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USA Trip Planning Questions - (optimal road trip across the U.S)

Discussion in 'Americas' started by kiran, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. AustinRT

    AustinRT Been here awhile

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    OP, I would suggest cutting your map in half. Sure you could easily cover the US in 3 months but there are a lot of boring miles on you map that could be better spent really seeing this great country. Also you have a bunch of fairly large cities that you are passing through. Unless you plan to stay in those cities, best to find a to avoid them or your 100/day budget will start to shrivel. Nothing wrong with cities but riding through them is not the most fun. Certainly depends on what experience you want from the trip.
    #21
  2. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Being from India the OP will probably have more experience with hot weather in monsoon season than any US resident ! And cold he has probably felt too in the mountains there.

    Kiran, as for the route planning and having it nailed down in such micromanaged and computer registered fashion remember Your OWN statement that you usually change plans on the road . Perhaps. the better approach would be to keep it very loose and general , with just the main points you want to see and fill it in as you go . Say, pick the approximate days you want to be somewhere for section A , B, C and turn around points that get you back to your west coast departure area in time .
    As noted $ 100 per day in the US. will take some care , it is a rather expensive country when a 50 dollar hotel is considered as " cheap " in many regions .
    #22
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  3. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    When you go to cities, look for "youth hostels". You can often get a bed in a dorm for $25-$40. There are not many hostels in rural areas, but there are a few near popular areas such as Yosemite.
    #23
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  4. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    We had a large number of UK folks visiting Canada last year and bringing their bikes with them. Air Canada had a cargo sale for most of 2015.
    They crated up their bikes and rode through both Canada and the US. Cost of shipping from the UK both ways was around $500 Canadian.
    An ADV buddy in the port of destination saved the parts of the crate for them until they were ready to ship it home.
    I have no idea if this sale is still on and it would be much more from India of course, but if the sale is still on, you could start your trip from say Halifax and then ride down to the US.
    A big saving in freight could make the extra leg of the journey worthwhile.
    You would have to return to the same place you arrived to have it shipped home.

    When riding a new trail for me, my first stop is Google maps. Riding from lets say Chicago to Denver, zoom in on the route.
    Keep zooming until you can see the secondary roads as well as the interstates. When you have an idea of what route you want to take, consult the traditional maps.
    #24
  5. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    Just in case you are not familiar with how our roads are marked, here's a very basic primer:

    Interstate Highways: Major 4+ lane roads with high speeds (for USA) and wide lanes, on and off ramps instead of intersections. Best used to quickly get somewhere, but usually the least interesting of our roads, but not always. Generally these go through several states.

    U.S. Highways: Predated the Interstate system, but still go all across the country. The famous Rt. 66 is one of these, as is Hwy 50. Usually 2 lane (one lane each way on the same pavement), and generally go through the middle of towns with lots of stop lights and intersections. These often find the old places time has forgotten, and generally are a lot more twisty and interesting to ride. These will generally go through several states. (You may want to avoid them in big cities, as often they go through the old depressed areas which may not be as safe.)

    State Highways: Usually smaller than U.S. Highways, and often even more interesting to ride. Everything about the U.S. Highways are true for these too, except for the multi-state part.

    County Highways: The most fun to ride, but hard to get anywhere on. These generally have letters for their name instead of numbers like all of the above.

    BTW, on most maps the type of highway is reflected by the shape of the sign identifying the highway. So check the legion of the map to see how they are reflected on the map you are using.
    #25
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  6. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    I've seen that map on FB and IMO crap.
    For example, I-25 thru Colorado sees NOTHING! It was created by someone behind a desk in a city who never travels. De de Interstate, barf
    #26
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  7. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Boat puller gave a fine summary of how theUSA national systems of highways are set up.

    For completeness there are a few details I would add .

    It is really neat how they were so smart in setting up the numbering system to facilitate travel planning . It makes it especially easy for beginning foreign travellers .. if you know the setup .

    The number of a highway is related to its general direction of travel and regional location .
    To wit :
    EVEN numbered US Highways have the overall habit of running east to west and the numbers begin with 2 in the north as a discontinuous road close by the Canadian border
    The ODD numbers in the US Highways trend between north and south and numbers begin with 1 along the Atlantic coast .
    There is a regional familial relationship between the numbers , for instance in Georgia US 341 and US 441 all run N-S diverging from
    and rejoining US 41

    For the INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM the numbering series are inverted . The lowest Interstate N-S numbers start from the west coast increasing eastward across the continent and and are all UNEVEN.
    . The E-W Interstates are all EVEN NUMBERED and in ascending order from the south.
    There are other niceties of intestate numbering which reveal if a road is a continuous ring road , a through connector between interstates or a singular spur .But you can get the hang of those cases as you work with them.

    What this comes down to is that it is practically impossible to " get lost" on asphalt .Keep driving in the same direction and eventually when you come to a US Highway or Interstate
    you find out its number and determine which way you need to go to get to your destination .
    The most rudimentary US road map will suffice , no GPS is required.
    You can pick a number and follow it across one or many states . Use them for connecting your important points and then use state and county roads for meandering around to the local attractions when haste is not required
    #27
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  8. kiran

    kiran CommuTourer

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    guess what!

    I paid to get my visa renewed and my employer decided to send me to states. So now I am here this week and until next. This takes away the "after many years into USA" bit out of the ride. Though this is not a ride - driving a renal car between hotel and work.
    :) The ride is so far on track for August, though honestly I haven't moved much in terms of planning.

    I would be putting some dead miles if I chose to buy a bike through tuckers (most while traversing from west to east)...Its evident that I cannot complete the planned route in such short time...but will try to cover major attractions. I dont have any specific city on my list except calif, New york, chicago, portland and some more...though in those cities I have friends who would be hosting me for sure. The trip aims to sample as many american experiences as possible ... may sound stupid but riding on interstates, state highways, countryroads, cities, villages boroughs are some of those...for an average american that might be part of mundane errands :)

    The loose map bit of the trip remains (heck, I cant even drive back to hotel without missing a turn on crappy Hertz rental!!

    I arrived in Raleigh NC this week and flying to Tucson AZ on saturday.
    #28
  9. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I have a Suzuki Vstrom DL650 right now for grabs. $2900 with Soft panniers/Pelican top box/tank bag/some mods and electrics. VERY well maintained with many records.
    #29
  10. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    It sounds like you plan to ride up the west coast, then across the north? That would exclude the entire South, which many would consider to be uniquely American. There is one little restaurant that might give you the feel of Nashville (though I have never been to Nashville, so what do I know?): Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield California. You go in there on a Friday or Saturday, and they have live country western music, line dancing, and really gawdy decorations from the music business. The food is really good, too. Just a thought...

    [​IMG]

    Coming up the coast, try your hand at surfing, or maybe body boarding. You can rent the equipment cheap. The further south, the warmer the water. You might even catch a surfing competition in August.

    [​IMG]

    Amusement parks are pretty popular here. Magic Mountain in Southern California is a good one. Great America in the San Francisco Bay Area is also pretty good.

    [​IMG]

    How about renting an ATV on Pismo Beach?

    [​IMG]
    #30
  11. kiran

    kiran CommuTourer

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    thats but I think its bit early to start shopping :( dont want to keep it idle for that long as I am targeting August.
    The music bit is cool...will note

    In the current short trip I am at Tucson right now. The whole terrain and stuff has changed drastically - brickwalled housed compared to wooden ones on east and entire landscape is different :)
    #31
  12. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    August will be here very fast. If this is a cycle you'd like to make the ride on, get it locked down, and spend the next few months researching mods you'd like to do to it for your trip. Buying and outfitting your cycle is not the part of planning to do at the last minute. Plus, if you need it shipped to another part of the country to start your trip, that takes time, especially if you don't have the time.

    Many think the V-Strom 650 to be the best 650 for cross country USA travel. I'd seriously consider it were I in your shoes.
    #32
  13. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    There are many people on this site that will be happy to help you with your trip planning but in order to do so, we will need to better understand what your plans, goals and intentions are.


    First: You say you will be visiting and staying with friends in California (what city), Portland, Chicago and New York and some more. We need to know All the cities you plan to stay in and for how long you will stay in each of those cities. That gives us the basic structure to work with and it tells us how many days you have left for traveling. For Example: if you will visit friends in Los Angles for 3 days, San Francisco for 2 days, Portland for 4 days, Chicago for 4 days and New York for 5 days, and along that route 3 other cities with friends for 2 days each, we know you have 90 days minus 24 days equals 66 days of travel time remaining.


    Second: You need to tell us what are the MUST SEE locations on your list. Other cities you want to go to where you do not have friends but there is something there in that city that you must see while in the USA. What other locations are on your MUST SEE list that are not associated with city names such as National Parks (Glacier National Park, Yellowstone Park, Redwoods Park etc….) For each of these, do you just want to see it while riding past it on the hiway so you don’t waste any time getting to the next great location to drive by and be able to say you saw it, or will you want to stop and take a few pictures, or stop and hike into the park for a half day, or spend a full day or a few days at that park? We need to know your style to help plan your very limited time….do you want to just see from a distance as many places as possible or do you want to actually visit them and if yes for how much time at each of these must see locations. Now add up the number of days for these visits. Once you have identified all of the MUST SEE places for this trip and how long you will spend at each one of them we can do the math calculation again, subtracting time at each location to see how many days are remaining. Then, we have to subtract the travel time between all these MUST SEE places. At this point you can make a rough route of all the MUST SEE PLACES FOR THIS TRIP and calculate the number of travel of days to make this route work and subtract that from the balance of days remaining to see what we have left.


    Third: Now that we have a balance of remaining days, lets say for example it is 30 days remaining. We can look at your approximate route and start making suggestions on how you can spend that remaining balance of 30 available days. It would help to know if your primary interest is cultural, historical, geological/nature, etc… With this kind of information, we can better help or guide you to the things you are most interested in. And let us know if your goal for this trip is to just drive past the must see place or stop for a picture or stop for a day or more to really get into it.


    Weather: I would not worry about it for August through October. It is possible you could encounter some cold weather in October but it’s probably not going to drastically effect your travel plans. You may need to wait until 10am or 11am to get on the road for the air temperature to warm up a bit. In the mountains of the western USA, there could be snow in the high passes in October but if you are staying on the pavement it is unlikely you will have any trouble with this and it usually melts quickly on the paved roads at this time of year. Since your trip is ending in middle to late October, you will probably be somewhere other than the mountains of the western U.S. at this time. In the northern mid west, Minneapolis, Chicago and then the northeastern USA, October is a pretty safe month for motorcycle friendly weather. There are always exceptions but I’m telling you how things are normally.


    Leaf Colors: The bright colors and the timing when they appear are primarily dependent on altitude, air temperature and rainfall. I am in the western mountains of Colorado each fall during the first three weeks of September and sometimes the Aspen leaves are bright yellow at some point during this period and sometimes they are not. I have lived in Minneapolis and near Chicago and Philadelphia and generally the colors for the hardwood trees like the Sugar Maples mentioned earlier reach their Peak, or most intense color sometime in October, and in the Northeast, like the state of Maine, the Peak Foilage could happen at the end of September or the end of October…it varies year to year when colors peak and the intensity of the color also varies from year to year. I would not plan my travel itinerary around this. Check out this website for places to see great fall color and the historical dates for peak foliage: http://www.buzzfeed.com/anniedaly/21-insanely-beautiful-spots-to-see-fall-colors-across-americ#.cyzzXWB6z2


    Motorcycle: I think the Suzuki SV-650 would be a good choice for your trip. Not too big and not too small…just right and fuel efficient and a size you are accustomed to riding. I would also recommend buying a bike here and then selling it. I think you will be better off financially than bringing your bike here and putting all those miles on it. You don’t have the luxury of time to spend a week looking for a bike to purchase when you arrive and then another week trying to sell it at the end of the trip. I think the best possible situation you could have is an arrangement with the Tuckers or someone like the Tuckers. They are world travelers, they are sympathetic to the obstacles and expenses of a foreign motorcyclists who wants to travel the USA. They know what it is like to be a foreigner in another country and dependent on the people of that country to help them out. So for all the right reasons, I think they are a great resource to secure a bike. Plus, they have a reputation to uphold on Advrider so for that reason alone, I don’t think they would take advantage of you financially. Any bike you get from any person or dealer in the USA could have problems when you buy it or develop problems along the way that are costly to fix. That’s a risk you and everyone else takes when buying a used bike. I’m quite certain the Tuckers would only sell you a bike they thought was in very good mechanical condition and worthy of making the whole trip. You can maximize your limited time and minimize your risk of a faulty bike by dealing with the Tuckers or someone like them. You can probably get help from them fitting the bike with the parts and accessories and tires and spare parts you want for the trip. The V-strom 650 like all bikes has some common issues/failures. You might even be able to get some of those parts replaced proactively before the trip as additional insurance against a failure and the delay and expense of having the repair done in a dealership on the road. All these extra services are something the Tuckers may be able to do for you if you buy a bike through them. They may even buy the bike back from you at the end of your trip. You might be able to agree upfront on an immediate minimum price for buy back at the end of your trip (assuming all conditions have been met) but leave a few days upon return to California for selling it yourself locally for a higher price by advertising in Craig’s List. Shipping your bike here and back is $3,000. The mileage you put on your bike is worth $X,XXX.XX dollars…you decide what that number is. So, if you buy a used bike here, and after completing your trip if you sell it for the purchase price minus ($3,000 plus $X,XXX.XX dollars of depreciation your bike would have suffered) then you break even. I think you will do much better than that. If you buy Tucker’s bike at $2,900, you are already way ahead even if you light it on fire at the end of the trip and just walk away from it. I am not recommending you buy that specific bike from the Tuckers because I don’t know anything about it but once again, I doubt he would offer it to you if he did not think it was capable of completing the trip safely. That bike, with another $1,000. of upgrades and spare parts etc…would probably still be easily saleable and quickly for $2,000. at the end of your trip thus costing you just $2,000. total for use of that motorcycle…much less than $3,000 plus $X,XXX. depreciation on your Kawasaki.


    One last thing, I don’t think it is too early to start shopping for a motorcycle. It may be too early to buy one right now but not too early to start shopping. As soon as you find what you want, I would suggest you figure out how to secure it or buy it immediately. Most private sellers in the U.S. are not going to hold a bike for you with a promise and maybe not even with a down payment unless you can be there or send an agent there in a day or two to pick it up to complete the transaction. They are going to sell it to the first person that comes with the cash because they need the money to pay off the loan or to use towards their next bike purchase. If you know for sure you are going to do this trip, and if you think the bike the Tuckers have will suit your purpose, I would suggest you find out what kind of non-refundable down payment they would take to hold the bike for you until you arrive. You might also be able to use the Tuckers as your agent to buy a different bike in their area that you find for sale on your own through Craigs list or any other source. Of course they will have to charge you for their time and/or you will have to pay them up front the full price or some significant non-refundable deposit to cover them if you don’t complete the deal. I’m sure all these things can be negotiated with them or someone like them.


    So I hope you can see, we here at ADVrider are willing to help you but we need you to help us to help you by providing some of the information requested way way way back up at the top of this post.
    #33
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  14. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    OurDL650 is ride ready. Soft side panniers, Pelican top box, tank bag. Many upgrades. It was a buy back for a guy that took it to Guatemala. He spent around $2000 on maintenance and upgrades.
    Thanks everyone for your support and recommendations. As 'hardroadking' said we are sympathetic to the traveler. Being a traveler and also an implant myself from the UK I have learned some difficult lessons.
    'WE' is me and the Mrs Tucker. Just the two of us. It's not a business, more like a 'gas money' hobby. We have a list of customers a mile long if anyone wants their emails. We don't tell them what to say. What you see is what you get.
    #34
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  15. rebake

    rebake Long timer

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    Let me know if you get close to Peoria Illinois. Room and a meal for you.Ed
    #35
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  16. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    To the Tuckers: what are the relevant details that a buyer would be interested in knowing about this bike if considering it for purchase. Lots of pictures is always good too.
    #36
  17. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    Your map show's you going up I-5 from Sacramento to Portland. I-5's not all bad, northern Cali and southern Oregon is ok. But southern California and northern Oregon? Best give them the finger. 395 is a two lane east of the mountains. That's where I'd go.

    Don't see how you are going to get good weather everywhere. You might have to decide what you want to see the most, and sacrifice the rest.

    Yellowstone park, Idaho's sawtooth mountain's, and Hell's canyon are all about a good days ride apart. Hell's canyon is great riding, the sawtooth's are quite scenic, and Yellowstone's the place, though the riding there ain't much.
    #37
  18. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I haven't actually gotten around to taking pictures and putting it up for sale, so busy with other projects. I may put it up next week in Flea Market. It's ready. I was kinda saving it to see if anyone just came up, as this time last year I had already bought 5 bikes for incoming. So far this year only two.
    #38
  19. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    Well then how about year and approximate mileage for the curious amongst us.
    #39
  20. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Trip planning - check out furkot

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/furkot-the-online-trip-planning-tool.1028148/

    I played with it and it's pretty interesting. It evolves as feedback is given about wanted features.

    Your map is not useless as a general guide through regions of the USA but i for sure wouldn't use the specific roads on it. As you travel to the various regions of the map, you can stay in "trip planning" for advice but I think you could get more specific advice by posting in the regional threads here on advrider a few days to a week ahead of your arrival in that region.
    #40