Planning month long family road trip. Advice? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

I'm taking the month off work and taking the family on a road trip. Wife and 3 kids 14,16,18. Going from PA to Washington state to San Diego back to PA. North route out, south route back. We'll be hitting some tourist traps along the way, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, Grand Canyon, and probably a few others yet to be decided. Also visiting friends and family scattered across the country. It's the only real vacation I've ever taken and probably will take. I just don't like to take time off work. At all.



I'm prepared to pay for hotels for 30 nights. I'm also considering buying a used motorhome (which is the least likely) or buying a used a travel trailer (possible 5th wheel) or a truck camper. That's if we take the truck (diesel Ram). We would probably prefer to take the fully loaded comfy Chrysler Pacifica, possibly towing a pop up camper. I can think of advantages to each scenario. The truck camper, the kids ride inside in comfort and a bathroom with us but limited sleeping comfort. Travel trailer, BIG enough to sleep us all comfortable, but everyone rides in the truck. Used RV, expensive to buy, insure and maintain and possible breakdowns on the road. 7000 miles will require a couple oil changes on the road. Hotels, got to find one vacant, and near where we are going. Campers/RV will require us to have available space to stop as well.

Thoughts from people that have done this? Anything else I NEED to see while running around the country?

-Darin
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 05:46 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Dragging a trailer on that long of a trip sucks balls. Take the Pacifica and map out cheapy hotels along the way, avoiding big cities. When you plan to hit a large city spend a little extra and get a nicer hotel in a good area. The popup would be fun, campgrounds and Koa's can be a blast, especially for the kids. Keep in mind though that campgrounds are not always that much cheaper than some deals you can find at Hotels/motels along the way. When you get to AZ let me know, there are a few cool places to see as well as the grand canyon.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 10:59 AM
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

I was looking at used Pacificas recently, until I saw all the reviews said the transmissions aren't up to spec. If your Pacifica is running well, the last thing I'd do to is force it to drag a trailer across the county and back.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 01:33 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Having a combination of vehicle and trailer might limit you in terms of parking at some places, just FYI. Might not be a problem at national parks, but it might be for things that you might like to see in town.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

All your kids are teenagers AND you're driving across country for a month?!? I tip my hat to you, sir!
I'd forget the trailer and do like Dino says, inexpensive hotels along the way and splurging for better digs in bigger cities. I think that would be the safest bet.
Good luck!
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

I did a similar trip with my family when I was a kid. We camped at KOAs or stayed at the occassional cheap hotel...for prices camping is tough to beat. It's also tough to get rooms at hotels in some of the more visited national parks and expect to pay a lot for basically just 4 walls and a roof. For Yellowstone, I'd recommend actually staying in Grand Teton.
I'd also recommend planning a route that allows you to do stuff everyday. I remember it being rough driving back from Denver to Pittsburgh in 3 days just sitting in a van.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Looks like the RV Rental is the direction everyone in the family favors, including me. I took a trip half way around the country when I was 13 with my mom ans step dad. Hated my step dad to no end. But the trip was cool and I rode most the way on the bed above the cab looking out the front window. I see they don't make them like that anymore. Which is completely retarded. It'll be expensive. Very. But, I can think of dumber things to spend the money on. And this is the only chance in my life to do this with my kids before they scatter.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

I would avoid places like Nebraska and Iowa. No offense to anyone who lives there, but that is some of the most God-awful boring landscape on the planet.
If I were you, I'd hit up the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. That would be a priority stop for me.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to start watching the Travel Channel and Food Network to learn about some of the cool out of the way places to visit and/or eat at.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 09:21 PM
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darin View Post
... I can think of dumber things to spend the money on. And this is the only chance in my life to do this with my kids before they scatter.
Then you gotta do it, simple as that.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 02:57 AM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Think about fuel! Remember gas costs more on the road and in some states. Also, it may be well over three bucks again by the end of summer, some places are already close.

If you go the RV route network with people so you can plug in for the night for free here and there to save bucks. I run an RV/mini storage and you could plug in here for the night before heading up to the grand canyon or whatever. Walmarts used to let you stay over in the parking lot when you need rest. Don't know if they still do that but at least the idea is that you don't have to pay every single night especially if your not going to stay long enough to use the amenities anyway.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

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Think about fuel! Remember gas costs more on the road and in some states.
Think about fuel but not about prices. My parents were driving from Texas to Vegas and nearly ran out of fuel. Going uphill with the airco on max uses up a lot of gas, and they weren't even driving an RV so plan fuel stops conservatively. They ended up filling up somewhere in the mountains where fuel usually costs over 50cts/gal extra. The point is not to get distracted by fuel prices, they will be the least of your problems.

Be prepared for some bad weather and extremes, I've seen close to freezing torrential rains in Flagstaff, Arizona, just one day after going through Death Valley @120F...bring necessary supplies, attire and water. Make sure you now about local laws regarding camping, food in the outdoors (bears) and prohibited activities (fire) especially in the nat. parks. If you can, bring a GPS that functions in the car as a planner, but also on foot, when you're enjoying the parks.

Also note I've had to replace tyres in both Death Valley and along route 95, always at the most inopportune moments, either at night or in 120 degree heat. So come equipped with proper gear, tools and repair kits or call AAA (ever tried to jack up an RV?)

Check with the AAA and local (California) DMV if any special requirements need to be met while driving a rented RV (IE are the younger members of your family insured to drive, in case of emergency?) California laws pertaining to out-of-state vehicles and licenses may be a bit stricter than you're used to.

Planning the trip with a visit to San Diego in the middle is probably a great idea. I suggest you plan at least a couple of days in SD for resting, your family is going to be pretty stressed from two weeks of travel and you need to be rested for the two weeks back. SD is the perfect place to recuperate. (La Jolla cove, Coronado, Sea World & wildlife park/zoo, the beaches at Carlsbad/ Del Mar/ Cardiff, Old Town, Balboa park, gaslight district, etc.)

Lastly, I believe you and your family all play music together so I would try to plan some of that on the road, in whatever way you can, in order to relieve tension, which you will not be able to avoid At times you may need to remind yourself that you're supposed to have fun on the trip
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

Being 14 knowing what its like. im laughing. mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, daddy,daddy,daddy,daddy, tell him to stop, quit touching me, this is sooo boring but if they have cells and can txt your probably better off. Vacations can be fun if you ask them what they want to do and taking time for you too. Hope everything goes well and nice.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

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Originally Posted by sick-boy View Post
start watching the Travel Channel and Food Network to learn about some of the cool out of the way places to visit and/or eat at.

haha. If we had TV at our house, I would certainly consider that.


7000 miles at 10 mpg at $3 is $2100. I'll land somewhere around that I suppose. The RV is probably more for a comfortable drive than it is accommodations. We drove one last night. It had the window in front of the over cab bed. My wife layed up there and looked out as we drove around. I did that from Calif, to Neb to Montana when I was 13. I would have died if I didn't have at least that to hold my attention. Then she sat at the table and the sofa while driving. All WAY more comfy than a back seat in a car.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 08:55 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

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haha. If we had TV at our house, I would certainly consider that.
Screw the trip, get one of these!
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 08:56 PM
 
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Re: Planning month long family road trip. Advice?

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haha. If we had TV at our house, I would certainly consider that.
Screw the trip, get one of these!

http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-t...in;contentBody
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