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  1. Default 4 week San Fran - LA loop

    Hi,

    4 friends and I have rented an RV which we will be picking up in San Fransisco early January and returning to LA 4 weeks later. Our basic route involves driving down the west coast to somewhere around the Mexico border, and then heading West for as long as we have time for. We then plan on turning back towards Las Vegas/Grand Canyon before driving straight back to LA to return the van.

    We are inexperienced RVers from Australia. 21 year olds looking to see some sights and have some fun. I'm wondering if anyone could help with establishing a route and the actual roads we take? How long should we allow to drive down the west coast from San Fransisco to the Mexico border? Is there anything you would recommend seeing along the way?

    I'm also wondering whether you would recommend prebooking RV sites or is it likely that they will be much quieter as it is winter?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default So many options.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There really is a million and one things to see and do and we can certainly help you to fine tune your trip, but first of all I would recommend you get a good map of the USA [or just the Southwest] and have a look for things that appeal to you. You can then use key words to search the forums for many threads on this popular trip. These are some of our favorites with great info which includes my own RV trip from SF which might offer you ideas in the Vegas/Grand canyon area as well as considering Utah as an option.

    With 4 weeks you have a nice amount of time to do some exploring of the area but I would reconsider going to San Diego/Mexico border from San Fran and then back to LA at the end of your trip. Why not head towards Vegas, Grand canyon etc and then head South to San Diego and back up to LA and save yourself the trouble of going through the Urban sprawl of LA twice in an RV. You could still travel part way down the coast on the Pacific coast highway before cutting inland or you could head towards Yosemite. As you research you will find that SF to Vegas via Yosemite and Death valley is a very popular choice, but take a note, the mountain passes from West to East across the Sierra's [Tioga pass being the popular one] will be closed when you travel due to snow fall levels on the high ground. This is not a major problem as you can drive around the Southern end of the Sierra's via Bakersfield to Vegas and still onclude both parks.

    You shouldn't have any problems finding campgrounds this time of year but expect cold weather and the possibility of having to drain water tanks in the RV in extreme lows.

    I would imagine your RV rental must have been quite expensive with the fact you are only 21 years old and a possible one way drop off fee. May I ask who you rented from ?

    Do your research and when you have a better idea of the area and what you want to see come back and we can help piece it together.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 12-21-2009 at 08:57 AM. Reason: Clarity.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately Vegas needs to be at the end part of our trip, explaining the odd loop we're doing, however, the first time through LA we'll try and just get past it and revisit at the end I think!

    We've looked at it in more detail and come up with the following:

    6th Jan: Pick up van San Fran
    Between 6th & 14th visit Napa Valley and any other recommended areas around there
    15th Jan: drive south along the coast to LA area. Continue driving south/exploring for a few days
    19th Jan: Get to San Diego. Stay a couple of nights as we have friends here.
    21st Jan: go across the Mexican border for a night (is this worth it? We'd have to leave the RV and stay at a motel)
    22nd Jan: back to San Diego to pick up van
    23rd & 24th Jan: drive to Phoenix
    26th Jan: leave Phoenix for Vegas. Stay 4-5 nights in vegas (with a side trip day/night to the grand canyon)
    1st Feb: drive vegas - LA. 2 nights in LA before we drop off the van and head home.

    I would've thought we should drive further (maybe towards Alberquerque or something), but friends disagree. However, we've got the RV cause it was the cheapest rather than so we could spend all day everyday driving. We do want to see things properly rather than just skipping over it all. I do think we're probably hanging around the San Fran area too long though? Or is there lots to see like Napa valley, etc.?

    Thanks for all the help, i've read a lot but there's soo much out there than I'm finding it hard to refine and work out what is actually best!

    To answer your questions, we rented from an Aussie/NZ company that rents out vans from US rental companies. So I think we ended up with a Crusie America van thru this company but it cost us like US$2500 for the 4 weeks including mileage so very cheap in my opinion! No extra charge for under 21s either. One way drop off fee was $200. We fly back to Australia from LA so $200 seemed cheaper and easier than 5 of us each paying for transport from San fran back to LA.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    And Merry Christmas!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default double check some things

    I would make very certainly that the under 25 fee isn't hidden in the contract where you haven't seen it or the travel agent hasn't missed it. Cruise America charges $25 per day for a under 25 driver (and I believe its $25 for each driver.) Its possible that your rate quote really does include everything, but that would be a pretty horrible surprise to show up and be facing a huge extra charge.

    I would also make sure your math is really working out on the pricing. RV travel is rarely a cheaper way to travel, when you also factor in the additional costs for fuel, campground, and other expenses that go on top of the base rental rate. Plus, if you are spending most of your time in cities, it may be hard to find campgrounds and to move around a city in such a big lumbering vehicle.

    Personally, I would recommend against staying in Mexico for the night. You can easily walk across the border, but I would come back to the US for the night. You should also know that there have been some pretty serious crime issues in Mexican border towns over the past year. Even if you just take a daytrip, you really will have to be at your most alert for this portion of your trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    Between 6th & 14th visit Napa Valley and any other recommended areas around there
    I would highly recommend a visit to Yosemite from SF for at least an overnight stop.

    15th Jan: drive south along the coast to LA area.
    If you want to drive the coast road you will need at least one overnight stop to enjoy the views and small towns on route. It's not many miles but it is slow going, especially in the RV.

    21st Jan: go across the Mexican border for a night (is this worth it? We'd have to leave the RV and stay at a motel)
    What Michael said above.

    23rd & 24th Jan: drive to Phoenix
    Joshua tree NP and Red rock country around Sedona are 2 good options on this part of your journey.

    26th Jan: leave Phoenix for Vegas. Stay 4-5 nights in vegas (with a side trip day/night to the grand canyon)
    Just checking ! Do you mean Vegas back to GC ? From Phoenix go the Grand canyon and definitely spend a night there and then head to Vegas, not to Vegas and back again.
    Enter the Grand canyon via the East entrance, which is North on 89 and West on 64 to Desert view drive. You will get great views of the Colorado entering the Canyon area as you make your way into the park and the main Canyon area. You can then leave by the South entrance on 64 to I40. Mather campground is near to the village and within walking distance of the rim.

    On the way to Vegas you could detour onto part of the old Route 66 through Seligman which has quirky memorabilia stores and Diners. Allow enough time and you could stop at the Hoover dam where they are constructing the new bridge crossing at the moment.

    In Vegas the Oasis RV park is pretty cool or you can stay on the Strip at somewhere like Circus, circus.

    I would've thought we should drive further (maybe towards Alberquerque or something),
    Lot's of possibilities, one being Monument valley if you had a night to spare from elsewhere.

    we rented from an Aussie/NZ company that rents out vans from US rental companies.
    As Michael said, do your homework and double check things. As well as young driver fees there are normally extra charges for bedding and kitchen kits, extra mileage and sometimes preparation fees. If it is a class C only expect to get around 10mpg and you will have campsite fees. Not normally a budget choice but if you like the lifestyle go for it !

    I am hoping you will be fine and that you have secured a good deal, but I would not forgive myself if things turned out bad and I didn't bring to your attention the fact that there are fraudulent dealers out there.
    Sometimes when a deal is too good to be true, it is. It's just with your age and no charges it has set my alarm bells ringing, especially as Cruise America do make charges for young drivers and extra mileage.

    Please take a look at this thread this thread so you can see the format of some of these Co's and notice the lack of contact details/response if you have any questions. Also be wary of "up front" payment demands apart from the initial deposit, as the rental firms I have used never want the balance of money untill the day of pick up. It's purely a precaution but worth checking, good luck.

    A Merry Christmas to you !

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

    Default Contradiction?

    Quote Originally Posted by aussierv View Post
    26th Jan: leave Phoenix for Vegas. Stay 4-5 nights in vegas (with a side trip day/night to the grand canyon)
    Quote Originally Posted by aussierv View Post
    We do want to see things properly rather than just skipping over it all.
    These two statements seem contradictory to me. If you really do not want to skip over things, I would consider adding at least another day and night to the Grand Canyon. When you get there, you will see why. It leaves the artificialnous of LV for dead.

    If you are doubting that SF is worth all that time, consider a couple days trip to Yosemite. You will only be able to go to Yosemite Valley, as the rest will be closed for winter, but none the less, it is such a magnificent place, it would be a shame to not experience it.

    As for the RV... one thing which comes to mind, are you really aware of what type of vehicle you are renting? You may have spent time driving an RV at home, but I have never seen one of those huge monstrosities on Australian roads. At the same time as you are following Michael's advice, and double checking that you will not be charged the under 25 surcharge, I suggest that you get a very clear picture of just what you will be driving.

    It just all sounds too good, and as they say, when it sounds too good..... it usually is!

    Lifey in Melbourne

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