a minimum at least two months.


  5. #5
    Spokey Guest


    A lap doesn't actually mean anything constructive. :) I would like to see as much of the "real" America as I can in as short a time as possible.

    Perhaps I can explain with an example: I had a cousin from another country come to visit me. He'd never been to the UK before, and wanted to see all the touristy things. I told him that he'd be better off letting me show him round. I relented after a couple of days and took him to see some touristy stuff. Afterwards, he said that he far preferred my tour than seeing all the touristy stuff.

    I may not see every state, or even half of them, but I would like to see a cross section of America, not the glitz, but the real, the charming, the interesting and the special.

    Some of the challenges look interesting, but are difficult to choose when I have a short time.

    I would probably consider something like a coast to coast drive, like NY to Chicago to Seattle, then drop down through Frisco to DFW and across to Mississippi then back up, but I would almost certainly miss out on the great little things that make a country worthwhile. I don't want to spend my life on the interstate. By the same token, I don't want to spend all my time hiking through national parks or browsing in shops, but I would like to get out of the car from time to time.

    Oh, and any interesting, twisty roads would be good -- I enjoy spirited driving!

  6. Default One possible

    I rough figured a loop from Chicago, down through St Louis and Memphis, to San Antonio and Austin, across to Las Vegas via Grand Canyon, then Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and back to Chicago by way of Salt Lake City and Denver, with PLENTY of time for country-side jaunts all along the way -- can be done in about 7,000 miles and a month's time. One example.

  7. #7
    Spokey Guest


    That sounds like an excellent suggestion. I'd probably give LA a miss, though. :)

  8. #8



    Beware of underestimating distances in the USA. You really have to experience it to believe it. Many of the people posting on this board are veteran road trippers who would think nothing of driving the equivalent of John O Groats to Lands End every day for a week or two. Unless you really do want to spend 8 hours a day behind the wheel, be less ambitious, do less miles each day and spend some time out of the car seeing what there is to see. For us on our little island nothing can prepare you for how vast and how relatively empty the USA is (which is why it is a joy to road trip in). Out of the cities you can drive 50 or 60 miles without seeing another car and you can go much further than that between towns, project that back onto the UK and you get an idea of the difference.

    Whatever you end up doing I am confident you will enjoy it and be surprised by it.


  9. Default Land's End to John O'Groat's?

    UK, how long do you think it would take to WALK between these two extremes? Always wanted to do that...

    Anyway, good points all. For some of us, the driving is the sum of all attractions. I am quite often astounded by the immensity of this land, and I live in the middle of some of its most vast areas. Bob

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Moderator Bob
    UK, how long do you think it would take to WALK between these two extremes? Always wanted to do that...

    I'm prone to exaggeration and I did it a little to make a point in my original post. The distance from John o Groats to Lands end is around 1000 miles depending upon exactly which route you take. I guess even you wouldn't drive 1000 miles a day for a week or two ! So the answer to your question is around 50 days if you can do 20 miles walking a day every day, most mortals would take a little longer than that.

    This guide suggest 10 weeks

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-23-2005 at 04:02 PM. Reason: spacing format

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