Author Topic: The Great American Road Trip  (Read 1258 times)

PencilStache

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The Great American Road Trip
« on: May 24, 2017, 12:44:56 PM »
I assume there are plenty of posters that have taken a work sabbatical. Can you recommend any strategies to make it more enjoyable?

I have reached a point where I could use a little break from work in my early 30's. I have always loved the idea of the great American road trip, driving through the lower 48 states and visiting as many national parks as possible. Camping and staying with friends most of the time to cut down on costs.

My concern is financial. I have averaged ~$30K in annual spending for several years since I found MMM. However, I admit that is my excessive work budget. I think I could cut that down in a semi-retirement lifestyle. If I sell my house, I could have just over $500K in non-retirement assets. Using the dividends / SWR that would give me ~$15-20K in spending money per year without touching principal. (3-4% withdrawals) I also have ~$50K cash saved for this purpose. Am I worrying too much? I plan to return to work in 1-2 years depending on how the trip goes. Aside from health insurance, anything else I should be concerned about? Has anyone else done a trip like this? Any suggestions?

LifeHappens

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 01:02:22 PM »
I thought about doing something like this in my late 20s. I didn't do it and totally regret it. So my advice is - don't be like me!

If you have $50,000 in cash, you have enough to do this trip. I would just make sure your car is in good working order and go. You may also want to blog your journey. When it's time to look for a job later, having the story of this adventure will make you a better candidate to an employer looking for a bold risk taker to join their team.

lentil

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 03:44:00 PM »
I took a similar sort of trip in my early 20s. Costs on a road trip can be kept pretty low, in my experience, if you have a tent, camp stove, and reasonably fuel efficient vehicle. Get the car tuned up before you leave, buy the annual parks pass at the first National Park you visit, and have fun!

When I took my trip, I was coming from east to west, so the big learning curve for me lay in figuring out how public lands work in the west. National Parks are fun, but the cheap/free camping options usually lie in National Forests or on BLM land, and learning how to (responsibly, legally, etc.) take advantage of that can be a real saver. If you're looking for a campground with showers, I've sometimes had luck at state parks -- more expensive than national forest camping, but cheaper than a motel, and often interesting in their own right.

Preparing your own food is the other big way to control costs. Restaurant food gets tempting to me on long drives, but pulling over at a rest area and making my own sandwich saves a ton in the long run. Get ready for some food boredom though, if you're heading out for a year-long trip! Maybe you could pay your friends back for hosting you by cooking tasty meals for them, and thereby enjoy more variety.

skekses

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2017, 04:57:50 PM »
I did a cross-country drive over a 3-week period a few years ago. On the way, I stopped by places that were of personal significance and stayed with friends and family where possible. Having the stops with friends and family was definitely a highlight, moreso than the parks that I visited along the way. If you can arrange to have friends come out and adventure with you, I think that would be super memorable.

After several weeks on the road, I did manage to get sick from all of the road food that I was not used to eating. I would definitely try to cook food similar to what you would normally eat where possible.

As for health insurance, I signed up for a bronze plan on the health exchange (I quit my job to move across the country). I could have opted for COBRA in hindsight, but if you are talking about a year-long trip, then the exchange is probably what you would also want to use.

Be sure to bring a camera and learn how to use its features. When I don't have a companion, taking photos is a good way to keep myself engaged in the journey.

Audiobooks were my dear companion on the road. Even if the book was terrible, it still gave me something to occupy my thoughts while driving.

Lastly, I was pretty much ready to be done after three weeks on the road. A year would have felt like an eternity.

Rimu05

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2017, 10:05:13 AM »
Damn, this is a brilliant idea. I do not want to spend the money to go abroad but because I work in banking, we have to take a mandatory vacation and had no idea what I was going to do. Going to check on this thread as I can road trip from FL to California to visit my sister. Problem is I don't want to use my car. Might look into a rental.

daverobev

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2017, 01:57:52 PM »
Damn, this is a brilliant idea. I do not want to spend the money to go abroad but because I work in banking, we have to take a mandatory vacation and had no idea what I was going to do. Going to check on this thread as I can road trip from FL to California to visit my sister. Problem is I don't want to use my car. Might look into a rental.

Check the "transport a car across the continent" sites - you drive someone else's car from A to B. IIRC they pay the gas, but nothing else. Can't remember.
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PencilStache

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Re: The Great American Road Trip
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2017, 02:50:44 PM »
Much appreciate the thoughts and ideas. I guess it's time to start planning some of the details.

Not quite sure I would go for an entire year, I'd go as long as it was fun. I probably wouldn't go back to work for a year or two. We shall see.

Thanks again.