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  1. Default West to East – a first timer needs some advice

    Hello everybody at Roadtrip America – what a site!

    My wife and I are going on our first ever road trip in May 2007 and I was after some advice, tips, any ideas on places to stay, things to see, etc.

    We've planned our dates – 11 May until 1 June 2007 – but that's about it. Oh, and we will rent a car for the duration and we're not into the whole camping thing. We also don't have a lot of spare cash for expensive accomodation.

    So, we only have three weeks – not a great deal of time to discover the USA, but it's the best we can do given cash constraints and work commitments. We also want to do a coast-to-coast journey – starting in San Francisco and ending in Boston. Some people I've spoken to have suggested driving a shorter distance allowing for more time in various destinations, but I just have a romantic view of traversing a whole nation and following a path carved out by millions of Anglo-Americans during the 1700s and 1800s (albeit going in a different direction).

    I've had a good look round the world wide web and I have some ideas on places I'd like to see (the Grand Canyon, the Great Smokies and the monnuments of Washington DC being three of those), but there's nothing like hearing the experiences of fellow roadtrippers. So, if anybody out there has any advice of what we should do and see, then please help.

    In undertaking such a long journey in such a short space o time, I feel that there's a real danger of missing out on something, because of having to experience the country speedily.

    I hope you can help.

    By the way, congratulations on a great (and very entertaining) site.

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

    Default Enjoying the ride

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    In undertaking such a long journey in such a short space o time, I feel that there's a real danger of missing out on something, because of having to experience the country speedily.
    Of course you will miss something in a 3 week cross country trip - but don't worry about it. If you extended your trip out to 3 years, I'd guarentee you'd still be missing a whole lot. Enjoy what you can during your journey.

    So, if anybody out there has any advice of what we should do and see, then please help.
    You'll probably want to do a little more research to find other points that are must sees for you. But I might suggest following I-40 for your trip across country. There more than enough things to do along the way in these parts of the country - and it certainly has plenty of history as a major cross country route.

  3. Default Thanks for your quick response

    Having had a look around this forum, the flavour seems to be that you guys need more info on any trips before offering suggestions: rightly so, given the endless possibilities.

    So, this is the idea so far:

    May 11 2007 – fly to San Francisco
    Day 2 – San Francisco
    Day 3 – Drive to Santa Barbara on the west-coast road taking in the Big Sur, etc.
    Day 4 – Drive to Los Angeles for the day and then up towards Las Vegas.
    Day 5 – Las Vegas
    Day 6 – Drive to Grand Canyon
    Day 7 – Grand Canyon
    Day 8 – Drive to Albuquerque
    Day 9 – Santa Fe
    Day 10 – Drive to Texas border
    Day 11 – Drive to Dallas
    Day 12 – Dallas
    Day 13 – Drive to Memphis
    Day 14 – Memphis
    Day 15 – Drive to Nashville
    Day 16 – Drive to Knoxville / Great Smoky Mountains
    Day 17 – Drive to Washington DC
    Day 18 – Washington
    Day 19 – Philadelphia
    Day 20 – New Haven
    Day 21 – Boston
    Day 22 – Fly home to London

    I guess, what I'm after is some advice on whether this sort of trip is going to be feasbile, given that I'd like to spend some time at each place doing some sightseeing, but I'd also like to know what must-see and must-do things we will encounter on this trip.

    Thanks for your help in anticipation!!

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

    Default Reasonable, Yes

    I'd say overall, you seem like you've got a pretty good balance of time laid out. There are a few areas where you might want to give yourself more or less time, but overall its ok.

    Here are some things I see as problems or possibilities:

    Day 4 seems really rushed. I just don't think you'll have much time to see much anything in LA if you are going to head to vegas that same night.

    Day 8: I might work my way through monument valley via US-160 and then into New Mexico. From there you could take US550 all the way towards Albuqurque, or even better, take more time to enjoy the mountains in northern new mexico by using other 2 lane highways to get to Santa Fe.

    Day 12: If you are looking to cut out some time, I might skip Dallas. Its a little bit out of the way, and you could instead spend some more time in Oklahoma City and Arkansas.

    Speaking of those extra days, I might want to try and fit a little more time in at the Smoky Mountains and in Washington, D.C. There's simply so much stuff in DC that one day hardly does it justice.

    Otherwise, I think you've got a pretty good trip in front of you. You'll be on the move pretty much constantly - in fact if you can find a day just to rest, you wouldn't be bad off either - but it looks to me like you're going to have a great time.

  5. Default You've got lots of driving in this schedule...

    From a first glance, there's lots of drive time in this schedule so I'm not sure how much time you're going to have to sightsee.

    For example, day 4 -- Santa Barbara to LA and then towards Las Vegas

    SB to LA is probably around 2-3 hours (particularly at rush hour), so figuring a 8 am start, you wont get to LA until near noon, figuring a stop along the way for gas/ bathroom/ stretch the legs. So what do you want to see in LA? LA (the urban area) is geographically a pretty sizable place -- and potentially a hour or more's drive (without traffic) from one spot to another. Then you're planning on heading out of the city in the evening rush hour traffice towards Las Vegas..

    What did you want to see in LA?

    Similarly, Day 8 -- Grand Canyon to Albuquerque. www.maps.msn.com shows it as about a 7 hour drive, not including gas stops, food breaks, bath room stops. etc. And you'll be driving through old Route 66 and past places like Meteorite Crater, Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, Holbrook Wigwams etc. Add in a few tourist stops, and its a long 12+ hour day, most of which is spent driving.

    Have you given some thought about where you might want to stop/ visit along the way?

    It's a doable trip from a first look, time wise -- but you'll be spending a lot of time behind the wheel instead of sightseeing, perhaps. You might go in and make up a list of places to stop and visit, and then relook at your rough itenerary -- have some "drive days" where you just concentrate on making miles, interspersed with 'sightseeing days", perhaps?

  6. Default May Road Trip – the finishing touches

    Hi all at the RoadTrip forum!

    I posted a very sketchy message on here last summer, when I didn't have any idea when we were going to embark on our road trip or what route we'd take.

    But after months of planning, debating, fighting with the missus about the benefits of hiring a convertible and yet more planning, we've reached the final leg of our journey – and we have yet to cover our first mile.

    My wife and I, from Kent in England, got married in October 2006, so this is kind of like a honeymoon, but a USA roadtrip has been a dream of mine for many years. The idea of hitting the open road and following a route from one side of a country (and continent) to the other sends shivers down my spine. So, we've saved hard (well, borrowed hard against our house) and spent the last six months deciding which route to take.

    We arrive in San Francisco on the afternoon of Friday 11 May and return home on Friday 1 June 2007....that's three weeks to cover just over 3,500 miles.

    Here is the itinerary:
    11 May
    SAN FRANCISCO
    12 MAY
    SAN FRANCISCO
    13 MAY
    DRIVE TO SANTA BARBARA
    14 MAY
    DAY IN LOS ANGELES / EVENING DRIVE TO BARSTOW
    15 MAY
    MORNING AT CALICO GHOST TOWN / LUNCHTIME DRIVE TO LAS VEGAS
    16 MAY
    DRIVE TO HOOVER DAM AND WEST GRAND CANYON (THE NEW SKYWALK) / EVENING DRIVE TO SELIGMAN
    17 MAY
    GRAND CANYON ALL DAY / NIGHT IN FLAGSTAFF
    18 MAY
    PETRIFIED FOREST & PAINTED DESERT / NIGHT IN HOLBROOK WIGWAMS
    19 MAY
    DRIVE TO SANTA FE
    20 MAY
    SANTA FE
    21 MAY
    DRIVE TO AMARILLO
    22 MAY
    DRIVE TO OKLAHOMA / RODEO IN THE EVENING (PERHAPS, BUT REALLY FANCY THIS)
    23 MAY
    DRIVE TO MEMPHIS
    24 MAY
    GRACELAND & MEMPHIS (BEALE STREET BLUES)
    25 MAY
    DRIVE TO NASHVILLE
    26 MAY
    DRIVE TO GATLINBURG/PIGEON FORGE IN THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS
    27 MAY
    DRIVE TO RICHMOND, VA
    28 MAY
    JAMESTOWNE SETTLEMENT & FREDRICKSBURG / EVENING DRIVE TO WASHINGTON D.C.
    29 MAY
    WASHINGTON D.C.
    30 MAY
    DRIVE TO PHILADELPHIA
    31 MAY
    PHILADELPHIA
    1 JUNE
    FLIGHT HOME TO THE UK

    We have booked our flights (ฃ949 for two of us, great value) and the car hire (Chevrolet Equinox = ฃ760 for three weeks, amazing value) but haven't yet booked any hotel rooms or motels.

    Our plan is to stay in reasonably good hotels in the cities and slightly shabbier motels and B&Bs along the route. The only accommodation I have thought about is the wigwams in Holbrook, only because they look superb fun!

    I guess the purpose of my posting today is to ask what you think of our itinerary. Do you think we could benefit from cutting some stuff out? Have we given enough time to, say, Las Vegas (one afternoon and one night)?

    I'd also like to know about hidden gems along this route – some not to be missed sights or experiences.

    Also, my wife and I are keen walkers and would really like some information on walking/hiking in the grand canyon national park and the great smoky mountains. Can you help?

    I am conscious that this trip is going to be pretty heavy-going – an average of 150 miles a day, I think, and we don't have too long in each location. Which is why I'm keen to ensure that we don't waste time and that we see all we want and experience the best that each location along this route has to offer.

    Any input would be much appreciated!!

    In the meantime, I'd like to say thanks for all of the postings on this site during the last 12 months, it's been a great resource for planning this trip of a lifetime.

    Cheers,
    Tom.

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

    Default Trip of a Lifetime -- Take II

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom "First-Timer" Idle View Post
    My wife and I, from Kent in England, got married in October [2006,
    Congratulations on the wedding!
    So, we've saved hard (well, borrowed hard against our house) and spent the last six months deciding which route to take.
    I know about that trip-funding technique! I think an organized route and plan is fine (when you are still at home) but I hope you let the trip dictate where you end up at night. It is an adventure and a roadtrip of this scale is always open to the unexpected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom "First-Timer" Idle View Post
    SAN FRANCISCO
    13 MAY
    DRIVE TO SANTA BARBARA
    Tom, Are you taking the coast route or the inland US-101?
    14 MAY
    DAY IN LOS ANGELES
    One day in LA? What are you going to see here?
    15 MAY
    MORNING AT CALICO GHOST TOWN
    Just want you to be clear -- you know that this is not a real ghost town? It is a county park -- entertaining but not authentic.
    / LUNCHTIME DRIVE TO LAS VEGAS
    16 MAY
    DRIVE TO HOOVER DAM AND WEST GRAND CANYON (THE NEW SKYWALK) / EVENING DRIVE TO SELIGMAN
    This might be pushing it a bit. Plus, I can't remember much lodging choices in Seligman.

    The rest of the schedule looks OK. -- As you know, you guys are going to get tired on this trip. I hope you have plenty of extra sleep before you arrive!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-23-2007 at 10:10 AM. Reason: continuation of previous post

  8. #8

    Default

    I have been to many of the locations that you are planning to visit and I would like to share, with you, my subjective insights and hope that you may benefit from them. Las Vegas has so much to see and do, I would recommend 3 days there. Assuming that you do not like to gamble, you can see a show, plus many of the free shows, which are shown all day. You would want to visit Freemont Street and see the overhead laser light show. Vist NY, NY (hotel exhibit) and the Bellagio dancing fountains (at night). Already, I have suggested at least 2 days of activities (all are free except for the show).

    When in the Jamestown area, the you cannot miss Williamsburg (3 days at a moderate pace), which is the actual town that was instrumental in our dispute with England (sorry). Many of the famous Americans during that period lived in Willamsburg and it is the same now as it was then. In my opinion you can skip the other areas that you mentioned in VA. and see just this one.

    I either agree with the rest of your itinerary or am not familiar with the area. But I would really reconsider the time that you have allocated in VA and Las Vegas.

    If I had to eliminate some towns from this itinerary to spend additional time in Vegas and VA, I think that I would eliminate the Hoover Dam and Los Angeles. I thnk that most readers would agree, that for adults, Willamsburg is a better choice than the Ghost Town in Calico. I know that my suggestions are very subjective, but if I were you I would do additional research on Vegas, so that you really know how much there is to do, and look into Williamsburg (not a museum village, but the actual town that existed in the 1700's) an important city from both the American and British viewpoint.

    In summary, one final point. I know that this is your first trip to this Country and your natural instinct is to see as much as possible, but you may have a better time by reducing your itinerary a bit and take your time at the best of the best, enjoying those areas to there fullest. Again very subjective, but always works for me.

    In any event, if you agree with me or do not, I sincerely wish you the best vaction that you have ever had. I have been travelling, recently, and know that the memories of a good vacation will be with you forever.
    Last edited by richc46; 01-23-2007 at 11:22 AM.

  9. Default Lots of Driving time -- too little for sightseeing?

    As a first general comment on this, my immediate impression was there's a lot of time in the car driving, and not a lot of time to sightsee places.

    As an example -- 14 May "Drive to Santa Barbara"

    This is about a 325 mile trip, or around 6+ hours drive using the fastest, most direct route. That's not including really any time to stop and see any of the sights. At the same time you'll be missing Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, etc -- all of which are not on the most direct route (via US-101).

    If you take the more scenic route via Coast 1 (aka PCH, aka Coast Highway aka US-1) You're talking more like a 12-14 hour trip with sightseeing time.

    It's a doable drive the way you have it, but I'd be concerned in general about time in the car versus seeing the country instead of the superhighways.

    Similarly with 14 May -- "Day in Los Angeles/ Evening Drive to Barstow"

    LA is a HUGE town, both geographically and population wise. What do you want to see? And be prepared, that like every other major metropolitan area I've been to, that Rush Hour traffic can make what looks like a 30 minute drive turn into 60-90 minues. For example, Hollywood is about a 2 hour drive from Santa Barbara with no traffic, and Disneyland is about 45 minutes from Hollywood (with no traffic). And Barstow is another 90-120 minutes with no traffic from there.

    So what do you want to see? Where do you want to visit? Hollywood? Malibu? Venice? Long Beach? Pacific Acquarium? Getty Musuem? Huntington Beach (Surf city)? Newport? the OC? Disneyland? Knotts? etc etc.

    Again, this looks like a lot of time in the car, without a lot of time to actually see the sights, particularly if you add in some delays entering and exiting the city due to rush hour traffic.

  10. #10

    Default The standard european problem

    I think this looks like the standard problem for every europeans that wants to visit USA and drive coast to coast. Our time is limited, we know for sure that we donดt will come back for at least some decades, and the budget also has a limit somewhere.

    Even if we stay and drive around the country for three months, instead of three weeks, we wonดt see the whole country. Therefor we will spend a lot of time in the car and look at the highway traffic, we will see endless of traffic of multiple lanes in the big citys, and we will learn all about american gascompanys and the interior of their stations. We will see fastfood restaurants, cheap motels, highway patrols, advertising and oversize loaded trucks. But, that is a part of the american trip, and most of the people I know, that has been doing a coast to coast trip in US, loves it.

    I think Tim and his wife is doing right that starts with a day in San Francisco before they start to go by car. Jetlag is a problem when you have been on a flight for 12 hours, and you have passed 8 timezones. Then I can see some better days and some long days, but nothing impossible.

    (And I didnดt know about the Grand Canyon Skywalk, now I need to try to get that inside my planning, which will be hard)

    Bernt Bergkvist
    Stockholm, Sweden

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