I need rough estimates for a 9000 mile USA road trip.?

So me and my friends are planning a pretty big road trip around the US for next summer and we want to know how many days it would take plus the cost of it all.

We are not staying at any hotels. We will rely on campgrounds or Walmart parking lots, buying groceries weekly for food. 

We drive pretty fast so on highways we would average 80-100 mph. Obviously we need to pay for gas. We will use one of our cars. 

We plan on driving 6 hours each day. After 6 hours, we will find a place to camp and settle for the rest of the day. 

Our starting point and ending point is Boston

We will stay 2 nights in the following locations:

Chicago

Badlands National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Seattle

Mount Rainer

San Francisco

Yosemite

Los Angeles

Las Vegas

Zion National Park

Grand Canyon (North Rim)

Great Sand Dunes

Dallas

New Orleans

Nashville

Great Smokey Mountains

Washington DC

New York City

The rest of the trip will be the driving in between all these places (6 hours a day). 

If some people could try to approximate the length of the entire trip plus the total cost then that would be greatly appreciated.

17 Answers

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  • 1 month ago

    Starting from Boston?  The most valuable suggestion I can give to you is to plan a 4 or 5 day trip in your local area.  Maybe head down the coast towards Florida.  Take a tent and sleeping bags.  Get food at grocery stores.  And keep track of your expenses - including gas and campground fees.  That will give you an idea of how much it costs per day for your trip, how far you can go per day without going crazy, and what it's really like riding with the same people in a car.  For a trip of less than a week, you can withstand almost anything, but I know of people who were no longer friends after taking such a short trip.  There will be a temptation to treat certain expenses as exceptions that would not happen on the long trip, like eating at a restaurant because you wanted or needed to, needing a tow or an uber because you ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere, or taking an expensive hotel because there just wasn't anything in town, you were all tired to fainting, and the police wouldn't let you camp.  Count every expense.  Something always happens.

    6 hours a day in a car is a gruelling trip.  In a van with 4 people, or an RV, it might be okay.  Maybe you can sit in a car for a single day trip, but day after day, it gets painful.  What if one guy snores?  What if one person gets diarrhea, and farts in the car, then when you get to the next town, you are all held back for hours while that person stays near a bathroom?  What if one person doesn't wash, and smells?  Also remember that there may not be cell service everywhere, and that means no internet.  You'll have to revert to forms of entertainment that people used 20 or 30 years ago - having conversations, reading books, writing, looking at scenery.

    ---

    A second suggestion, assuming that money is limited (if it isn't, just stay in motels and eat out, that means you will travel lighter and faster), is to do a much shorter trip, spending the same money.  Make the trip only to Yellowstone, go 300 miles / day, spend a week there, come back.  With the extra money from a shortened trip, you can rent a small 25-foot RV, and eat out any time you want.

  • 2 months ago

    Figure 300mi/day plus $100/day per person MINIMUM.

  • 2 months ago

    Sounds like you're just bragging about your future  ( you hope) trip

  • John
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    2 nights in each place is 36 days. Two days between each is another 36 days or more than two months. Unexpected time will turn that into at least 3 months. 90 days @ $100/day gas, food and whatever is $9,000. Not only is sleeping in your car truly dangerous you will find that after one night you won't want to do it again.

    Cooking your own food sounds good until you ask where you are going to put everything in a car. 

    And then there are showers and laundry......

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  • 2 months ago

    If you plan a lot of 85 mph driving include a few thousand dollars for fines for speeding plus money for lawyers to keep you out of jail for 30 day sentences.

    Calculating food is tricky because you do not say how many in your group.  I would allow $30/day/person.

    Most jurisdictions make parking overnight in corporate/store parking lots illegal.

    Do Las Vegas between Yosemite and Los Angeles to cut down backtracking.

    Frankly, Dallas is not worth it unless you have a need to see Dealey Plaza and the Schoolbook Depository.  Houston at least has NASA's Manned Space Center.

    I trust you are aware NYC and Washington have far more than can be seen in 2 days.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    If you can't figure that out for yourself, than this trip is pointless

  • 2 months ago

    Wow, as someone who has done such trips for over 30 years now, I have to say that your plans are stupid to the point of potentially getting you all arrested and your car impounded.

    Forget speeds over 65 MPH and even then, due to traffic, in major areas, such a speed cannot be guaranteed to be available.

    You need to go to a AAA office and have them do a TripTik for you with your proposed routing and the link taken into account.

    There's no way to even guess at your costs. Gas prices are fluid, we have no idea what the fuel economy of your unstated make and model of car will deliver and so on.

    Forget sleeping in the car. That can work if the driver is doing the trip solo, but with more than one person, no one will be able to get any decent sleep and you will crash the car by day Four due to excessive fatigue. WalMarts do not allow people to sleep in cars in their parking lots and many state rest areas also prohibit this.

  • Foofa
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    At least 10 of the places you cite have such bad traffic congestion that you'll need to tack on extra time for all of them. You will not be tooling up the 405 in L.A., the I-90 in Boston or the DC Beltway at 80 mph. 

  • 2 months ago

    I'm not going to do all that calculating and map reading for you. If I was planning that trip, it would take me at least an hour to sort out the basics even though I've done many long road trips. The number of places times the number of nights you plan to stay in each one will be the length of your trip, plus maybe an extra day here and there when places are too far apart. You may hope to drive 80 to 100 mph all the time, but you probably won't. Over the course of a day, 60 mph or less is probably more like it for most people, and in some of those places you won't find a campground or a Wal-mart lot that allows camping within 50 miles of the city, so that may add some travel time and gas cost. Use google maps, or get yourself a road atlas, available at almost any gas station or Wal-mart, and plan out a route that will take you all those places and see how far it is between them. Better learn to do it now so you know how to do it while you're on the trip. No one can accurately tell you how much the gas will cost because we don't know what gas mileage your car gets or how much gas will cost by next summer. Nor can anyone tell you how much you'll spend on food, but I'd bet on at least $10 per day per person.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    I can try but my guess is only valid for the way I would do it.

    Fee for campgrounds can be near free or similar to a cheap motel.

    Suggest you get "real" beds once a week in a real motel for things like a good shower laundry, shopping for groceries, car maintenance etc.

    18 stops of two nights each is 36 nights.

    Driving days about 500 miles each day. Believe it or not you do stop every few hours for things like a fuel top up ( no need to run on fumes), toilet break, change of driver a meal break, Is 18 driving days could be more or a little less if you drive marathon style. Now about 54 days.

    $50 per person per day for the basic expenses. Use "gasbuddy" for your fuel estimate it depends on car. As YOURS will be loaded down with stuff you do not get the empty car mileage of the charts. For budgeting purposes go about 50% to 75% of this estimate.

    Absolutely no stops along the way for points of interest a selfie or two?

    Plan these stops to add 1-3 hours to your driving time. Budget TIME for a few unexpected things of interest you discover.

    IF you were a member of AAA they will help you for FREE plan your adventure.It is part of membership.

    $4,000-$5,000 per person should cover it. Exact price can vary depending on your meal choices and the rates you pay for a sleeping place. Entrance fees for attractions budget $30 per tourist attraction for the assorted fees you might need to pay.

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