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  1. Default Yet another summer 2010 coast-to-coast trip

    Hi everybody,
    Firstly, many thanks to all who contribute to this great site and forum, it's been a very useful reference tool for all my initial planning so far. That said, I wondered if I could get a few opinions on our plans for a potential trip next summer (with apologies in advance for a long and boring post up ahead!).

    Depending on who can get time off work, there will be between 4-6 of us, all British, male and aged early 30s (although we still like to think we're teenagers, so I don't foresee many intellectual trips to the Smithsonian along the way. We're more likely to be impressed by visiting the Fire Station used in Ghostbusters and other 80s movie locations!). Everyone bar myself has a driver's license so taking turns behind the wheel shouldn't be a problem.

    We'll probably have three weeks to make the trip (we're currently thinking July 2010), so my first question is does the following itinerary look feasible without having to drive for 16+ hours a day thus missing out on seeing any of the sights?

    Theoretical route:
    Saturday, day 1: fly into New York, collect hire car, spend a couple of days looking around NYC
    Tuesday: travel to Niagara Falls (Canadian side if it's not too much hassle crossing the border in a hire car)
    Wednesday-Friday: make our way to Chicago (through Ontario if the aforementioned border-crossing is feasible; otherwise along I-90. Either way, I'd be hoping to stop off along the way to see any recommended sights in and around Lake Erie)
    Saturday, day 8: couple of rest days in Chicago
    Monday-Friday: follow the old Route 66 before turning off for Las Vegas. I realise this is quite an increase in mileage compared to week 1, but I still think it's a manageable amount in 5 days that should still give us the chance to stop for scenery along the way?
    Saturday, day 15: three or four days in Las Vegas, with sidetrips to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and anything else we might find
    Tuesday: travel down to LA, spend the last half a week visiting San Francisco and various other California sights
    Saturday, day 22: hand in the hire car at LAX and fly back to the UK

    I appreciate the often-mentioned sentiment on here about not planning each day's journey too much in case it all goes wrong; but my theory was that if we advance-booked hotels in NYC, Chicago, Vegas and LA for the four weekends, then that gives us the weekdays to travel as much or as little as we like and just find a motel at the end of each day. I also thought that by planning to be in big cities in the second and third weekends, any of us who could only arrange two weeks' vacation could still fly in/out without too much of a problem.

    My second big question, and bearing in mind nobody knows how much prices will fluctuate in the next 18 months, is would anyone care to place a very ballpark figure on estimated cost?

    a) I've guesstimated a rental cost of around $3500 per car for a three-week one-way rental over approx 4000 miles (so $875 each if only 4 of us make the trip and we squeeze into one car, or $1166 if all 6 of us make it and we take two cars). Since I already mentioned that we're all overgrown teenagers, we'd be prepared to pay extra to rent something needlessly powerful and noisy, but the closest thing I can find on any rental website is a modern Dodge Charger sedan. I'm guessing the chances of finding a rental company that offer genuine old-fashioned muscle cars to go cross-country is pretty slim!

    b) Add another guess of $600 in gas prices per car ($150 each if 4 of us in one car, $200 each if 6 in two cars) over the three weeks (using this site's handy fuel calculator for a 4000 mile trip at 20 mpg and a wild guess of $3 per gallon next summer).

    c) Accommodation is another guess at around $90 per night (we're not fussy regarding motel quality as long as the cockroaches aren't *too* big!), so assuming two to a room, around $1000 per person across the three weeks.

    d) Food, drink, laundry, souvenirs, tourist admission fees and miscellaneous other general supplies is another complete guess of $50 per day, so again around $1000 each for the three weeks.

    So in a completely speculative total and rounding my sums up because somebody's bound to forget to bring a toothbrush or something, I'm suggesting a total bill of $3500 per person across the three weeks (excluding the flights). How foolishly optimistic does that sound to the wise folk on here?

    Anyway, thanks again for reading all of my rambling nonsense and I look forward to any thoughts and opinions :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default reasonable

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a solid trip outlined, but there are a couple thoughts.

    First, I would skip the rental car until you are ready to leave New York City. This is one place where having a car won't be much help, as everything can be reached by walking/subway/bus, and parking in NYC can be extremely expensive.

    I'd also say that if you are planning to follow route 66, then you should stop at the Grand Canyon on your way to Vegas instead of going to vegas first and then backtracking for a sidetrip. I'd also retool your California section, as there is no reason to go from Vegas to LA, if you are just going to then do a big loop to San Francisco and back.

    Your budget sounds fine, and you really could get by with quite a bit less. For example, 4 people in a room is pretty common, so that would save lots of money - unless everyone needs their own bed or you just want a chance to have space from each other.

  3. Default

    Avoid planning too much -- that's not my personal philosophy -- we relax at home, and on trips like this, we want to fit in as much as we can! As such, we tend to make plans for our "must dos", then we have a list of other possibilities. For example, we have tickets to go see the Rockies play in Denver -- my husband desperately wants to do that -- and in addition we have a list of about 8-10 other places we'd like to see in that city. Will we do all of those things? Of course not! When we compiled the list, we never expected we could. But we KNOW we'll see the Rockies play, and we know we'll visit the Denver Mint. Once we've done that, we'll choose from the extras list. We've made sure-sure-sure we'll hit those two "must dos", and after that we're happy with whatever we fit in.

    If you have the documentation /passports to get into this country, crossing over to the Canadian side of Niagra won't be a problem.

    I see that you're city boys, and you're not doing much with the national parks like most of us; however, in addition to booking your hotels in the cities, you really should book your Grand Canyon accomodations well in advance. I forget if they open their reservations 11 or 13 months out, but I piddled around and didn't call as soon as my July 2009 dates opened up . . . and I almost didn't get a cabin. I only waited a couple weeks! If you want to ride the mules down into the canyon, don't forget to make those reservations way in advance too.

    Though I don't know anything about airfare from England, I think you're safe with $3500/person.

    If I were choosing a car for you guys, I'd look into something like a Ford Expedition or a Chevy Suburban. They are HUGE SUVs, not so noisy but very powerful. They're big enough to handle six adults comfortably, provided you aren't bringing too awfully much luggage. I think it'd be not only cheaper, but also nicer to have everyone in one vehicle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default checking the fine print

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsPete View Post
    If you have the documentation /passports to get into this country, crossing over to the Canadian side of Niagra won't be a problem.
    Crossing the border itself won't be a problem, but you are correct in thinking that crossing in a rental car might be. You'll have to check with your car rental company and see what their policies will allow and/or if you'll have to pay more to drive across the border. If they say it is ok, make sure that is included in the rental contract.

    If you find that you are not allowed to drive your rental car into Canada, then you can still view the Canadian side by walking across the bridge. If you don't mind doing a fair amount of walking, its another option to consider -and the bridge itself provides some pretty excellent views of the falls.

  5. Default

    without reading too much of your post i can tell you that you will not enjoy a dodge charger, especially not a stripped base model from a rental agency, and especially not cross-country. i've had to drive probably the exact car you'd be renting (from Enterprise rental) and it was unpleasant. if you can find/afford a mid-size SUV go with that.

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