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  1. Default Trip to Seattle in Aug. 08

    Hi guys,
    i just discovered this wonderful site with so much interesting infos!!!
    So i get quickly to the point : we are an Italian family scheduled to arrive in Seattle in August and aiming to spend 3 weeks wandering in that part of US/Canada. Family includes two 13 years boys and a wonderful 8 years lady. Having just set up arrival and departure dates we are still in the ramp up phase full of enthusiatic ideas (let's go to Vegas! no, let's go to Anchorage etc.) with no precise steer or logic.
    Therefore ... we rely on you to:
    - plan a route feasible for such a family
    - pick up budget (but not horrible) accomodations
    - include some amusement park, national/natural parks etc
    - avoid 600 miles /day travelling
    - include some different way of transport (ferry etc.) even if we'll rent a car at our arrival
    - receive some infos on August weather
    Just consider we are flying in/out from Seattle so it should be a round trip.
    Can you please help us???
    It will be much appreciated....
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Of course we're glad to help!

    Welcome to the RTA Forums!

    - plan a route feasible for such a family
    We don't actually do route-planning. We do give people information so they can plan their own routes. We offer tips and tweaking, if needed. We share our own experiences. But you will need to actually plan your own trip. And planning really is half the fun!

    Check out these great tips for planning a family roadtrip. There is also a lot of helpful information on our roadtrip planning page. I also suggest you check out the International Visitors page.

    - pick up budget (but not horrible) accomodations
    Budget doesn't have to mean horrible. If you stick with one of the major budget chains, you should be fine as they have standards that each motel must adhere to in order to keep their status with that chain. Of course, some might be better than others but you shouldn't end up in a horrible place. All these budget chains have their own websites so you can review them and find out their locations. I would recommend the following chains: Motel 6, Super 8, Days Inn, Econolodge as ones to start with. That is not an exhaustive list but should get you pointed in the right direction.

    Another option are owner owned and operated motels, typically called "mom and pop" operations. This website focuses on these. Hopefully you can find some good ones.

    A place where people can write reviews of lodging, restaurants, etc. is TripAdvisor. Of course, come on back here and we might also be able to give you some ideas about a particular hotel. In fact, once you get a rough-draft figured for your route, you can come back here and we will always be glad to try to help you determine what some good accomodations are in the area you are traveling through.

    - include some amusement park, national/natural parks etc
    Here's a post with links to various discussions about things to see and do in the general Pacific Northwest/West Coast area. You might read through these and make note of things that interest you. You might also want to get a good map of the areas you're interested in traveling through and mark what cities, national parks, state parks, etc. intrigue you.

    - avoid 600 miles /day travelling
    Don't worry. We never recommend someone cover that many miles.

    - include some different way of transport (ferry etc.) even if we'll rent a car at our arrival
    If you want to ride a ferry, you couldn't pick a better place to start/end your trip than Seattle! The ferry system in Washington state is pretty extensive. Here's another online guide to Washington's ferries you might find useful.

    - receive some infos on August weather
    Mid-July to late September are usually our warmest, driest months. You are picking a fantastic time to visit the Pacific Northwest part of the country! It can still get a bit cool in the evenings, especially along the coast or in the mountains, so you will want to bring clothes that you can layer for extra warmth at night. I would also pack a lightweight windbreaker that is water-resistant. You probably won't experience much, if any, rain but the wind can be cold...again, mainly along the coast or in the mountain...so you'll want a jacket that can cut the wind.

    I live in Washington state and would love to help you as you continue your planning. Review the links, get some ideas, ask more questions, and we'll do our best to help you as you plan your trip. Happy planning!

  3. Default

    Thanks Judy!!!
    That's fantastic! A lot of infos so we will now first of all review all infos and then get back to you for details.
    You'll certainly hear from us in the short term.
    Thanks again

  4. Default

    Hi guys, hi Judy,
    so finally we bought our tickets and we'll come to Seattle on Aug. 4th!!! Three weeks to be spent in there!!! fantastic. More than that, i' ve taken a look to some threads here (those suggested by Judy and other ones) and now we have some more ideas of what to visit.
    So a first list would look like this :

    Seattle-Great falls-yellowstone park-rock springs-rocky mountains-vegas-death valley-yosemite park-los angeles-san francisco-portland-vancouver-seattle

    I am not sure if it does make sense mainly because i don't have a detailed map yet and this is not helping...

    Then the second question: in economical terms would it be cheaper to rent a camper or to rent a car + hotels (mid price)? i suppose some of you might have done it already : would it be good to drive a camper on such a long route and would it be better to spend the night in an organized camping or you can stop wherever?

    let me have your views please. thanks a lot
    U

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Cool on the tickets; now get a map

    Online mapping programs are great. I tend to use Google maps the most but I also sometimes use the trip planner by AAA. However, nothing beats a paper map for really getting a good overall view of things. If you can't find a US map in Italy (although I'm sure they must have them there), it would be good to order one. I think this will help with your planning a lot.

    so finally we bought our tickets and we'll come to Seattle on Aug. 4th!!!
    This is a lovely time in the Pacific Northwest. You should have beautiful weather.

    Seattle-Great falls-yellowstone park-rock springs-rocky mountains-vegas-death valley-yosemite park-los angeles-san francisco-portland-vancouver-seattle
    I would go to Los Angeles before going to Yosemite. The way our have your trip laid out right now, you're looking at roughly 4600 miles. Doing LA first, then Yosemite would be about 4400. You're traveling a lot of miles in three weeks so anywhere you can shave off a few will be valuable.

    If you choose the 4400 mile option, you're looking at averaging 220 miles per day (if you're driving all 21 days you're here). That's really not all that much but, hopefully, you'll be spending some days staying in one spot and enjoying the sights there. You will want to have some rough guideline on how to allocate your days. I don't think you need an exact daily timetable, just a rough idea of where you want to be when so you don't find yourself rushed at the end.

    Great Falls, MT, is a bit off the route from Seattle to Yellowstone. Is there something specific you're planning on seeing there? Just curious.

    Then the second question: in economical terms would it be cheaper to rent a camper or to rent a car + hotels (mid price)? i suppose some of you might have done it already : would it be good to drive a camper on such a long route
    Renting a camper (we call them RVs here) is NEVER the most economical option. By the time you pay the more expensive rental fees and the many more gallons of fuel, it will definitely cost more to travel this way. If economics are an issue, you'd be better off to rent a car and stay in economy hotels. Your best economic option would be to rent a car, go to a big box store and buy inexpensive camping gear where you can buy a tent, pillow, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad for about $125 give or take a few bucks, and then camp along the way. You'll pay for the gear in just a few days with the savings on lodging.

    It really depends on what you can afford and what you think will be the most enjoyable experience for you. RV travel has its advantages even if it does end up costing you a bit more.

    If you need to do this as economically as possible, you might also consider eating out of a cooler for many of your meals. Eating out in restaurants gets very expensive unless you depend on fast food. Fast food gets old real quick, in my opinion, and isn't very healthy.

    and would it be better to spend the night in an organized camping or you can stop wherever?
    If you're in an RV, you have a few more options for stopping "wherever". For example, some Wal-Marts allow you to park for free for the night. However, unless you're on a real speed run, I just don't see the point in this. Why not stop someplace where you can actually enjoy your surroundings.

    If you decide to purchase a tent and camp that way, some national forests allow disbursed camping but you really need to know what the rules are for each specific national park. You could explore this on the web or just check with park rangers. However, you can NOT just stop "wherever". You could be arrested for trespassing or, at the very least, have an angry property owner to deal with.

    There are many campgrounds in the US. Some are government-operated and some are commercial campgrounds. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding a place to camp. However, be aware that places like Yelowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite have campgrounds that can fill up quickly and you will want to get in a reservation to stay there as soon as possible. This holds true whether your camping in an RV or tent.

  6. Default

    Hi Judi, this is super for the time being. I will come back to you with a precise route and a daily planning so that we can minimize wrong choices (too many miles, crowded roads etc.).
    Great help your suggestion to avoid RV (is it Roulotte Vehicle? :)))) so we'll go for a car and a tent (maybe) or some budget hotels. Suppose we don't need to reserve anything in advance incl. car, right? Maybe some hotel reservations in yosemite, yellowstone, grand canyon...
    My guess is that as long as i am reading through the comments here, our plans are going to change....
    And yes, i definitely need a map so i'll buy that asap.

    1000 Thanks for now or, as we say, grazie mille

  7. Default

    Hi guys
    i did my homework and should be almost there in organizing our 3 weeks trip.
    Here we are with some detailed plans

    day State From to
    05-ago Washington Seattle
    06-ago Washington Seattle port angeles
    07-ago Washington port angeles
    08-ago Oregon port angeles astoria
    09-ago Oregon astoria mt st helens
    10-ago Oregon mt st helens the dalles
    11-ago Oregon the dalles crater lake
    12-ago Oregon/California crater lake jedediah park
    13-ago California jedediah san francisco
    14-ago California san francisco
    15-ago California san francisco yosemite park
    16-ago California yosemite ventura
    17-ago California ventura channel islands
    18-ago California ventura los angeles
    19-ago California los angeles
    20-ago California los angeles las vegas
    21-ago California las vegas grand canyon
    22-ago Arizona/Idaho grand canyon twin falls
    23-ago Idaho twin falls seattle
    24-ago Washington seattle departure

    All in all it should be c. 4000 miles so i would better shave off, perhaps with your help, some of these dates to avoid too many miles * day.

    We already rented a car (at incredibly good rate) but didn't reserve any hotels to now also because some locations could be more campground-style (Yosemite, Canyon etc.) which could represent a good shift to daily hotel routine. Are they (hotels and campgrounds) to be reserved well in advance?
    some advice? Judy i took a look to suggested mom&pop website but didn't find any informations but addresses...

    Another thing i dind't do yet is to decide which routes are worth to be driven to move across locations. Some are already in the pipeline like Columbia river Gorge and Highway 1 in CA but rest is still to be decided... could you maybe advise also on this ?

    Then, last but nor least, some costs. I am considering a variable cost of 1500-2000 $ for accomodations (hotel = 100$/night for 5 people and camp = 20-30$*night) plus 700$ for fuel plus 1500 $ for food (80$*day) plus 1500 $ for fun activities (parks, shopping etc.) .
    So all togheter - excluding car and flights which have been already paid - total spend should be around 5500$.

    Do you think it is realistic?
    I stop here because in Italy we say 'don't put to much meat on fire' to avoid confusion. I will be greatful for all your helps .

    Thanks for now

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Problems Still

    I still see a few problems with your overall plan. First, I think you're underestimating the costs by about 15-20%. For example, your cost for gas is going be much closer to $900 than $700. Putting 5 people in a single motel room is possible, but occasionally you will need a good night's sleep and a second room would be advisable. The biggest problem, though, is your schedule for the last two days. You are planning to drive nearly 1,400 mi (2,200 km) on the last two full days of your trip. That is too much. But other than those fixable problems, I think you and your children are in for a memorable adventure.

    AZBuck

  9. Default

    So here we are and here you have our latest plan
    day From to hotel
    05-ago Seattle seattle days inn
    06-ago Seattle mt st helens cougar
    07-ago mt st helens the dalles the dalles
    08-ago the dalles Crater lake prospect
    09-ago crater lake yosemite park camping
    10-ago yosemite camping
    11-ago yosemite zion park camping
    12-ago zion camping
    13-ago zion grand canyon camping
    14-ago grand canyon vegas vegas
    15-ago vegas
    16-ago vegas los angeles los angeles
    17-ago los angeles
    18-ago los angeles big sur big sur
    19-ago big sur san francisco san fran
    20-ago san fran
    21-ago San Francisco Oregon dunes reedport
    22-ago Oregon dunes Seattle seattle
    23-ago Seattle
    24-ago Seattle

    Overall miles are a bit less ( 3800 vs 3900) and we should have some more time at the end of the trip.
    Some practical infos are:
    - where best to buy our camping equipment?
    - i should have my Nokia with US maps. Is it enough to input the address or you should have the postal code for all locations?
    - In case i won't have US Nokia maps i would rather rent a GPS at Hertz when renting the car. Is it the best option?
    let me know.
    Thanks
    G.

  10. Default A couple of comments..

    Quote Originally Posted by unza View Post
    So here we are and here you have our latest plan
    [ ... ] Some practical infos are:
    - where best to buy our camping equipment?
    - i should have my Nokia with US maps. Is it enough to input the address or you should have the postal code for all locations? [ ... ]
    On your trip, you've got a couple of legs that are pretty long days...

    Crater Lake to Yosemite in a day is doable in a day, but you'll need to head down to I-5 pretty quickly, and you'll be flying down I-5/99 to Yosemite. Long day, some pretty scenry you'll be flying past, but doable.

    Similarly Yosemite to Zion in a day, is a long day's drive, as is SF to Reedport, and Reedport to Seattle in a day. I recently did a road trip from Brookings (south coast of Oregon) to Astoria (northern coast border of Oregon) and it was a full day's drive just driving up with minimal stops. You'll be driving all day, and through some very scenic countryside without a lot of chances to stop and look at things.

    For places to get camping equipment-- You have several options, depending upon how much selection you want, and how high of quality of equipment. If you're in seattle the mecca for outdoor sports ir REI's flagship store in downtown. But their stuff is very good, and usually above average in price. Your next option would be to find a "sporting goods store" which will carry a moderate selection of camping equipment, with usually reasonable prices. There are a number of chains of these around -- check the local phone book under "sporting goods". Another one to note is Cabella's, which is a large national chain and that has a few major retail stores. There's one near Seattle in Lacey WA (roughly an hour south of Downtown Seattle), right off the I-5 freeway. Check out their web page as they have in general good quality equipment in a very wide range.

    Your most inexpensive system is to go look in a Walmart or Target store. Their prices are usually very good, but the availability of more than basic camping equpiment can vary dramatically depending upon the season. They have the reputation (around here at least) of having moderate to lower end on quality, but the vast majority of stuff I've seen in there is reasonable quality, particularly if you're going to take care of it and not give it really heavy use in extreme conditions.

    For use in a computer-aided map system, it's usually sufficient to put in number, street, city and state. Most times I can find it with less, but in some states there maybe multiple cities of the same name, and there are definitely multiple cities with the same name in the US. The postal code can usually be used in lieu of city and state if necessary... (Depends upon the sophistication of the mapping software).

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