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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Boy...this is always a hard one to answer

    Just for perspective, I did a 2300+ miles trip home stopping in El Paso for a couple of hours, taking the back roads (slower) through the Gila Forest (with lots of quick stops for photo opps and some wildlife viewing), a couple of hours in the Petrified Forest, a quick tour of Holbrook with its funky dinosaurs, wig-wams, etc., a tour of Bedrock City, about 8 hours exploring Grand Canyon's South Rim, about 4 hours at the North Rim, a brief stop in Zion (some heat exhaustion was the reason for the brief stop; not a time issue), about 4-5 hours at Bryce Canyon, and then zipped the rest of the way home (with many quick stops at various places of interest and photo opps along the way. And I did it in 4 days. It meant getting up early, usually leaving at about 7am, and driving until 8:30-9:00 each night as I did it in June's long days of daylight but wanted to be in camp before dark to set-up the tent and enjoy the campground atmosphere.

    Anyway, I did all that in 4 days and had a heckuva great time. 2300+ miles. Of course, it took me a few days of coming home from work and crashing right after dinner to recuperate! You have 2 weeks and about 3000 miles. That's 10 more days for 700 more miles.

    Only you can make that decision but, when I did it, I knew that it might be years, if ever, that I'd get back to some of those places so I wanted to cram in as much as I could. If you think you'll get back, you might want to enjoy the luxury of a slower-paced trip. The choice is your's but it is do-able.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 10-03-2007 at 11:06 AM. Reason: clarification

  2. #32

    Default Quite

    I knew that it might be years, if ever, that I'd get back to some of those places so I wanted to cram in as much as I could
    That is precisely the way I look at it. Plenty of time for sleeping on the plane home! But, if you can squeeze a little more time for the trip, take it. You can never have enough time when visiting some of the places that you are planning to visit...

  3. Default

    That's reassuring. I'd spend 3 or 4 weeks there if i could but the reality is that i am dominated by budget here... so 2 weeks really is a maximum.

    Thanks for the advice :)

  4. #34

    Default Southwest in Chicago

    Just one thing to be careful of with Southwest -- Southwest flies into Midway airport in Chicago while all international flights go out of O'Hare. Just don't schedule too tightly in Chicago and you'll be fine -- you will need to have time to get from one airport to the other.

  5. Default

    Good tip, thanks! Do you know how far they are from each other?

    Have been looking in the papers but Chicago doesn't seem to be listed often. Good deals to Las Vegas though.

    Any other recommendations on car hire? Unfortunately that great site Craig supplied doesn't have any 6 or 7 seaters next year for some strange reason. Avis in comparison are 200% of the price for other models!
    Last edited by englebert; 10-08-2007 at 06:09 AM.

  6. #36


    Be careful booking connecting flights yourself. As jcorb2d has pointed out there are a number of pitfalls waiting to bite you on the bum. As well as inadvertantly booking for different airports within the same city you have to be wary of your inbound flight being delayed. If it is set to get in at, say, 1400 and you book a connecting flight at, say, 1600 you will be fine, right? Well, 90% of the time, yes. But if it's delayed an hour then you just ain't gonna clear immigration, check-in and make it to the gate in time for your connection. But you can claim against your inbound airline, right? Wrong. You'll be having to buy 6 or 7 new flights at 'last minute' rates. Nasty.

    Far better, in my opinion, to pay a few extra bucks at the outset and get a proper flight. I mentioned previously about my LHR-MIA and ORL-MIA-LHR flight next month. I've got to be honest, I'm worried about the very short time that they've allowed for me in Miami on the return leg. However, frankly, that's their problem as I booked it all through one company. If they make me late and I miss my flight back to London then they have to pay for me to be transferred to the next flight and put me in a hotel if necessary. If I'd booked two individual itineraries with different companies then I would be very nervous about now.

    Have you ever flown Ryanair? If so then you'll know all about the sort of company that South West are. The guy who started Ryanair based their business model on South West. 'nuff said.

  7. Default

    I suppose now isn't the best time to mention that Ryan Air have the best customer service record in the UK. I'm not sure what that says for the airline industry lol...

    I think the point you make is valid, and normally i'd take your advice, but with money being the biggest factor then i'm going to have to take a risk rather than spend double, or more, on air fares.

    Do you think it would be safer for me to get the internal flight the day before and stay in a cheap motel overnight? I haven't considered cab fares but i imagine it's still way cheaper than getting the websites to book the connecting flights.

  8. #38


    That would definately be safer, yes. And it'd give you an opportunity to get out of the airport, have a quick look around another city and then get a good nights sleep. The flight the next morning will be a nice easy one then. There's nothing worse than getting off a long flight then having to get back on another one straight away.

    The other thing to check with South West is the baggage allowance. Going back to Ryanair (the reason they have a good customer service record is that they make it so impossible to complain. no complaints = good service apparently) you are very limited in what you can carry. I guess South West are similar and it is definately something else to check.

    Trust me, right now it all seems like a total pita, but it'll all be worth it when you are finally over there enjoying your 'vacation' :)

  9. #39
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Midway to OHare

    You can easily get from Midway to OHare via the "EL." The Orange line Train will take you from Midway to Downtown where you can transer to the Blue Line. I'd say the trip would take about an hour, but I wouldn't want to do it with during rush hour when the trains are packed full of people.

    While the trip itself is just an hour or so, I wouldn't want to do it with less than 6 or so hours to spare, for all the reasons the Craig mentioned. I'll also mention that Chicago can be pretty bad for delayed flights, although Flying into Midway is a little easier than OHare in that regard.

    I think staying overnight is really your best bet if you end up using a different airline for your internal flight, at the very least it should make that last day a whole lot less stressful.

  10. #40

    Default Another idea...

    After reading this extensive thread - let me throw in a couple of other ideas. I'm not sure what your itinerary is in the Chicago/Minneapolis area (did I miss why you want to go there?), but the bulk of what you want to see seems to be in the West. Have you looked at flying over the pole into SFO? Your flying time might be considerably shorter - and you may have some additional carrier and pricing options - and leave Chicago for another trip that might include more east coast things - like Boston, NYC, Wash. DC, etc.

    Also, if you are bringing a group - have you looked into the possibility of getting a group fare like the tour operators do? Usually if you have around 10 people, the airlines (or a wholesaler) can cut you a good deal - better than individual tickets.

    If you do fly into a west coast gateway like SFO, then your outlined plan has some additional possibilities for a "loop". Add Yellowstone back in, keep the Mt. Rushmore area - lots to do there - we spent 2 weeks just in that area! In addition you could pick-up things like Yosemite (a favorite with young people), San Francisco itself - a great city with lots to do, Death Valley NP, All the Utah NParks, even Lake Tahoe, and much more.

    Having traveled in all 50 states (we took a year long trip around the US), I can tell you there isn't much around Omaha - or along that whole portion of the route - if you really end up doing that, I'll give you what I know about the area, but....

    You may want to get a copy of Jamie Jensen's Road Trip USA - his guidebook is really good - he picks out fun, quirky places to visit and would be your best bet to find things along various routes.

    As to motels, you may want to book some of the major attraction areas, but we didn't on our trip and never got shut out anywhere - although we traveled in an RV, so had the option of camping or motels. Our MAJOR piece of advice to road trippers is to NOT overplan your trip - you miss too many things that you may want to do along the way, although with a limited two week trip, it may be more mandatory to be more structured.

    I concur with the $80 per room as a good figure for moderate chains, HOWEVER, almost every city and town has some great older motels (often with more charm) that "fly below the radar" - you only find them when you arrive in a town. Even AAA doesn't list them all, although that is a good place to look - in their tour books. We find that you could pick up a decent motel for in the $40-60 a night range almost anywhere, except the largest cities (ie San Fran) or heavily touristed areas (ie Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc). Bidding on hotels through Priceline is also a good strategy. I always take about 30-40% off a chain motels best advertised rate - and usually get it, unless there is something big going on in that town then.

    I'll always happy to answer individual questions off line too - I know a fair amount about most places in the US!

    Carol White
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-22-2007 at 02:02 PM. Reason: removed advertising signature & link to our reviews

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