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Thread: Driving across the U.S. all summer with two teens (in our little Honda Civic)

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Orlando, FL
    One tip I picked up in a book I recently read. Make sure your supension and tires are rated for the load of 4 passengers and all your gear. You can get heavier duty tires and springs/struts to compensate for the sag of a stock suspension/weakenss of light weight sidewalls. The car will handle better and you won't "cadillac" when you go over bumpy terrain.
    keep your windshield washer fluid full - (I take a scrubbie/squeege with me - clean often and have better pictures thru the windows as sometimes its all you can get)

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SugarHood SL UT

    Default Awesome!

    I grew up taking these trips every summer. (mom is a teacher, lots of time, not a lot of money ). Many miles logged in Mitsu and Honda hatchbacks. Things that stand out, the view from the high plains of the Rocky Mtns with the sun hitting them on a clear day, Yosemite, just hike, Lassen Natl Park, climbing a cinder cone volcano, and hiking the painted desert, Glacier NP, hicking a trail from the continental divide that started off with 3 inches of ice (Aug) on the trees on the east side and ended in shorts and sunny on the west, White Sands absolutely one of the coolest places I have been. finding out how cold the Pacific ocean is, (rented boogie boards in Santa Cruz, the Atlantic warms up pretty good in the summer (below long island.)As said above, Redwoods were super cool, Southern UT the arches and red rocks are cool, and even in a Honda, you will be able to get way way way off the beaten path.

    Make sure you leave enough time at each stop (sounds like you have.) I have a tendency to try to fit too much in. Any place you really want to explore is a 2 night stop minimum (for the most part).

    Two things about the kids perspective.

    1) I appreciated these trips only later, I complained pretty close to the whole time on every one. You know, why can't we go to Disney like all my friends. Don't let it get you down, they will be happy about it later.

    2) we found that finding a motel every 3rd or 4th night, really helped the attitude, even if the campground had showers.

    Really psyched for you and your kids, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Mike and Myles.

    ps, one of the coolest trips she ever planned for us, was a bike tour of Natucket, Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod by bike, staying at hostels. we took the ferry from Boston out to the island, biked around, next island, biked around, then Cape Cod and biked back to Boston. Might be something to think about for next year.
    Last edited by Series1Rangie; 06-06-2011 at 10:23 PM.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Lexington, MA

    Default Yes, the motel issue

    Thanks, Mike for the advice. I like thinking about stopping every 3rd or 4th night for a motel even if the grounds have showers. If not for me, the kids will really appreciate it, I'm sure. My husband and I both teach, so like your mom, money is not overflowing.

    We've got somewhat of a budget and aside from motels, we're hoping to make something of any connection we can. I'm hitting up anyone I know who knows someone SOMEWHERE. It's really funny who people come up with after a while. Even my own mother who lives in New Hampshire claimed she knew no one, but after a few minutes she remembered a good friend in San Antonio and her rabbi, who was about to move to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I'm not afraid to ask anyone for floor space or a bathroom.

    Because we have teens, I think much of what we want to do will have to involve lots of their input (read: buy-in); otherwise, things could turn bad and one or both of them could be taking the next bus out of town and back to Boston.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    north NH
    105 my kids loved this!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I have many great memories of our annual summer family trips. Since you have a hybrid and a roof top carrier, I would recommend some scenic back roads to keep the speed down. The hybrids strength is in city as you know, and the roof top carrier will negate the hybrid's mpg increase at highway speed.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    If you find yourself in Arizona, I HIGHLY recommend Slide Rock State Park near Sedona. That place is a ton of fun and there'll be some teens there for your kids to hang out with. There's a couple water slides, multiple rock jumping points (safe ones) and the water is always at the right temp. Sedona is a nice stop too and a good place to expose them to local'll probably even meet a few and get their perspective on their pieces.

    As for motels, I'd consider looking for the Hampton Inn brand and registering with HHonors. It won't take you long to earn points and get a free nights stay, their breakfasts are usually top-tier and hard to beat, they have relaxed check-in/out hours, and usually have decent pools/hot tubs.

    For the car, I'd recommend spending $10 at Harbor Freight and upgrading to a hydraulic bottle jack (probably less than $10 if you catch it on sale or pull a 20% off coupon out the back of a magazine). It's about the same size as your stock jack, much faster, and the first time you use it vs. the wind-it-up style, you'll be thanking me for the advice. Don't forget a cheap $5 tire plug kit from Autozone and a $10 air compressor from WalMart, it's much easier to plug a tire in the middle of nowhere than to unload/change/reload a tire in the middle of nowhere. But if you do have to unload/change/reload, at least you'll have a good jack 5 Minute Epoxy is also good to throw in the glovebox, it's only $4-$5 and can fix a wide variety of stuff. If you're taking tools along, don't forget the 10,12,13,14,and 17mm's. With those 5 sizes, you'll be able to tackle most anything on the Civic and you'll find the 12mm to be your bread and butter. And don't forget having a hidden key made, you can make it a game for the teens and have it so that one of them is always wearing it as a necklace.

    In the larger towns, the Chamber of Commerce is a good stop, you'll usually find some great discounts and even get some insider knowledge.

    It appears El Paso is on your map, I'd avoid the urge to cross into Mexico and explore Ciudad Juarez like the plague. It looks like N'Awlins is on the map too, the acquarium is pretty good as are the trolley rides and ferry rides to the other side of the bay/lake. I can't remember the name of it exactly but it leaves from right downtown and it's a cool ride. As for parking, make sure you take advantage of the Harrah's free parking. It used to be that you had to gamble for 30 minutes (I think now it's 45 mins) which is quite easy to do since they have nickel poker. I played for about 70 minutes, won a bit over three dollars, and got $60 worth of free parking for the next 2 days. Can't beat it.

    If you hit Las Vegas, there's plenty of great buffets off the strip. A few years ago, I had a great dinner buffet for $6.18 (I remember the quirky price) and it was complete with crab legs, awesome cakes/pies, steaks...everything. This is a great city for the Chamber of Commerce, there's some real gems in Vegas aside from the gambling and bright lights. They also have a great Craigslist market, maybe a good place for you resupply on anything that you break/lose/find doesn't work well.

    I'm sure you already know about the National Parks Pass, but what about the Flying J loyalty card? It's free, has decent benefits, and saves you money on gas. And if you like coffee/cappucino, don't forget to bring a mug so that you can save money on refills. There's quite a few truckstops where it's $.25 refills on your 1LT thermos or $1.29 for their 20 oz. disposable styrofoam cup.

    That's about it for now, kudos to you on the trip and I know you'll have a blast!

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Here is another suggestion if you haven't already been:
    Heidi - KF7CKI
    1985 Vanagon GL Diesel Convert

    1998 Isuzu Trooper S

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SugarHood SL UT
    So I was talking to some friends and they recommended this site. I went and looked around, looks like a cool site.

    Good Luck, and keep us updated.

    Mike and Myles

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    I knwo this adds to the price of everything, but what about a small harbor freight trailer to haul your camping gear? I use to tow a 4 x 8 Harbor freight trailer when I auto crossed back on the 90's and my little 1996 Civic DX had no problems with it.

  10. #20
    Ray Hyland's Avatar
    Ray Hyland is offline Expedition Portal Team
    Expedition Portal Moderator
    Expedition Leader
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    All over the place. What day is it?
    Wow, that looks like a fantastic trip. We will be on the road with our three boys and a german shepherd for most of July, so I hear you on the need for that extra foot of space.

    One point to bring up, if you are tent camping in some parks you must bring along a portable toilet and pack out your waste if you are in a part of the park without outhouses. The park websites will have the details. The PETT toilets are good for that, they pack down into a little briefcase and you put a bag inside for waste. The bags have chemicals inside to deal with smells and stuff.

    The other thing to mention, when I was a kid we did a family road trip like this for about 6 months on the road. The coolest thing we did was every night we sat at the table and spread the map out, and my dad would point out where we were, and how many hours he wanted to drive the next day by making an imaginary circle on the map, and we took turns deciding where we would go. So every night a different family member got to choose the next day's destination. If if was your turn to choose, you could pick anywhere inside the circle on the map. That was pretty cool, and prompted a lot of dinner time conversations about what was in all these little towns to do and see. Plus we went to some crazy kitschy little places that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. (what kid is going to pass up the world's biggest teepee. And what teenage boy will pass up the UFO museum in NM).

    Have fun, and maybe we will see you on the road somewhere. If you see a big black Defender 110 with 5 people and a big dog hanging out the windows, be sure to wave.
    Ray Hyland
    Explorers Club Chapter Chair - Canada, RCGS Fellow, Member of Overland International Inc.
    1993 D110 (200tdi) with Habitat Roof, 1954 86" Station Wagon (London to Singapore truck, 2015/2016), 1954 86" Pickup, 1954 86" Hardtop, 1956 86" coil-sprung hybrid, 2004 Ford Explorer, 2005 YZF250F, 1971 Carabela, 2012 Kawasaki, 2016 CCW Ace Deluxe 250, 1987 RRC SWB, 1992 Honda Accord Coupe 5 spd.

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