Cross Country Road Trip - need advice

May 8th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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Cross Country Road Trip - need advice

My 19 year-old son and 3 friends are planning a cross country road trip to start in CT and end in SanDiego CA. I have many misgivings even though they are all pretty responsible kids & do not drink/smoke, etc. They plan to do the trip out in 3 days, stay for 5-7 days in CA, and take 3 days for the trip back. I have never made a cross country trip but this seems like not enough time out and back. The only attraction they plan on stopping to see is the Grand Canyon.
What advice would those of you who have made a cross country trip give them? What is essential to have in the car? How long (hours)and/or far should they expect to drive safely each day? (4 drivers). We'd appreciate any helpful advice.
bon100 is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 08:15 PM
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They are looking at 3,000 miles which is 1,000 miles a day every day for three days. If they rotate drivers then each person will drive about 250 miles per day which isn't to bad for the driver. The passagers might get tired of sitting though 750 miles of travel. If they leave each morning at 6 am they will probably have to drive till mid-night each night and eat most of their meals on the go. I hope they plan on spending the night in a motel to get some sleep. Not enough sleep can be as dangeous as drinking and driving.

utahtea is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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With four drivers rotating, I know some people would do it each way straight through (with non-drivers sleeping as needed in the car) - without stopping every night. So three days each way is far from unrealistic, though perhaps not all that much fun. I just did a solo road trip across the US and back (8200 miles total) and did some 10+ hour days a few times - not all that much fun but I had no problem with it. Only did back to back long days like that two or three times, at most. It would have been easier with just one other driver to spot me.

If they are going to do this trip, I'd recommend they have AAA in case of any mishaps (car breaks down, dead battery, keys locked in car, etc.). Also, beyond having a car that is in good mechanical condition, make sure they have good tires on the car. New or fairly new windshield wipers is helpful, too. And make sure the spare tire is properly inflated. Before my road trip, I hadn't checked my spare in years; it was completely flat (needed 60 pounds to fully inflate - those "donut" spares are high pressure).

Flying to San Diego and renting a car would probably be a lot easier (and more fun than driving six days almost non-stop), but I'm guessing it's hard for a 19 year old to rent a car?
Andrew is online now  
May 9th, 2009, 03:17 AM
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I can't figure out why you would spend so many days in San Diego when there is so much to see, especially in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. If they take i 70 out to Moab, UT then do a quick look at Arches and Canyonlands and then go south through Monument Valley then over to Grand Canyon and down to i 40 they will get to see the mountains in CO and some of the interesting parts of the southwest and not add much time to their trip and it will be much more fun than just seeing things pass by on the hwy. On the way back, do a drive through of petrified forest in AZ then go north in NM to Bandelier, NM and up to i70 through St. Louis and then there are lots of choices of how to get back. If they do see some of these places though, you can be sure some of them will be back to explore more of this beautiful country we live in. Make sure they have plenty of water and snacks in the car and make them promise to stop and walk around every few hours. When my DS was that age he drove himself to college ( 12 hours from home) and when I asked him where he stopped along the way he said "the car has a huge tank,I only needed gas once". It made me crazy.
emalloy is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 04:34 AM
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The question I'd ask is WHY? I understand driving cross country to see the country, but to just drive? I don't get it. I hope the car they're using is in perfect shape.
mclaurie is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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Posters who think that you will be able to convince your son that this idea seems silly have likely not had kids that age recently (mine ar 18 and 23). The older one does things like drive 1000 miles Savannah to Boston alone, in a snow storm, with no maps and a broken GPS.

When they are that age their brains do not work properly and they think they are invincible. Perhaps someone can give/borrow a GPS for them - that, a cell phone, AAA membership and a credit card should get them thru any adventure. What would seem like a disaster to me (car breaking down on some unknown roadway, having to sleep in the car, etc) will be part of the adventure to them.

It is quite possible that, unless there is some major reason to end up in California (like dropping off one of the kids there) that they may realize, somewhere around the Mississippi River, that constant driving is not all that much fun and alter their plans.

I am trying to learn that there are 2 categories of things my almost-adult kids do that cause me worry. The first is things I have to/should let them do but cause me worry. The second is just really stupid things that no one should be doing. This trip fits into the first category, although even if it was in the second I doubt you could convince him of that.
gail is online now  
May 9th, 2009, 06:02 AM
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I agree with Gail. They can do it just fine with that number of drivers. As for seeing Moab as opposed to SD, I know of NO beach in Utah, except by the Lake. I doubt the girls are as pretty, if present.
I REALLY agree with the AAA membership.
Driving time through the west (west of KC) is very fast and easy. I have driven alone 900 miles in a day to KC from NC.
I hope they will be safe and have a great time.
Gretchen is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 07:42 AM
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Yeah, where would 19 year old guys rather go: a warm beach (hot women in bikinis) or a national park where they can see some elk?
Andrew is online now  
May 9th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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There is not much anyone can tell a group at this age. If they can make it there and back safely then you can say mission accomplished and be thankful. They will be hard pressed doing the trip in three days considering the one stop at the GC, the distance and the number of on the road hours needed to make the 1000 miles a day it will require. Hopeful they wont need any extra cash for the speeding tickets.
RedRock is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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3 days, 4 drives, 3000 miles is very doable. I recently did it in 4 days, but that was solo (and in winter weather). When I was their age some friends and I did a 1500 mile drive in about 20 hours (without a speeding ticket).

What to bring with them? AAA for sure, an ipod that will play through the stereo (the radio transmitter attachment things work really well) and lots of cash for the toll booths.
bubblywine is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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In 3800 miles driving back and forth across the US last month, I paid only a single toll: $5 for the PA Turnpike. Had I been paying attention, I could have avoided that too probably without any extra time. And yes, I was on interstate highways the majority of the time.
Andrew is online now  
May 9th, 2009, 10:04 AM
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Yes our kids used to regularly drive to Aspen in 20 hours from NC--two drivers. Yep, not many tolls out west at all.
Gretchen is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 05:33 PM
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Wow, this advice is great. I read your posts to my son, he agreed to the sage advice and we had some good laughs. Gail you are sooo right about teenagers.
Yes, they have aaa, credit cards, cell phone, GPS.
He has adjusted the trip to 4 days driving out and 4 days back, with 6 days in CA (visiting a college friend who has a house on the ocean). I wish I could stay in a house on the Ocean, these kids have all the luck.
Keep the advice coming!
bon100 is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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Sounds like a great adventure.
They should keep a journal which they will enjoy years down the road. And take cameras.
sobster is offline  
May 9th, 2009, 08:46 PM
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If they take I-80 across PA, there's no toll there either. The only toll out west are two toll booths on I-44 in Oklahoma.
rkkwan is offline  
May 10th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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Great idea about the journal, Sobster, I'll suggest it.
Thanks for the toll information, Rkkwan.
bon100 is offline  
May 18th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Just wanted to give an update, the guys are now in San Diego enjoying the sights. Their trip out was great and no mishaps. They really enjoyed the Frontier restaurant in Albuquerque, NM.
They loved the painted desert, the petrified forest, and the Grand Canyon the most.
They are considering an alternate route back, anyone have any suggestions on sights to see, restaurants, etc?
bon100 is offline  
May 18th, 2009, 10:00 PM
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Wonder when they ate at the Frontier? I am visiting Albuquerque, and I ate there with some friends Friday morning for breakfast. (The people I was there with were not impressed - but I think it's a fun place.) It's be funny if they were in there when we were...
Andrew is online now  
May 19th, 2009, 01:12 AM
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If they loved the petrified forest and GC the most, then I suggest they return, via Vegas, through the southern Utah parks.
wildblueyonder is offline  
May 19th, 2009, 04:54 AM
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Southern Utah, up to I70 and across Colorado. If they can get to Mesa Verde or Canyon de Chelly it would be terrific. Glad all is well. The American West is like NO other place in the world.
Gretchen is offline  

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