Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. Default First Timer - MN to LA. Advice?

    Hello all,

    I stumbled onto this site tonight. I've been wanting to take a solo road trip ever since my divorce 4 years ago - the proverbial "find myself @ age 38" trip, and I'm finally ready to take the plunge. I've never road tripped before, and am seeking advice.

    I'm a school teacher, and the plan is to leave after school is out in mid June. I'd like to rent a vehicle, drive to LA, and fly back. I'm allowing 8 to 10 days for the entire trip. I'd like to spend at least a few days in LA with friends before flying back.

    After consulting a map, I do not have a route per-se - more of a selection of stops. I'd like to hit the Black Hills in SD, Denver (I have family there), the Grand Canon, Vegas, Hover Dam, and LA. I'm sure there is a wealth to see in between those places, and I'm open to suggestions.

    I'm certainly not made of money, but don't want to do it so cheaply that I can't enjoy myself either. I know gas is going to be expensive, but I'm willing to sleep in my car at times (in a safe area of course), and will live out of a cooler on convenience store food. It's just me, so I'm not worried about changing my clothes all the time.

    What's a trip like this going to cost, and how much time do I allot myself to get to LA? Best place to rent a car?

    Thanks in advance,

    tg

  2. #2
    Traveldude Guest

    Default

    Yeah that sounds feasible if you do alot of driving between them places. But Vegas and the Grand Canyon are must see places. Maybe if you have time stop by Zion National Park or Arches.

  3. Default mn - la

    i'm from mn, and i've been to 38 out of the 48 mainland states.

    some friends and i drove from MN down to san diego, vegas, texas and back in about 8 days.

    first thing i would recommend you doing is to map out your route on "mapquest. it tells you everything you need to know; miles, exits, drive time, etc.

    also have a US road map ready, in case you get lost.

    rent a car that gives good mileage. also if you rent with a "visa", they automatically insure your vehicle. meaning you won't have to buy renters insurance from the car company. call and make sure your card supports this feature. also, since you plan on leaving the car in LA, rent from a national chain like alamo or enterprise. and make sure you rent the vehicle based upon a weekly/daily fee(unlimited mileage), and not by mileage fee(ouch). and ask about "drop-off" fees. a "drop-off" fee is sometimes charged when drop off your rental at a different location(city). some places will charge you for it, while others wont. shop around.

    make sure you have a cell phone, a jack, spare tire, 1-5 gallon container filled with extra gas, and plenty of water. all of these are a must. 50% of the time between cities, your cell phone will not have reception though. i think it's better to have one in case something happens.

    no radio reception, so bring lots of CD's or an MP3 player/FM radiowave emitter.

    the drive between minnesota and the west coast is pretty bland...mostly arid, hilly, desert like terrain. don't expect fantastic scenery between cities.

    motels are cheap($40 - $50), so i recommend just staying in one. get a motel in a nice sized town. you should only need 1 motel between MN and Denver, if you drive around 12 hours a day. i like to check in early so i get my money's worth at a motel. checking in at 2AM and leaving at 10AM is a waste of money. i'd rather check in between 6PM - 10PM and sitesee around town.

    i'm 26, and i got 95% of my traveling done between ages 19-25(i lived in 10 different cities, both coasts, in that time period). i ate a lot at fast food places like Mcdonalds and Wendys because they have "dollar menus". $5 goes a long way at these places. i'll stop at a major town and find a grocery store for cheap food too.

    if you were to drive only from MN to LA, nonstop, it would take about 30 hours. use mapquest to figure out your total drive time. it's very accurate.

    i could probably make the cost of this trip around $1000-ish. the biggest money eaters are going to be gas, car rental, and airfare back. otherwise, freeload off the friends/relatives!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    if you speed...be wary of pulling over for the "cop" in the middle of nowhere at night. i recommend driving, and letting him follow you until you reach a town, or gas station. i know this falls under the "urban myth" category, but it's better to be safe than sorry. also, i don't recommend driving too late night, because there are usually no street lights between cities. its harder to find/receive help at night for an emergency. be careful driving through the mountains(rockies). the wind is strong enough in higher altitudes to slightly swerve your car, and the roads curve and bend a lot. i definitely don't recommend trying to drive through the mountains at night. slow your driving if its raining in the mountains too.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    these three things would definitely put your mind at ease. we used these for our "MN - san diego - vegas - texas" trip. we didn't need them, but they were with us as luxury items.

    luxury items: a laptop, AC to DC car power inverter(to power the laptop), and Microsoft Streets and Trips.

    basically it's a GPS system. the power inverter supplies power to the laptop, and the Microsoft program comes with a GPS locator that shows your exact location and speed on the laptop. it's a really good and very accurate program.

    there's no subscription fee to use the GPS locator, and the locator works with newer versions of the program too.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    i didn't think mt rushmore was very impressive, and spent only 30 minutes there. i think it's worth a stop only if its "on the way". i also stopped briefly to look at the "devils tower", about 50-ish miles away. not too impressive either. but at least i saw the two monuments.

    denver is nice, but i've only been down in that area during the winter to snowboard.

    vegas is very lively during the weekend, especially holiday weekends. the weekdays mellow out. unless you gamble or party, the only other thing to do is see shows. i definitely recommend walking down the vegas strip at night. watch the famous fountain scenes outside the "bellagio hotel/casino". i think the fountain show starts off every 15 minutes. i thought walking from hotel to hotel was pretty cool, since they all had different themes on the inside/outside.

    hoover dam is okay.

    the grand canyon is awesome. enough said.

    i used to live in san diego, and only went to LA party. it's a nice place to visit, but i'd never live there. i guess your friends can show you around. i recommend eating some real mexican food. small sidestreet shops usually have the best food. MN doesn't have great mexican food.

    personally, i think san diego is a beautiful city, and if you get a chance definitely go down there.

    LAX one of the biggest airports in the world. all major airliners fly there, so costs flying in/out of LA are relatively low. flights in the middle of the week(wednesday) are the cheapest. flights friday - sunday are the most expensive. also, red eye flights are the cheapest too(i used to work for Northwest Airlines).

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    well this was a long post, but i hope this helps
    Last edited by eightpeoplex; 03-25-2008 at 04:48 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Time to go solo!

    Welcome to the RTA forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by grayter1 View Post
    I stumbled onto this site tonight. I've been wanting to take a solo road trip ever since my divorce 4 years ago - the proverbial "find myself @ age 38" trip, and I'm finally ready to take the plunge. I've never road tripped before, and am seeking advice.
    Solo roadtrips are a great way to energize yourself and feel free/independent. It's also wonderful to be able to stop and explore totally on your own whims without wondering if the other person shares your joy at this place and may want to move on, or be dragged into someplace where they're interested but you're not. Be ready to have a great trip!

    I'm a school teacher, and the plan is to leave after school is out in mid June. I'd like to rent a vehicle, drive to LA, and fly back. I'm allowing 8 to 10 days for the entire trip. I'd like to spend at least a few days in LA with friends before flying back.
    You're looking at a bit over 2000 miles for this trip. We generally recommend no more than 500 miles per day. Of course, less is fine but don't generally try to drive much more than that. So figure four days just to make the drive itself. Once you add in time to stop and explore along the way, I would want at least 6-7 days just to make the trek across to LA. 10 would be better. Then if you're going to play in LA awhile, at least a few more. If your time and budget will allow it, you might want to try to squeeze out a few more days. But, if you can't, you can still have a great trip. You just won't be able to linger and explore as much.



    After consulting a map, I do not have a route per-se - more of a selection of stops. I'd like to hit the Black Hills in SD, Denver (I have family there), the Grand Canon, Vegas, Hover Dam, and LA. I'm sure there is a wealth to see in between those places, and I'm open to suggestions.
    Adding the Black Hills of SD only adds about 100 miles overall to your trip. But this raises another dilemma. There is so much to see in SD besides the Black Hills. Mr. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wall Drug, the Corn Palace, the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in DeSmet, Wind Cave, Deadwood (an entire town that is an historic site and where many wild-west legions, like Wild Bill Hickok lived and died), Wounded Knee, and more. You could spend several days just in South Dakota. Since Minnesota isn't all that far from there, you might want to visit this place at another time so you can really explore everything there. Or seriously consider trying to find a way to add some days to your trip.


    I'm certainly not made of money, but don't want to do it so cheaply that I can't enjoy myself either. I know gas is going to be expensive, but I'm willing to sleep in my car at times (in a safe area of course), and will live out of a cooler on convenience store food. It's just me, so I'm not worried about changing my clothes all the time.
    Sleeping in a car at places like truck stops can be reasonably safe. However, I don't think most of us believe you're going to get the good rest you need by doing this. I've done in only when forced. I get far better sleep in my tent. Are you camper? If so, this is a great way to save money while on the road. If not, maybe this will give you some tips.

    Here are some tips for eating out of your cooler. Convenience stores are not the way to go. Seek out local full-size grocery stores or even farmer's markets, etc. Far healthier and usually cheaper than convenience stores.

    What's a trip like this going to cost,
    This post will walk you through the steps you need to figure out your budget. But that was awhile ago and things like gas prices, especially, need to be changed. To find out current gas prices when it gets closer to your trip, visit Gas Buddy. The average as price in the US right now is $3.25/gallon. But those prices typically always go up in the summer.

    and how much time do I allot myself to get to LA?
    See my comments above.

    Best place to rent a car?
    This really varies. The best thing to do is to go to the various websites and plug in your dates/locations and get quotes. Be sure to check the box that says that it is a one-way rental so they quote you drop-off fees.

    After you've played with some of this info and have a few more questions/ideas, come on back and we'll do our best to help you tweak and finetune your trip. Happy planning!
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 03-25-2008 at 11:45 AM. Reason: spelling

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

    Default Hello, eightpeoplex!

    This is an ambitious first post. And I love the way you've jumped in and shared your knowledge. We always enjoy when experienced roadtrippers help out. That's how we all started here. So welcome to the RTA forums!

    Just a few comments:

    Quote Originally Posted by eightpeoplex View Post
    first thing i would recommend you doing is to map out your route on "mapquest. it tells you everything you need to know; miles, exits, drive time, etc.
    Mapquest is one of many good online mapping programs. Some of us enjoy Google, Yahoo, and MSN maps. Or AAA's. Here's a discussion we had rating these programs and pointing out pros and cons that you might find interesting.

    also have a US road map ready, in case you get lost.
    Yes! Even if you have a good GPS and/or computer with you with online mapping, sometimes nothing beats a good paper map.

    make sure you have a cell phone, a jack, spare tire, 1-5 gallon container filled with extra gas, and plenty of water. all of these are a must. 50% of the time between cities, your cell phone will not have reception though. i think it's better to have one in case something happens.
    We have had a lot of discussions about what to pack and how to pack it. You might get a lot of good ideas form this discussion.

    the drive between minnesota and the west coast is pretty bland...mostly arid, hilly, desert like terrain. don't expect fantastic scenery between cities.
    One of our major beliefs is that there are no boring roads. I'm actually surprised you said this. The rolling hills of the plains, the desert areas, are all wow....just WOW!!!! I live on the coast and love our beaches and evergreen forests. And I still find the different arid, desert-like terrain of the interior amazingly beautiful. Haunting. Not the least bit bland. The sky even looks different! Even in the desert Southwest, the shapes and colors of the rocks change mile-by-mile. A wonderous sight as you zip down the road.

    if you drive around 12 hours a day.
    We actually discourage this. While some days you might be on the road for 12 hours but you should never be driving for 12 hours. Safe driving practices diminish if you've been driving this long. We generally recommend only driving for 2-3 hours before you stop and explore a bit. Even if it's a relatively short stop.

    i like to check in early so i get my money's worth at a motel. checking in at 2AM and leaving at 10AM is a waste of money. i'd rather check in between 6PM - 10PM and sitesee around town.
    If you're going to be driving long days, I would suggest getting up early and being on the road by 6-7am and then driving until dinnertime or a tad later (with the recommended stops along the way). It's easier to stay alert in the daylight and it has never made sense to me to drive a lot at night. What's the point? You can't enjoy seeing the sights from the road at night.

    use mapquest to figure out your total drive time. it's very accurate.
    Most of us do not feel that the driving times are all that accurate on any of the mapping programs, including Mapquest. It usually figures that you'll always be traveling at top highway speeds, and not be slowed by congestion, construction, etc.
    -------

    Well, none of us here disagree on everything. LOL Even though I don't agree with all you said, I think your contribution was extremely valuable. I hope you'll hang around and share your experiences with the rest of us and other new roadtrippers.

Similar Threads

  1. RV rental advice
    By Durham Red in forum Gear-Up!
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 06-05-2016, 02:50 PM
  2. Advice on Nevada/Arizona Road Trip?
    By vimessir in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-22-2008, 03:00 AM
  3. 1st Timer - Advice for Ultimate Rd Trip in 18 days
    By richarjt in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-28-2007, 11:39 AM
  4. 3 month cross country - first timer - help!
    By Purpgirl in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 04-11-2004, 09:58 AM
  5. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-22-2002, 08:44 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES