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  1. Default Five weeks, 8000 miles later


    I only commented on here occassionally prior to my road trip, but found this site incredibly useful, so thought I would post a little about my road trip experience.

    On 11 May picked up a Dodge Magnum in San Fran (free upgrade, stationwagon, fun looking but not a great car). Stayed at Santa Cruz.
    12 May - Monterey Aquarium, Carmel Mission, stayed in Seaside.
    13 May - Drove Pacific Coast Highway, stayed with family in Newport Beach, LA.
    14 May - Disneyland - interesting, but one day is more than enough.
    15 May - Huntington Gardens, Pasadena - less touristy/tacky than Hearst Castle.
    16 May - Drove to Death Valley, camped at Furnace Creek having been assured it would cool down at night - it did not.
    17 May - Las Vegas
    18 May - Hoover Dam, drove around Lake Mead towards Zion NP. Stayed in Hurricane.
    19 May - Explored Zion NP, climbed Angels Landing - amazing. Camped in the park.
    20 May - Drove to Bryce NP, explored the park.
    21 May - Drove to North Rim Grand Canyon, then on to Page, AZ for the night.
    22 May - Drove towards Flagstaff, stopped in at Wupataki NP.
    23 May - Drove through Sedona, down to Montezuma Castle, then to Walnut Canyon, stayed in Holbrook.
    24 May - Explored Petrified Forest, drove to Albequrque, NM for the night.
    25 May - Headed to Bandiler NP, camped there.
    26 May - Explored Los Alamos, drove to Taos, NM and camped there.
    27 May - Drove to Colorado Springs, stopping by Great Sand Dunes NP.
    28 May - Went up Pikes Peak on cog railway, camped in Rocky Mountain NP.
    29 May - Explored Rocky Mountain NP, stayed on western side.
    30 May - Drove to Ouray, camped.
    31 May - Drove to Mesa Verde, camped and explored.
    1 June - Drove to Moab.
    2 June - Briefly visited Canyonlands, Arches, stayed near Grand Junction, CO.
    3 June - Drove to Green River, WY via Dinosaur NP.
    4 June - day of rest - relaxed and watched TV.
    5 June - Drove to Grand Tetons, camped and got very wet.
    6 June - Drove to Yellowstone, with looming poor weather forecast and wet camping gear got a room in a lodge inside the park.
    7 June - Snowed in - stuck at Old Faithful for most of the day - finally roads opened and drove to Cody hoping for better weather.
    8 June - Buffalo Bill Museum - weather still poor, so drove to Little Bighorn, MO, camped nearby in Hardin.
    9 June - Beartooth Highway still closed, so head back into Yellowstone by north entrance, camp there.
    10 June - explore Yellowstone.
    11 June - head down to Grand Tetons again and camp there.
    12 June - Drive down to Salt Lake City, via Idaho, and Antelope Island in the Salt Lake - swam in it, which is both cool and gross at the same time.
    13 June - Drove to Lake Tahoe.
    14 June - Drove across Tioga Pass, explored Yosemite, camped nearby.
    15 June - Walked up to Nevada Falls, saw other parts of Yosemite. Drove back to San Fran, returned rental car.

    We then had a week with family in the SF area, and had already spent two weeks on East Coast in Wash, Penn, and NYC.

    We averaged about $55 per night (incl tax) when we stayed in motels, no where was booked in advance, although we made sure we got to whereever we were heading by about 6pm. When possible we made use of the motel coupon books, which had some good savings. Camping was suprisingly expensive, it is difficult to justify paying $20 per night for a site with a long-drop toilet, when you can get a comfortable motel for $40. Having said that, camping was a great experience, once we got used to the whole food security thing.

    We had a cooler which we put lunch food, snacks and drinks in - this also saved a lot of money. If we were staying at a motel, we ate out for dinner and this averaged to around $20 for 2 of us - varying between $12 for McDs and $30 for a 'nice' meal.

    Overall - we averaged around $100 per day for accomodation, petrol and food for 2. We purchased a NP annual pass at the start, and certainly got our moneys worth from it.

    We probably did not take the most sensible route, in fact almost certainly did not, but we were kind of making it up as we went along. We had a general idea of what we wanted to cover, but changed the plan depending on weather, how interesting or uninteresting we found the area. This worked really well for us. We drove A LOT, and by the end of it were really sick of driving, but I'm not sure what we would of cut out to try and avoid that. We also fitted in a lot of walking/museums/other attractions. It was an amazing trip - the US is a beautiful country.

    Well that is my two cents anyway - I hope it is useful to someone.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Excellent, Excellent

    I love you got snowed in the park in June -- and.... it never cools off in Death Valley between mid-April and mid-October...

    Wow, that was a very busy trip -- but I sure loved to hear where you went. Thanks for the information about the costs too.

    Hope to see you back here again soon.


  3. #3

    Default About those coupons............

    Thanks for the report and information, Tay.

    Can you elaborate on the coupon book you used for motels? I'm in the very preliminary stage of planning a RoadTrip about a year from now, and a solo Speed Run from Raleigh, NC to either Salt Lake City, UT or Missoula, MT is involved. I could use some general info related to discount econo-box motels along the way.


  4. Default

    Yes it was a trip of extremes for us - 115 degrees in Death Valley, flash floods in Arizona, snowed in and 28 degrees in Yellowstone, not quite what we had expected, but made the whole thing more interesting, and got some great photos.

    WRT Motel coupons, An American would probably have more info about them, but we found booklets of motel coupons at most visitor centres, particularly the ones close to state boarders. They are also at some rest stops, McDs, Denny's. There are a few different brands of them and they generally give you 10-20 percent discount, although sometimes more. The only hitch is you have to read the fine-print - sometimes they are not valid for weekends and you can't usually book ahead with them, or if you do then you pay more. We found the green one to be the best, sorry can't remember what it is called, but this may vary depending on region.

    WRT to motels - it depends on how upscale you want it. We generally found Econo-lodge, Motel 6 and Super 8 too expensive, although in tinpot/small towns even these places will be cheap. We found America's Best Value Inn to be reasonable, generally a bit dated, but always clean. None of these places have much in the way of breakfast though. Good luck with the planning.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I hope you can share some of those with us?

    I would bet you captured some awesome photos -- I hope you can post some of them here for us to marvel at too,

    Those coupon books are available at all state Visitor Centers -- and even better than the coupons are the people staffing the centers. They are always local volunteers and more than happy to share tips and secret places they know about.

    Hands down though -- the best sources for inexpensive tips for lodging comes from barber shops -- A $12 haircut, whether needed or not, is a very smart investment when looking for reasonable priced lodging tips.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    My sort of trip, I drove all the way with you, as I read it.

    Fancy the Beartooth Highway being closed for you. I must have been so lucky to find it open at the end of May.

    Great Sand Dunes NP one of my favourites. Did you climb the dunes?

    Foy, those coupon books are available at most rest areas on the Interstates, as well as the Visitor Centres and Welcome Centres. I have even picked them up in Wendy's and at Truck stops and plazas. You can also get them on the internet - here. There is another one, but the book is in the car, and right now I am not going out there. I'll see if I can get it later.

    Lifey who uses the coupons constantly

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    And the other one I regularly use. I know there are others, but do not have any with me at present. When I am finished with them, and there are un-expired coupons still in the book, I leave it where other travellers may find it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default coupons

    Wow, Foy, I'm a little surprised you've never noticed those coupon books before. They really are one of the staples of finding budget lodging on my trips.

    Anyway, as was mentioned, you can find them at state visitor centers, but its also pretty common to see them at truck stops, gas stations, and even some restaurants near the interstate. You'll usually either find them in a newspaper-type box or on a rack with other free newspapers or travel brochures.

    There are a couple different companies, so you can usually find 2-3 different books for each state/region. In addition to the travel coupon site/book that Lifey linked to, roomsaver is another site that has both coupon books and online coupons. (Roomsaver is usually a green book, so that's probably the one that Tay liked)

    The coupons are almost always good for walk-ins only, and you do have to look at the fine print, as sometimes the rate will only be for a single or will have restrictions or higher rates for weekend stays.

  9. #9


    I've sometimes stopped at a visitor centre, picked up the coupon book then asked the staff for their tips on which hotel to avoid. They will often volunteer to phone ahead to the hotel they recommend and, so long as you're early enough in the day, they will usually be able to hold the room at the discounted price for you for 30 minutes or so until you arrive.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Yes Craig, and they will do it for RV parks and campgrounds as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post do have to look at the fine print, ...............
    Michael, does that not go without saying... does it not apply to everything you do?

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