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  1. Default Help needed for beginners with San Francisco>Las Vegas Trip!

    Hi All,

    Well I don't really know where to start!! We have little knowledge of this area and have decided on an itinery but thought this was the best place to ask a few questions to get a better understanding.

    We want to drive from San Fran to Vegas in Sept/October (After reading Dave's thread - Jealous!)
    We only have 2 weeks and ideally want to start with 4/5 nights in San Francisco and 2 nights in Vegas. We were thinking:
    San Francisco > South Lake Tahoe> Yosemite> Mammouth> Death Valley> Vegas.

    Is that too much in the time we have?
    Is there something amazing we should see that I haven't written down?
    Is there somewhere there we don't need to bother with?
    Is it going to cost alot more to have different pick up/drop off points for car? Same with Flights?
    Should we consider an RV?
    Where did you find the best routes to drive?

    I can't think of anything else right now! Anyone able to help, it would be much appreciated! I have looked at lots of the threads on here but am still feeling a little daunted (but excited!)


    Norwich, Norfolk, UK

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

    Default more than popular

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The biggest problem with your current plan is that you've basically "forgot" about the Sierras. the Yosemite Valley is on the west side, while Tahoe and Mammoth are on the east. You'd have to cross the mountains 3 times to do the trip you've laid out.

    With 2 weeks, you could also look at including some of the Coast highway, or doing a little exploring east of Vegas like the Grand Canyon or perhaps some of the Utah parks, however, you would likely have to give up some of your 4/5 days in SF.

    Cost wise, going one way is usually more expensive, although SF to LV trips are popular enough that the one way fee shouldn't be too much (it might even be waived in some cases.) RV's are a choice about lifestyle more than budget, as they usually cost far more, and for a relatively short trip like this, I'd probably stick to a car.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Alternative loop.

    Hi Amy and welcome. [glad you enjoyed the report]

    Your trip is actually quite relaxed plus it's a wonderful time of year to visit. Michael has offered you some good options to explore but I would consider dropping Tahoe and adding a run down the coast to Cambria and do a complete loop. It's possible you will get away with the one way drop off fee but you might be able to get a better flight deal into and out of the same City. You could also compare which would be cheapest as it doesn't matter where you start, LV or SF. For example you could do the following, LV 2 nights > Death valley 1 night > Mammoth 1 night > Yosemite 2 nights > SF 3 nights > Monterey 1 night> Cambria 1 night > back to Las Vegas. You could juggle it a little for instance by stopping only one night on route to Yosemite [somewhere between Death valley and Mammoth and seeing a little of each] and /or spend just one night on the coast, or 1 less in SF and then you could make your way to the Grand canyon from the coast and then back to Vegas. Nothing wrong at all with your original plan and it will fit in perfectly with the time you have but you do have alternatives.

    The RV can be fun if it's your 'thing' but as Michael said it isn't the budget friendly choice, although costs can start to 'break even' if there are four of you sharing them, with 2 it will be much more expensive. If it was something you were considering I would start out in SF and not pick up the RV until you were leaving the City, it is very limited on RV parks and you wouldn't want to go anywhere near downtown in an RV. While thinking of it, if you start in SF anyway I wouldn't bother picking up a car on arrival either. The City is compact and easy to get around on foot and public transport [cable cars are part of the fun] and parking charges expensive.

  4. Default Questions, questions and more questions!

    Thanks for your replies. We do want the trip to be relaxed as it's our Delayed Honeymoon (We got married December 2010 and wanted to wait to save for something we really wanted to do!) San Francisco is a definite and we'd like to spend at least 4 nights there.

    Also, I don't drive so Tom will be doing all of it and he didn't want to drive everyday if we could avoid it. So we want to try to get as much in without feeling like we robbed ourselves of time to see things and explore. Rather than hopping out taking a picture and getting on our way again!

    We wanted to go to Tahoe as my Sister got engaged there and has raved about the beauty of the place as long as I can remember! Do you think she has 'rose tinted glasses' on as it's a special place for her? Is it not that great? Or is it just 'out of the way'?

    Lots of people have mentioned the coast and the 'coast road' to me, is this something we should try to get in then if at all possible?

    Also, I am a little worried about Vegas. In as much as I so want to go, to see it, experience it and say I've done it.....however, I'm not fussed about being there for more than a day/night and Tom has been before (but LOVED it) I read somewhere someone felt robbed of their time seeing beautiful natural wonders and I'm worried I may feel the same!! But is is silly to drive that far and just stay a night?

    Now my next problem is this. An RV is definitely more 'us' than hotels. We enjoy camping at home and the outdoor life generally. So I'd really like to do it this way. Is it going to be dramatically cheaper for us to do B&B's/motels etc though? As cost is obviously a factor! We wouldn't pick an RV/Car up till we were leaving the city, I have heard about the very expensive car parking! Plus we are looking forward to walking round and using the Cable cars.

    I think that's probably enough of my rambling questions for now! Thanks in advance!!

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

    Default No definitive answers.

    I have not been to Lake Tahoe so can't really comment from personal experience other than it looks wonderful, but for me [and what I was thinking for your trip] it is a bit out of our way and there were other things that I felt were just as [if not more so] satisfying. So, it looks like a lovely place [among many] that is a little out of the way but you need to decide which options work for you. The coast road around Big Sur is one of the most famous coastal drives in the world and is something I would consider, especially if you decide to do a complete loop as suggested earlier.

    I read somewhere someone felt robbed of their time seeing beautiful natural wonders and I'm worried I may feel the same!!
    Guilty as charged !! Although in fairness I really enjoyed Vegas and it was a mixed emotion, I guess like yourselves, I wished that I had had more time overall. It was a great experience and who knows how I would have felt if I hadn't had the extra time there, as I wouldn't of see half as much as I did. If it works into your itinerary you could go for 2 nights and one full day as it really isn't far to go if you are still heading to Death valley.

    Now my next problem is this. An RV is definitely more 'us' than hotels. We enjoy camping at home and the outdoor life generally. So I'd really like to do it this way. Is it going to be dramatically cheaper for us to do B&B's/motels etc though? As cost is obviously a factor!
    If it's "you" and your budget can manage it then it can be a wonderful experience in the National parks. The costs can be significantly different by the time you add on the poor gas mileage, campground fee's and kitchen and bedding kit costs, but by how much more will depend on what your Hotel and car budget would be. For example you could pay a $120/ $150 a night in a National park lodge or you could find a Motel 6 on Interstate for around $50 If you are staying in the National park the campground would only cost about $20 per night but expect the RV to work out at around $150 per day. You will have to do a little research on line to see what deals are available for either to get a true comparison but yeah, the RV isn't cheap !

  6. Default

    An RV can be a lot of fun, and the convenience of immediate access to a refrigerator, microwave, and restroom cannot be understated. However, in addition to the other expenses already mentioned is the fact that you will get about 8 MPG with a 26foot class C motorhome in the mountains, 10MPG on flat land. You will also tend to drive much slower; these things ARE trucks, after all! I really get nervous going over 60MPH in one. That being said, you might want to keep an eye on the Camping World website.

    They always have ridiculous deals on one-way rentals, often less than $30 per night. They only include 100 miles per day before mileage charges are incurred. They don't post these too far ahead of time; perhaps a month or two. Of course, their destinations and timelines might not match yours, but if they do it could be a good deal. Currently, they have SF to LV for less than $10 per day. I will admit that I've never rented through them, although I have through Cruise America.
    Last edited by travelingman; 01-22-2011 at 05:40 AM. Reason: correct typos

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Tough choice

    The mountains or the sea; the classic vacationer's dilemma.

    I have the advantage of being able to go to either Tahoe or Big Sur on a whim; both about three hours drive away.

    Both have spectacular scenery.

    That said, if you only have time to do one; I'd lean toward Big Sur (but it's a very very close call).

    You get to toss in the Monterey Peninsula and Hearst Castle if you choose the Big Sur option, but also at the cost of another night or two... you'll have to assess where you want to spend your time (the other classic vacationer's dilemma).

    The good news: you're going to enjoy any itinerary through this area, regardless of what your final plans look like, as long as you set a comfortable pace (e.g. don't drive long distances and don't drive every day).

  8. Default

    Hi Amy, welcome to the forum. I am glad to hear that you are planning to trip from San Francisco to Vegas. I would request you to follow the itinerary being laid out by Dave. I am of the view you should spend at least 3 days in Las Vegas. I am sure that you will really enjoy your stay in the entertainment capital of the world.

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