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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip Fall 2008

    Hi there. First thread - I'll try not to make it too longwinded!

    My husband and I are planning on doing a road trip of the states in Autumn 2008 and would really appreciate any tips/advice anyone has about must-see stops or things to do. It will be about 2 months long with a visit to Hawaii halfway through. It will be a combination of hiring a car and flying around. We're getting a convertible for the trip down the West coast.

    We've planned our routes, but want to find places a little off the beaten track, like cute mining towns which are almost untouched for years and are filled with little antiquey shops. You get the general idea! Most of the trip will be unplanned (ie we won't have motel reservations for every night) and we want quite a spontaneous, impulsive couple of months.

    Our itinerary is as follows:

    Fly from NY to Atlanta
    drive to NASHVILLE (1 day)
    drive to MEMPHIS (1 day)
    drive to NEW ORLEANS (2 days)
    drive to DALLAS (1 day)

    fly to PHOENIX (1 day)
    drive to FLAGSTAFF (1 day)
    drive to GRAND CANYON (1 day)
    drive through DEATH VALLEY, YOSEMITE, NAPA (4 days)
    drive to LAS VEGAS (1 day)
    drive to SAN FRANCISCO (3 days)
    drive down the WEST COAST - Santa Barbara, Monterey etc (2 days)
    drive to LA (2 days)
    drive to SAN DIEGO & TIJUANA (2 days)
    drive to 29 PALMS (2 days)
    drive to LA

    fly to HAWAII (5 days)
    fly to SEATTLE (2 days)
    drive to VANCOUVER (2 days)

    fly to CHICAGO (3 days)
    drive to CEDAR POINT (1 day)
    drive to FALLINGWATER IN PA (1 day)
    drive to NIAGARA FALLS (1 day)
    drive to TORONTO (2 days)
    drive to MONTREAL (1 day)
    drive through VERMONT (2 days)
    drive to BOSTON (2 days)
    drive to CAPE COD (1 day)
    drive to NY

    Any tips are much appreciated!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-29-2006 at 12:37 PM. Reason: Added some white space to make it easier to read

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Missing So Much!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While there is nothing wrong with a fly and drive roadtrip, but to me you are flying over some of the greatest parts of the US. You're totally skipping the wonderful mountains and parks of Colorado and Utah, not to mention places like Yellowstone, the Black Hills, and the Badlands.

    I know if I had two months to explore the US, I wouldn't dare miss that part of the country.

    How far have you gotten on making plans for your flights and your car rentals? I suspect that all of those one way drop fees, not to mention the one way flights will cost a pretty penny. You could also have difficulty finding a car rental that will let you drive across the border into Canada - especially if you want to drop the car off north of the border, as you plan to do in Vancouver.

    Obviously, you'd want to hit Las Vegas between Grand Canyon and Death Valley, but I assumed that was just a typo. Otherwise your route looks pretty feasable, and in the fall you shouldn't have too much trouble finding open rooms even without a reservation.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the reply! You're right - that was a typo - we'll be hitting Vegas before Death Valley.

    I know exactly what you're saying and there's so much I want to see, but we can't take any more than 2 months because of work and money, and we don't want to make it so rushed that we don't get to stop and enjoy it. I would absolutely love to go to the Black Hills. Our trip isn't set in stone - we've just come up with a list of places we definitely want to see - but we need to cram in quite a bit. My sister is a travel agent so can get us the best deals - I'll check with her about extra costs for leaving the car in Canada.

    Our current costs look like this:

    Car hire = $2000
    Motels/Hotels = $2500
    Food = $2000
    Gas = $700
    Flights (transatlantic + 5 internal) = $2500

    Our budget is about £12000 ($18000) which includes all the above and spending money. I want to see a lot of history, museums and culture. Memphis (Graceland), San Francisco, Hawaii, West Coast, Chicago, New Orleans and Dallas are a must, and I would like to do Atlanta as it has a lot of ties with Gone with the Wind, one of my favourite movies.

    We wanted to mix the driving with flying as a lot of the middle doesn't interest us - Kansas, Nebraska etc can't compete with seeing Elvis's home and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sorry if that's very judgemental of me, and I mean no offence if that's your hometown! It's just that there are so many fantastic places in the US and we can't achieve all of them in 2 months.

    My husband wants to do Nebraska for sentimental reasons (he's Bruce's No1 fan) but I don't think we can justify an extra couple of weeks so he can play the album on repeat as we drive through the state! As much as I love the Boss, I'm not prepared to indulge my husband that far. Sorry Bruce, you know I love ya.

    We want to make it a once in a lifetime trip. Any recommendations on which parts are essential and which parts we SHOULD include?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Budget Issues

    As far as where to travel, it is true that you always have to cut something out. While the plains of Nebraska and Kanasa are a great place to find history and a unique element of american culture, they certainly aren't as sexy as the Coasts or the Major cities. However, I really think you'd be missing out if you didn't spend at least some time in the Rockies. I'd probably fly from Dallas to Denver, and work your way to the Grand Canyon from there, even if you have to cut down your time in a few other places.

    Now as far as your budget goes, I don't like to be the barer of bad news, and maybe your sister has found you some amazing deals, but I think your budget seems very low for the trip you are planning.

    For example, $2500 for 2 months of hotels only gives you $40 per night. There will be times where you can find rooms for at or around that price, but you'll have a tough time finding anything much cheaper than that. Considering you'll be spending significant time in major cities, not to mention a week in Hawaii, I think you'll have a tough time staying within that budget. I think $60 per night would be the minimum I would plan for hotels, meaning you'll need another $1000 in your budget there.

    Food also seems low. Right now you've got roughly $35 per day planned. That amount for 2 people is not impossible to live on by any means. However, you'll need to do almost all of your eating out of a cooler, buying food at grocery stores. Even a few meals at a nice restaurants will quickly blow your food budget out of the water.

    Gas will be close, depending upon what kind of car you'll be driving and what the price of gas will be, but as a rough estimate, $700 will get you about 5000 miles. You'll be very close to that, with the miles you currently have planned.

    Your flight budget will be the easiest to know in advance, since you'll likely have to book your flights well in advance to lock in reasonable airfare rates. $2500 for all that flying for 2 people seems low to me, but its also entirely possible that you could achieve that.

    Now to the worst case of bad news I have for you. I don't not think you'll be able to find rental cars that meet your needs for just $2000. Based on what other people have reported on the forum, it generally costs more than $2000 for one month of car rental with one "one way drop" fee. You're looking at having a car for the better part of 2 months, and you'll have at least 3 one way drop fees (that's if you bus or use other transporation from Seattle to Vancouver). Each drop fee can run a couple hundred dollars, and often you're looking at $40 minimum per day in rental fees on top of that.

    I hope I'm wrong, and I hope your travel agent can find you some great deals. But based on my experience and what others have reported, I'm afraid your costs are going to be well over your expecations, and I'd hate to have a money crunch put a damper on your trip.

  5. #5

    Default

    That's great, thanks. We are going to be on the road for about 50 days, as the first few days and last few days in New York will be spent staying with family. We'll also be staying with friends whilst in Chicago, Seattle and LA, so we'll save quite a few nights' hotel costs there. I didn't actually include our Hawaii hotel in that figure but I know it'll be closer to the $1000 mark as we want somewhere pretty nice.

    My sister's really good at getting great deals, as she has her own company she's able to negotiate excellent prices directly with the providers and they always do lots of favours for her. They've given her a cost of £1200 for car hire, which equals approx $2000. I'll definitely have to get her to check out the going into Canada thing - thanks for that tip. Also, I meant 700 pounds for gas - didn't change it into dollars, so sorry! Writing my list in pounds and then writing online in dollars is confusing me somewhat...

    I've been doing some research online and South Dakota is looking very appealing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default South Dakota

    Well, if you are thinking about South Dakota, then you really need to read this Field Report from another British traveler who fell in love with the state during his trip through the US last year.

    As far as your budget goes, staying with family and friends, etc should help you keep your costs closer to your goals. However, that car rental price still sounds way too good to be true. Hopefully your sister has found you a really good deal, but I'd be double checking all of the fine print just to make sure you are really going to get what you are expecting.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Twenty-Nine Palms?

    Quote Originally Posted by jodiechapman View Post
    We've planned our routes, but want to find places a little off the beaten track, like cute mining towns which are almost untouched for years and are filled with little antiquey shops.
    Did you get this idea from the movies? Real mining towns are many things, but I have yet to find one that I would characterize as being "cute". The only one that comes to mind could be Virginia City, Nevada and even it does not have many antique stores. Mining towns are pretty basic -- rough on the edges with little room for antiques. I drove through Tonopah the other day, and remembered seeing the last such antique store closing. An un-touched mining town won't even have motels or gas stations and certainly no antiques.
    You get the general idea! Most of the trip will be unplanned (ie we won't have motel reservations for every night) and we want quite a spontaneous, impulsive couple of months.
    Sounds like a perfect point of view to have...
    drive to 29 PALMS (2 days)
    I did have a question about this destination. Have you been here before or know something about it? It is the gateway to Joshua Tree NP and the marine base , it also has a bit of a hard edge to it and it is an unusual choice for a stop. On the other hand, there is an oasis there and if you want a real Californian experience you must consider staying at the 29 Palms Inn. It has long been a hideway for Hollywood entertainers and the cafe is excellent! Here is a link to the Inn. It is also the home of a very active muralist group and here is one of the murals we have profiled.

    Mark

  8. Default Hmm... route changes for timing?

    Hi jodiechapman

    Did a quick look at your rough plan, and couple of things jumped out at me in the Southwest portion of the trip.
    >fly to PHOENIX (1 day)
    >drive to FLAGSTAFF (1 day)
    No problem easily driven and lets you sightsee a couple of places along the way
    >drive to GRAND CANYON (1 day)
    Easily driven, with some sightseeing time
    >drive through DEATH VALLEY, YOSEMITE, NAPA (4 days)
    >drive to LAS VEGAS (1 day)
    Hmm.. the typical route is GC to Las Vegas, and then to Death Valley.

    From Death Valley you can make it to Yosemite in a longish day, and from Yosemite to Napa in a day. (You might want to spend a full day in Yosemite or Napa, rather than drive in, look around, stay the night, and leave early...) But I wouldn't backtrack to Las Vegas from Napa. Presumably that's a typo? or two?
    >drive to SAN FRANCISCO (3 days)
    Again, presumably a typo? Las Vegas to SF is a very long drive, and you seem to be backtracking on this route.
    >drive down the WEST COAST - Santa Barbara, Monterey etc (2 days)
    Monterey is a reasonable day's drive from SF, with time to look around in Monterey. You can make it down the coast highway (1) to San Simeon in a longish day from SF. From Monterey to Santa Barbara is a long day down the coast, but doable. So the order is a typo?
    >drive to LA (2 days)
    Short day's drive from Santa Barbara to LA (approx 2-3 hours, depending upon route, where in LA area you're heading and traffic).
    >drive to SAN DIEGO & TIJUANA (2 days)
    From 2-3 hours to SD from LA area.
    >drive to 29 PALMS (2 days)
    Hmm.. this is a backtrack. You might want to do Death Valley to 29 Palms and from there to Yosemite and beyond? As mentioned before, 29 Palms is an unusual destination, since the area is primarily known for being a US Marine Corp Desert training base. It is near Joshua Tree National Park (south of 29 Palms), or you can head north into the Amboy area in the deep desert, and beyond to the Mojave National Preserve (but that would be a LONG day's drive to do that in a day and return). You're also about 2 hours from Palm Springs in 29 Palms.

    There are, in my opinion, some interesting things around 29 Palms, but they are quite off the beaten path. And very much non-standard destinations. What are you looking to see, if I may ask?
    >drive to LA
    About 3-4 hours from 29 Palms.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-29-2006 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Format change

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Yeah, I am very curious too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Larrison View Post
    ...some interesting things around 29 Palms, but they are quite off the beaten path. And very much non-standard destinations. What are you looking to see, if I may ask?
    Yeah, I am pretty curious too -- Twenty-nine Palms is not a place most folks travel to without a pretty compelling reason! I gotta think that she was thinking of Palm Springs?

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Nebraska?

    My husband wants to do Nebraska for sentimental reasons (he's Bruce's No1 fan) but I don't think we can justify an extra couple of weeks so he can play the album on repeat as we drive through the state! As much as I love the Boss, I'm not prepared to indulge my husband that far. Sorry Bruce, you know I love ya.
    I'm not a music expert but The Boss if from New Jersey, not Nebraska. New Jersey is right next to New York so you really could squeeze in a visit there.

    I'm concerned about the car rental budget, too. Read that fine print for drop off fees and similar charges.

    Personally, I think I would spend more time exploring the mainland US and save Hawaii for another time. That way you would get that time in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming (Yellowstone) and South Dakota area that you're missing with your current plan. And you are missing the best parts of Washington state, too. Alas, you can't do it all, I know. Maybe you'll just have to plan a return trip in a few years to make up for what you're going to miss this time.

    You are definitely going to have a great trip, irregardless. Enjoy!

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