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  1. Default Road Trip '08 - HELP!!!

    Hi all,

    Myself and a few friends want to do some sort of road trip, but are a bit unsure of how to go about it!

    We are from London, and have long fancied trying our hand at the much romanticised American road trip. We have a maximum if 2 weeks, and are aiming for late summer, probably around September time.

    Thing is, we donít know where to go, for how long, how to get there....put simply, we donít know jack!

    Vegas is a must, but other than that we are pretty much lost. We want to try and keep it a mix of scenic/historic sites and cities/towns with a young nightlife.

    A few ideas have been thrown about, such as camping for a night or two on the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Grand Canyon would be a great sight, and perhaps Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

    But we just canít decide - there is too much we want to see?

    Does anyone have any ideas for a 1st and memorable road trip (if it goes well, there will definitely be more!!)??

    We also donít know about prices, accommodation, and time frames. I think prices depends on how much we want to spend, but accommodation (are there actually motels every few like the movies?!) and how much travel could we realistically do in 2 weeks?

    What about local festivals? Are there any of note in late summer in that rough area of the states?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as we are desperate to see your great country!!

    Many thanks,

    James

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

    Default overwhelming

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There is an immense amount of things to see an do in the southwestern US, so trying to "do everything" in two weeks can get overwhelming.

    The first question, what are your ages? If you are under 25 traveling can be quite expensive, and if you are under 21, there are some major roadblocks in your path.

    As far as lodging, no America is NOT like the movies and there are NOT motels every few miles. 98% of American hotels are in cities and towns, and the roadside middle of nowhere motel is extremely rare.

    Otherwise, I would start to work on getting the basics down for your trip. Figure out a rough outline of where you want to go, and how much you'll have to spend. Also decide what your priorities will be, whether it is nightlife or nature. Once you've got some of those things down, start plotting it out to see if all of your desires match up with what is really feasable.

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

    Default Kickstarting your planning

    Check out the "roadtrip planning" page (see in the top green-bar above). There are a wealth of hints and advice there.

    You also want to be aware of the distances in the US. Most visitors from other countries, especially Europe, just don't grasp how long it takes to get from one place to another. Going all the places you mentioned is possible in two weeks but you won't have much time to explore, rest or play. You might want to do a smaller loop. Do you know where you're flying into? If you give us that info, we can give you some loop-drive recommendations that might fit 2 weeks better.

    Also, if you give us an idea of the types of things you'd like to see and activities you enjoy, we can tailor our advice to better fit you.

    I somewhat disagree with Michael about hotels. While there are certainly stretches along some roads where hotels are less common, I have rarely travelled more than 100 miles without there being hotels. And, usually, it's no more than 50 miles or so. It is not unusual for there to be hubs where interstates or other roadways meet where hotels are located. And it's rare to not find a hotel or two in even the smallest of towns. Of course, we can advise you of hotel availability easier if we have some idea of your route.

    Feel free to ask more specific questions after you've done some pondering of just what you want to do and see. Michael gave some good suggestions on things for you to think about.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the reply guys!

    Three of us are 24 y/o, the other is 30.

    Looking at other posts and replys, it seems most settle for a hotel on the first few nights, and the last few, and just wing it in between. Sounds like a great idea, but it all depends on how easy accomodation is available in between.

    As for the route, this is pretty open, as long as we end up in Vegas.
    It seems there are 2 routes (from what we can work out on google maps!!) - maybe fly into Dever, then from there maybe camp a night or 2 in the shadow of the Rockys (can we do that? Is it worth it?) and from there accross to Vegas via Utah.

    The other route is Dallas, across to New Mexico, then through Arizona and onto Vegas.
    But, are these really the best routes?

    We are trying to avoid the monotomy of a city holiday - they are all pretty much the same arent they?! We want to be able to float between the wilderness and cities without too much trouble. Being able to see the natural America, but close enough to stop of at a City/Town for the night, have a beer and meet a good few people of our age would be ideal. Is there anywhere you would reccomend seeing, and we could maybe look at planning the trip around these?

    We cant really do any more than 2 weeks, so we where thinking 3 main stops and just see where the wind takes us in between.

    Thanks again guys!

    James

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

    Default All routes are good routes here! :)

    Three of us are 24 y/o, the other is 30.
    If I understand car rental policies, the 30 year old will get a better rate. You will have to pay a premium if any of the 24 year olds plan to drive. If you do not pay the premium price for the younger drivers to drive, then you must NEVER have any of them drive. Don't drive to fool the rental companies. If you have some kind of mishap with one of the younger drivers at the wheel, and you've not told the insurance company they will be driving, it could get pretty nasty for you.

    Also, your car rental will cost more if you go one-way due to drop-off charges. If you plan a loop and arrive/leave from the same city, your rental fee will be less.

    Looking at other posts and replys, it seems most settle for a hotel on the first few nights, and the last few, and just wing it in between. Sounds like a great idea, but it all depends on how easy accomodation is available in between.
    Sometimes. And it's a good idea to relieve some stress around air travel times. Some just do one night at the beginning and end. You may only want to plan for several nights if it's an area you want to stay at for awhile and explore.

    As for the route, this is pretty open, as long as we end up in Vegas.
    It seems there are 2 routes (from what we can work out on google maps!!) - maybe fly into Dever, then from there maybe camp a night or 2 in the shadow of the Rockys (can we do that? Is it worth it?) and from there accross to Vegas via Utah.

    The other route is Dallas, across to New Mexico, then through Arizona and onto Vegas.
    But, are these really the best routes?
    Yes, there are those two. And some fly into San Francisco or Los Angeles and work their way to Vegas from there as well. Or you could fly both in and out of Vegas and do a loop drive. And from any of those beginning points, there are numerous route variations. If you are willing to drive secondary roads, the variations are probably a hundred or more.

    Camping in the shadow of the Rockies is always going to be worth it. Lovely places there!

    We are trying to avoid the monotomy of a city holiday - they are all pretty much the same arent they?! We want to be able to float between the wilderness and cities without too much trouble. Being able to see the natural America, but close enough to stop of at a City/Town for the night, have a beer and meet a good few people of our age would be ideal. Is there anywhere you would reccomend seeing, and we could maybe look at planning the trip around these
    I think the cities in the US vary a lot. Each has their own character. But, gosh, I think the same about English cities, too. But there are few cities I would want to spend all my vacation time in so I understand the desire to get out and see what's on the road.

    How much research have you done into the things along the various routes? Have you gotten a good map and traced the routes to see what kinds of cities, national parks, and other landmarks are along these routes? Since you really want to avoid a typical city trip, are you looking for more hiking and camping opportunities and other outdoor stuff? Do you want to see scenic vistas? Are you interested in any historical venues? The more detail you can provide us about what you want to do, the better advice we can give you for routes that meet your desires.

    Any route, even one through the most remote areas of the country, will take you through various towns. Except for some counties in The South (and you won't be traveling in that part of the country anyway), I don't believe there are any dry counties where you might be traveling. So all small towns will have at least one or two, if not more, watering holes to have a beer. (Or am I mistaken and will this be an issue in some places in Utah? Anybody know?)

    One other thing you might want to consider is the number of miles along your route. We recommend not going over about 500 miles per day. This pace allows some time for stopping and exploring. But, of course, you don't need to drive that many miles. Heck, you might only go 150 miles and find a place where you want to spend the whole day and night. That's cool, too. As long as you balance it out against the miles yet to be covered so you're not in a rush at the end.

    One of my favorite tools is AAA's Trip Planner. You don't have to be a member to use it. The thing that is good about it and that I like over other programs is that, if you zoom in, you can find all sorts of attractions along the route. It can be time-consuming but worth it. We have reviews of some other online mapping programs here so you might try different ones and see which are more to your liking.

    Let's keep up the conversation. Tell us your thoughts and ideas and we'll help you tweak and point you to other resources.

  6. Default

    I've done some quotes for car rentals, and they arent too bad (in comparison to what we would pay in the UK) Renting a 4X4 for 2 weeks, unlimited miles, etc costs around £400 (give or take, $800ish). That includes alternative drop offs, so we are happy with that. We did try and look at the minimum ages, and it seems that aslong as the primary driver is 25+, we dont seem to pay a premium. But dont take that as gospel.

    it would be good if when we get to Vegas we could stay in a decent hotel/casino. All that driving would demand it.

    The thing with the route is, we just dont know where to start. We have the problem of wanting to visit everywhere! Texas stands out to me, as does Colorado, and each of us have our own preference. If there was a suggested route, perhaps we could tweak it a bit for our purposes. If there was a specific festival, we may make a detour for that. I think the Grand Canyon is a must, but what about national parks? Yellowstone has been reccomended to us, but what about death Valley? Yosemite? Mojave? Too many things we want to see and not enough time!!!

    I think an important part of it would be meeting young people, and being able to have a few drinks. In the UK the alcohol age limit is 18. I know this vaires in the US, but how much? Is it 21 across the board, or do some places have higher or lower ages? If 25 for example, are they flexiable with tourists?

    Also, how much would we realistically need? Assuming flights, Hotel at start and finish and car rental are paid upfront, how much would we need to make it across comfortably? We thought it may be an idea to get a few things in our landing destination rather than bring them from UK and risk extra baggage costs.

    Again, thanks for your help. Ever what to know where to go in the Uk, i'm you man!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default American Basics

    The drinking age is 21 pretty much across the board in the US, so that shouldn't be an issue at all for you.

    A note about renting 4x4 vehicles, I rarely see a good reason to pay the extra money for 4 wheel drive in a rental. Your rental contract will almost certainly prohibit you from taking the SUV onto a road that would require 4 wheel drive, so it seems kind of pointless to me. I would also check on the "primary driver" being over 25 being the only requirment. Generally there is a small fee for any extra driver, and that fee becomes larger if the drivers are under 25. This might not be the case with the deal you've found, but its something I'd make sure of so there were no surprises later.

    As far as picking places to go, I have yet to found an unimpressive national park, and there are certainly plenty to choose from. You might simply take a look around the National Park's Website, but There are also some excellent pictures of parks in the area in this field report. You can also find some good budget ideas here.

  8. Default james - email me

    hi james - i'm a jim also and from south London , i have been organising trips across the states for the last few years to coincide with the awesum sturgis ralley in August - we'll be heading out this year too but a bit earlier than you by the sounds of it . - if you want to know how i went about organising my trips just email me direct mate as i dont always get enough time to come up on the forum
    cheers jimbo
    {Email Removed}

    (Moderator Note: We don't like seeing personal e-mails addresses on the Forum, Click Here to find out why.)
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-29-2008 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Removed Email Address

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    hi there,have you considered the possiblity of hiring an r.v.[we've just done a trip like this,the one midwest michael refers to above]. dearer than car hire but no accomodation costs so price wise not much in it. also in the u.s. at most national park campgrounds they have fire rings and theres nothing better than stopping in the heart of them,lighting a fire,sparking up the bbq and cracking open a couple of cans. it gives you a sense of freedom and independance,see somewhere you like and stop there.also theres no problem "camping" in vegas.whatever you decide your bound to have a great time. have a good trip!

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

    Default No accomodation cost in an RV?

    If you stay in a national park campground, or any other kind of campground, there is a campground fee. Depending on the type of campground, sometimes the fees for RVs aren't much less than a more inexpensive motel. Can you clarify what you mean, gommy? I just want to make sure we're on the same page with this.

    My take on an RV is that it might work for you and it might not. Depends on how you want to travel, how many miles you want to cover in a day, what your budget is for rentals/fuel, etc. Renting an RV will always cost more to rent than a car. Add in increased fuel expenses and campground costs and you're not doing this for budget reasons but, rather, for the experience of doing it.

    To get a handle on your budget needs, you might check out these suggestions.

    Gosh, it's almost impossible to tell somebody where they should go when they don't have any idea of their own to start with. What I like may leave you flat. But I fail to see how anyone wouldn't be enchanted by the national parks of Utah. If you started in Denver and enjoyed Rocky Mtn NP and other sites in Colorado and worked your way to see several of Utah's amazing parks like Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, and more, and then went to the Grand Canyon before ending in Vegas, I think you would have a great trip.

    Do some poking around and when you have firmer ideas, let us help you fill in any blanks and tweak things.

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