Wednesday, June 02, 2010

New Hampshire - cross-country loop?

Hi Jamie,
My name is Christina. I'm currently a college student in New Hampshire, and a couple of my friends want to do a loop around the states - Starting from NH, to montreal canada, to michigan, montana, L.A., colorado, new orleans, and then back to NH.
I was hoping to receive some advice on budget and transportation acquisition. We were hoping to find a very cheap van (working though) because we don't want to stay in hotels along the route, and thought to just sleep in the van.
This trip'll be taking place around end of august - mid september. We have about three weeks for it.
Anything you could tell me additionally to prep us for this journey would be awesome. We're a bit lost as to where to start exactly.

thanks so much.



Hi Christina --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope I can help you plan a great trip. At the risk of sounding like a salesman, one way I can suggest for you to start getting inspired about this trip would be for you to spend some time thumbing thru my magnum opus of a book, Road Trip USA, which contains nearly 1000 pages of ideas about where to go and what to see all over the USA.

It's in libraries, bookstores and at Amazon.

The book has lots of stuff that didn't make it up on the website -- plus it is much more accurate and up to date.

End of sales pitch. Time for your travel plans.

Three weeks is not a _huge_ amount of time for the trip you describe -- which by my counting is something close to 5000 miles. Do-able, for sure, but to make sure you'll have enough time to enjoy the amazing sights along the way, you'll probably have to make a couple of long-haul 800-mile all-nighters across the less fascinating stretches of North American highway (across North Dakota on your way west, and across Texas on the way back, if I were on board...)

To start this trip. I would get my hands on the van as early as possible, and get to know how it works, both as a vehicle and as a mobile home. Take some shorter trips around New England to work out any "bugs", and to get to know your travel companions. Better to do this near home, than to discover problems when you are 1500+ miles away.

I'm sure you'll want to fine-tune arrangements (maybe build-in some storage units that will double as sleeping bunks, for example.) I have been through a series of VW vans over my many years on the road, and I have been forever tinkering with them. A couple of short trips will help you learn for yourselves just what stuff you want to haul around with you -- I recommend a set of comfy camp chairs, so you can sit out around campfires in comfort. But you don't want to haul _too_ much stuff, most of which you'll have to pack and unpack, time and again...

OK, there are some overall ideas -- please feel free to write again once you know where you are headed.

Good luck, and Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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