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  1. Default Lone traveller-Advice and suggestions on travels to LA, San Francisco, Vegas and more

    Hey everyone,

    To celebrate my 30th, I've booked myself a return ticket from London UK, to Los Angeles for 3 weeks from 25th of March-15th of April.

    While in LA 4 of those days are taken at some convention. After that I'm hoping to spend a couple of days going Universal, maybe Disney and whatever stuff I research for LA.
    Roughly from about the 1st of April, I want to do a road trip. The 3 main places I aim to go to are San Francisco, Vegas and Yosemite (but not necessarily in that order). Reading a little on the forum I see that people have done similar stuff to this, so will probably get ideas from that too. The only main difference is that I'm travelling alone (not that i want to!), and can't see much info on lone travellers.

    I've never done anything like this, and feel a bit lost and overwhealmed by the scale of things. Also I am really nervous!!!

    Would like to know if anyone has any help or suggestions on places to see or where to start with perhaps?

    I'd like to hire a car, but there's the difficulty of reading a map at same time. Do car hire companies offer a Sat Nav as an option and if so how much is it? I've been told to fly around but not sure if it's the funnest option. If I leave Vegas last perhaps I could fly from there to LA and fly back home?

    A little about me might help shape suggestions.

    - My spending money is quite flexible. But like anyone else would like to get best value.
    - Dont want to spend too much money on hotels, but would like somewhere safe to crash for a night (apart from in Vegas where I'd like somewhere pretty decent)
    - I'm a big film and TV fan
    - I love food and can eat good amounts, though not a great sea-food fan.
    - Would like to have some nice coastal drives along the way. I can't swim though so no water sports for me :-(
    - I like walking, so hoping something in either Yosemite or Grand Canyon is on offer.
    - Would like to do a helicopter ride in the Canyon or plane tour (or some similar experience)
    - Also I'm a VW enthusiast. I have a VW Beetle and also a camper van. I've been told that California has a good VW scene there.


    Sorry if this all sounds messy but so much is going through my head and I need some grounding and people to bounce off.

    Thanks guys :-D

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default No need to worry.

    Quote Originally Posted by milestone View Post
    Hey everyone,
    Roughly from about the 1st of April, I want to do a road trip. The 3 main places I aim to go to are San Francisco, Vegas and Yosemite (but not necessarily in that order). Reading a little on the forum I see that people have done similar stuff to this, so will probably get ideas from that too. The only main difference is that I'm travelling alone (not that i want to!), and can't see much info on lone travellers.

    I've never done anything like this, and feel a bit lost and overwhealmed by the scale of things. Also I am really nervous!!!
    No need to worry, there are a lot of lone travellers out there and everyone is so friendly ! [common sense prevailing] ;-)

    Here is a link to Solo travel that might help, and here is some great info that cover the area.

    Dont want to spend too much money on hotels, but would like somewhere safe to crash for a night (apart from in Vegas where I'd like somewhere pretty decent)
    - I'm a big film and TV fan
    - I love food and can eat good amounts, though not a great sea-food fan
    There will be no shortage of either local or chain Motels offering good value and safe accommodations with a T.V. and there is definitely no shortage of rather large portions of food. [I like my food too, Mmm those Steaks and ribs ! Lol. ]

    Would like to have some nice coastal drives along the way. I can't swim though so no water sports for me
    The coastal route 1 between S/F and L/A is one of the most stunning drives anywhere, so no problem there. I think the water maybe a little chilly anyway.

    I like walking, so hoping something in either Yosemite or Grand Canyon is on offer.
    Both are stunning in scenery and offer both short walks and serious hiking.

    Would like to do a helicopter ride in the Canyon or plane tour
    No helicopter or plane will land or fly in the "heart" of the canyon [North and South rim area] but you can get tours to the West rim and the skywalk from Vegas.
    However I would recommend the 45 min heli flight over the South and North rims from the Grand canyon airport in Tusayan, it's spectacular.

    Now the roadtrip. It is possible to rent Sat nav from the car hire company's but get a paper map as well so you can look at place and things close by to where you are travelling and as a back up in case of failure to the GPS.

    An example with 14 days on the road you could head up the coast to San Fran [4-5days] head across to Yosemite [2 days]. From here you will need to head South towards Vegas as the Tioga pass [HWY120] that crosses the Sierra's will be closed. You would have the possibility to cross Death valley [a fascinating landscape and recommended] into Vegas [3 days] then the Grand canyon [2 days] and 2 days back to L/A.

    There are lots of options but hopefully that will give you something to work from.

    It would be possible to fly out of Phoenix or Vegas back to the U.K. and take a little longer elsewhere but you would incur extra charges for a one way rental. I wouldn't actually bother with an internal flight as it's a lovely journey and the hassle, time and cost of flights isn't worth it I.M.O.

    Have a look around and ask away when you have some more questions.

    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    When I first set foot on the North American continent, I had already reached my three score - though not yet the 'plus ten'. :)

    It was to be the first time I would drive in a foreign country - alone... and on the wrong side of the road too boot!! And sure I was nervous. The night before I picked up the car I was sick with nerves... could not sleep.

    On the flip side of that coin, I cannot begin to describe the sense of achievement after my first 1250 mile trip. That total now stands at 62500, and my family have at last stopped worrying about me.

    Even if you get satnav, make sure you have good maps. Are you a member of your automobile association in Britain? If so bring your membership card with you. You can get free maps and tourist information from the AAA.

    What I love about most of the road system in the US - and there ain't none better!! - is the numbering of highways and exits on interstates.

    Before setting off on a leg of my trip, I write the numbers in a list, on paper, where I have to turn, which way I will be heading, which # exit I will be taking, etc. It is easy to just glance at a piece of paper, rather than having to consult a map.

    Dave has given you lots of suggestions for places and routes, all I would add, if you plan to drive the coast road, south of SF, that you do it from north to south, so that you have the ocean on your right side. In other words, do the trip anti clockwise.

    Lifey who will be there about the same time

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    219

    Default

    Excellent advices. Maybe I'll put this in a schedule for you:
    4/1: After the stay in LA you may be in for a long drive through te desert and drive from LA to GCNP in one day. Make a reservation at one of the rimhotels In the Grand canyon lodges
    4/2: Stay GCNP. Maybe make a flight over the canyon but just strolling the rim and hike a little bit into the canyon (not too far) will fill your day also.
    4/3: Drive from GCNP to Las Vegas. Stop in Seligman and have a burger at Juan Delgadillos snow cap. See the vintage cars and drive old R66 to Hackberry en Kingman. Between Kingman and Las vegas stop at Hoover Dam for a visit.
    4/4: All Day Vegas
    4/5: Another day Vegas if you like. Some great SP around it like Valley of Fire SP and Red Rock SP.
    4/6: Drive Las Vegas to Death Valley NP. A fantastic park and not too hot in april. You can stay in Furnace Creek Ranch or Stovepipe Wells Village centrally located in DV. with Xanterra
    4/7: Explore DVNP and drive to Lone Pine in the afternoon at the foot of Mount Whitney. Great location. Visit to Alabama Hills.
    4/8: Lone Pine to Yosemite NP via the southern sierras. Unfortunately Tioga Pass still will be closed.
    4/9: Yosemite NP
    4/10: Yosemite NP to San Francisco
    4/11: San Francisco
    4/12: San Francisco
    4/13: Drive from San Francisco via Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur to Cambria and stay Moonstone Beach
    4/14: Visit Hearst Castle and the drive to Los Angeles.
    4/15: Home, planning your next trip.
    It will be the trip of your life.
    Instead staying 3 nights in Las Vegas you also could spend 2 and add a day to Yosemite, or SF or between SF and LA. It's up to you.
    Happy planning
    Yeehaw
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-15-2009 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Preferred link format

  5. Default Thanks for the advice and encouragment!

    Wow, this is really great. I can't imagine to tell you how useful all your guidance has been!

    Are there any good maps around that is recommended? I can't imagine I'll be able to get them in UK easily (also might cost more), so when I get to LA I'll hunt for them maybe.

    I'm not a member of any automobile association in UK unfortunately. I do love driving but the max I'll probably be wanting to do is about 5 hours at a time.

    Are there any recommendations for places to stay in LA? I was looking at Motel 6, which seems quite central to all the touristy places. What do you think? I might end up doin motel 6 most big cities or whether I can as it looks fairly cheap and good to my budget.

    I'm ambiguous on whether to book places or not. From what I read it seems booking has almost a must, especially when going to Yosemite and Vegas. Was hoping to do it on the fly as I might end up driving someplace and hanging there more if I like it etc.

    Also with the car hire, is the best place to get my car from LAX airport? or can I get it from somewhere downtown? I won't need a car for the 4 days I'm in Los Angeles. I land on 25th or March but will stay at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn till 30th of March- there's a weekend event going on there so I can't imagine I will use the car during this time.
    So in order to save me a bit of money I was going to wait till around 30th of March to get the car and then start of my trip-I was going to stay in LA for 2 days to do all the touristy stuff and then head off to my road-trip.
    However from what I can see on the net I can only get car hire from the airport in Los Angeles?


    I kind of made a rough plan of places to go, but I was going to do it clockwise- I should've checked here again before doing it lol. I didn't take into account that I'll be on the other side of the road, so driving up north to San-Francisco I'll be cutting away from the sea views! I was hoping to finish in Vegas though- I guess a sacrifice has to be made one way or the other.

    Thanks for the suggested schedule Yeehaw. I'm gonna work with that as I wasn't sure how many days to spend in places but you've noted them down. I've just took a look at Hearst Castle and it looks soo nice!

    I'm not sure how much the charges are for the national parks.. Will have to see whether it's worth me getting one of those pass' I heard about.

    Here's what I was going to do but from LifeMagician's suggestion perhaps do it anti-clockwise?

    4/1 Start In Los Angeles
    4/1 Drive Route 1 to Cambria- see Hearst Castle (stay the night somewhere)
    4/2 Visit Monterey (worth staying the night?)
    4/2San Francisco
    4/3 San Francisco
    4/4 San Francisco to Yosemite
    4/5 Yosemite
    4/6 Yosemite to Death Valley (I'm not too sure what the best route is?) Stay night.
    4/7 Death Valley (worth staying the night?)
    4/8 Death Valley to Las Vegas
    4/9 Vegas/ red rock
    4/10 Vegas to Grand Canyon
    4/11 Vegas to Joshua tree-spend a few hours or stay the night?
    4/12 Palm Springs (Stay the night)- Need to research more but want to go on the aerial tramway as it looks nice.
    4/13 Palm springs to San Diego (stay night)
    4/14 San Deigo to Orange County and then back to LA
    4/15 LA to home.

    Is that asking for too much?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,271

    Default

    Motel 6 is one of the least expensive hotel chains, but you have to be careful staying in them in cities. Some of them will be in less desirable areas and can be run down and poorly maintained. The ones away from the cities are almost always less expensive (unless they are in a resort area) and generally maintained better.

    Speaking of which, if you want to spend the night near Hearst Castle, there is a Motel 6 in San Simeon, rates are in the $60 to $70 range. You do need to plan on a few hours for a proper tour of the castle, and reservations are strongly recommended.

    To get from Yosemite to Death Valley in April will require you go quite a ways south and then back east - the Tioga Pass will not be open for the season yet.

  7. Default

    Yeah, I was checking out the motel 6 in San Simeon. I think I will go for that.
    I was going to book the Motel 6 in LA, near Hollywood Boulevard. Is that an ill advised place then?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by milestone View Post
    .........near Hollywood Boulevard. Is that an ill advised place then?
    Each time I get to LA, both on my arrival and departure, I spend a couple of days in a small hostel between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, West Hollywood.

    I have walked the streets there alone, in the dead of night, to get something to eat. I have walked the streets during the daytime... especially the trail of all the stars. Never had a problem. Never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

    I think a lot depends on how you feel, and how confident you are. If you give the appearance of fear, you could be vulnerable.

    Lifey who loves that area of LA
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-21-2009 at 03:05 AM. Reason: Correction

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
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    Default

    I'll try to answer some of your questions. We never stay in Motel6 or Super 8 but nothing wrong with them. Basic and clean. If you want to explore Hollywood I would stay right in the middle at Celebrity Inn or Orchid Suites, For visiting DL I would relocate and stay in Anaheim.
    Parkfee's. You are visiting Yosemite, Death Valley and Grand Canyon. The America the Beautiful pass costs $ 80,-- valid for a year for car and passengers. The moment you'll visit other NP's or NM's besides the mentioned ones, you better buy that pass. The pass is not valid for State Parks
    I would skip San Diego this time. Just driving to it and next day back to LA won't give you enough time.
    The drive from Yosemite to Death Valley (Furnace Creek) takes all day. 8 hours or so. You can see a bit next day because DV-Las vegas only is 2 hours from the NP's border. You easily also could spend another day for it. Actually many days.
    Your route certainly is doable but 4/10. Vegas to Grand Canyon and stay overnight.
    5/10. Don't go back to Vegas but drive from GCNP to LA or if you want to visit Palm Springs to Palm Springs. GC-Palm SPrings app. is 7 hours drive. The Aireal tramway is nice but bring a warm jacket. It will be cold at the summitt (and warm in PS).

  10. Default

    I just read on another section of the forum a place you recommended called Madonna Inn- It looks really nice! Little bit more to what my budget is, but I think it's definately a place I'd want to stay now as it's got character.

    How much does it cost to go to each park? I'm assuming the price varies.

    Also I forgot to mention I love star gazing. Out of the national parks or places to visit which is the best place to do that?

    Thanks again :-D

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