Author Topic: Cost of a cross country USA trip?  (Read 21055 times)

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Offline John Nelson

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2015, 05:06:37 pm »
$50 for camping is crazy. I've paid less for a hotel room before and it wasn't a bad hotel.
Me too, but the places with $50 camping don't have $30 motels. Of course I'd take a $30 motel over a $50 camping spot, but you don't usually have that choice.

And no, my $50 camping spot wasn't all that nice.

Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2015, 05:53:23 pm »
$50 for camping is crazy. I've paid less for a hotel room before and it wasn't a bad hotel.
Me too, but the places with $50 camping don't have $30 motels. Of course I'd take a $30 motel over a $50 camping spot, but you don't usually have that choice.

And no, my $50 camping spot wasn't all that nice.

Do you remember where you ran into these places? I was expecting the hiker/biker camp in places like Yellowstone to be expensive but to my surprise they're only $5/night.
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Offline John Nelson

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2015, 06:06:15 pm »
The most expensive camping I found was private campgrounds in New England during the peak season (especially Maine). The woods in these areas are often so dense that I don't even know how you'd walk through them, let alone push your bike through them to set up camp. Public campgrounds are usually cheaper than private campgrounds, but you can't always find one. Occasionally you find a private campground with a discounted rate for cyclists.

The cheapest camping is city parks. On the TransAm, there are many city parks that are listed as okay to camp in. I sometimes also camp in city parks that are not listed for camping, and I've never been chased away. City parks often have showers (associated with the swimming pool), and bathrooms that they'll leave open overnight if you ask them too. They will also usually turn off the sprinklers for you if you can find somebody to ask. If I can't find somebody to ask, I often pitch under the pavilion as that's usually safe from sprinklers.

Hiker/biker sites are wonderful, but they exist in a limited number of places. They are plentiful along the west coast, and some (but not all) national parks have them. Of course I'd like to see more of them.

Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2015, 06:11:52 pm »
The most expensive camping I found was private campgrounds in New England during the peak season (especially Maine). The woods in these areas are often so dense that I don't even know how you'd walk through them, let alone push your bike through them to set up camp. Public campgrounds are usually cheaper than private campgrounds, but you can't always find one. Occasionally you find a private campground with a discounted rate for cyclists.

The cheapest camping is city parks. On the TransAm, there are many city parks that are listed as okay to camp in. I sometimes also camp in city parks that are not listed for camping, and I've never been chased away. City parks often have showers (associated with the swimming pool), and bathrooms that they'll leave open overnight if you ask them too. They will also usually turn off the sprinklers for you if you can find somebody to ask. If I can't find somebody to ask, I often pitch under the pavilion as that's usually safe from sprinklers.

Hiker/biker sites are wonderful, but they exist in a limited number of places. They are plentiful along the west coast, and some (but not all) national parks have them. Of course I'd like to see more of them.

Thanks for the information. I'll only be in Maine and the New England area for about a week as my final destination is Portland. Unless you count New York as New England as well. In which case I will be there much longer. I'm from Germany so forgive my lack of east coast knowledge! I'm not taking the TransAm but instead designed my own route as noted above but it's good to know you can camp in most city parks without issue along it. I've done the same without an issue as well. I have taken the liberty of emailing all of the towns I plan to stay in along my route asking of their policy. Yes, it took hours but everyone that says "yes" is money saved. Even ones who charge I don't mind just because of convenience.
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Offline atodaso

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2015, 11:37:31 pm »
I've almost never paid for, except in Oregon where the hiker/biker sites are so good they're almost like bush camping except with showers.  Hearing you talk about farmer's markets and grocery stores etc has me concerned. As soon as you are east of central Oregon you are in desolate country. It can be a good day from one town to the next, and half the towns you'll find are podunk backwaters. Also, if you do intend to cook and carry a lot of food - how will you do this when you're packing so light?

Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2015, 11:58:28 pm »
I've almost never paid for, except in Oregon where the hiker/biker sites are so good they're almost like bush camping except with showers.  Hearing you talk about farmer's markets and grocery stores etc has me concerned. As soon as you are east of central Oregon you are in desolate country. It can be a good day from one town to the next, and half the towns you'll find are podunk backwaters. Also, if you do intend to cook and carry a lot of food - how will you do this when you're packing so light?

I don't carry much food when I tour. On my last long ride, Seattle to San Diego, the longest I went was 2 days without seeing a town. During those two days I ate a few Cup O' Noodles, a package of beef jerky and two cups of oatmeal.

For my cross country ride though I designed my own route to a point where the longest I'll go between towns (one that for sure have some type of grocery store) is about 36 hours and worst case scenario about 60 hours (I stop early or get behind etc). I'm only in Oregon for less than 60 miles as well.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 12:00:15 am by PacificNorthwestRider92 »
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Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2015, 12:54:27 pm »
Costs vary widely depending on your choices.  I can't say what you will spend on food since that will depend on your choices.  You can go pretty cheap or pretty expensive.  On the TA campsites ran us less that $5 per person day on average since we camped for free most of the time.  None of that required stealth.  Some trips I got rooms more and spent more as a result.

On the food issue, I typically eat quite a few diner breakfasts and have lunch pretty often at a diner, Subway, or whatever.  I actually don't find that it typically is much more expensive than cooking nice meals.  It is nice to eat the regional foods and a good chance to rub elbows with the local folks.  I often find that the local food and the people are a big part of the trip.  I know that the Mexican food, barbecue, seafood, and Cajun food were one of the saving graces of the ST, the other was the people, many of whom I met at food stops.

I find that it is pretty easy to live on $20 per day, but I can get by on less or splurge more depending on the trip.

Thanks for the reply! I tend to eat pretty cheap and not very often on bike trips. More snacking than anything. I frequent farmers markets when I can on trips. They're great  and I end up talking to everyone so my "I want to ride 100 miles today" turns into "Oh crap I've been here 3 hours so I'll be lucky if I make 50 miles" which is totally worth it in the end.

I have $2000 saved up plus I'm being sponsored by a rather large grocery chain (Kroger) that will be supplying me with a nearly-$200 gift card once a month. I understand there will be long stretches where I wont run into a Kroger owned store but when I'm near one it'll come in handy!
  might be a good idea to look up all the Kroger locations ahead of time. Pretty sure there's none in the Northeast. You might be able to get Pricechopper to do it too though, they cover a huge territory out here. $200 a month isn't much by itself but as supplemental it can go pretty far

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Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2015, 01:04:52 pm »
PS: I'm disappointed to hear you only saw a few farmers markets on the TA! They seem to be everywhere where I live but I guess this part of the country is also a little more environmentally friendly than the rest or at least they make that claim!
Don't forget, you're talking about leaving in April... Around here, there'll probably still be snow on the ground if this year's going to be as bad as they're saying. It should be gone by the time you get here,  but plants take time to grow. Some of the bigger farmers markets have stuff shipped in though
$2000 is definitely doable.  I was well under that on the Trans America and also on the Southern Tier.

I read where folks say that they often use roadside stands and farmers markets.  I do too when I see them, but in my experience they are very infrequent on most routes.  I really only remember very few, like maybe 3 on the entire Trans America.

I can't imagine you will pass all that many Krogers stores and I don't know about you but I hate to carry a lot of food.  I try to buy food for individual meals as close to meal time as possible rather than carry a bunch of weight.  On the TA we were given a lot of food.  I carried a bunch of it and mailed forward three packages to myself care of general delivery.  Truth be told if I had it to do over I might just say thank you, but no thank you.  It was more trouble than it was worth to me.  That said maybe when you are at a Krogers you can make yourself care packages to mail ahead.  Sending stuff general delivery does work OK.  If you decide you are not ready for a package you can forward it further ahead for no extra charge.  You can do this from any post office.  It doesn't need to be the one the package was sent to.

I mapped my own route from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine traveling through 22 states with a total of 79 planned stops over roughly 100 days while passing through over 600 towns/cities. Taking my time and doing my own thing seeing the country. I hate carrying a lot of food with me. Enough to get me through a day or two (there is a three day stretch on my route that I wont pass a single store; even a gas station). It seems like mailing food ahead of yourself wouldn't be cost effective? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy food in that town?

The gift cards are good at all Kroger owned stores, not just Kroger themselves. Kroger owns Cala Foods, City Markets, Dillons, FoodsCo, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's Food and Drug.


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Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2015, 01:13:11 pm »
The most expensive camping I found was private campgrounds in New England during the peak season (especially Maine). The woods in these areas are often so dense that I don't even know how you'd walk through them, let alone push your bike through them to set up camp. Public campgrounds are usually cheaper than private campgrounds, but you can't always find one. Occasionally you find a private campground with a discounted rate for cyclists.

The cheapest camping is city parks. On the TransAm, there are many city parks that are listed as okay to camp in. I sometimes also camp in city parks that are not listed for camping, and I've never been chased away. City parks often have showers (associated with the swimming pool), and bathrooms that they'll leave open overnight if you ask them too. They will also usually turn off the sprinklers for you if you can find somebody to ask. If I can't find somebody to ask, I often pitch under the pavilion as that's usually safe from sprinklers.

Hiker/biker sites are wonderful, but they exist in a limited number of places. They are plentiful along the west coast, and some (but not all) national parks have them. Of course I'd like to see more of them.

Thanks for the information. I'll only be in Maine and the New England area for about a week as my final destination is Portland. Unless you count New York as New England as well. In which case I will be there much longer. I'm from Germany so forgive my lack of east coast knowledge! I'm not taking the TransAm but instead designed my own route as noted above but it's good to know you can camp in most city parks without issue along it. I've done the same without an issue as well. I have taken the liberty of emailing all of the towns I plan to stay in along my route asking of their policy. Yes, it took hours but everyone that says "yes" is money saved. Even ones who charge I don't mind just because of convenience.
Never hurts to ask!  Better to ask than get arrested! Or shot at...

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Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2015, 01:35:09 pm »
Kroger has a few locations in the Northeast under the Harris Teeter brand. Otherwise they have 2700 stores in 34 states and the 16 states that don't have them only a few I'll be passing through. With that said, I have plenty of money so I'm not relying on Kroger stores by any means. It's an added bonus if I come across one but if I don't it's not going to hurt me any.

My official departure date is April 30! Excited to have an official date. Of course weather dependent but we will see as April roles around. Suppose to be dry so shouldn't be an issue. The roads I'm taking through Yellowstone (past Old Faithful) don't open until May at the latest so waiting a little while longer to leave to make sure they're open. Although I suspect they will open earlier next year. I'm running Boston that month as well so that had a say into it.

The responses from towns I emailed has been incredible. So many of them offered to host me or put me up in a hotel at no cost. From council members to police chiefs to mayors. Most of them want to hear my story and take some photos but I'm happy to trade both for a free bed and shower :)
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Offline reed523

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2015, 11:56:50 pm »
Sorry if i missed it but is this your first long tour?  If so, you should try to sock a way a bit more if you can as it's hard to know just how you are going to feel being out for that length of time.  Personally, I found it really easy to justify 8-10 bucks for a meal if it meant included all I could drink, a change to charge the electronics, wifi, etc.   

Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2015, 02:21:08 am »

Sorry if i missed it but is this your first long tour?  If so, you should try to sock a way a bit more if you can as it's hard to know just how you are going to feel being out for that length of time.  Personally, I found it really easy to justify 8-10 bucks for a meal if it meant included all I could drink, a change to charge the electronics, wifi, etc.

This is my 5th long tour. I've ridden Seattle to Green Bay, Cincinnati to Seattle and Seattle to San Diego twice on different routes.

$10 was more than I ever spent for food in an entire day for myself in any of the previous 4 tours. I was averaging around $8/day for food.

The exceptions have been the Cincinnati to Seattle tour when my then 16-year-old sisters rode with me, in which case we were averaging around $30/day for food (3 people) and the second Seattle to San Diego tour when my then 13-year-old sister rode with me, in which case we averaged around $25/day in food. In both cases I was well under the $10/day where the sisters were on the higher end.


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Offline Ty0604

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2015, 02:27:35 am »
In terms of WiFi and charging electronics, most coffee shops and libraries have both for free. I'm not ashamed to go into a coffee shop and do both without purchasing anything.


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Offline pookey

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2015, 09:13:36 am »
Slight change of subject on this thread but i am actually interested in the wheres and hows for camping on the TA route. I am going east to west next summer and wondered how easy it is to find somewhere to camp ie booking ahead for sites or looking for somewhere free. I am coming from England where in some parts it is frowned upon to simply pitch your tent on a village green or city park. Is it easy to just get to the end of your day's cycling and look around for somewhere free or not, or do you need to do a bit of planning ahead. It seems that if you plan too much then you are committing yourself to cycling a certain number of miles each day to get to that site. Some days you may end up wanting to do less and some days more. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I guess i should also know about proper wild camping options as we don't have bears and other big furry creatures in the UK.

thanks

chris

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cost of a cross country USA trip?
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2015, 09:23:37 am »
Slight change of subject on this thread but i am actually interested in the wheres and hows for camping on the TA route.
Two points that may help...
1. The ACA does a pretty good job of documenting places to stay along the route including free ones.
2. Using the ACA recommended places will help you get a feel for what is and isn't OK, which will vary some depending on where you are.  Impromptu camping gets stickier near either coast, and is usually pretty well accepted in the middle of the country especially in small towns.