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Cheap US Road Tripping

TheRubberBanditTheRubberBandit Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So two or three friends and I are hoping to pack up and see a lot of the US this summer, but are kinda at a loss about how to plan it all. Basically, we're want to set aside about three weeks to see as much of the country as possible rather than focusing on one particular area, and we're looking for any suggestions for the whole ordeal.

We'll be leaving from New Jersey most likely in mid-June, traveling in one mid-sized car, and are poor college kids. We've saved up some cash, but still are trying to minimize our spendings. We want to mainly focus our efforts on heading West, as we've all grown up across the East Coast and seen a lot of it. We have friends in Chicago, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and across California who would be willing to put us up for a while, and are all for camping out to save money where possible. We want to see national parks and urban culture. We want the fun stuff off the beaten path that the locals know about, and a really dumb tourist trap or two (think Car-Stonehenge or the World's Largest Frying Pan). Less focus on museums and main cultural hotspots, more on the underground type stuff, the local music and art scenes, if at all possible.

So yeah, questions- How much ground can we reasonably cover in three weeks? What are some good cost cutting ideas? What should we make sure to see? Anything and everything would be really helpful.

TLDR: Poor college kids roadtripping across US. Ideas?

TheRubberBandit on

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    DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Don't get gas from a station directly off the highway. Exit somewhere and drive down the road for five minutes or so to get gas for about 20 cents cheaper than highway gas.

    Deadfall on
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    Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Plan.

    Plan to look for camp sites, those are often going to be cheaper than your motel. Do you have camping gear? If you don't then that's going to be expensive. Nights, especially in the desert, are incredibly cold when you're outside. You can sleep in the car, of course, but that can be rough as well.

    Stay with friends whenever you can, but don't mooch.

    Your time frame doesn't leave a lot of room for too much, unless you plan on driving pretty continuously, but I think it's feasible.

    The biggest thing that I can see is going to be gas money, especially with prices like they are at the moment. I spent around $500 driving from Michigan to Alaska, and prices haven't exactly gone down since then. Also remember that you're going to want to get your oil changed and you should leave some excess funds for any car-related emergencies.

    If you don't want to deal with car-related brickabrack, then perhaps consider taking the bus.

    Really, though, there's a lot to look into and you should try and get this all well planned before you leave.

    Uncle Long on
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    DaemonionDaemonion Mountain Man USARegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Take Pacific Coast Highway on the west cost, try to see the grand canyon.

    Also, for the love of christ, bring car chargers for your cell phones. My buddy and I ran out of batteries and gas at the same time on our road trip the other week. It made for fun times, but still.

    Daemonion on
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    PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Take a greentortoise.com bus trip from East to West. It's a hippy bus that has been converted into 1 huge bed at the back. Cook your own food with everyone else, drink loads and loads. Have a fucking great time.

    Seriously, look into it. Best decision I ever made when I road-tripped accross the states.

    Ponge on
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    WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    This thread is full of useful advice for roadtripping in general.

    Willeth on
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    FalxFalx Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Uncle Long wrote: »
    Plan.

    Plan to look for camp sites, those are often going to be cheaper than your motel. Do you have camping gear? If you don't then that's going to be expensive. Nights, especially in the desert, are incredibly cold when you're outside. You can sleep in the car, of course, but that can be rough as well.

    Stay with friends whenever you can, but don't mooch.

    Your time frame doesn't leave a lot of room for too much, unless you plan on driving pretty continuously, but I think it's feasible.

    The biggest thing that I can see is going to be gas money, especially with prices like they are at the moment. I spent around $500 driving from Michigan to Alaska, and prices haven't exactly gone down since then. Also remember that you're going to want to get your oil changed and you should leave some excess funds for any car-related emergencies.

    If you don't want to deal with car-related brickabrack, then perhaps consider taking the bus.

    Really, though, there's a lot to look into and you should try and get this all well planned before you leave.

    Always, always, always leave a window open if you do this, even if it's just you in the car. Just a crack as wide as your finger should be enough, reason being cars are surprisingly airtight, and you could suffocate in your sleep.

    Falx on
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    PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm not sure what US laws are like but here in the UK if you fall asleep in your car while drunk and with the keys then you can be arrested. So watch out for that.

    Ponge on
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    RNEMESiS42RNEMESiS42 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Ponge wrote: »
    I'm not sure what US laws are like but here in the UK if you fall asleep in your car while drunk and with the keys then you can be arrested. So watch out for that.
    I remember back in high school my buddy's older brother got a ticket for this. He was having a house party and wanted to grab some music that happened to be on CD in his car, in front of his house. Drunk, he went to his vehicle and started flipping through his discs. An officer drove by and "pulled him over." He got charged with DUI even though he hadn't started the car and had no plans to drive it. I think he ended up having the charges waived, but nevertheless, it was a bitch and a half to deal with.

    RNEMESiS42 on
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    oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    You might not have much luck with this because it's summer, but hit up college bars and parties. Other college students will be able to clue you in to things to check out that you'll enjoy. Hell, if you don't come across as a total weirdo, you might even get offered a couch to crash on.

    oldsak on
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