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  1. Default La -> sf -> lv -> ??

    I realise there are heaps of threads discussing some parts of this proposed trip but I really want to ask questions so would like to make my very first thread :)

    Firstly, im from Australia, planning a trip in July, will be over there for 14 days. Coming in late on the trip with other friends so im trying not to be over powering on what they want to do, but some things just dont make sense (maybe they havent researched enough?). So some things may be by myself (with my partner_.

    Looking at flying into LA Saturday morning. Thinking of hiring a car and driving to an apartment in Hollywood, looking at maybe something like Roosevelt. We have Sat afternoon, Sun, Mon and Tue and will be planning on leaving early Wed morning.

    At this stage plans are to take rental car and drive the scenic route to SF. I searched mapquest and it takes 7 hours without stops. Does anyone know what would be the major stops along the way and would half to a full hour be enough?

    So this would get us to SF 4pm allowing for two one hour stops. Check into our hotel, (any suggestions?), planning on staying in Union Square. Any suggestions for what we could do for the rest of the night?

    We have all day Thursday at San Francisco. Alcatraz tour seems to take half the day. Im thinking the night time tour at 6.45pm might be the best so we can have all day to do other things. Cable cars seem to be a must? Any idea on how long this would take out of your day? Of course a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge is in order and my understanding is that we will see it from the Alcatraz tour as well. It would take about half an hour to get there, maybe 15 mins looking at it then half hour back, so theres say an hour and a half taken.

    Would also like to see Fisherman's wharf, so we could do that before going on the Alcatraz tour.

    What else is a must do, or what else do you think we could fit in?

    Now here is where the group might split... They are wanting to leave early Friday morning to drive to Vegas via Death Valley (and get there Friday night). Im not exactly sure on what sites there are to see on the drive, but Death Valley sounds like one big flat desert plain - not exactly my biggest interest. Is there anything AWESOME I may be missing out on?

    What time do you think they would get to Vegas if they did this drive? Traffic also seems to be a factor going into Vegas. The drive seems to be 11 hours no stops. So say 2 one hour stops for fuel and food etc. Thats 13 hours. Not mentioning anywhere you might want to stop and view things. So say they leave 6 am - they wouldnt be getting into Vegas until 7pm, would the traffic be bad at this time and how much would you add on?

    I have also heard the drive into death valley and around isnt on just a normal road. Would this be a factor to consider, we are used to driving on the otherside of the road even! Also, the driver isnt going to see so much I guess.

    I think im planning on flying from SF to Vegas. Which may also give me some of Friday morning to do something further in San Francisco. Would this also bypass the apparently bad traffic going into Vegas on a Friday night?

    Vegas is Fri night, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue checking out Wed morning. (Any must dos appreciated, but I havent researched that part, will get to it eventually).

    Wed night and Thursday night, need suggestions for. Thinking of driving back LA way and staying somewhere different, would love to see Laguna Beach (just because I can say I have seen it from the show lol). Maybe stay somewhere further south. Or even making that a day trip and staying at Malibu?

    We fly out 11pm Friday night, so have most of that day to do something as well.

    I know this is a huge first post, so if anyone can give their thoughts on any part of the trip, it would be so much appreciated :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Misconception

    A couple of things your friends may have overlooked, and which you may be able to consider.

    LA > SF > LV is as you know, one of the most popular trips taken by those landing on the west coast. And Death Valley should be a part of it. It is an amazing landscape, something you will never see at home, and contrary to what some believe (and I did too, before I went there), the roads are good, ashphalt, and safe. July will be very hot, but that is no reason to miss out on it. Make sure you slip, slop, slap and carry plenty of water. When I was there, it was late May, and I left the engine running and the air conditioner on, each time I ventured out of the car, ever so briefly, to take photos. In short, in my opinion, you will regret not going through Death Valley.

    The scenic trip along the coastal road is a two day trip. You would be lucky to make the trip in 7 hours on I-5. Remember, Mapquest never needs to eat, visit the loo, fill up with petrol, or even stretch its legs. Neither does it ever stop to take a photo, admire an attraction, get caught up in a traffic jam or strikes roadworks.

    I suggest you get a good map, not a computer map, and check out a route from LA to LV through DV (and maybe Yosemite) to SF and then drive the PCH southbound, back to LA. That way you have the coast on your side, and do not need to cross over oncoming traffic, everytime you want to pull in and out of the many view points and scenic overlooks along that stretch of highway 1.

    Lifey in Melbourne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default missing out

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a few things are are problematic with your current plans.

    First, as lifey mentioned, SF to LA can only be done as a 7 hour drive via I-5, and that's if you don't hit traffic. If you want to take the scenic coastal route, its really a 2 day drive. We're talking at least 14 hours on the road.

    I'll also mention that if you want more time in SF, why don't you plan to spend more time there? Right now, you're basically planing to have 5 days in LA, 4 full days in Vegas, but only 1 day in SF. Just doesn't seem very balanced to me.

    SF to Vegas actually is a drive that can be done in about 11 hours, including stops, if you take the direct route. Yes Vegas can see some traffic, especially on Friday Night, but its not that big of a deal - and using that as part of your reason to fly is kind of silly, since that means you'll be dealing with airport traffic, which will also be busy on Friday night.

    Now, Death Valley adds a wrinkle. First of all, I have no idea what you mean when you say Death Valley isn't on "a normal road" nor do I understand why the driver wouldn't be able to see much. All I can guess is that you've got some very bad information somewhere. Additionally, saying that Death Valley is a flat desert plain shows you haven't even taken a moment to look at what Death Valley is. I'd suggest you do at least a few seconds worth of research on the topic and get an idea of what it actually is before you decide you don't want to go there.

    But the problem is that its really not possible to see Death Valley at all on a one day drive from SF to Vegas. That's more than a 700 mile drive once you put the DV detour in. Even before you do any sightseeing that's a solid 13 hours of driving, which means there just is no time to actually see any of the park. If they want to see it, I'd recommend just driving there, spending the night, and finishing off the couple hour drive to Vegas the next day.

    Or better yet, since you've got plenty of time and you need to spend the night anyway. I'd recommend also fitting Yosemite into the mix and make it a full 2 day trip. This would mean spending the first day driving to Yosemite, spending a little bit of time looking around, and then continuing over the scenic Tioga Pass, making for a full day of travel, stopping around Lee Vining or Bishop, then spend the next day in Death Valley, arriving in Vegas that evening.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your replies, much appreciated.

    I did do research on death valley, I realise "plains" was the wrong word ot use, basically all the info i have read is that its the hottest place on earth, vast desert etc. I wasnt neccessarily saying I dont like it, but more of, nature is not my particular interest, would my time be better spent flying and having more time in Vegas?

    Anyway... I think the plan is back from driving SF straight to vegas. My friends still seem to think we can do it in 10-11 hours through DV. They say they have read forums saying people can drive straight through the death valley route in 9 hours.

    Also in regards to the trip being unbalanced, we are coming in late and they already had this framework sorted, so im just trying to fit into that. If I were planning on my own I would have an extra day in SF and an extra day driving from SF to LV and leave for home from LV, but as it goes, we have two days spare after LV. We are planning on perhaps going to San Diego and seeing the zoo and some other attractions we didnt get time to see in LA the first time.

    Any other suggestions as where to stay for these two days would be appreciated as well. Plan is to do the apparently boring drive from LV to LA.

    One day in SF does not seem enough I know, but we just cant fit everything in!

    I also think we may be a little tired after the drive, but everyone else thinks we will be fine, its just driving. The majority rules and im in the minority here :(

    Good news is that I think we will be driving a convertible, although the drive from SF to LV sounds like you want the top up and air con on lol!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Facts.

    Hi there,

    I did do research on death valley, I realise "plains" was the wrong word ot use, basically all the info i have read is that its the hottest place on earth, vast desert etc.
    Did you also read that it is one of the most fascinating desert landscapes on earth !

    I wasnt neccessarily saying I dont like it, but more of, nature is not my particular interest, would my time be better spent flying and having more time in Vegas?
    Only you can decide that as an individual, but if you are not interested then perhaps flying is best, it will be a long day in the car and without interest it will feel a whole lot longer.

    They say they have read forums saying people can drive straight through the death valley route in 9 hours.
    Shame they didn't find anyone who drove the route legally or without a helicopter, Lol !

    Seriously though, the route is around 650 miles and through Death valley are speed limits of 45 mph [IIRC]. To cover those miles in 9 hours you would have to travel the whole route at an average of 72 mph for every minute, in and out of the City, through Death valley and never have to stop for fuel, food or the bathroom never mind sight seeing.

    My friends still seem to think we can do it in 10-11 hours through DV.
    10 hours without Death valley maybe, to drive through DV you are back to 13/14 hours. These are from real people with real time experience not from a mapping program or "say so", maybe you should book that flight !

    Plan is to do the apparently boring drive from LV to LA.
    "Boring" isn't a word we use around here as it is just state of mind. Think boring you will find boring but there are always things of interest if you are prepared to look further than the tarmac.

    I hope you have a great trip and can make it work for you, it can't be easy jumping on someone else's wagon, especially when it appears they won't listen.

  6. Default

    I wonder why they are not finding the information I am finding.

    Now my partner thinks a road trip would be cool, I tell you, this organising is soooo hard.

    I think part of the reason they are determined to drive is that they have already booked the hire car. We cant take a day from LA because they have booked their accomodation, plus have other people they are meeting there for that time. I cant change Vegas times because I am meeting another friend there!

    Do you think all this driving is going to be hard considering we are used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Im already freaking out about driving from LAX to Hollywood where we are staying.

    Do you think I am panicking unneccessarily? No one else seems to think it will be that difficult. It may be because I havent travelled and they have.

    Is there anything we could do on the way to LA from LV. I think I really want to spend one of my last two days at the Zoo at San Diego. It sounds awesome!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you look at the map, San Diego is south of LA, and LV is northeast of both of them. Via fastest routes, LA to LV is about 4.5 hours, SD to LV is about 5.5 hours, and LA to SD is about 2 hours. These are outside of rush hour times, if you hit rush hour in LA or SD, it will be considerably longer. Note that to get between SD and LV, you essentially have to go through part of the LA area, it's I-15 all the way.

    San Diego has 3 major attractions - the zoo, Sea World, and the Wild Animal Park.

    Something that may be leading you and your friends astray when looking at the maps - we use miles, not kilometers. If you are looking at distance numbers and thinking kilometers, you have a problem. 500 miles is 800 kilometers.

  8. Default

    thank you glc.

    We were planning on driving back from LV and staying somewhere different, maybe Malibu, maybe even San Diego itself. We have that day we drive back, the whole next day, then the day after that we have to be at LAX for an 11pm flight, so essentially another whole day. I was thinking of doing SD Zoo the very last day and leaving for the airport from there. (That will be a Friday I think).

    In regards to Miles and KM, thats a good point, but I have been looking up Mapquest to get the average times and they say they have been looking at Google Maps.

    I just think they underestimate how long it takes to stop, go to the toilet, put fuel in get something to eat and get back onto the road. Also they dont seem to think driving this long way (in particular between SF and LV) would be tiring. I just know I have done the 10 hour trip from Sydney to Brisbane the whole way and im exhausted when I get back (two stops for fuel and food only). This might be because I was the only one driving. Maybe also the excitement of a road trip in another country will be enough to keep me from tiring :)

    Its hard when you are working to someone elses time frame but all in all I think its going to be fantastic. Im so excited to see another country and I have always wanted to visit USA. If anyone has any other hints or tips, I would very much appreciate them!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the root of your problem

    The simply fact is that the reason you are having so many problems planning this roadtrip is that you and your friends haven't bothered to plan the same trip. They're planning one trip where they are spending some days in LA, and want to drive around in a convertable. You're planning a trip where you don't want to drive, and want to only focus on cities, need to spend some time in Vegas. You're trying to put it altogether, but its not easy because you're trying to do it after the fact.

    This sort of "planning" almost always leads to very big problems, because you obviously have different goals that aren't lining up. When you throw in this being your first chance to see the US, and the great deal of expense that goes into that, the potential points of conflict are going to go up, and when you've got people who think that you can drive 700 miles in 10 hours, including sightseeing in a national park, you're also going to have additional stress from when they are smacked upside the head by reality.

    When it comes right down to it, you actually could be very well off actually planning seperate trips where you guys get together for a couple days here and there when things line up. Afterall, that's basically what you've done in the early stages of your planning anyway.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Getting out of San Diego to LAX on a Friday afternoon is going to be brutal. Allow 4 hours.


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