Originally Posted by JNB
IMHO a cross country trip is one of the least impossible and most probable things to do. I first made my cross country trips when I was about the same age as you. I had just completed a four year tour of duty in the Navy and had been as far as Hong Kong, but about the only part of the U.S. I had seen was between Texas and California. So just as soon as I got back home, I bought a car and began making yearly trips across the country. One of these was "The Year I Went From Texas To Yellowstone National Park By Way Of The New York World's Fair." LOL !
I was a little more energetic in those days and I traveled about 500 miles per day, getting up as early as 4:30 AM to start the day. (I kept a detailed log of the trip.) I would say that 200-300 miles per day would be a more realistic day's mileage. Just figure out how many miles you intend to cover and divide that by 200 or 300 to get an estimate of how long to plan to be on the road.
Then you can figure how much your fuel costs would be by dividing the total mileage by the miles per gallon of your vehicle. You can get an idea on gas prices across the USA on the gasbuddy.com website.
Depending on how well you intend to eat or whether you plan to pack your own food, otherwise about $10-$20 per day for food.
There are camping areas which are free and also some youth hostels free or nominal in cost. However campgrounds such as KOA are charging as much for camping as the economy motels such as Motel 6. (See KOA, Motel 6 and other websites for locations, availability and costs.)
Then if you plan to visit any special points of interest check on admission costs, etc.
I would say to include at least 10% above the totals for unexpected expenses.
Your main costs will thus break down into fuel, lodging and dining. I would say allow about $50-$100 per day. This is just my estimate and maybe some other posters have a better opinion.
Anway, I think you will be glad you made the trip, especially when you get back home and will be eager for another. If sometime you might be going that way, Get Your Kicks On Route 66 !
I might add that for planning purpsoses as well as "on the road" I would suggest Microsoft Streets and Trips software, especially the version with a GPS receiver if you have a laptop or you might consider just the software by itself and print out maps in advance at home or consider purchasing a GPS by itself. I have both Streets and Trips with the GPS and also an Intellinav2 GPS. I use them in conjunction with each other.