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  1. Default Help! Washington DC to San Francisco!

    Hi all,

    I am 23 years old and am planning a road trip with my 23 year old boyfriend. We live in London, England and have been to Florida once so America is pretty new to both of us. We desperately need some help as we have never done anything like this before.

    Our plan so far is...

    19th Dec- London to Washington DC
    23rd Dec- Washington yo NYC by Train?! (not booked yet)
    26th Dec- NYC to New Jersey to collect Car
    26th Dec- Travel by Car to Lancaster, Pensylvania to see Amish

    Then free to do what we want...
    Maybe we could go fron NYC to Niagra falls... Does anyone know of any companies that we could do this with on a tour? Can you it be done in one day?

    Then travel down south...Virginia, North/South Carolina... any tips on things to see/do there? Then we plan to go down to Georgia and straight across the bottom...

    Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Las Vegas, then up the west coast to fly out of San Francisco (hoping to stay in San Fran for a week as I have family there!!!!) Should we make time for Utah??

    We have 6 Weeks to do all of this. Is that enough time?

    We also want to see the Grand Canyon but have read that there are closures over the winter. Can anyone help with this, I have visited the website but am unsure of whats in the North and South.

    Sorry for going on... just desperate to start planning properly. Any advise would help.

    Thanks in Advance :-)

    Sara x

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

    Default 6 weeks of fun!

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums!

    19th Dec- London to Washington DC
    23rd Dec- Washington yo NYC by Train?! (not booked yet)
    26th Dec- NYC to New Jersey to collect Car
    26th Dec- Travel by Car to Lancaster, Pensylvania to see Amish
    Many people take the train between these two cities and it makes sense to wait to get your car until after you've visited NYC since you won't need it there. Definitely book your car prior to leaving as you normally get better rates by visiting the various car rental websites and comparing prices. Christmas in NYC should be great fun!

    Then free to do what we want...
    Ahhh, doesn't that sound lovely? :)

    Maybe we could go fron NYC to Niagra falls... Does anyone know of any companies that we could do this with on a tour? Can you it be done in one day?
    If you google "nyc niagara falls tours", you'll get a lot of options. In general, I'm finding that a bus tour is typically 2 days/1 night. You can do one-day tours by air but it will cost ya. It's a lovely drive. I suggest you consider picking up your car and driving to Niagara Falls and then visiting Amish Country on your way south.

    Then travel down south...Virginia, North/South Carolina... any tips on things to see/do there? Then we plan to go down to Georgia and straight across the bottom...

    Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Las Vegas, then up the west coast to fly out of San Francisco (hoping to stay in San Fran for a week as I have family there!!!!) Should we make time for Utah??

    We have 6 Weeks to do all of this. Is that enough time?
    If you stay a week in San Francisco, you're then looking at about 5 weeks to travel this. Yes, plenty of time. As you can see here, you're looking at roughly 4700 miles. That's less than 1000 miles a week. This is actually a fairly relaxing schedule with plenty of time to explore and meander a bit.

    We also want to see the Grand Canyon but have read that there are closures over the winter. Can anyone help with this, I have visited the website but am unsure of whats in the North and South.
    The north rim closes in the winter. It's at a higher elevation than the south rim. The south rim is usually the side shown in pictures. The view from the north rim is quite different. Both are worth seeing but, if I could only see one side, I would pick the south myself. There's no reason you can't enjoy some time here.

    Sorry for going on... just desperate to start planning properly. Any advise would help.
    That's what we're here for. I encourage you to do a search through these forums to find discussions and trip reports about the areas you're wanting to visit. Pour over some maps as well. Start getting a rough draft together of your trip and continue posting questions here so we can help you tweak things in order to plan a fantastic adventure! Happy planning.

  3. Default A good car hire company...

    Hi, Not sure if you will have arranged your car hire yet? We hired a car for our trip down the west coast in the summer, we did a one way hire and I found that most companies were quite expensive as they added a huge premium onto the advertised prices for one way hire.

    We got ours arranged through carhire300who were by far the cheapest and the rental was through Avis so a well known company.... just thought I'd let you know.

    Also, I would recommend joining the youth hostel before you leave the UK. Many hostels give discounts to IYHA members... this way you can save ££'s on accommodation if you're going down the hostelling route.

    Enjoy your trip... sounds great!!!
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-15-2008 at 04:25 AM. Reason: preferred link format

  4. Default

    Wow!

    Thank you both for your help. Car hire is costing a fortune but I am sure it will be well worth it!

    We plan to leave New York on the 26th December which is a public holiday here in the UK. Is it the same there? Will we find it easy enough to travel from New York to New Jersey on that day?

    So if we leave New York on the 26th, head to Niagra Falls, then down to Lancaster do you think we will have enough time to get down to Florida for New Years Eve? Without missing too much along the way? I know I am asking a lot but want to be somewhere exciting on New Years Eve and can't think of anywhere I would rather be than standing outside the Magic Kingdom when the clock strikes 12!!!! (This is a new idea thats why I never mentioned it in the original post).

    Obviously, if this is impossible, and we will be rushing through Virginia, North/South Carolina and Georgia then we won't do it but it would be nice. If we don't have enough time does anyone have any suggestions of where we could go on New Years Eve? Not only on New Years Eve but places to go and see on route...

    And does anyone know if it would be worth us taking a lap top, will there be wi-fi connections on route? We have them everywhere now! Or are we better relying on internet cafes? We have them every where too!!!!

    Oh and Judy... Thanks very much for the map and all the great advice, we really appreciate it...

    Sara x

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

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sara&Ben View Post
    Wow!

    We plan to leave New York on the 26th December which is a public holiday here in the UK. Is it the same there? Will we find it easy enough to travel from New York to New Jersey on that day?
    It's not technically a public holiday but many people do take the day off work. I think that will be especially true this year since the 25th is a Thursday. Why work Friday? Of course, this is also a busy shopping day. Americans are notorious for either exchanging Xmas gifts or shopping the after-Xmas sales. I'm not familiar enough with traffic around NYC to know how much this will effect travel time. I'm guess the trains will be less busy that day though, but I could be wrong. I'd say that you should always plan extra time when traveling in NYC anyway. Hopefully someone else with more experience there can give you better advice.

    So if we leave New York on the 26th, head to Niagra Falls, then down to Lancaster do you think we will have enough time to get down to Florida for New Years Eve? Without missing too much along the way? I know I am asking a lot but want to be somewhere exciting on New Years Eve and can't think of anywhere I would rather be than standing outside the Magic Kingdom when the clock strikes 12!!!! (This is a new idea thats why I never mentioned it in the original post).
    If you took a day tour up there with a tour company, you would be looking at the same time constraints, wouldn't you? It's do-able but you would have to rush past some amazing places to make it in time. We generally recommend people allow 2 days from the New York area to Florida. And this doesn't allow time for much stopping/exploring along the way. I agree that it might be quite exciting to be in the Magic Kingdom on New Year's. You're going to have to decide if missing exploring most of the east coast is worth it to you to get there in time.

    I googled around for New Year's Eve's celebrations in Washington DC and found these ideas. Washington DC is a fantastic city, one of my favorites. It's really worth a few days. Another option for New Year's might be the last night of the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade of Peace. I have to imagine that Washington DC will also have fireworks. Most cities do.

    And does anyone know if it would be worth us taking a lap top, will there be wi-fi connections on route? We have them everywhere now! Or are we better relying on internet cafes? We have them every where too!!!!
    Many hotels will have free wi-fi, Starbucks and other coffee bars, etc. It shouldn't be too hard to find access. Just the other day I was volunteering at something that I expected would be slow and have some empty time to fill so I brought my laptop to work on a few things that I didn't need internet access for as the office I was in doesn't have internet. Yet I was able to access someone's wi-fi connection (probably in a home across the street).

    Hope this helps a bit.

  6. Default

    Your advise has helped us loads in our planning, just need a little more if you or anyone can help us...

    So, if we don't make it down to Florida for New Years I am assuming we will be in North or South Carolina, and idea how New Years Celebrations go down there? I really want to be somewhere fun!

    Also, is there anywhere on route we should avoid? (Danger Zones)etc... I might be over reacting but as we don't really know America all that well we need to know these things!

    Oh, and just one more thing, do you think 20 days is long enough to drive from Orlando to San Francisco? Will this be enough time for Las Vegas, Hollywood and all other important things to see!

    Thanks in advance :-)

    Sara x

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Not really

    Quote Originally Posted by Sara&Ben View Post
    Also, is there anywhere on route we should avoid? (Danger Zones)etc...
    Don't believe in the Hollywood movie version of America -- its a place of homes -- in both small towns and urban cities -- there are no particular danger zones on your route.
    Oh, and just one more thing, do you think 20 days is long enough to drive from Orlando to San Francisco? Will this be enough time for Las Vegas, Hollywood and all other important things to see!
    Twenty days sounds like heaven to those of us for whom any road trip of any length is hard to come by -- Yes, 20 days will give you time for a quick overview of the places along your route.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Super 8 is a lower priced hotel chain that has free wi-fi in all their hotels. Whether it's working or not, and whether your room has a decent signal can be a different story. The Panera Bread restaurant chain has free wi-fi.

    Funny thing, but if you go to more expensive higher end hotels, they tend to charge for wi-fi.

    If you plan on bringing your mobile phones and plan on renting or buying a sim here, we only have 2 GSM carriers - AT&T and T-Mobile. Between those 2, AT&T has much better coverage.
    Last edited by glc; 10-28-2008 at 03:39 PM.

  9. Default

    I suppose I was probably being a bit cautious with the 'danger zones' but I have been watching LOADS of programmes on tv about America and some parts don't seem to be very welcoming to 'strangers'. Knowing me and my boyfriends luck we would drive straight in to a neighbourhood that isn't really a place for 'road trippers'. I didnt mean any harm by it, I can see that a lot of America looks absolutely fabulous and can't wait to get there! Only 7 Weeks to go now :-)

    Super 8 looks FAB! Just what we need! We are going to be in NYC over Christmas and hotel's are REALLY expensive so we need to budget the rest of the way... (probably end up sleeping in the car half way through)! I have looked up super 8 and can get a room for the night for $59.99... thats great! A bit worried about the exchange rate at the moment too... not sure whether to change up money now or to hold out a bit!!

    I am on T-Mobile here... do you think its worth getting a sim or just using pay phones? Where is the best place to buy a sim from if thats what we decide to do?

    And thanks for all the info on the wi-fi, I don't think we are going to bring a lap top now, it's just an extra something to carry around! I'm sure there will be internet places where we can go? Won't there?

    And just one more thing... temperatures, I have found out that when we arrive in Washington it will be FREEZING, I assume that when we go south it will warm up, but by how much? What will the weather be like on the south and west coast in January? I cant find this information out anywhere on the net!

    As you can see from this 'essay' I am full of questions and so excited!

    The weeks leading up to this trip have flown by and I just know that in a blink of an eye I will be standing at London Heathrow ready/ or not to go!

    Thanks for everyone's help :-)x

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Staying Connected

    Believe it or not, I still don't have a cell phone, and I strongly suspect that even if I did I wouldn't take it on a RoadTrip. That's my chance to get away. That said, I don't think a SIM is necessary, although others might disagree with me. For much less money you can buy pre-paid phone cards (like a credit card) at any convenience store that let you make long distance calls anywhere in the world. You can get them with as little as $5 worth of calls on them so you're not paying for a lot of service or hardware that you won't have much use for.

    When I don't feel like lugging my laptop on truly vacation type trips, I just make a point of stopping at a local library once or twice a day. 95 times out of a hundred, they will have computers and WiFi available to the general public for free for up to half an hour at a time. But I've found that if they aren't busy, you can use them for as long as you like.

    Weather reports and forecasts are also easy to get. The Weather Channel offers on-line information as well as a 24 hour cable TV broadcast that will be available on most, if not all, of the motel TVs that you'll encounter

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-01-2008 at 08:24 AM.

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