Summary, or ‘How I went to the US and lost ten pounds’


So, time for a summary. Needless to say, this has been the best vacation I’ve had so far. We experienced so many great things that there’s no point in trying to pick anything that was “best”, but the nature and the accessible parks (especially the Redwoods) are right up there. We traveled a grand total of 3010 miles (about 5000 km) which is a bit more than twice the distance between Seattle and San Diego (1399 miles) according to one of our guide books. I don’t really know what to make of that, but it certainly seems we took the long route!

We had two guide books with us; United States On The Road from Insight Guides and Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen. Both where really good and certainly helped us getting the most out our trip. Road Trip USA is the more organized of the two and has a really personal style, you can really tell that Jamie has actually visited all these places. United States On The Road on the other hand has lots of inspirational pictures which kinda makes you like it more. Regardless, it was nice to have two of them to get different perspectives of things.

What I didn’t expect
To be walking as much as we did. The accessible parks certainly helped out with this bit, but the insane distances inside the pedestrian-unfriendly cities did their part as well. I suspect this as the reason to why I managed to lose ten pounds during this trip, in spite of the much maligned American cuisine.

What I’m really happy about
That we took our good time. In the beginning, an entire month seemed a bit much for driving down the west coast. But in the end it proved to be just right. I’m also really glad I spent the night before leaving burning CDs with road trip music. Sometimes you could get great talk radio, but mostly it was some insufferable country music or a radio preacher (which certainly is entertaining in its own right, but only for a little while).

I would also consider September to be a near ideal time to make a trip like this. It was still warm enough to wear t-shirt nearly all the time and late enough for there to be very few other tourists. And in the end we even got to bathe as well! Another thing I’m happy about is that I wrote a daily travel log. It took a great deal of time, but it was a really good way of digesting all of our impressions.

What I regret bringing
The Nintendo DSes where really unnecessary since even when the scenery was kindof boring, you still wanted to take it all in. Not that it was boring that often though, the west coast really has some awesome sceneries! We also brought way more books than we had to, most often we were too tired to read in the evenings anyway.

What I regret not bringing
Binoculars is the only thing I can think of. We spent a fair bit of time watching various animals and a pair of binoculars would have made it a bit more fun.

Spendings
In total we spent a whopping 90309.66 SEK which, with an average dollar price of 6.60 SEK during September, amounts to roughly $13683. Let’s see what it breaks down to.

Gas
Since gas is so cheap (compared to in Sweden at least), this didn’t amount to much. We spent $245.61 on gas, but I’m pretty sure I forgot to write down a couple of times we gassed up so this post should probably be a bit bigger.

Car rental
The first rental we got was $924.15 of which $500 was the dropoff fee (the fee incurred for not returning the car at the original rental place). I’m not entirely sure but I think it’s rather cheap considering we rented it for 23 days. I don’t think we got as good a price for the second rental though which landed at $201.59 for two measly days. All in all, car rental cost us $1125.74.

Flying
It turned out to be cheapest to buy a round trip ticket to Seattle (and certainly less of a hassle) instead of buying two one way tickets, one to Seattle and one from San Diego and home. That’s why we took a domestic flight from San Diego to Seattle. The round trip tickets cost us $1795 and the domestic flight $320. Total money spent on air travel: $2115.

Food
We seem to spent about $1823 on food. This includes candy, ice cream, soda and also various kinds of medication. We were both sickly, especially Jonna, for a good part of the trip and we spent $83.8 on cough syrup and the like. We probably could’ve spent less on this post, but honestly, what’s the fun in that?

Miscellaneous fees
This post contains things like parking, the ATM fees I know about, tips to homeless guy showing us the way, laundromat and locker fee at Six Flags. Likely there are a few more ATM fees that should go in here. $66.5 is the total.

Entry fees
This post includes things like going to the movies, the kayaking trip, and Sea World. Some things were really expensive, like the Wicked show which cost us something like $320 (I lost the receipt but that’s what I found when looking up prices on the web), but worth every penny! I’m sure there are a few things missing from this post also but the total of the known spendings is $1542.42.

Transportation (bus, taxi ferry etc)
Since we had a car, this didn’t amount to that much. It’s comprised of bus passes in Seattle, the Monorail, San Juan Islands ferry, airport cab and San Francisco cable car passes. In total $159.3.

Lodging
Lodging wasn’t as cheap as I’d though, we spent on average about $87 a night. My gut feeling is that we could have gotten away with about $60 a night if we’d taken the spent a little more time driving around looking for cheaper motels and avoided staying at hotels such as the Luxor and Radisson. But it also meant not having to plan ahead that much, we generally didn’t decide where to stay (in which town, that is) for the night until three or four in the afternoon, and that is worth gold in my book. We spent a total of $2519.43 on lodging.

Clothes & souvenirs
I have identified spendings of $1739.8 attributed to this, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a fair share of the unidentified spendings that should go into this post. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but we got a bunch of really cool clothes that you wouldn’t be able to find in Sweden, so I’m happy.

Electronics
We bought two gadgets; one laptop and one GPS unit (I can’t really recommend anyone making a trip like this without a GPS, it was worth its weight in gold, especially in SF and LA). The laptop cost $1447.03 and the GPS $341. A total of $1788.03.

Unaccounted for
There’s about $1000 that I’ve been unable to match to any specific spending but I suspect it’s made up of food, clothes & souvenirs, ATM fees, a bit of gas and maybe some entry fee.

It’s entirely possible that I’ve miscalculated a few of these but it should be mostly correct. The idea was to give people attempting to do the same thing an idea of how much it costs. Generally though we erred on the side of lavish, since after all, this was the greatest adventure any one of us had ever experienced before. It would really be a shame to ruin it by being stingy…

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