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Old 05-21-2008, 08:05 PM
 
1 posts, read 8,828 times
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I just graduated college and 5 buddies and myself are planning to drive cross-country. We are leaving in early June and plan on doing the trip in about 3.5 weeks. We are leaving from NY and heading to Houston for a wedding, making 1 major stop in New Orleans and planning to camp out in Tennessee along the way. Following the wedding we are heading west to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Francisco (Nappa/Yosemite), Seattle, Mt. Rushmore, Chicago, Toronto and back down to the NYC area.

Looking for some general advice, is this enough time/how much should we expect to spend? (driving a 2004 suburban) Also, please advise on any major ideas or things that we might be leaving out. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:23 PM
 
Location: oregon
895 posts, read 2,549,888 times
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Native californian living in oregon here,
you need lots more time, hotel reservations in the Napa area, Yosimite area and seattle..Do you realize that from Napa to Seattle is almost 800 miles and lots of mountains and beautiful scenery...I drive from salem to napa on a good day in 10 hours on I-5..thats the kind of distances your dealing with...If you happen to choose 101 threw the redwoods and coast its even longer...
Take time to enjoy this trip, so much cool stuff to see .
Happy travels...
Pikes Market is a number 1 must do in seattle...
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:17 AM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,889,129 times
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Since there are 5 drivers, you can make some good time. Bathing is mandatory!!

I lived in Napa for several years and I have done the cross country many times.

I've done it in two moths and I've done it in 14 days. 3.5 weeks is tight, what is the rush?

Add in Nashville for Graceland and the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum.

Go to Dallas and view the grassy knoll where JFK was shot. In Abeline TX, (I think) there is this Steak House where if you eat a 72 oz steak in one hour (with drink, salad etc) you get it free. It was in the Simpsons. Time clock and stage.

Add in Vegas. (arrive Mon -Thurs and try to snag a 50 dollar room).

See what you can do about seeing the National Parks in Southern Utah. Bryce, Monument, Arches. They are cool.

You got to hit LA. Visit Westwood, Santa Monica Beach, Hollywood.

Past SF, you should drive through the Redwood National Park and see the big Redwoods.

In Washington, go to the Boeing Factory in Everett.

Stop and see Devils Tower from the OLD movie Close Encounters.

When you are going to Rushmore (Free Entrance BTW, parking will cost you 8 bucks? I think you have a free alternate parking site.) Stop by and see the Crazy Horse Monument which is about 15 miles away. There is a nice Former KOA in the area near both.

Also in the Area are Little America where you get a 35 cent Ice Cream (Both ends of Wyoming I think), the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD for a funky one of a kind deal, and Wall Drug (All testaments to American Entrepreneurship).

In Chicago, see the Museum of Transportation and Industry. THEN go to Ed Debevnics for dinner and watch the wait staff dance and sing on the counter.

Costs:


Lodging:

I just booked hotels for a one month trip NY, Boston, DC and PA and I got incredible deals on the net with and average cost of about 120 a day. this ranges from Westin 4 stars in Boston and DC for about 130 plus tax for 2 adults and three kids to 65 plus tax for a 4 star Westin in PA.

Bring a laptop and when you see wireless hotspot try booking a hotel using Expedia, Hotwire or Priceline. With Priceline, you can get some nice hotels for 50 bucks, but since there are 5 of you be careful because they only guarantee double occupancy. To determine what hotel they are putting you you in when you use Priceline or Hotwire, use Priceline and Hotwire Forum. Put yourself on Hotwire and Expedia watch lists NOW so they can send you last minute deals. 50 bucks for a nice campsite or 50 bucks for a really nice hotel, I would take the hotel.

National and State Park campsites vary. Get a Let's GO USA. It is written by Harvard Students. It is well researched and will cater to your age group. It even lists itineraries and campsites.

I would budget 100 bucks a night for lodging/camping just to be safe.

When you stop at rest stops, pick up a coupon book for the hotels in the next state and see if there are any deals.


Fuel is pretty easy. 6k miles divided by 17MPG times 4 bucks a gallon. Get a Costco Card / AMEX to gas up or learn about the Flying Js. Fill when it is cheap.

Fuel, Tolls and Parking should be about 1500 bucks

Food. Let's Go will give you some good suggestions. If you are really on a budget, just remember to eat at restaurants for a reason. In Tennessee I stopped by this stop that had a diner selling Po Boys and Hoagies. Across the building was a national chain sandwich. I took pictures of the hoagies and I can even remember the name of the chain.

Don't waste too much on fast food. It adds up. Believe me, where I live, a kids happy meal is 6.50 and a meal deal IS OVER 10 BUCKS. When my kids want fries, it ends up costing me thirty bucks. For 5 people, a Costco pizza for 10 bucks can be a life saver. Hot dogs and soda for 1.50 also make an economical snack. Do bring a camp stove and treat yourself to some nice steaks/meals.

In The California Redwood National Park area there is this logging town (Free Tour on weekdays). The general store has incredible meat at incredibly low prices (6 bucks a pound last time I was there, but probably higher now). Get yourself a 2 inch thick T Bone. Now I have been to Vic Stuarts, Mortons and Ruths Chris and paid a hundred buck for a Porterhouse. This was almost as good.

North of SF there is Johnson's Oyster Farm where you can eat fresh RAW oysters out in the parking lot or bring them back to your campsite. Bring beer!!!

While you can certainly do food for 10 a day, you can also do 100 a day per person. I would budget 20 per person as being pretty comfortable. The key is getting 5 people to agree on how to budget. I took a trip up the Alaska Highway with 7 people on a school bus (4 10 year old nephews on my dime for 1.5 months). When we got to Anchorage, we met up with a friend who flew up from SF. He immediately wanted to go to a restaurant. Nothing on the menu for less than 10 bucks. Nice that he paid for himself, but try that times 7 people, three times a day and for 45 days. Set rules (that can be flexible). That can save you hundreds, really get the feel for the local fare and lead to less aggravation. Also, prepare and have good low cost and interesting alternatives that you can really enjoy and remember.

Good travels.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:26 AM
 
Location: oregon
895 posts, read 2,549,888 times
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Bob the builder really gives you good points and read them carefully.
Two other thngs that east coaster don't deal with high mountain pass's the Ashland grade into oregon from ca is 4300 ft and there are lots of other passes along the way..Also thriple didgit temps and desert winds both can be bruital..we have drive this trip in a car and in a motorhome towing....
The whole Napa valley is pricey as heck, i grew up there and still go home to see family there so be prepared..They charge to tour the wineries now too.
Enough said have a grand time..
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Sugar Grove, IL
3,131 posts, read 10,500,849 times
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I would recommend doing mapquest for routes and estimated driving times. I would definitely check for hotel reservations along the way. you can typically book with credit card and cancel before 6 that night if something were to change. Nothing is worse than being ready to stop, looking for a motel and there are no rooms. we typically drive on our vacations, so stock up on snacks, water and sodas. no point in paying inflated prices when stopping for gas. You can also save some money by making your own sandwiches and eating at rest areas for some fresh air and a nice walk.
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Norcross GA
983 posts, read 4,095,619 times
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Not insinuating anything here but have absolutely NOTHING illegal in the vehicle. The state troopers do not play! And stay within the speed limits as much as possible no need for unneccesary tickets since this is a leisure trip.

Most of all have a GREAT experience.
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:08 AM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,889,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamh View Post
Bob the builder really gives you good points and read them carefully.
Two other thngs that east coaster don't deal with high mountain pass's the Ashland grade into oregon from ca is 4300 ft and there are lots of other passes along the way..Also thriple didgit temps and desert winds both can be bruital..we have drive this trip in a car and in a motorhome towing....
The whole Napa valley is pricey as heck, i grew up there and still go home to see family there so be prepared..They charge to tour the wineries now too.
Enough said have a grand time..
Well thank you mamh.

After reading travel guides for decades now. This point is overlooked. A lot of times a simple concise sentence will contain tons of info. I was in Marrakesh Morocco and ran into this Canadian girl who could not find the place to book a ride out into the desert. She had been there two days!!! She had the same Lonely Planet. She missed the one sentence in the whole section that named the hotel where people meet.
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Old 05-23-2008, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Durham, NC
2,536 posts, read 8,124,976 times
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For the Grand Canyon, you can save a ton by getting cheap hotel rooms in Flagstaff. Flag is a very fun college town with a lot of good bars and restaurants downtown, plus its only about 1.5 hours from there to GCNP. I'd also recommend dropping down to Sedona from Flagstaff...its only 45 minutes south.

I'd recommend skipping Napa entirely. Its just not the kind of place that is well suited to six guys who just graduated college. I think you'd have more fun checking out microbreweries in Portland, personally. If you're wine drinkers rather than beer drinkers, you can find your share of great wineries in both Oregon & Washington.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:33 AM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,889,129 times
Reputation: 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdp_az View Post
For the Grand Canyon, you can save a ton by getting cheap hotel rooms in Flagstaff. Flag is a very fun college town with a lot of good bars and restaurants downtown, plus its only about 1.5 hours from there to GCNP. I'd also recommend dropping down to Sedona from Flagstaff...its only 45 minutes south.

I'd recommend skipping Napa entirely. Its just not the kind of place that is well suited to six guys who just graduated college. I think you'd have more fun checking out microbreweries in Portland, personally. If you're wine drinkers rather than beer drinkers, you can find your share of great wineries in both Oregon & Washington.

I agree, Napa is probably not for college aged people.

There is camping in the Grand Canyon.
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:38 AM
 
Location: San Diego
5,027 posts, read 13,415,221 times
Reputation: 4849
We drove from North NJ to TX in 11 days. We spent one night each in every state on the way. Since we didn't know where we'd be each night, we used Priceline to book hotels, ususally one day in advance. Have fun!
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