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offlady Jul 9th, 2007 12:06 AM

Ever drive across the country?
One of the things I have always wanted to do with the family is to drive across the USA, hopefully before the kids leave the nest. My uncle and aunty did it after retirement, sold their home, and took a leisurely drive from New Jersey to California, stopping at various campgrounds along the way, then flying to Hawaii. Has anyone out there done something like this?

jannieween Jul 9th, 2007 01:41 AM

no I haven't done it but am going to give it a try in September...With a bit added on...being a Canadian I am driving through Canada/US west and mostly US back east...Going to Hawaii when we get to Seattle...Should be fun!

SusieQQ Jul 9th, 2007 02:38 AM

yes, my former husband and I did it when we were young.From New Jersey to California and back. It was great! When we had kids we flew to Denver and did the western part.

Scarlett Jul 9th, 2007 05:15 AM

When I was a child we drove across the country twice, once from Ca to NC and later NC to Az..about 2 years ago, my husband and I drove from Florida to Oregon, with the dog ( he is now our "kid")...never camped though..I am allergic to camping..
If you plan right and don't put pressures on yourselves regarding arrival times etc, it can be fun and in my opinion, more people should drive across or around, the US ... it is an amazing, beautiful country and one can be reminded of how huge it is!

justme22 Jul 9th, 2007 05:30 AM

yes did it in my early thirties when i finally had a car i knew could make the trip. that's where you can really see the difference between the rolling praries and the endless plains.

it was a great trip combing camping and motel stays and numberous national park visits i was able to only get 3 weeks for it but with the weekends on either end it gave me 23 days to do it.

i blasted through the east part of the trip, heading for Denver as fast as i could. (my sister lives in Iowa so i've seen a lot of that in previous road trips to my sister's house)

I went from NJ to monteray Ca. I used a norther route through colorado using trail ridge road in RMNP to cross the mountains. (used routes 80 and 70 on the way home)

had to do hawaii at another time.

steviegene Jul 9th, 2007 05:33 AM

I drove across the country wih my husband (my boyfriend at the time). We had a wonderful time - from Connecticut to Colorado (where I spent the rest of the summer working at a Dude Ranch). Seeing the vast openness of the country and the incredibly varied landscapes was eye-opening for someone who had not travelled at all within the USA.

Gardyloo Jul 9th, 2007 05:50 AM

I recently posted a trip report on Flyertalk covering a (high speed) transcon drive I did with my brother-in-law in April. Notthe same as your route (which I've also done in years past) but may be of interest.

Here's the link:

mamajo Jul 9th, 2007 05:54 AM

In 2002 we drove from SW FL on I-75 to I-10, across I-10 to I-5 to Upland CA to visit friends (had our 50th anniversary dinner with them in Newport Beach). Then headed north on 101 to Sacramento, met friends for dinner, then headed up I-5 and heading inland and went up to Klamath Falls OR for a week in a timeshare.

From KFalls we headed up to Leavenworth WA for another week in a timeshare, then through the Cascades to Mt. Vernon, where we stayed with my cousin. From there we headed up I-5 into Canada and went to Whistler, then back down to Blaine WA for a week in another T/S.

From there we headed east on I-90 with a stop at Yellowstone, then on to I-94 through N. Dakota to I-35 so we could visit friends in S. Dakota. From there we headed east again, going through southern MN to I 90-94 south to I-39 to norther & central IL where we visited relatives.

From IL we took I-57 to I-24 and on to I-75 south and home.

This took us about 6-7 weeks with many stops along the way. We traveled about 10,000 miles that trip.

Bobmrg Jul 9th, 2007 08:27 AM

Many military families will attest to the fact that transfer orders make cross-country drives mandatory,not optional. We've done our share.

JJ5 Jul 9th, 2007 08:38 AM

North to South too. But I've driven from Ohio to CA only- never all the way from the east coast.

My drive trip from Chicago to Sedona with Ken in 1999 was awesome.

richbutnot Jul 9th, 2007 08:55 AM

When I was a kid we took a driving trip around the US starting and ending in Florida. We drove up to Connecticut to visit friends, then across to San Francisco, visiting Colorado, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Salt Lake, Reno and Yosemite along the way. Then it was down the coast to Los Angeles before heading back to Florida via Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Carlsbad Caverns, Juarez Mexico, San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans.

The family consisted of my parents, brother 13, myself 11, my grandfather and our cat all crammed in a two door Ford Galaxy 500. We stayed in motels each night (mainly Holiday Inns, HoJos and Ramada Inns which were the only chains around back then) and stopped at sit down restaurants for each meal and usually coffee/pie in the morning. The trip took 5 weeks and 2 days and is the single most memorable time of my childhood. That trip is one of the reasons I joined the Navy (to see the world) and is the inspiration for all the trips we have taken our kids on.

By the Way, the trip was in the summer of 1971. My mother told me the budget was $50 a day, including motels, meals and gas. That wouldn’t cover one fill up in our SUV today.

Supercilious Jul 9th, 2007 09:19 AM

"By the Way, the trip was in the summer of 1971. My mother told me the budget was $50 a day, including motels, meals and gas."

I did it in 1970 and 1972, before and after being stationed in the Canal Zone in the Army. Gas was 30 cents a gallon, motels were about $10 per night, and a meal in Denny's or HoJo's was about $3. $50 was a lot of money then.

One time, I drove the Southern route through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and then up to Northern California along the Pacific Coast.

The other time I drove the Northern route through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, across the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, then through Canada from Detroit to Niagra Falls, and then down the Governor Dewey Thruway to New York. That trip was in September and the fall colors in Michigan were incredible.

Neil Jul 9th, 2007 10:18 AM

I did it in 1977 when I was 23. I was asked to be best man at a good friend's wedding in San Diego and turned it into a five week trip. Drove from NYC to Denver in two long days. After several days in the mountains (including RMNP) headed north to the Bighorn mountains in Wyoming, then to Yellowstone via Cody. South through Grand Teton NP to Salt Lake City, then west to Lake Tahoe. From there to San Francisco, the Monterey peninsula, San Simeon, and eventually to LA for a few days before making it to San Diego for the wedding.

After that, to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and across AZ and NM to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. By that time, I had three days to make it back to NY, so I raced across Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, PA, and NJ, stopping as little as posible.

It was a great experience and I used it as a reference for later trips out west with my wife and kids (a Colorado/Wyoming trip, a southwestern national parks trip, Tahoe/Yosemite, and visits to LA and San Francisco.

One of the things I remember is stopping for gas outside Yellowstone, and then pulling out before filling up because I refused to pay $.72 a gallon for gas!

roslaire Jul 10th, 2007 12:05 AM

Yes, for 8 months. with upwithpeople.backintheday.

Now I need to join the Peace Corps, and it is on my list of things to do someday.

travelgirl2 Jul 10th, 2007 12:14 AM

We did it when I was a teenager, from the East Coast to California. I think it took us about 5 days. We were moving. I remember sitting and sitting in the car... And eating Oreos.

offlady Jul 10th, 2007 02:13 AM

Would you recommend renting a camper van, or just get the car and rest at motels? What would you consider a reasonable daily allotment on expenses? Is $100/day do-able? Is one month a decent amount of time to enjoy the trip? Sorry for all the questions.

utahtea Jul 10th, 2007 09:23 AM

We've done a number of road trips but the first one across country was in 1990 when our boys were 11 and 14. We had a travel trailer and suburban that year. Since we've spent so much time in the west, we did three full days of just driving to make it to the east. Smokey Mountains, Blue Ridge Park Way, Appomattox, Williamsburg, VA, George Washington's Birthplace, Washington DC, Gettysburg, Niagra Falls, Mammoth Cave, KY and a few other places along the way. We stopped in Zion to relax for a couple of nights before heading home to California.

We had 5 1/2 weeks that year. I'd plan on at least a month.

Tent camping can be cheap, but it's a lot of work each time you break & set up camp. Depending on the area you plan to visit, not all campgrounds have showers. You might try a pop-up camper (work, but a little easier) or trailer. Both can be bought, used and turned around and sold without to much loss. Some campgrounds like KOA's have camping cabins, but they can be as expensive as a motel room. The KOA cabins you have to bring your sleeping bags and go to the campground bathroom. In that case, a motel would be better.

Since then we've done a number of trips across the country. Even drove to Alaska and back in 1992.


MaureenB Jul 10th, 2007 09:43 AM

Starting June 1, my daughter and I drove from Baltimore to San Francisco, with a two week layover in Denver (our home). It was actually a fun trip, even though we weren't sightseeing per se.

We took I-80 all the way, stopping at the end of each day when we decided we had covered enough ground, or when it got pitch dark. We didn't have reservations in advance, stayed in hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn, Fairfield Inn, and the like. We paid anywhere from $99 to $169 plus tax for a double room.

The only place we had trouble finding a room was in Nevada, of all places. There is a tiny town East of Reno, with just one hotel, and it was full. We called ahead to Truckee, and found out it was full, too, with a special foot race the next day. We found a room in Sparks, outside of Reno, which was fine.

It helps to have a cell phone, and some 800 numbers of the hotel chains, so you can find out ahead of time, in case the hotels are full.

We drove Baltimore to outside of Pittsburgh, then to Chicago for two nights, then outside of Omaha, then on to Denver. It's fairly easy driving, keeping the cruise control set.

We had horrific winds between Omaha and Denver, which almost opened up our rooftop carrier. Thanks to some very helpful guys at a lumber store, we duct taped it together and were on our way. Good thing our car was a little sedan. I don't know how the high profile vehicles, or those towing trailers, were surviving the winds that day.

We thought of stopping for the night, but checked on-line weather and saw that the storm was following us, and it would be worse the next day. So we drove on, just staying ahead of the storm's worst.

Also, it's nice to have a laptop computer, so you can stop at a wireless spot and check weather, etc.

The drive from Denver to S.F. was more fun. Being native Coloradans, we didn't take the scenic I-70 route, but opted to head due north and catch I-80 again at Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Driving across Wyoming. Utah, and Nevada wasn't nearly as bleak as I expected. It's actually pretty, in a wide open sort of way.

We stopped the first night in Park City, Utah. Then drove another long day to Sparks, Nevada, so we could arrive in Lake Tahoe the next morning and spend the entire day enjoying that area. We stayed at a the very nice Squaw Valley Lodge, at the foot of the ski hill and walking distance to the village. It was the highlight of our trip.

The next day was a relatively short 4 hours on to S.F.

It's not an inexpensive way to travel. Probably a lot more than flying for the two of us, but we had the car stuffed with belongings and needed to move the car to the West Coast, too. Gasoline was pretty expensive on the road. More than I see in Denver.

basingstoke2 Jul 10th, 2007 09:55 AM

We drove together with another couple who were visiting the US and our then five year old in an older We did it just for fun and to show our guests some of the beauty of our country. A stack of Sesame Street 8 tracks kept our son happy and by halfway we knew all of the songs.
Our best stops on the way to San Diego were, the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon. Crossing the Rockies was spectacular. Coming back we took a southern border route through Texas and Louisiana (spending a few days in New Orleans)which was very scenic in parts, especially the desert where many of the cactus were in bloom.

basingstoke2 Jul 10th, 2007 09:57 AM

make that "older Chevy Impala."

zlaor Jul 10th, 2007 09:59 AM

A co-worker of mine is doing that right now. Her and her husband got an RV and are driving across the country after selling their house in NJ.

When they find a place they like, they're going to stay.


Hubster Jul 10th, 2007 03:02 PM

I did it twice. Once from MA to the Northwest, and then back through Canada. The second time, also from MA, through the Southwest to CA. On both trips I couldn't wait to get through the Midwestern portion of the journey.

suze Jul 10th, 2007 08:08 PM

I did it in order to move to Seattle (from back East, New England). It's not something I would choose to do for fun or repeat. But that's just me, I'm not big on road trips.

That said... the flying to Hawaii part I like a LOT, now that I do!

sunbum1944 Jul 11th, 2007 07:48 AM

I have a friend who had ridden his bicycle across the country 2 or 3 times

now thats really nuts!

easytraveler Jul 11th, 2007 09:31 AM

Done crosscountry int he US 6 times and cross country in Canada (coast to coast) one time.

would suggest that you do some kind of loop, going through the southern states, the southwest states, then up the West coast - CAlifornia, Oregon, Washington, then head back east along a northern route.

Great country! You'll love it once you've see just how vast and diverse it is.

Have fun! :)

hamlet Jul 11th, 2007 09:45 AM

I did the cross country trip over 10 summers ago when I was in my 20s. A good friend decided she wanted to move to San Francisco (with no money, no promise of a job and having never set foot in California!) and asked me to accompany her out there. I actually did not do ANY of the driving - her car at the time was a VW Cabriolet (Barbiemobile) and a stick shift which she was supposed to teach me before we hit the road, but never got around to doing.

I loosely planned the coast to coast route and where we would stop along the way. Some days were just in transit and some days were spent enjoying whatever city we were in. I selected the Southern route as I thought that had the most fun options for us. We were not the types to go camping or rough it too much - we stayed in hotels and motels along the way.

From NJ we drove straight to Knoxville, but spent some time in Natural Bridge VA on the way. We then spent 2 nights in Nashville and 2 nights in Memphis. From there we stopped for a night in Oklahoma where I saw a great lightning storm and ate in my first Denny's. Then on to Santa Fe for one night. We spent the next day at looking in awe at the Grand Canyon, spending the night in Williams. And then on to another Grand, for complete contrast, 2 nights at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We arrived at the beach in Santa Monica late one night and the following day drove up to San Francisco.

NB: Over 2 weeks traveling together and 10 years later, we are still friends and she is still living in San Francisco.

It was a really great memorable time and I hope to do a similar sort of road trip with my husband one day.

fb Jul 12th, 2007 05:25 AM

The summer of 1970, after my freshman year in college, 3 friends (2 guys and a girl that played in a rock band with me) and I piled into a Ford Econoline Van and spent 3 weeks travelling from Pittsburgh to SF and back. As my family had never done much traveling, it was a life changing experience for me. We took the southern route out (I-70 and US 40 I think) seeing the St Louis Arch, the mesas of New Mexico, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, LA (Disneyland, Malibu, Hollywood), Yosemite, SF (saw Deep Purple at the Filmore West), then the northern route back (I-80 and 90) via Salt Lake (swam in the Great Salt Lake), the Badlands/Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Chicago. We'd pull into campgrounds, pile all our "luggage" in the front seat, and sleep on some mattresses we had saved from the junk pile in the back of the van. Did most of our own cooking. I think our budget was $5 a day a piece or something. After college and medical school, I came to LA for my residency (drove their with my wife, this time moving up in the world by staying in cheap motels), and have now lived in California for 30 years. I doubt that I'd be here were it not for my "hippie" trip.

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