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Cross-Country trip, USA

Travel Forums North America Cross-Country trip, USA

1. Posted by gorillabay (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w

Hi, I am new to this site and would appreciate any feedback for a cross-country trip I am planning. I am a 41-year-old man traveling solo. Here are some specifics:

Time: 2 months, leaving beginning of April. The trip could be shorter or longer depending on circumstances. A rough sketch of the route is 2 months.

Budget: About $120 per day

Mode: Choosing between my '07 Honda Civic Hybrid (very reliable, has 127K miles on it); leasing a new Honda CR-V or similar (exact cost TBD, but will be less than $1K); buying a van for under 5K (would re-sell upon conclusion of trip); or renting a vehicle. I have also been considering combining Amtrak with rental cars at various points but this plan is not as much in the running.

Route: Keep in mind this is not set in stone...

1. Oakland, CA to Sedona, AZ
2. Sedona - Taos, NM
3. Taos across Texas to Natchez, MS
4. Natchez to Selma, AL
5. Selma to northwest South Carolina
6. Northwest SC - Alexandria, VA
7. Alexandria - Indiana
8. IN - Madison, WI
9. Madison - Mt. Rushmore
10. Mt. Rushmore - North Dakota
11. ND - West Yellowstone, MT
13. West Yellowstone - Salt Lake City, UT
14. Salt Lake City to Oakland

There are multiple family stops along the way (#2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 13). I expect to stay at these places about 3 days each average. I expect to drive 3-6 hours a day.

Sleeping: This depends a lot on the vehicle. I have very little experience camping and don't like it, though I recognize the economic benefit. I have heard of some options including cheap motels, hostels, couchsurfing and other hospitality exchanges, and truck stops. (I would not sleep in my car if I take the Civic or similar size).

Attractions etc.: I am more interested in old interstates/backroads/small towns than major interstates in big cities. I like nature, museums, zoos, roadside attractions. I intend to stop at junkyards and also see minor league baseball games.

Looking forward to insights from more experienced travelers. I have traveled around the U.S. quite a bit but only by flying somewhere, and then renting a car.

2. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 3w

New Orleans is the one dont miss city in the US and you miss it.

3. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 237 posts) 3w

I don't know what you really expect to hear. No doubt some people will favour one approach over another but that is simply a personal preference and tells you nothing about what YOU would find the best way for you. I might like the idea of buying a van, throwing a foam mattress and sleeping bag in the back; maybe a small porta-potti for middle of the night use, etc. You might not like that at all.

As for places, again, what can anyone tell you? Katzgar says New Orleans is a must, I could skip it in favour of Savannah, Georgia. You have Sedona and Taos but miss Santa Fe. That to me would be a real shame as you would miss the Loretto Chapel. Why does the Loretto Chapel matter you ask. Read here:

What I do know is that a road trip, in whatever vehicle you choose and whatever route you choose, always benefits from back roads and a slow pace. You seem to have that in mind, so you're on the right 'road'.

4. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 3w

Spent some time on gmaps you will often see that the old US Highway System closely parallels the interstate system and it's the old US highway system that will get you in the small-time towns Google roadside attractions there's website specifically addressed to that Google directory of museums there's something like 35,000 museums in the US the thing that makes New Orleans the number on US city to visit would be the architecture the food and the music the joy de vivre

[ Edit: Edited on 29-Sep-2016, at 11:08 by katzgar ]

5. Posted by gorillabay (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w

Thank you both for the replies. New Orleans was part of the original plan and it fell out due to timing. I don't have to make it a 2-month trip exactly, but I also want to stay within range of my budget and the stops on the northern route are more important to me than those on the southern route due to family locations.

That being said, this route is not finalized at all. There are 3 very key factors which will influence my departure date and the route: minor league baseball (where they are located, and the schedules), weather, and my job situation. Right now I am tackling the baseball locations, then I will do weather. The job situation is wait-and-see. I'm currently toggling between departure dates of early April and late July.

I can easily hit Santa Fe on the way from Albuquerque to Taos.

I want to see and do a lot on this trip...on the other hand I cannot see and do it all. However romantic, it's just not practical based on my finances. I want to see and do enough that it is a worthwhile trip and achieves the dream of going cross-country, but have faith that whatever spots I miss, I may see on some other trip someday.

6. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 3w

I am going to suggest you do an additional trip in the future and maybe just do half of the country this trip.

7. Posted by hummingbird500 (Budding Member 7 posts) 3w

6. Northwest SC to Alexandria VA

I have spent quite a bit of time in the SE United States, and I will tell you that the people are quite nice, they love to here foreign accents and the like. However, things can get a bit scarce along the highways and frankly, a little bit scary at night. Rather than Northwest SC, where there is largely nothing, you should visit Charleston. It is a stunningly beautiful city, and connects quite easily to roads that would lead to Alexandria.

If you're planning to go to Alexandria, you might as well go to Washington DC. It is not that far from Alexandria and the architecture is divine. Be careful of traffic though, it can get quite congested.

I'm pretty tired of the US, fun but can get repetitive in certain regions. Many of the stereotypes are true.... I'd personally feel more peaceful in Latin America, perhaps in Mexico or the Dominican Republic. I haven't quite decided yet.

8. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 3w

Post 7 apparently equates high crime rate with peaceful

9. Posted by hummingbird500 (Budding Member 7 posts) 3w

Quoting katzgar

Post 7 apparently equates high crime rate with peaceful

Post 8 apparently enjoys trolling travel forums in their spare time.

10. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 3w

you must not know how loud the music gets in latin towns at night. maybe that would get in the way of your personal attacks. I suggest you check the crime rate in those countries, it is very high.