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  1. Default X-country 101 "sample routes"

    Hello everyone,

    I've browsed the site looking for some sample starting routes, but I really can't find any. I want to begin to think/plan a cross-country trip NY-LA. I figure there must be some typical or basic plans to do this. I'm just looking for a starting point, something I can modify to suit me. I know once you get out west that things get really far apart, so there are some tried and true routes/time tables for this.

    Can any one point me to samples of such routes?

  2. #2

    Default Parameters...

    I am in the midst of doing planning for a trip as well and the first thing that anyone will tell you is that it depends on how much time you have and how much money you have.

    Once you have determined that, you'll have to think about what you like. Cities vs. National Parks vs. Oddballs and one-offs.

    Here are some of the tidbits that I have learned through my research.

    1. I80 beats I70 through the plains (although this is just what I have read and it is just opinion).

    2. In Nebraska, the cops nail you from the air. Checkout

    3. I can't say where to start going from NY, but leaving from Vermont, I am going up into Canada via Toronto, Niagara Falls, then to Chicago and heading west via I80. Then I whip around Utah and Arizona for the National Parks (check out Get a national parks pass if you plan on visiting a few NP.

    4. Be smart about keeping enough gas when you are out west.

    5. If this is going to be a big trip, then you might want to invest in Microsoft Streets and Trips. The new 2006 version has a GPS locator that you can plug into a laptop. It works and is pretty cool.

    Others will chime in with other info, I'm sure.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default How do you sample infinity?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    OK - as you say, let's start with the basics. We do offer a number of RoadTrip Planning tools that would qualify, I think, as RoadTrip 101. Roadie4 has given you a quick synopsis of just a few of the decisions to be made on a New York to Los Angeles trip. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of others. Road trips are such individual adventures that there can be no on-size-fits-all route or timing. For starters, you should probably go to one of the on-line mapping tools such as MapQuest, MSN Maps, MapsOnUs, etc., and just see what each of them offers as their suggestion for how to go from NY to LA. Then go get yourself a good paper map (or better yet, an atlas) of the US and start seeing what lies just off those roads, or even what other road you might take that they didn't even think of. As far as a time table, that is completely up to you. Some people consider 350 miles a hard day of driving, others are just getting warmed up at 500. If you haven't done a long trip before, then I'd suggest that you should assume something like 400 to 450 until you get a feel for what's right for you. The distance you cover in a day also depends to a large extent on how much sight-seeing you're going to do. So, already no one else can predict what will work for you, where you'll go, or how long you'll take getting there. That is the beauty of the road trip.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Greetings!

    I always suggest that people get a decent map of the US and highlight those things that they really want to see along the way and then plan their route so they can visit those places. For example, if you have always wanted to see Yellowstone, plan your route through the northern part of the country. If you would rather see the Grand Canyon, then go the more southern route. All the websites that AZBuck has suggested will give you an idea of mileage.

    Most experienced roadtrippers suggest that you estimate driving about 53mph. There will be times when you might fly at 70-85mph, but there are other times when traffic will be clogged due to congestion, construction, etc. so this will give you an average to shoot for. Most inexperienced roadtrippers assume they will always be able to drive at top speeds but this is usually too optimistic. Of course, enjoying the drive at whatever speed is what roadtrippin' is all about!

    This page is a great list of books that might help you out. You might enjoy the route ideas in Roadtrip USA (3rd from the bottom of the list). It gives specific routes across the US and is a great read.

  5. Default

    I guess what I was asking is what are some typical roads/routes to start off with; Kind of a "best of" or basic tour. I figure a giant loop, out across the northern part (I80, 90, etc), then loop down through CA ,and back across the southern part (I40, I10, etc). There are some "standard" places to see like the Grand Canyon, Mt Rushmore, etc. After dialing in a starting route, I can then begin to see what's on the way, or what's not on the way. I don't have a time or expense budget yet, that is part of what I'm trying to figure out.
    From what I've read so far the driving alone will take around 10 to 12 days.

    In a way this could be thought of as scouting trip, I could see us doing some serious RVing after retirement.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default There's nothing typical about exploring the US!

    The book "Roadtrip USA" that I recommended at the link in my previous post probably gives you the best overview of "typical routes" across the US. However, there is nothing typical about traveling the US as there are several great northern routes, several great southern routes, and several great middle routes. Which one to take depends on what YOU want to see. How does one decide? Again, I would suggest determining what YOU want to see and then using the tools AZBuck suggested to come up with your own route.

    If you were to go west to Chicago and then head west via I-90 with stops at Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone to Seattle, then down to LA via I-5 (missing the wonderful coastal drive through Oregon/Northern CA), then heading east from LA on I-15 to Las Vegas, with a detour to the Grand Canyon before going north to I-70/I-80 back through Chicago and onto New York, you would be driving about 7000 miles minimum. Per MS Streets & Trips, this would take you a minimum of about 120 hours to drive but I would figure 140 hours. 14 days would mean driving 10 hours per day which would totally exhaust you and leave you no time to explore, rest, relax, and meander.

    I don't know how to answer your question because there is just no "typical route". Going this way means that you miss one of the most interesting, historical drives going along the highways that follow old Route 66. And you don't head into The South at all. If you want to see some of that, it will really add the miles and time you need to make the trip.

    Personally, I think your plan is too ambitious unless you're going to take at least 3 weeks to do it. A month-plus would be better.

    And some people might do NY-LA-NY without taking any of the routes I've mentioned thus far. Hwy 2 along the northern border and I-10 along the southern border would be another interesting and beautiful route. But it would be even more miles and take more time than the other way I've already mentioned. And there are still numerous other routes that I haven't even touched on. So many too choose from! Wow...and only you can make that choice.

    If you would give us some ideas of what YOUR must-sees are, we could all better advise you.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy
    If you would give us some ideas of what YOUR must-sees are, we could all better advise you.


    Thank you for your input. I really want to see everything! I've always said I want to run for president so I can tour the country. Going cross-country has always been a dream of mine, and the other day I relised unless I start to hatch a plan it'll never happen. Someday after retirement maybe I can see evrything, but I've decided I need to start to see some of it now.

    As for time, long ago I thought when I hit the 5 week vacation level at my former employer I'd be ready to hit the road, well, like I said former employer. I don't get 3 weeks until fall of this year so nothing is happening in 06 that's for sure. I guess I'm trying to get an outline of what there is to see so I can make some long range plans. I'm even thinking some westward plane flights (fly & drive) might make more sense for pre-retirement. As for the east coast I've now got some trip obligations (relatives & friends) sprinkled all the way down to southern FL so, that I'll be doing in the near future.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default fly / rent a car

    If you only have two weeks, flying into Las Vegas perhaps? is a good idea.

    There is much to see and do in a loop from there. You could easily spend the two weeks at the following:

    Las Vegas
    Zion National Park, southern Utah
    Kodachrome state park
    Coral pink sand dunes
    Bryce Canyon national park
    Capitol Reef national park
    Canyonlands national park
    Arches national park

    a few days in Moab, Utah (take a jeep tour out of here)

    Monument Valley, Arizona
    Grand Canyon (south rim) Arizona
    Hoover Dam
    on your way back to Vegas

    You could also fly into Denver or Salt Lake City or....
    and do Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park,
    Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Mammoth Site, Badlands - South Dakota.

    These are some highlight areas of the country IMHO - especially if you only have two weeks. Keep in mind a lot of the lodging in these national parks will be booking NOW for 2007, and filling fast.

  9. Default


    Thanks for all the ideas! I heard of many of the the NPs you listed, and always wondered where they were. I think maybe I'll take some push pins and start to flag the old US map my kids used to have on the bedroom wall.

    Part of my early planning is getting the story togather to present to my wife, and generating some excitment. She'll tolerate a lot of my "history places", but I've still got to have something for her, as she would be very content to just sit on a beach and do nothing for vacation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    I think maybe I'll take some push pins and start to flag the old US map my kids used to have on the bedroom wall.
    I think this is an excellent idea to get you started!

    I'm like you. I want to see everything. It can be hard to narrow it down because of time restraints. I have been known to do the "close my eyes and put my finger on the map" to choose my general destination. I have found that no matter where you go in this world, there are wonderful things to see and do. Whatever you do, it should turn out fun!

    I think Syv's idea of a "fly-drive" type of vacation might be your best bet unless you decide to explore some places closer to home or simply enjoy marathon driving. I think a good marathon drive once in awhile is great fun! But I wouldn't want to do it every trip, ya know?

    You mention that your wife has a different travel-style. To be honest, my husband has gone on few of my roadtrips with me. Especially if they involve some marathon driving. He doesn't love it like I do. So, when we go together, we travel far differently than I do when I'm on my own. Planning ahead for compromise is a great way to head off tension. Also, keep in mind that you don't have to spend every minute of every day together. I have been known to explore museums and historical sites while my husband lays around the pool with plans to read and nap all day.

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