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Basic plans for a 3 month trip across the US

Travel Forums North America Basic plans for a 3 month trip across the US

1. Posted by WalkinDude (Budding Member 6 posts) 6y

WalkinDude has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hi TP forum

I’ve been lurking for 6 months, I joined earlier in the year cos I thought I might go travelling, but now I’m finally posting because I actually have the money and can start planning a trip!

I’ve read many of the threads on here, and the destination guides. Just thought I'd throw my basic idea out there so all you US travellers and residents can pull it apart. Sorry for the long post but I thought it better to give some detail instead of making one of those vague 'What shall I do' sort of posts...

I have about £14k-£15k. The basic plan is to travel across the USA, leaving end of Jan/early Feb. For now I'm basing my plans on worst case scenario that I can’t either rent my flat out or get a 'mortgage holiday', and have to put aside 6 months of bills to cover me while I’m away and while looking for a job when I get back. So that would leave me about £9k. That’s $14,850 at the current exchange rate. That would give me $165 per day for a 3-month trip, or $247.50 per day for a 2-month trip. I’m 32 years old and will be travelling alone.

As for interests and what I want to see…well I want to see everything I can, I have always been fascinated by America. US music and popular culture influenced me quite a bit growing up, when I was a kid in the 80’s, all my favourite music, TV shows, films, and even books were American. I also find US history fascinating, kinda romantic in a way. And I love great cities too - I am from London so very much a city person. Finally I appreciate awesome, breathtaking landscapes and scenery.

So after ruining several US maps with a red pen, I’ve scribbled and scored and finally come up with this ‘essential’ list of places to see:

• New York (I want to start here cos back in the day most immigrants heading for the New World arrived in New York)
• Washington DC
• Florida (my mate has some friends that live there so would be useful to hook up with them early in the trip and get some inside info)
• New Hampshire & Maine (Stephen King country, I am a huge King fan, so I have to go and see the land where most of his books are set)
• Chicago (just heard so much about it and Blues Brothers is one of the all-time greatest films ever…)
• Lafayette, Indiana (Guns N’ Roses were my childhood idols so I would like to see the home town of the two key founder members, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin. Would also give me a taste of ‘small town America’ I think?)
• Indianapolis (also a huge motor racing fan, so while I’m in Indiana it would be cool to see the home of motor racing in the US)
• Tennessee, JD distillery (I loves my JD! )
• The Mississippi & New Orleans
• Salt Lake (not really sure why, Salt Lake is one of those places I’ve heard of but know nothing about. And it's near the Rockies and I want to see them)
• California – San Diego, LA, Giant Redwoods, Yosemite
• Finish up in San Francisco. I have been before and I totally fell in love with the place so I have to end here. I left my heart there haha :)

Extra places I would like to add if possible (in no particular order) –
Niagara Falls
Great Plains
Gracelands
Yellowstone Park
Seattle
Boston
The Alamo
Gettysburg Park
Badlands Park
Lake Tahoe
Atlantic City (I love casinos and playing poker)
Las Vegas (been there twice so it’s not really necessary but I just love the place and want to visit again if my budget can handle it)
Grand Canyon (been before so again not really necessary but would be nice)

I'm thinking travel will be a mixture of planes, trains and bus, but I would also like to drive some of the way and get a little taste of the great American roadtrip. I thought going from New Orleans to Salt Lake might be good to drive? But I would at least like to drive some of Route 66, and the West Coast too if poss.

Finally…I also love NFL (gooo 49ers!) and had hoped to go to a football game but obviously I'll just miss the season starting my trip end of Jan/early Feb. I would really love to attend an American sporting event though. What sports are on Feb/March/April? Would it be possible to see any college football? Baseball? Basketball?

So TP forum I would be very grateful if you can please let me have any comments/suggestions/ideas. Apologies again for the long post. Just trying to rough out an outline of some sort of basic plan, feel free to inject a healthy dose of realism!

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 6y

There's a lot here to respond to...

For money, you are well covered. You should be able to get by without issue on that, and even splash out on some nice hotels now and again. Hotel rooms in most places outside the major cities probably won't run you more than $40. It'll be even cheaper if you go dorm / youth hostels. Food and drink will be less than what you are paying in the UK.

I think you've listed A LOT for 3 months, even just taking the essential list. Mostly it is because of the distances you'll be travelling between these places. Even places that seem close - like Florida and New Orleans, can be very far apart.

For the time of year you are going, be prepared for snow and cold, especially in New Hampshire & Maine. You'll be one of the only few tourists up that way that time of year, I would imagine.

A comment on some of the optional places:
The Alamo - unless you wanted to go to Texas and do some time in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, I'd drop this. It isn't really that impressive a structure, and it's a long way from anything on your essentials list.

Lake Tahoe - beautiful. From San Francisco, you can drive up for a weekend, or catch a bus. It'll be snowy and cold. If you ski, that'd be a good place to do it.

Atlantic City (I love casinos and playing poker) - Atlantic City is no where near impressive as Las Vegas, and as you've already been to Vegas, you might find it a little underwhelming. If you have a hankering for cards, though, and are in the NYC area, it's not a bad choice. You might also want to think about Foxwoods.

"I thought going from New Orleans to Salt Lake might be good to drive?" - it is a two day drive, including a good portion through the mountains in winter. Long way to go. There are some pretty flat areas in that drive as well.

What sports are on Feb/March/April? Would it be possible to see any college football? Baseball? Basketball? - Basketball and Ice Hockey are in their seasons. You could catch some baseball - spring training and potentially the start of the regular season. Note that during Spring Training, teams play in Florida and Arizona, and not (for the most part) at their home ballparks. It's a good time to go, though, because you can get very close to the action.

3. Posted by Rhombus (Travel Guru 64 posts) 6y

It sounds to me like you have a good plan. Be warned though, that America is huge, and takes a long time to cover distances. Be flexible on your plans. On a trip this big, it's hard to plan to the smallest detail. I usually have a general idea of the things I want to do and places to see, and if one isn't working I just move on to the better plan.

As far as what you want to see, it sounds like a full 3 months for sure, but be careful not to spend all your time getting someplace on a car, train or plane, instead of enjoying a place for all the time it deserves.

Sounds like fun.

Enjoy.

4. Posted by WalkinDude (Budding Member 6 posts) 6y

Quoting GregW

There's a lot here to respond to...

Haha yeh it was bit of a monster post sorry about that. Thank you for a great reply tho!

Nice to know money should be okay and I'll have the option of splashing out now and then. Happy to do it on the cheap tho and have been looking at hostels. I think your suggestion of a mixture between cheap and the occasional nice hotel is good. Or I might just do it all cheap and save some money for a little stop-off in Vegas haha

You're right, I did think Florida and New Orleans were close! It's easy to look at the map and think 'oh x and y are not far apart' then realise it's actually like 1000 miles or something! I'll look closely at the distances and see what I can cut out. May have to re-think the drive between New Orleans and Salt Lake for a start...

Lake Tahoe sounds so nice and as it's easy to get to from SF I may try and see it. I don't ski but I've always wanted to, maybe I'll have a go!

I figured a lot of these places, as you mentioned Maine in particular, will be freezing. Ideally I'd start my trip later in the spring but I have no choice, I have to go as soon as I can. I'll just have to be well prepared for winter conditions. Obviously I'm used to bad weather in the UK anyway!

Appreciate the 'under-whelming' warning regarding Atlantic City as I would have been expecting something similar to Vegas! May still check it out as I love a game of poker and it's not the same in UK casinos. I've heard about Foxwoods so may make a quick visit there while I'm in the north-east. Gonna take a look at the basketball schedule and def gonna look into the spring training cos I'd love to see some baseball. It would just be cool to attend any American sporting event.

Thanks for your advice GregW! :)

5. Posted by WalkinDude (Budding Member 6 posts) 6y

Quoting Rhombus

It sounds to me like you have a good plan. Be warned though, that America is huge, and takes a long time to cover distances. Be flexible on your plans. On a trip this big, it's hard to plan to the smallest detail. I usually have a general idea of the things I want to do and places to see, and if one isn't working I just move on to the better plan.

As far as what you want to see, it sounds like a full 3 months for sure, but be careful not to spend all your time getting someplace on a car, train or plane, instead of enjoying a place for all the time it deserves.

Sounds like fun.

Enjoy.

Thanks Rhombus.

I'm definitely looking to be flexible, it's tempting to try and plan every tiny detail, but probably impossible, and less fun. I like your suggestion of just having a general idea then going with the flow and changing plans as and when it suits. I think that's gotta be the best way to go about it. Being a bit more casual like that is one of the advantages of travelling solo.

Basically I'm just looking to try and see some of the places that interest me personally, meet different people, maybe sometimes get off the typical 'tourist trail' and get a taste for what life in America is really all about. So I take your point about spending quality time in places rather than dashing around spending most your time on the road.

I'm gonna soak it up and enjoy, thanks man!

6. Posted by bwoods (Budding Member 6 posts) 6y

Hi there!

Good on you for a start! Like you enthuaism...you are going for it. We did the LA to NY roadtrip in Aujgust/Spet. If you check us out at our blog, it may help you. We went east to west - although I would recommend the other way to save on time.
I think if you set out a line of where you want to go and stick to it, then you will surprise yourself with the out of the way places you will come across. We got to Fort Sumner (Billy the Kid grave) in TExas and a cute place called Shamrock!
Stick either to across the States, or do one of the coasts. You can always return another time. You will never forget the US. Don't try to get everything in too soon - you will cram and then regret not savouring the experience of the trip.
The roads are fabulous in the US and I would recommend you drive. The rest stops are clean, with CLEAN toilets, and safe places to picnic and chill. I think there is no other way to see America than to drive yourself. That way you can deviate from the plan or not. Best to get up early hit the road for four hours, stop, lunch and then set up in a nearby town and take it from there.
Whereever you go, I wish you luck - and if you need any further advice contact me on our blog page.
One thing though _ DOOOOO stop at Peggy Sue's Diner (before Vegas if you do that) - I had the best hamburger of my life there. Food to die for.
Best of luck...