Thursday, April 01, 2010

3-week cross-country / NYC to LA via the Deep South and ?

Hi Jamie,

First, let me say that I love your website and am looking forward to purchasing your book and getting some advice. I currently live in NYC and am seriously considering a move cross-country to California (Southern California, preferably).

The tentative plan is to leave NYC toward the end of August or early Sept. and drive cross country for 2 - 3 weeks before arriving in Cali. I'm naturally drawn to the Southern Pacific route, but am open to your suggestions.

Ideally, I'd like to pick-up / drop-off friends at different airports along the way so they can share in the journey with me, but at the moment not sure how many stops I'd be making. I'd like to finalize my preferred route first, then I can offer it up to my friends and see who's interested in joining me where.

This is my first road trip like this so I'm looking for some advice on the following:

- best route to take
- how much time is needed to explore each new place and how much time in total I should factor in
- your thoughts on picking up friends along the way
- best way to travel (i.e. drive the entire way, take a boat, short local flights, etc.)

I was considering purchasing a new car on the East Coast (possibly a Ford Escape hybrid) and heading across with it but curious to hear your input.

I can't wait to absorb all of the different cultures, flavors, foods, music, sights, etc. that I will encounter along the way.

I think that about covers it for now. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Thanks again and keep up the great work you're doing. It's very helpful!

Many thanks,



Hi Stacy --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA and sorry it took me a while to reply -- hope you are still planning to take the trip.

In late summer, I think parts of the Southern Pacific route (which includes 1000 miles of Texas, plus the "Valley of the Sun" in Arizona) could be too hot for fun -- 100 degree sunny days may sound fun after all the rain you've been having "Back East", but driving day after day across hot dry dusty plains gets old fast.

My main suggestion would be to combine a variety of my Road Trip USA routes so you can go where you want to go -- down to Mississippi or Memphis (for a blues bash follow by some New Orleans adventure?), then maybe following a stretch of Route 66 across Oklahoma for some classic roadside Americana (and maybe a rodeo?), then heading up into the mountains to be astounded by the western National Parks -- like Yellowstone, Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Then maybe you can come in to the Golden State via the "Loneliest Road," across the wide-open deserts of Nevada before running past the alpine beauty of Lake Tahoe and on via San Francisco and Big Sur to southern California.

About your idea of meeting friends along the way, I myself frequently do this to break up the solitude of madcap solo travels. Rendezvous-ing (?) along the way is a great idea -- this will add variety and "change of pace" to your trip, and help you alter your travel themes from place to place. (Meet a friends who likes to eat for your New Orleans trip, and another who likes to hike when you are in Yellowstone...)

Involving other people could also help you determine the route -- which will inevitably turn out to be a random compilation anyway, so you may as well get used to going with the flow and embrace some travel "serendipity," which is a key to reaching Road Trip nirvana....

Depending on your travel companions and personal preferences, making a few loop trips might be good too -- flying between say, NYC and Memphis and starting a tour there, then hopping west to Salt Lake City or Denver to meet a friend for Round 2, then making a final jump west to SF or LA to explore California. Flexibility is the key, and renting different cars in different regions gives you more options than buying one for the whole trip.

So, there you have a variety of ideas to contemplate while planning this adventure -- please feel free to write in again as your plans take shape, and let us know what you get up to out there "on the road"!.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA



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