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  1. Default Summer cross-country trip with my 2 best friends...

    Hi. My two best friends and I are planning on taking a cross-country trip this coming summer. We had planned to do it last year, but we had to work to get money to spend during the college school year. This year, we are set with money, or at least as set as we are going to be anytime soon. We are located in upstate New York and we would like the trip to last 2-3 weeks. Since I am obviously new to the whole "travelling across the country" bit, I need some help planning an itinerary, finding out the approximate cost of the trip, what we should bring, ect. What we should bring shouldn't be a problem. We plan to drive early in the morning, then hanging out wherever we are throughout the day and into the night. By my calculations, we would have to drive about 5 hours a day to make it back in 2-3 weeks. We only plan to stay in a hotel once or twice, and that is when we are in a city. We think that we can live off of about 10 to 15 dollas a day on food (yes, they are very cheap). Furthermore, here are the places we would like to go, in no particular order:

    Las Vegas
    Badlands NP
    Glacier NP
    Yellowstone or Yosemite NP
    Grand Canyon (Flagstaff?)
    Big Sur
    Pacific Coast Highway
    Aspen (my friend wants to...i'm not really sure why)
    San Fran.
    A pretty part of Montana...sorry for being so general

    There are so many things we want to do...I mean, all cities would be cool, national parks would be awesome, bars, nice restaurants...I mean, all 3 of us are 20-21, so, we're cool with anything. Honestly, if anyone gives me any help via email or through this message board, I would be more than delighted. I really want this trip to go through more than anything. Thank you so much if you can give us any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Time You're In For

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    My best guess at the minimum number of miles needed to hit all the places you've listed is 7100. You will often see the rule of thumb for true average speed of cross country drives, including rest, fuel and food stops of 53 mph used around here. That number comes from the shared experience of millions of miles of driving. Now, to do your trip in two weeks would take 9 hours of driving a day, to do it in three would take 6. That's not to say that you can't do it, particularly with three young people, just be prepared for days that are more driving than sight-seeing. I've done trips similar to yours, for example Boston to Nashville to San Francisco to Portland (OR) and back to Boston, in three weeks, and while it was enjoyable it was mostly driving. Again, I just want you to have a realistic feel for what you're about to do.

    We have a number of tools available for helping you figure out costs, and keeping them down. Start by determining your fuel costs here, then check out these hints on low cost travel from a couple of our regular contributors. And finally, for some good tips on how to calculate travel costs based on your own needs, read this post, one of the best summaries I've seen. There was also a thread not too long ago where several people listed what they carried as a matter of routine on road trips, both for every day use and to have in case of emergency. Try using the search tool to see what you can come up with.

    This could be a great adventure. It needn't be overplanned, spontaneity definitely has its place on road trips, but a bit of preparation, both physical and mental, will help it go a whole lot better. Let us know how your trip shapes up, especially things that you learn along the way that nobody warns you of.


  3. #3

    Default Some Suggestions

    If you are looking for a "Pretty part of Montana" check out Glacier National Park & the Going to the Sun road. There are some restrictions, both in vehicle size & time of year (it is often snowed in until mid June) so check the NP web site for details. If you are going to Aspen, check out the Maroon Bells - a beautiful combination for mountains & lakes...

    Some photos of Glacier at my web site State & National Parks

    Have a great trip!

  4. #4
    travel_monkeys Guest


    A few suggestions:
    If you like hiking, the sunrise hike at Bryce Canyon, Utah is breathtaking.
    If you're going to be at the Grand Canyon, you might also want to check out the red rock country in Sedona, AZ.
    Also you can shorten your list a little. Glacier National Park IS the prettiest part of Montana. And Big Sur is along the Pacific Coast Highway. By the way here's a time saver: A lot of people plan to drive the whole PCH from SF to LA, thinking it's all along the coast. It's not. The part you want to hit (the famous part) is a 90-mile stretch from San Simeon up to Carmel, just south of Monterey. The rest of Highway 1 is nice but nothing special.
    Have a good trip.

  5. Default

    First off...I would like to say thank you to the three that have replied. It's very nice of you to help us. Thanks Travel Monkeys for telling us about the Bryce Cannon, Utah. My mom went to Sedona a couple months ago and she said it was absolutely gorgeous. I don't know how close that is to Flagstaff or anywhere else, but I'm sure we'd be close enough to it. Yeah...the reason why I put Big Sur was because I figured that would lead us to the PCH. Thank you for that info. That would potentially save us a countless number of miles and perhaps more importantly, gas. Thank you for your help...much appreciated. To Vermilye...the reason why I want to see Montana is because I have heard it is beautiful. Glacier State Nice pictures (understatement of the year, mind you). I love like 40 minutes from Letchworth. I have some nice stories about that park... Moreover, we are planning to drive either a Honda Civic or a Beamer I guess. If one of my friends does well at school this semester, his father will let him take this beamer CRV. I know nothing about main interests are baseball and...well, baseball. I assume it's a nice car. Furthermore, thank you AZBuck for your help too. There's alot of stuff in there. About our route...I assume we will start at like Rochester/Syracuse area (where we live) and travel to Erie, then Columbus and Cleveland (I forget the order), then on to North Dakota (kinda a jump, yes), Montana (Glacier), down to Las Vegas, then to PCH down to LA (if that makes sense), Flagstaff/Sedona/Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, Aspen/Denver/Steamboat Springs, then, try to make it to Route 66 and just return home. How long do you think this revised trip would take? How much do you think gasoline will cost on average? I'm really new to travelling...I used to travel with my father when i was younger when he would be travelling for work, and we go to Canada every year, which I love. Any information would be good...good places to go, how much food will cost, anything. haha. i'd appeciate everything...And to Vermilye, tell me about your trip to New York. I live nearby, and I'm wondering wehre you stayed, went, ect.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Some Field Reports for you

    Quote Originally Posted by bozzer112
    Bryce Canyon, Utah.
    Some photos and a field report here.
    Glacier National Park.
    Here is a field report I wrote about the Going-to-the-Sun Highway last July.
    How much do you think gasoline will cost on average?
    Pretty hard to predict summer fuel prices, but I would guess the will be ~ $3.05 per gallon. You can use the Fuel Cost Calculator to estimate your costs.

    Enjoy the planning!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default How about just going with the flow a bit this time?

    I'm thinking that you might enjoy this first road trip better, and it might seem less overwhelming to plan, if you keep it loose. The destinations you want to see should not be set in stone but, rather, be soft-goals for your trip. What I mean is, your planning on driving a LOT of miles in a short time. You will really have to keep the pedal-to-the-metal to really have time to explore these areas. And it sounds like none of you have ever done a big roadtrip.

    I just think you should get in the car and head off in the direction of the sites you want to see but don't tie yourself into any schedule. If you see something interesting, stop and enjoy it. Heck, you might not even get to the coast this way but so what? I would make the joy in the journey, not the destinations.

    This way there are no pressures. You can meander and explore as you please. If you find a serendipitious place that really strikes your fancy, you can stay for a couple of hours or a couple of days. No matter.

    I guess what I'm saying is that you're young, you have many years ahead to do further roadtrips, and you really don't need to cram everything into your first trip. Go at a pace that you all enjoy instead of trying to fit everything into some kind of arbitrary schedule.

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