Road Trip Advice
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2012 4:38 PM Last Post By: geo_nerd
Nov 12, 2012 1:28 PM
Road Trip AdviceHi, I am 19 years old and thinking about taking a road trip from Connecticut to California with my 3 18 years old friends. We are planning on just stopping for the Grand Canyon. How long would it take to get to California? How much would it cost for the whole trip? Is this a bad idea?Also should we go on a chevy 2008 cobalt or a 2011 chevy equinox. Btw we are all guys Thanks
Nov 12, 2012 2:57 PM
1If you drive nonstop, it's 48 hours from New Haven CT to Los Angeles, via the Grand Canyon
If you drive 8 hours a day, that's 6 days; 12 hours a day, it's 4 days.
Figure 3-5 days to the Grand Canyon, if all you want to do is drive.
Nov 12, 2012 3:16 PM
2Is this a bad idea? You have a lot of homework to do in order to learn enough about the hoops you will have to jump through in order to do this. It is not a bad idea per se but it could be a bad experience for you if you haven't got enough of it figured out before hand. Asking questions here is a start but it sounds like you don't really know what to ask, hence the homework. Traveling requires knowing things and learning those things is part of the adventure of travel. I would not have had the guts to do this trip when I was your age, I knew I didn't know enough. I started with shorter trips closer to home. You may be ahead of where I was at that age but not quite up to a venture like this? Good Luck
Nov 12, 2012 3:34 PM
3Gas will be about $100~125 per person, depending on where in California you wind up.
(3000+ miles, 25 MPG, $3.50/gal)
After that, your expenses are completely up in the air.
The absolute cheapest way to travel is to car camp. There are innumerable State and National Parks with developed campgrounds, and endless National Forest land where you can 'primitive' camp for free. A tents, air bed, and blankets can be had for < $100 each. If you bring a big cooler and cook your own grub, you can eat rather well for $10 or less per person per day.
Or do you prefer to stay in 5 star motels and eat lobster each night? We have NO way of knowing....
How many days?
Nov 12, 2012 3:55 PM
4Take the equinox.
Understand that after about 4=5 hours driving person gets really tired of it, and whether driving or just riding 8 hours in a single day is a lot of time in a car.
You don't plan on stopping much so i don't know how to advise you on budget (much of my vacation expenses have to do with rent and entry fees.)
I do know that if you stop in supermarket in the AM and buy both breakfast and lunch you can usually save a bundle (it's kind of my standard way of cutting travel expenses.)
Nov 12, 2012 6:00 PM
5If you are driving now, in the winter conditions, you will not want to camp in tents. Check to see if it is 18-years or 21-years-old minimum age for checking into motels/hotels. I knew of one 18-year-old who had just graduated from high school in Alaska and wanted to see the lower 48 states, so he drove himself, alone, south through Canada to Washington and California. He decided that he preferred small town Alaska and returned and married within the year.
Nov 13, 2012 2:24 AM
Nov 13, 2012 4:26 AM
7Paternalistic survival-oriented things I'll list because you're all young:
You should have a cellphone, ideally a smartphone with a good data plan for travel research on the go, but you should understand that unlike most of Connecticut, it will NOT work everywhere in the sparser west.
Ditto that on GPS: there's no reliability substitute for a paper map that you know how to read.
Roadside assistance insurance, like AAA, is worth having.
Carry flares etc.; AAA and others sell good car emergency kits.
Especially if you're driving across the plains and Rockies in the winter, have enough blankets etc. in the car to survive a night-time breakdown in frigid conditions.
Have enough water on board to survive a car breakdown in the desert, and check gas and other fluid levels before starting out in a sparse area.
Don't push through bad weather that hinders driving; change you plans and take a break.
Nov 13, 2012 7:11 AM
8If you plan the trip well, you guys could camp the entire way depending on time of year, and also see some great national or state parks, bbq your food, and save a lot of money, bring a cooler and stop at local grocery for sandwiches in the deli sections or make your own. There is a lot of great camping and parks in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania, W Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. All depending on time of year. I would not make this trip in winter, from Dec until March, weather can be hell, roads dangerous.
Take the Equinox, you will be far more comfy and it has AWD all the better, You will also have more room, a Cobalt is a small car, and for 4 days of travel, would be hell IMO.
Nov 13, 2012 10:29 AM
9Good advice from the forum. You will be passing up many wonder filled places by driving non-stop to GC, and then on to Calif. IMO it is a waste of time, you will miss too much of USA, and it is always more expensive to revisit places you passed the first time.
If you have never been west of the Mississippi River, it is like a whole different country, with soaring vistas, and unbelievable scenery.
But, your money, and your time, have a great trip.
Nov 13, 2012 10:56 AM
10If it were you and one friend, I'd vote for the Cobalt. But I wouldn't stuff the extra 2 friends in the back of a Cobalt for 3,000 miles.
On top of #7's paternalistic advice: if you're planning this trip in any season but summer, carry tire chains and practice installing them in advance. Growing up in CT I had never heard of chain controls (i.e., mandatory tire chains with state police inspection checkpoints), but they're common in the west on roads heading up into the mountains. There are a few high-elevation areas you'll want to visit (Bryce Canyon, for example) that are at high enough elevation that snow is possible in spring and fall too.
Nov 13, 2012 11:36 AM
11If winter months you need to head south first, than southwest, I would go down I-81 thru the Appalachians if not dead of winter, then to I-40 to Flagstaff. If its is dead of winter, avoid the higher elevations, and head down I-95 to Colombia SC and then pick up I-20 for the warmest and southern route with least freezing weather and cut back up to I-40 around Dallas TX.
Do not go I-80/90 via Cleveland/Chicago/Madison etc etc...from this week to March is best avoided, especially west of Chicago.
Nov 13, 2012 3:54 PM
Nov 13, 2012 4:38 PM
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