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u/umodCUZimGOD422 · 1 pointr/roadtrip

Fantastic question u/ardnassac115, and I'm glad you asked it. For some background on me, I'm 25 and used to work full-time in a pretty serious career before deciding to return to graduate school full-time. This lined up for me, and is probably one of the few times in my life I'll be able to do something this long and live-changing. When in my life will I have the holy trinity of time, energy, and money again? I had budgeted through grad school to 1.) make sure I could go through grad school without working, and 2.) make sure I had enough leftover to do something like this before returning to work. I still live at home and my major monthly expenses are student loans, car payment/insurance, and a cell phone bill. I budgeted to make sure the cost of this trip, in addition to those expenses, could be covered while I was gone before returning to work. I hope that answers your question regarding saving up.

Planning the trip was difficult at first, but became easier over time. I've never done anything like this in my life and I had no idea what I was doing. The most important thing is to first decide how long you want the trip to be. Everything else comes afterwards. I decided 6 weeks because it'd be enough to see a lot while not killing me financially. Next, I knew I wanted to see national parks, but had no idea how. This helped me immensely. It's an "optimal route" to see all the national parks in the lower 48 states (note there have been two new NP additions since: Gateway Arch NP and Indiana Dunes NP). In what I'm sure is a cardinal sin of this sub, I took the fastest, most direct routes in the interest of time rather than looking for scenic routes most of the time. I cared more about time in the parks than pretty views from my car (although there were many). If you look at the order of my route and the route through that link, you'll notice it's very similar. After, I just started researching parks and seeing which ones I want to see the most, and which ones I could skip for now or save for the future. Once I had that down, I opened up an excel sheet and google maps and started actually mapping each day, how long the drives would be between destinations, what I wanted to do, where I'd sleep each night, and how long I'd spend at each destination. How long was decided during the research part on the parks I decided to see on this trip. For example, parks like Rocky Mountan, Zion, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon all got 2 essentially full days because they were so big that I didn't think I could do all the things I wanted to do in a single day. Parks like Badlands, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Carlsbad Caverns, Gateway Arch, and Cuyahoga Valley I knew could be done in a single, very packed day. To preface that, I'm in shape and did a lot of hiking at a pretty unhealthy (read: fast) pace, allowing me to do a multitude of trails each day to get everything. I'm not going to lie, it took me a ton of effort to route my trip and make sure it was within the time frame. I essentially made an itinerary for myself. It's not as rigid as I'm making it sound, as the only thing really holding me to schedule was reserving campsites or AirBnBs. Otherwise I'd be able to do that research a few nights prior and alter as I needed. On the flip side, when it's 7PM and you don't know where you're sleeping that night, that can be a scary thing if you're not used to it.

I want to emphasize my planning of each day at parks too. I touched on that above, but this blog, where the authors spent 52 weeks doing all 59 (at the time) national parks for the centennial in 2016, was extremely helpful. The pictures, descriptions, and other info were so valuable. My friend's dad caught wind I was doing this trip and lent me three national park guides: Fodors, National Geographic, and Lonely Planet. These were the most important for actually planning my days in parks, with Fodors being by far the most useful, National Geographic also being good, and honestly not much help from Lonely Planet. Just an FYI, the links are for the exact copies I used, but there are newer versions available that you should get if you look into it. A note on this - it saved me a tremendous amount of valuable time when I got to parks to already know exactly what I wanted to do. If I had extra time and could do stuff I didn't know about, that was great! But on packed days it helps to know where things are in each park and how reasonable your "want to do" adventures are for the time frame.

For road trip prep I had to buy or borrow some things I didn't have and got the rest from my house: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bed comforter, tarp, tent, knife, bear spray, pepper spray, a road atlas, a lantern, an abundance of snacks (clif bars, larabars, peanut butter crackers, etc), national park passport, a good cooler for water/food, camp stove and bowls, matches, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and some other things that I'm surely not remembering. A good, solid backpack and some good water bottles are necessary. Multi-tools are useful. Don't forget some engine coolant and wiper fluid just in case. Don't forget to stop for an oil change if your trip is long enough. For clothing I put a suitcase in the back seat of my car and lived out of that between laundry. Also had a box with some of the above items in it along with toiletries and other essentials like baby wipes, phone charger, electric razor and charger, nail clippers, sandwich baggies, and a few other things.

Woooo, that was a long winded post! There is so much to think about and plan when doing something like this, and I'd be lying if I said a great deal of work didn't go into my plan. If this trip had been shorter, a lot of this wouldn't be necessary. Six weeks though, that's a long time away from home, completely on my own. Having never done something even close to this, I felt I needed to do a lot of this prep work to make sure this went as smoothly as possible. It did go very smoothly too, but I attribute a lot of that to planning. I hope that this essay response helps you understand the pre-trip process I went through a bit better. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have!

u/briand92 · 4 pointsr/roadtrip

First of all congratulations on deciding to do this. This will be an awesome experience. Here are a few thoughts:

-Since you'll be near LA you should drive a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). This is the highway up the coast of southern California - very beautiful.

-Since you'll be near Vegas you'll be within a few hours of some of the most beautiful parts of the country (IMHO) - that is the Grand Canyon in Arizona and southern Utah (Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, etc.).

-Not too far east of southern Utah is Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Here you'll find the cliff dwellings built by the Anasazi nearly 1000 years ago.

-I agree with /u/IONTOP that a small car would be best. However, make sure you have one with decent power and good range on a single tank of gas. You'll be driving through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, which are amazing, but more fun with a V6 versus a four cylinder. Also, in the western states you may be on stretches of roads with ~300 miles between towns so you don't want a car that only does 200 miles on a tank of gas.

-As you travel through the southwestern United States you'll find yourself in the Navajo Indian Reservation (a.k.a. Navajo Nation). This is the largest Native American reservation in the US and is semi-autonomous from the US government. This can be a fun cultural experience if you decide to make it one.

-If you're into caving there are a lot of options in the Arizona, New Mexico area. See /r/caving for advice and suggestions.

-Buy a large Rand McNally Road Atlas of the US. I'm sure you'll have GPS, but sometimes it's fun just to look at a big map of your surroundings to find interesting things to do. It'll also be a good backup.

-If you don't mind camping then there will be plenty of parks along the way with public campsites. Pack a small two man tent and a sleeping bag and you'll always have a cheap place to sleep. In addition to National Parks and State Parks you'll also find some privately owned campgrounds. One really common chain of privately owned campgrounds is KOA. You can find KOA campgrounds everywhere in this country and they're cheap and reliable. However, definitely stay in the parks if you can - much prettier.

-The National Parks have an entrance fee so if you're planning to go to a lot of them you should consider buying a National Park Pass, which will get you into all of them for a year.

-Since you'll be driving a long way through many different climates in a rental car be sure to pack a tire pressure gauge and an ice scraper/snow brush.

Have fun and be sure to post pics once you're on your way!

On a side note - our friend from Sydney stayed with us last week and just flew back home. I hope to visit your beautiful country some day.

u/El_Fez · 2 pointsr/roadtrip

Okay, the servers went kaput here at work, so I got a chance to look at your route some more.

For the east coast, I'd probably go US 1. I've not done the east coast highway yet, but all the reading I've done on it says it's quite pretty. (You also might want to give this a read: ). And really, if you're almost all the way down to the south part of Florida, you might as well push through and see the Keys

From the east end of Tennessee, I'd go west to Memphis and south along the The Great River Road. The Jack Daniels distillery is a really cool tour, Graceland really is worth a stop even if you're not a huge Elvis fan and the Blues Highway has a bunch of R&B and Blues sites and clubs to stop at. That gets you down to New Orleans like you originally planned. (Here's some shots I took when I drove that neck of the woods a couple of years ago: )

Not much experience driving Texas and Oklahoma, so I'll skip that. Utah, on the other hand - I concur with GameHenges - Moab is mindblowingly beautiful. Also, Zion and Bryce are astoundingly beautiful parks. Well worth a day each stopover each. And since you're in that area, I might throw a stop at Four Corners in too. Yeah it's tourist trappy, but it's still fun if you're going past.

From there, I've already covered US 101, so lets look at from Washington back to the east coast. Once you get to the puget sound, I would hop a ferry from Kingston to Edmonds and hook up with Highway 2 instead of driving I-90. The drive through the mountains is stunning, Levenworth is a fun little town, and it's a more interesting drive through Eastern Washington. Plus go check out Grand Coolee Dam's laser light show, if you're in the neighborhood come nighttime.

Sorry, forgot that you're hitting Rainier. Ignore the ferry advice and go Highway 12, which goes RIGHT past Rainier. You'll miss Levenworth and the Dam, but the drive through the Rockies is pretty cool too.

Highway 2 also sets you up nicely for Glacier National Park, too. From there, down to Highway 14 should get you through the interesting parts of South Dakota (be sure to hit Wall Drug) and back home.

u/ivorybiscuit · 1 pointr/roadtrip

I am also a not particularly threatening young woman who's done a fair amount of cross-country and weekend trips solo.

First- stay aware of your surroundings, and try to hide expensive stuff either in the trunk or under not-exciting looking things. I keep a lot of my stuff in opaque rubbermaid-esque tubs. (This also helps for organization). I travel with a cooler and prefer to make my own meals- so long as you don't mind picking up ice every once in a while, you can make some pretty robust sandwiches and have good snacks, etc. on the way.

I recommend that you keep a few things with you (some especailly if you're going through the desert)

  1. Oil, coolant, etc. This depends on your car- I drive a subaru outback that burns through oil annoyingly quick, and have had to top off low oil numerous times on the road. I keep a funnel and 5 quarts in my care usually. I've never needed coolant, but I've also not done the route you're taking during the summer.

  2. Water jug: (e.g. something like this. Fill it up at rest stops, campsites, etc. Came in handy driving through the desert in Nevada last summer.

  3. Power pack & jumper cables, I have [this one] ( Charges via usb so you can make sure its powered up while you're actually driving, or at hotels/motels, etc. This thing has already more than paid for itself in times I've had to jump a vehicle (myslef and others).

  4. Tire repair kit (slime with compressor, for instance), and some basic tools, duct tape etc. I personally am not particularly competent in basic auto repair, but, there are some things that someone else might be able to help you with if they have even the most rudimentary of tools.

  5. Atlas. Most of the trip sounds like it'll be pretty straight forward, but a large chunk of the country also as pretty terrible service. [this one] ( also has some national park maps and locations of free campgrounds marked.

    I've never had any issues travelling solo, stopping at rest stops, truck stops, etc. That said, I recommend avoiding rest stops at night and instead going to well-lit gas stations (Pilot, Flying J's, Love's, other travel Plazas) if you can.

    I've also never had issues travelling to weird road side attractions, touristy things, or hiking trails by myself, and would recommend stopping at as many of these things as you can. Travelling solo is awesome because you get to stop exactly where you want for as long as you want to. If you see some random attraction that you want to see on the side of the road, go check it out.

    Regarding the move-- depends on how much you're attached to any of your things. When I moved to Houston for an internship, I bought a queen size frame and matress online (13" box spring/memory foam that compacts into a small box for free shipping with prime), and brought only what I could fit in my outback. I took a uhaul back to TN afterwards. Travelling cross-country is way less stressful when you're not worried about people stealing things, so if you can- I'd recommend starting fresh with what you can. Just keep in mind that that can end up being pretty pricy.

    Didn't intend for that to be a huge word wall. Hopefully something in that is helpful!
u/kelsofb · 6 pointsr/roadtrip

I traveled the country for 4 months this summer and have a few things that I found really useful that I'll be taking on my next trip.

A few things I took with me that helped:

  • Hammock There were a few times where I couldn't find a good/cheap/free place to camp so I threw up the hammock wherever I could find some trees. It was awesome for the south because it was crazy hot and let the breeze in.

  • 2 Rubbermaid bins one for clothes, one for cookware/books/miscellaneous items

  • Plug-in cooler Saves on ice and keeps things like eggs and cheese perfectly cold. (Mine ended up breaking and not cooling after 2 months, but I bought it from Costco and returned it for a full refund.

  • Storage Bin This might have been the best decision I made when it came to gear. I have a 2004 Honda Civic, and as you can imagine it doesn't have much room. This was perfect because I could fit all my dry food in the bigger bins and things like batteries, a first aid kit, mini flashlights, etc. in the top bin.

  • National Parks Pass I went to as many national parks as I could and this saved me tons of money on entrance fees and got me free camping at Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

    I don't know what kind of gear you were thinking, if you were thinking more camping gear or what, but these are things that I would totally travel with again. You're gonna have the best time, safe travels!
u/mumblefords · 2 pointsr/roadtrip

do not use wal mart parking lots. They have 24hr security an the security will kick you out. Source: big road tripper. I use hospitals when I have to. I try my best though to enjoy my drives over making them into some marathon dash. Ill drive back roads and camp off back country roads dirt where no one goes ever. Also in my past I would recommend getting an "adventure atlas" even if it is just this one: It will have information on camp grounds and specific details on outdoor recreation. This is incredibly valuable. I use maps from they provide detailed information and can give you a heads up to things you never knew existed. Also use this website before hand:

It sounds like your flying into Denver that kinda sucks because after transportation costs and lodging you will spend the most on food. if you drive yourself you can start stockpiling food for the trip now while you still have an income.

Also, in my experience, dont get too carried away in the over all "mission". If you don't make it to SD who cares. Do what you want when you want and be as free as you can. If you stay shackled to some schedule your going to have a bad time. You will be like "but I got to leave my lake camp site so I can drive to my next destination" if you like where you are stay until you are ready to leave. You are at your destination already: freedom from your everyday life. You will enjoy the trip more. Trust me. Try to find places that cater to multiple activities. You actually dont have to drive very far to get to hiking, fishing,and backpacking. you can literally do all of that in the same place generally. Keep that in mind and try to minimize how often you move location.

Im on a massive road trip now, been out 5 weeks. Im in CO and I havent drove more than 75 miles in the past 2 weeks. I have only spent one night in a hotel and ahve done: rock climbing, white water, desert hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and off road jeeping.

Do not fall into the thoughts that you have to move. you dont. everything you want to do can be found easily in the same place out there.

u/resynchronization · 1 pointr/roadtrip

Just random notes -

  • go to the library (or buy your own) and check out guide books like National Geographic's Scenic Hwys or Road Trip USA to get ideas for scenic drives along your route
  • if within your diet, Memphis BBQ
  • maybe go no farther than Hot Springs the first day
  • example of scenic highway you can find in those guide books - Talimena
  • maybe Amarillo, TX, for the second day - Cadillac Ranch, Palo Duro Canyon SP nearby
  • Santa Fe for food and museums the 3rd day; maybe overnight here or continue on to some place like Durango - lots in the Santa Fe area like Bandelier NM, Jemez Springs Mt Trail, Valles Caldera that you can check out while in Santa Fe or on your way to next destination
  • Now you're entering a stretch where you wish you had more time. You could do Mesa Verde NP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Pt SP, Goblin Valley SP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, Cedar Breaks NM, Snow Canyon SP but that would take a week; instead take as many scenic highways as you can - UT24, UT12, UT14, and more if you look. Hate to recommend not actually stopping at any of the national parks but you really don't have time - so take notes for your planning your next vacation; you can search out some cool restaurants on these scenic roads too. like Hells Backbone Grill; maybe overnight in St George for the 4th night (lodging near the National Parks is expensive and likely booked)
  • maybe head to the Mammoth Lakes area for the 5th night
  • You don't mention time of year for the trip, but if Tioga Rd is open (generally early June), take that and swallow the Yosemite entrance fee (unless you've already purchased a National Park pass for $80 that's good for a year); if Tioga Rd not open, then go up to Tahoe area before heading to San Francisco
u/Zen_Drifter · 2 pointsr/roadtrip

I usually stop around 3-4:00 PM and figure out where I want to stop that night, then call ahead if I'm getting a hotel room and make a reservation somewhere. You can also read-up on camping on BLM or NFS lands, either campgrounds or remote. State parks also may have campgrounds.

I carry a tire plug kit. This will save you massive amounts of time if you get a flat in a remote area. Watch a few youtube videos if you've never used one and you should be fine.

I also carry a small 12v cigarette-lighter-powered air compressor for reinflating the tire, and a tire pressure gauge because I don't trust the ones on the cheap pumps.

If you are going to travel through remote areas in the west always carry some food and water.

Buy one of those sponges with the nylon netting on the outside or a loofah or one of these. You'll probably want to clean the windshield of dead bugs more often than just when you get gas. Bring a jug of water to assist. Carry an extra jug of wiper fluid.

Research the historical day/night temperatures if you will be traveling in the inter-mountain west. It can actually get quite cold at night if you're camping. Pack appropriate clothing. Monsoon season in the desert southwest can go to early October. Assume you might get rained-on a bit.

Check state DOT websites for conditions ahead at high mountain passes in the Rockies and the Sierras. Some of them start closing due to snow by mid-September.

If you are going to more than two or three national parks buy the annual pass for $80 at the first park you go to. It will pay for itself several times over.

IMHO carrying a bunch of spare parts or tools is overkill but a spare headlamp bulb and a package of assorted zip ties aren't a bad investment. Make sure your brakes are in good condition before you leave if you are driving in mountain areas.

I carry a paper road atlas as I find it useful for longer-distance planning than zooming in/out on an ipad or phone. You can get Rand McNally Road atlasses near the checkouts at a lot of Walmarts.

You'll find that the octane levels of gasoline sold at high altitudes is a few points lower than at sea level. Using 85 octane in a car that usually uses 87 is fine, etc.. Pay attention to the labeling on the pumps elsewhere. At certain places in the Midwest gas stations sell high-ethanol mixes that are inappropriate for non flex-fuel cars. They will still sell the regular stuff, just pay attention to the labels.

Know that this sign means that you can come upon cows standing in the road at any time. Avoid driving these roads at night, or at least keep the speed down and be prepared.

u/seagulls-are-best · 14 pointsr/roadtrip

The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America's Desert Military Experiment

Great book about why camels were brought to the US and how Douglas ended up in the army :)
The legend is ..... there are still wild camel descendants in the southwest.

u/manooelito · 1 pointr/roadtrip

Usually I use Tripadvisor or Google.
The thing is, not looking for food on the way, we want to travel places FOR food.
Found a couple guides online:

Roadfood 10th Edition

Great American Eating Experiences

Food Truck Road Trip

Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History seems to have a good collection too

Can you recommend one of these?

u/reddilada · 12 pointsr/roadtrip

Have fun!

The NatGeo Scenic Highways & Byways is a good book for making plans.

I would do a bit of local camping first to see what works for you and what doesn't.

u/philhillphil · 1 pointr/roadtrip

They still do. I took a 2 month cross Canada road trip and used their North American Atlas. Great place to start. Other than that, most GPS work decently as long as you use your common sense. Took me down some really terrible logging roads because it would go by shortest distance, which isn’t always the best route.

Edit: This is the one I used

u/jcholder · 1 pointr/roadtrip

Get you a good wireless cam detector if you are staying in BNB, many have been caught putting hidden cams up for unsuspecting females. You don’t want to end up on the Internet.

I recommend this one:

Anti Spy Detector & Camera Finder RF Signal Detector GPS Bug Detector Hidden Camera Detector for GSM Tracking Device GPS Radar Radio Frequency Detector

u/Arctu31 · 1 pointr/roadtrip


Oh and here’s the Gazetteer I was talking about, click on “Look inside” and scroll through a couple of pages, you’ll come to the list of campgrounds. Invaluable.

u/saliczar · 3 pointsr/roadtrip

Skip Dallas and go to Austin instead. Once you get to Amarillo, you can follow Route 66 to the West Coast. Order a guide book, because there is plenty to see and do along the way.

u/justasque · 3 pointsr/roadtrip

Patricia cooks on the road with a crock pot in this video, and she shows you how to choose the right inverter to plug it in. This one is about cooking with a lunch box stove which plugs right into your cigarette lighter. And she's got a book with recipes and info too.