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+4 votes

Hey guys! Tentatively planning a road trip for April or June. Going from MN to Seattle, Olympia, Portland, San Francisco, Las Angeles, Albuquerque, Denver, back to MN. Freelance in film in production, art, and MUA.

Also planning to ask my friend/potential partner to come with. Would love advice on:

1. Best routes, and where to go or avoid.

2. Things to definitely see or experience.

3. Places to eat.

4. How to ask my friend to come.

5. Work leads.

6. Money-saving tips.

7. Places or events that are overrated.

8. The better month between the two.

9. Things to know about these states/cities, and any safety concerns or fun facts.

10. Budgeting tips/how to plan what it'll cost and etc if you have more knowledge to share.

I have a fairly energy-efficient hybrid if it were my car. Gas efficiency goes up and down from 250-400 miles per tank, about 8 gallons per tank. Do have some friends and family along the way. Parents may be able to help a bit with hotels when in the city, and I love cooking - if I have a cooler, some tools, and a campfire or stove I'm set. Or a kitchen in a place. Not sure how much I'd be willing to spend yet, or what prices look like across the country.

in Travel by (3,000 points)

5 Answers

+1 vote

Sounds like fun, enjoy. One thing I learned with my brief experience of long distance travel is you can make some real savings if you know where to look. If you were flying google can email you when ticket prices drop. One of them dropped from about £750 to £330. So I would recommend doing a bit of research. Google may have something similar for your requirements.

by (4,256,451 points)
+2 votes

April could be dodgy or great.  Do not know where you are located, will assume the TC area.  You will not find much work except day labor so budget from there. 

Head out 169 to Marshall, pick up I 80.  First night out figure Chamberlin SD.  State park Campground is pretty decent, KOA has hot water.

Day 2 should put you around Sheridan, WY.  Badlands are in between.  Now is the point of decision over the Bighorns through Medicine Wheel or up to Miles City and Custers Last Stand.  Neither is a bad choice, let the weather decide for you.

From there it is open country and an adventure.  The Worland Basin is great, I90 through Billings is also good.  The passes through Yellowstone will probably be open so that is a thought.  Especially the Madison River Country up through the Bitterroots.

Sunlight Basin and Dead Indian Trail are also an interesting way.  Do note beyond Cook City the devastation of the Forest Fire are evident.  You may want to head up over Beartooth Pass.  If the snow has cleared hike up to the Rifle Pits Chief Joseph dug to cover his Winter withdrawal from General Crook. 

Decision time Idaho by the Interstate or the 2 laners.  Keep a weather eye open for late snowstorms, I have personally seen the passes closed in May because of a late snowfall.

In this area there are plenty of good Mom & Pop non chain restaurants.  These are cheaper and better if you run across a 4B's or Black Angus the dinner specials are great and inexpensive.

Plan on State Park or National Park Campgrounds as a cheep place to stay.  Seattle will be expensive and points going south.  You are covering a lot of territory.

PS: I grew up in Park County WY on a working Ranch. There are seasonal jobs in the area however you are coming between seasons.

On the rest of your list I find standard and boring. Not take the two laners up from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs. Go through Santa Fe and Taos, From Colorado Springs take the interstates through Denver and across Nebraska.  The original Cabelas is worth a stop.

There are campgrounds on your whole trip.  Enjoy the adventure

by (2,906,320 points)
+1 vote

It’s been my experience that gasoline is higher near the freeway exits. Keep your car gas tank 3/4 full at all times.

You can possibly save money on motel/hotels on Trivago over their own websites.

Buying breakfast foods at groceries ( donuts etc)  rather than restaurants. Lunches can be comprised of deli meats and cheeses with sand which breads or buns purchased at same grocery. Check prices for replacement ice at groceries rather than off freeway gas stations.

The SW temps can really soar in mid to late summer. Be aware of areas marked as dessert areas as these areas often have limited gas/food and lodging resources. Making sure your vehicle has a recent check up and that you have AAA in case of car break down. At the very least have a car tire inflator that runs off the car cigarette lighter. Always have a medical emergency kit with bandaids, bandages etc. Make sure to fill all medicine prescriptions before you leave. Always care extra water and drinks in case of car breakdowns. Equip yourself with SPF for travel into the SW due to extra sun exposure. Be aware of poisonous snakes, tarantulas, scorpions and other SW wildlife that are indigenous to that area. There are areas in each town state and county that are not typically safe to travel or sight see. One that comes to mind is Skid Row ,( well known and publicly advertised homeless encampments) Not a good idea to go to for a “look see”! And Justiceville in Los Angeles. Another area is Compton 3-4 miles outside or LA is an area to be avoided at all costs. Local gas stations or Hotels can give you more safe travel suggestions city by city.Sad to say you may only cross over an invisible barrier inter-city and find yourself in a no go area! A paper city map and hi-lighter map purchased at a local gas station may help you in your endeavors. Take all recommendations as “Bible” and don’t dismiss them. Some areas ( beaches and attractions are perfectly safe during the day and are considered risky to potentially dangerous late at night! When pout of state observe all traffic laws as police are more likely to “pull over” an out of state car! Try to avoid flashy daywear Hawaiian printed shirts, straw hats etc. Anything that screams tourist makes you all stand out as targets  for burglary, theft and assault. In other words keep a low profile. Keep all valuables cameras, jewelry and valuables locked in the hotel safe or car trunk. Always always keep car keys and car turned off when stopping to get gas. Otherwise you may find you car gone upon return. Do not wear flashy jewelry, gold chains, diamonds etc on vacation else wise you may find someone grabbing your jewelry when you least expect it. Same goes for carrying designer purses or in fact any purse at all. RFD wallets that can’t be skimmed whilst standing in line at a gas station or restaurant.When leaving any establishment be aware of your surroundings and try to park nearest nearest to the event.

Is all this required or necessary? Maybe not. But remember you are traveling outside of your normal safe and familiar radius.

by (893,660 points)
+1 vote

Historic Route 66 from LA to Albuquerque would be interesting though a bit slower.  At least, drive though Williams on the way.  Not sure if it's your kind of thing or not but the Grand Canyon is only an hour or so out of your way about there too.

by (997,400 points)
+2 votes

The only tips I can think of are money saving ones, as Im not from that area so I dont know best routes, etc. 

   Pack coolers with food. Bring sandwiches, fruit, prepared meals, etc. Bring a metal water container and fill up at water fountains (if the water is good!) instead of bringing water bottles. You'll be helping the environment. 

   Try eating a heavy breakfast and light dinner, no lunch in between, or skip breakfast and have a good lunch and light dinner. In other words, two meals a day with snacks in between. Im sure there are plenty of diners aling those routes that cater to families, avoid the more expensive restaurant except to splurge on one or two. 

   How to ask your friend to come: just ask. 

   Better month to go: spring is nice, but might be rainy. 

   Road trips are fun. My most serious advice is to stay with friends and avoid being alone anywhere. Keep in touch with family and let them know about your whereabouts and where you plan on going, where you are stopping. Just be safe. 

by (1,251,590 points)
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