A travel article in the Los Angeles Times today seems to be filled with mixed messages. The title “Many Americans dream of driving across the country, survey shows” says 25% of men and 33% of women surveyed “always wanted to drive across the country” and have not yet achieved this adventure. 41% of Americans said they had already driven across the country in the Expedia sponsored survey conducted by Harris Interactive of 2,262 adults.
According to the survey, only 23% of Americans expect to travel internationally in the next year (and that includes Canada and Mexico).
I am an American who has made several cross country road trips across the USA. As a child I traveled across the country from California to the east coast and back with my parents – a couple of times. As an adult I have driven California to Maine a couple of times including from Eureka, California to Ellsworth, Maine which is about as far as a person can drive in the USA cross-country point-to-point.
Eureka, California – Ellsworth, Maine = 3,491 road miles.
What I would like to know from the survey is whether people who had made cross country road trips were traveling for fun or what I think are more likely reasons for employment or family issue? My coast to coast cross country trips were all motivated by some other reason than a travel vacation.
The only people I recall taking cross country road trips for fun were young adults or retired adults with no employment commitments and school teachers who have six to eight weeks in summer to travel for an extended period.
Last summer I met a couple at a Holiday Inn Express in Salt Lake City from Nova Scotia who had driven across Canada to Vancouver, down the west coast to San Francisco and they were driving back across the USA via Interstate 80. The husband was retired and his wife was a school teacher.
My point is cross country driving is a relatively expensive way to travel since the time on the road requires lodging, unless you plan to couch surf or you are driving a vehicle you can sleep in which means your gas total is likely much higher. Road travel takes time. Six hours of driving a day gets you about 300 to 400 miles for the same amount of seated time as it takes to fly cross country coast to coast.
Not Enough Time or Money or Both
The statement by Joe Megibow, VP of Expedia, that tough economic times have forced Americans to cheaper vacation alternatives by driving instead of flying and taking shorter, more frequent trips does not match up with the objective of making a cross country road trip and the time needed to travel the USA by road rather than air travel.
That statement kind of knocks out cross country driving from coast to coast in the USA.
7,000 miles / 25mpg = 280 gallons of gas. At $4/gallon = $1,120. Our California gas prices right now are $4.20 to $4.35 on average.
Figure about $1,000 in gas more or less to travel from New York to California and back.
Last summer I took two extended road trips from Monterey, California to Vancouver, Canada and back. Then I traveled Monterey to Denver, Colorado and back. This was about 6,000 miles in road travel. I took over four weeks for these trips and I felt rushed most of the time with not enough time to stop and sight see around the places I was driving through in the western states.
I spent three nights in hotels each way driving the 1,200 miles to Denver when there is a nonstop United Airlines flight to Denver that requires 2.5 hours each way. My wife says she doesn’t want to do the desert drive again this year when I travel to Colorado for Travel Blogger Exchange 2012 (TBEX12). Five hours of flight time compared to 40 hours of drive time is preferable to her.
I am still debating whether to fly or drive. I really want to work in a whitewater rafting excursion in Utah.
Breaking News March 5: BlogWorld, the leading blogger convention in the USA just bought TBEX.
One thing I am sure of for true travelers on the road is the value of Wyndham, Best Western and Choice hotel points when roadtripping. There are many locations where Hyatt Diamond and SPG Platinum are meaningless and even Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels are far apart.
Brokeass Mountain Road Trip, July 2011
Monterey, California – Denver, Colorado
- Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road across the Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Westin Monache Resort Mammoth for year round vacations
- Even Lonelier than the Loneliest Road in America
- Earth’s Oldest Trees in Great Basin National Park Nevada
- Less extreme than 127 Hours in Utah
- Brokeass Mountain Tour eastbound – Hotel Value at High Elevation
- Brokeass Mountain Tour visits Starwood in Denver
- Driving by the 14ers South Park to Aspen, Colorado
- Top of the Rockies on the High Road to Aspen – Independence Pass 12,095 feet.
- St. Regis Aspen – Too Late to Cancel
- Aspen, Colorado to Park City, Utah: Ghost lands of Buffalo Soldiers, Utes and Dinosaurs
- The California Trail across Nevada
- Homeward Bound – Carson Pass Highway 88 over the Sierra Nevada to Monterey