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  1. #1

    Default From Texas to California

    Okay, guys and gals, here’s the dilly-o: I think one of my last long road trips was when I was about 10 years old, sitting in the backseat of a station wagon (Anyone remember the one seat facing backwards?) driving all the way from Texas to California! That’s right, I viewed that entire road trip sitting backwards! Well, now that I’m all grown up, I get to ride “shotgun” in the front seat; and I want to plan a wonderful trip from Texas to California. Here’s my problem, I am clueless when it comes to planning a road trip (I'm a flier, usually), and I would like to ask for any suggestions from where to go to where NOT to go… By the way, this is my first time to “thread” – is that the right terminology? I hope I’m doing it right…. What I have read, thus far, has my head spinning – so much to do and see in so little time!! How do you decide it all?

    Here’s what I know so far:
    *Trip Date(s): Depart Houston, Texas on Monday, June 18 – Arrive Houston on Friday, June 29
    *# of Peeps: 2 Adults, mid-40’s; 1 girl, 18; 1 boy, 15 and 1 boy, 12
    *Vehicle: Suburban (Is renting an RV a good idea?)
    *Ideal Trip: Keep everybody happy! (I know, I know… I’m dreamin’.)

    Here’s what I’ve been pondering:
    *Which way is the most scenic route? Straight across I-10 east to west from Houston, TX to San Diego, CA or go a little north and cut across from Amarillo, TX to Albuquerque, NM, to Las Vegas, etc? I’m thinking we should do the most scenic route first while we have everyone’s excitement for the trip! You know, before the “newness” of riding in a car wears off.
    *How many days to allot for each place?
    *San Diego Zoo-All of us would like to do this. Any recommendations on where to stay relatively inexpensive near the zoo?
    *Hollywood (usual touristy things) Is this worth it? 18 year old girl really wants to do this. I’ve heard it has kind of lost it’s luster -- dirty and unsafe? True? Any recommendations on what to do or not to do while there?
    *Las Vegas / Hoover Dam - One day enough time?
    *Grand Canyon – Any recommendations on reservations for this time of year and where to stay?
    *Sedona, AZ - Any recommendations for lodging?
    *What beach in California is a “must see” between, say, between the parameters of Leguna Niguel and Los Angeles?

    Well, that’s it for now. I’m on my lunch break and need to get back to work now. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s suggestions, that is, if anyone can make heads-or-tails out of what I just wrote. Love the web site...

    Driving Friendly,
    g-n-tx

  2. #2
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest

    Default

    Hi to you, g-n-tx.
    Renting an RV is always fun for the kids, you might consider checking out the costs. Fuel, rental costs, campground fees ect.
    Not as steep as one might think compaired to moteling it.

    When we roadtrip as a family, we all give our own takes of what we'd like to see and do:
    The kids (ages 7 and 12) love amusement parks and curio stops, & off roading, the wife loves dramatic scenery, and I love historical locations of any value.
    So with that in mind, perhaps a similar plan can be a good starting springboard for your family in deciding which routes to venture on.

    Our kids liked the San Diego Zoos Wild Animal park over the Zoo itself. Legoland is not too far away either, and it is cool for everyone, on a weekday only IMHO.

    If Hollywood makes the list, I'd suggest the Universal Theme park.
    Maps to stars home are still available, but accuracy is questionable, and they are very time consuming, so Grey Line offers bus tours of the town, a good way to scratch the surface.

    If you do have time for Las Vegas, and you hotel it, the Hard Rock is an older kids favorite.
    Awesome swimming pool, fun atmosphere, as is the Monte Carlo is a cool for kids hotel too believe it-or-not, with a great buffet, wave pool and Lazy river, and close to kids activities.

    Gameworks and several fun roller coasters on the "Strip" are for the all kids too.
    Last edited by RoadTrippers A & R; 04-20-2007 at 12:53 PM. Reason: Typos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    7,802

    Default Woodies and Nomads

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Of course I remember taking RoadTrips while riding backwards. I also remember rattling around in the backs of those wagons with no seat belts or other restraints, 6 kids to a car! We have come a ways since those days. The Suburban is perhaps the modern day equivalent of those great old family haulers, lots of room and with 4WD can go just about anywhere. They are not petite sippers at the pump, however.

    You're looking at a minimum of three days by the shortest possible route, I-10 until just past Tucson and then I-8 from Casa Grande, AZ to San Diego. The long way, by way of Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, is nearly 2000 miles and would require at least 4 days to drive, plus a day at the Canyon, a day in Las Vegas, and a day in Los Angeles for 7 days minimum. So your current plan calls for 10 days on the road in order to spend 2 days in San Diego, fine if that's what you and the kids want but it may be a bit much on the kids.

    The 'kids' are actually fairly mature and should be able to handle this reasonably well. Still I think I'd schedule at least one out-of-car activity (other than meals) each driving day to keep them interested. In fact, they should be intimately involved in deciding what those stops should be. This will tend to slow you down a bit in your travels but will keep what should be an enjoyable and memorable trip from becoming a "death march".

    So, I'd say your first order of business is allocating your time realistically, keeping in mind that you should be trying for no more than 450-550 miles per day on your most ambitious driving days. This may affect the route(s) you take and will definitely affect where you stop and for how long. Then, once you've sorted out your (plural) priorities, we can be of more specific help.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default You're definitely overdue for a roadtrip!

    I agree that your kids are old enough to be part of the planning process. They're likely to enjoy it more if they've had input into it. I suggest getting a good size map or atlas and letting everybody pour over it. They can mark the places they want to go. Maybe everybody could use a different color highlighter? Places that are picked by several different people should definitely make your list.

    Is your goal of getting to San Diego and LA firm? Since you haven't done a roadtrip before, I'm wondering if you might have more fun if you make it flexible. Just hit the road and stop at the first place you all want to see. Enjoy it for as short a time, or as long of a time, as you all want. Then go to the next place. Stop for the night when you're ready. Heck, does it matter if you only get to New Mexico or Arizona and not make it all the way? If you're having fun, then I think not. Just do this until you get to about day 5 or 6 and then return home via a different route, stopping along the way at the fun things you've picked out on those roads.

    I'm thinking this might be a better way to do your first family roadtrip. Right now, you don't know how much any of you will enjoy being in the car for hours on end to make it to SD/LA and home again. If you try to push it too much, you might all be exhausted and sick of being in the car and get turned off to roadtrips. That would be really sad because roadtrips can be a real hoot. This gives you a way to assess what your family's interests and limits are. You could always plan another trip to SD/LA next year if you determine, after this first trip, that that type of driving distance will work for you and your family.

    As for the RV, imho, I really think you'd want to rent an RV for a shorter weekend trip first to see if you like it. Driving one is quite different than driving a car, even if it's a big Suburban. And the process to hook 'em up, level 'em out, etc. takes awhile. Especially if it's something new to you and you aren't sure of what you're doing. In fact, I think most folks would agree that driving them is a bit more fatigueing so you're likely to cover less miles if you drive one. And by the time you pay the rental fee, campground fees, and for the extra gas, I would bet that you'll actually find that it will cost you more than using your Suburban and staying in motels. Of course, if you're interested in camping, you should have plenty of room in your rig to pack a tent and sleeping bags. But, if that's not you're style, I still think you'd do better to stay in motels.

    Another option that could be fun is staying in campgrounds but renting a camping cabin. Most KOAs have these and increasing numbers of other nicer campgrounds have them, too. They don't usually cost much more than an RV camping site with hook-ups. Something to consider anyway.

    We used to have a truck/camper combo and then, when the kids got too big to sleep on the bed for them, we pulled a small trailer with our truck. We had a lot of fun in it, don't get me wrong. But we typically never took it on trips farther than about 600-700 miles away from home. We found that anything above that made the extra fuel costs so expensive that we could do better by taking our car and moteling it.

    If you want to avoid eating at restaurants each meal, you could still do picnics out of a cooler. You could even bring a campstove and some chairs.

  5. #5

    Default

    Hello, All,
    I'm just checking in for the weekend, and wanted to let you know that I really appreciate everyone's advice! I'm feeling a little over excited about getting everything in on our trip, and your advice so far is helping me to -- as Randy Jackson on American Idol would say -- "keepin' it real, dawg!" Thanks for the headsup on route lengths, "Universal Theme Park," and RV/camping info. I look forward to reading more in the near future, and I will be sure and let you know what we've decided as soon as we know. Have a great weekend!

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