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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    10

    Default Help! Roadtrip virgins...

    Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated.
    2 of us are planning a road trip from San Fran to Miami in Jan.
    Places we want to visit are:
    Yosemite nat park
    Sequoia NP
    Death Valley
    Las Vegas
    Grand Canyon
    Houston
    New Orleans
    Orlando
    Miami

    We want to ideally drive only 3 hours a day.... are happy to stop between the above destinations to avoid having to drive more than that!

    I'm wondering:
    1. Will the weather be fair - no snow? (We don't want to end up living a survival episode...)

    2. What type of vehicle do you recommend? We're a 30 something couple. We like roomy vehicles.

    3. Money-saving tips would be appreciated... we're from New Zealand and our dollar isn't so strong...

    How long do you think it'd take? If we say, drove 3 or so hours a day and then stayed one night? We have about one month.

    Thanks - any feedback will be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default basics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    1 - You can't avoid winter weather when making a winter trip. You'll likely see snow on the ground in Yosemite and Sequoia, but its also quite possible you'd see snow or ice across Arizona/New Mexico/Texas. It shouldn't keep you from enjoying your trip, but it is a reality that you should be prepared for.

    2 - a Standard Size Sedan will likely be your best value and have plenty of room for 2 people.

    3 - Here are some tips for saving money on the road.

    4 - A month is a very nice amount of time for this trip, although 3 hours a day really is a very small amount of time on the road when you are talking about a trip of this distance. It could be done certainly (You'd be looking at roughly 20 days of driving to cover these miles traveling 3 hours a day) but I think its likely that you'll want to drive a bit more in some cases (maybe 5-6 hours) and then spend some time exploring the area. Just for perspective, traveling just 3 hours a day, you'd need 5 days to get across Texas on I-10!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Thanks loads Michael. The tips page is fantastic... mom and pop motels here we come!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Slightly out of date.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miss KK View Post
    ... mom and pop motels here we come!
    Just be aware, that article was written in 2004. Only once did I find a mom and pop motel for less than $30, this year. Mostly they were $35 - $40, though a couple of times I paid more than $40. Be aware that the price quoted to you will not be the price you pay. In the US the tax is never included in the price. Be sure to ask for the total price.

    Lifey who travels on a shoestring
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-27-2009 at 07:57 PM. Reason: added information

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    10

    Default thanks Lifemagician! will keep that in mind

    Does anyone know if non-US residents are able to apply for AA membership, gas loyalty cards etc (like flying-J...)? I think this'd really save us heaps of money.
    Any answer would be greatly appreciated!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default yes and maybe

    I'm not sure if you can become a AAA member as a non-resident, but the better option would be to join the equivilant auto club in NZ. You'll get the same benefits, plus you can use them to help plan your trip with things like maps, and you'd get to use the coverage for the full year that you'll be paying for!

    Other rewards programs run through stores and companies won't generally have residency requirements. Although with any of those, I would remind you that sometimes they can provide a false savings. Its easy to start going to places where you have a loyalty card, and then not notice that you're not getting the best deal by going there. For example, if you go to a gas station where you have a rewards card, but that station costs 5 cents more a gallon than the station down the street, you're not really getting a deal!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not all benefits

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I'm not sure if you can become a AAA member as a non-resident, but the better option would be to join the equivilant auto club in NZ. You'll get the same benefits, plus you can use them to help plan your trip with things like maps, and you'd get to use the coverage for the full year that you'll be paying for!
    Good advice, join your local automobile club, and make sure you bring your membership with you. There is a reciprical arrangement between the major automobile clubs in the world, and as such you are able to benefit from your membership whilst travelling in participating countries. However, these benefits do not extend to roadside service. They are limited to tourist information and assistance, such as free maps, advice, trip ticks, etc. (If you are renting, any roadside assistance should be covered by the rental company.)

    The car I am driving has AAA coverage, and the owner of the car added me to the account. That is the only reason why I have been able to get roadside assistance on this trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Other rewards programs run through stores and companies won't generally have residency requirements. Although with any of those, I would remind you that sometimes they can provide a false savings. Its easy to start going to places where you have a loyalty card, and then not notice that you're not getting the best deal by going there. For example, if you go to a gas station where you have a rewards card, but that station costs 5 cents more a gallon than the station down the street, you're not really getting a deal!
    Exactly my attitude towards loyalty programs. That said, I do have many grocery store cards, and use them when I am in that particular chain. Some have saved me considerable amounts. Whenever I am asked if I have a card, I just ask how I get one, and normally get one right on the spot.

    But I agree with Michael, there is a chance that it will stop you from price checking and comparitive shopping.

    Lifey who always meant to get a Flying J card
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-24-2009 at 10:22 PM. Reason: clarification

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default unneeded

    In this case, it sounds like the trip would be done in a rental car, in which case, the rental car company provides all coverage in the event of a breakdown, and thus the roadside assistance part of AAA wouldn't really be of much use here anyway.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    10

    Default San Fran to Flagstaff and all in between! 5 nights?

    kia ora,
    we're leaving san fran in the AM on day 1, we have one night til we're due in Vegas for 3 nites. We were planning on doing Yosemite, maybe Sequoia, and definately Death Valley in that time. Is that nuts?

    we depart vegas about midday, and want to see the canyon before we fly out of flagstaff the following morning.
    so...
    day 1: depart san fran, see yosemite, sequoia. Spend nite somewhere....
    day 2: drive to vegas vis death valley, sllep in vegas
    day 3/4: in vegas
    day 5: leave vegas for the grand canyon.... sleep somewhere?
    day 6: drive to flagstaff, fly out

    My questions are:
    1. is this too much to handle - given that we're new to roadtrips (the furthest we've driven in a day is 6 hours...)?

    2. Can you recommend cheap places to stay somewhere around death valley?

    3. can you recommend a cheap place to stay near the grand canyon - south rim? it'll be new years day.

    thanks for a great website!
    Miss KK

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

    Default Too much.

    Hello and welcome back to the RTA forums !

    From SF to Vegas and trying to visit Yosemite, Sequoia and Death valley in between with a one night stop over would be tough going at the best of times, but during the height of winter where you will be facing snow chain restrictions, short daylight hours and possible weather disruption is a no no I am sorry to say. All passes over the Sierra mountains will be closed and you will have to head South around Bakersfield to get to Death valley. It's possible that you could drive to Yosemite valley and head South towards Fresno and continue to Vegas via Death valley next day but these would be very full days, but again the weather will play a part and there is no knowing what that might be at this stage.

    For the Grand canyon, either Williams or Flagstaff will offer the cheapest lodgings with Tusayan being the closest but you will most likely pay more.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-27-2010 at 07:12 AM. Reason: Removed Unneeded Link after Thread Merge

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