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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default 6 Week Road Trip - Start and End in LA

    Hi guys,

    I've been reading some of the fantastic advice and ideas over the last few weeks on this forum, so I think it's time to post our itinerary so we can get feedback from the experts and really get down to the nitty gritty of budgets and things to see.

    My girlfriend and I (26 & 24) will be arriving in LA mid July and leaving 6 weeks later, again from LA. Our route is currently variable and we're not sure whether to go clockwise or anti so your opinions on that would be great, or if it doesn't matter thats cool too. The clockwise version in LA - San Fran - Yosemite - Seattle - Vancouver then head inland and down through Montana - Idaho - Utah - Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Death Valley - LA. Do you think this is too big or possible?

    At the moment our budget is looking at US$6500. About $2000 will be going towards the rental and fuel leaving around $700 a week for accomodation, food and things to do/see. We are members of Couchsurfing.org so when in the bigger cities (maybe 50% of the time) we'll be looking at staying with hosts. What do you think of this too?

    Now the most important bit, what to see along the way. We are definitely seeing people as opposed to doing people (prefer gorgeous views than adventure activities but won't say no to a small hike of several hours). We obviously have plenty to think about in Vegas, LA, Seattle, San Fran but what can people recommend for Montana, Oregon, Idaho etc. Also what is the best route to do Yosemite and other national parks. LA, Yosemite then San Fran or LA, San Fran then Yosemite? We also like perculiar things too. Sophie found a website of a museum in Oregon that has a real shrunken head and says we have to go :)

    Sorry this is so long but I wanted to get as much info as possible for you guys.

    Thanks for reading :)

    Jon & Sophie

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

    Default Filling in the blanks.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your trip is certainly possible and with 6 weeks available, not to big. Your outlined route could be driven in Approx 8 days so plenty of time for sight seeing.

    You should keep looking around the forums and other RTA pages to start filling in the blanks between your list of places. Even with what you have, there are thousands of options/attractions along the way, too many to start listing at this point. The National parks Website is a great place to start with regards to the Parks. Questions like "LA to SF to Yosemite or LA to SF to Yosemite" are decisions you can work out when you know what else you fancy seeing. For instance you could head up the Coast on CA1 to SF or head inland to Sequoia NP and then Yosemite. If you stuck to the coast you could possibly head to Yosemite from Death valley over Tioga pass and down through Sequoia at the other end of your trip. These type of options will crop up all the way through your trip and there is no right or wrong answer. Once you fill in some of the blanks we can certainly help to 'fine tune' it and offer alternatives but for now keep at it !

    Also I notice you have Utah, Las Vegas, Grand canyon, Death valley in that order. I would consider going into Utah [Zion NP, Bryce canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands NP's are just some of the options] and then to the Grand canyon [North or South rim, or both] and then to Vegas and Death valley to save back tracking.

    Depending on how much time you spend on a couch, your budget is possible, but a little tight. You can get cheap Motel rooms but when you are in or close to NP's the prices can go up considerably. If you are visiting more than 4 National parks you can save money and buy the annual pass for $80 that allows access to every park for a year. You can purchase it at the first park you visit. If you are into camping, you could consider buying some basic camping gear to use along the way. People sometimes take this option, save money and donate it to a charity at the end of the trip. Can be a grerat way to enjoy the NP's on a budget.

    Enjoy the planning !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JonAndSophieTravel View Post
    Our route is currently variable and we're not sure whether to go clockwise or anti so your opinions on that would be great.......
    For me, it is a no-brainer. Do this trip anti-clockwise. When travelling the maginificen Pacific Coast Highway, CA1 from SF to LA, you will be on the ocean side. If you are to drive it from LA to SF, everytime you want to enter and leave one of the many view points and overlooks, you need to cross a lane of traffic. This can add significantly to the time it takes to travel this magnificent road - which is every bit as great as the Great Ocean Road in Vic.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonAndSophieTravel View Post
    At the moment our budget is looking at US$6500. About $2000 will be going towards the rental and fuel leaving around $700 a week for accomodation, food and things to do/see.
    Make sure you check with your bank about the extra costs involved when using your credit card. For a 6 week trip it can add up. Also check what it will cost to withdraw from your savings account, and make sure you add ATM fees in the US - though one can find free ATMs. Of course there is a charge for travellers cheques as well, so you will need to compare which suits best.

    For me, I would go with strictly cash, but that all depends on how comfortable you are carrying it around. And change it now!! before leaving home. You have probably already missed the top of the market, as the AU$ has just dropped below parity with the greenback. (I changed a considerable amount when it was above parity, and my trip is not till 2012.)

    Quote Originally Posted by JonAndSophieTravel View Post
    We are members of Couchsurfing.org so when in the bigger cities (maybe 50% of the time) we'll be looking at staying with hosts. What do you think of this too?
    I have used Couchsurfing for some of my accommodation in the US (and at home). I always make contact a month or two beforehand to find a suitable host, and to make sure they are available. It always works best if you get to know your host or hostess ahead of time. Make sure you do something in return, be it bringing a meal, cleaning around the house or simply a gift from home. I make a point of taking my host out to dinner on the last night. You will find that they appreciate that as much as you appreciate the accommodation and local knowledge.

    Another source of budget accommodation, is to look out for the hotel and motel discount coupon books at rest areas and truck stops along the way.

    Lifey in Melbourne

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the input guys :)

    Southwest Dave - I know we have a lot to plan, I was just really eager to post but it was a little premature. I'll spend the next couple of hours really trying to get the route right and then will repost to see how everyone thinks it is. It'll then be easier to suggest activities along the way as it'll be a much tighter itinerary.

    Lifemagician - Thanks for the anticlockwise idea. It'll be nice to finish our trip with that drive too :) And don't worry, we've been hosting before our trip back in the UK and surfing around OZ on CS for almost 2 years now and know the etiquette well. We've had some amazing experiences too with hosts who have taken us to do things that no traveller would have known - I recommend it to everyone!

    Will try and repost soon. Looking forward to your thoughts.....

    Jon & Sophie

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Ok, much tighter plan now - I hope this gives you something to go on.... We've gone with LifeMagician's plan of anti-clockwise. I've also indicated where we hope to Couchsurf so hopefully that will help when looking at the budget.

    19th July to 23rd - Explore Los Angeles (CouchSurf)
    23rd - Visit Sequoia NP, sleep Ridgecrest/Kernville
    24th - Visit Death Valley via Furnace Creek, sleep Vegas (CS)
    25th - Enjoy Vegas (CS)
    26th - Daytrip to Hoover Dam, sleep Vegas (CS)
    27th - Daytrip to Grand Canyon North, sleep Kanab
    28th - Visit Zion NP, sleep somewhere on way to SLC
    29th & 30th - Salt Lake City (CS)
    1st - Drive to somewhere on way to Teton NP
    2nd - Explore Teton NP
    3rd & 4th Explore Yellowstone NP
    5th - Drive Beartooth to Red Lodge (CS)
    6th & 7th - Drive to Browning
    8th - Going-To-The-Sun Road, sleep Spokane (CS)
    9th & 10th - Drive to Seattle
    11th & 12th - Explore Seattle (CS)
    13th to 15th - Explore Washington & Oregon, sleep Newport (CS)
    16th -18th - Explore Southern Oregon, sleep Mt. Shasta
    19th - Drive to Sacramento
    20th - Explore Sacramento (CS)
    21st - Drive to Yosemite
    22nd to 24th - Explore Yosemite/Sierra NF
    25th - Drive to San Fransisco
    26th to 28th - Explore San Fransisco (CS)
    29th - Drive to Montery
    30th - Drive CA1 to LA (CS)
    31st - Enjoy LA (CS)
    1st Sept - Depart LA - London

    I've made a Google Map for you to get a better idea but it's not perfect. After reading some of this forum's ideas on some places (the Beartooth Highway for example) Google wouldn't let me change my route so you have to picture the blue line extending round the pin points.

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?ie...121f344e00&z=5

    As you can see, some sections are well schedules but some are much more open. This is partly because we want to make sure some things are definitely included (Death Valley, Grand Canyon etc) and some times we have more freedom to go to a random destination on the map. It is also partly because we're not really sure what to do in the Washington / Oregon areas so any input there would be great.

    Ok now the bits we need some help in :) My girlfriend and I don't own any camping equipment at the moment. For our sections in Yellowstone, Yosemite etc would you recommend buying a small tent for us both or seeing the park in several day trips while staying in motels near the border? I have camped plenty of times and love it but Sophie hasn't and occasionally finds it hard to get a good nights sleep. Our budget should still be around the $6500 mark. The car rental for 5 1/2 weeks is looking at around $1200 - 1300. I've budgeted about $1000 for gas too, do you think that is enough? This leaves around $4200 for motels/food/sightseeing ($700 a week). I have taken most of the route ideas from other posts on here and also the 'routes' section too. Can you spot any places or NPs that I have missed that you recommend.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you guys :)

    Jon & Sophie

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default Cheap Hotels In Vegas - Confusion

    While doing some more research for the trip, I found that according to Kayak.com, we can stay in several Vegas Hotels for as little as $13 a night? That can't be right can it? And there were loads of others for just a little more. Obviously thats not staying in one of the huge casino hotels but I figured Vegas would have been one of the more expensive places to stay. It seems we can stay for 3 days for cheaper than one night in most other places. Has anyone else experienced this?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    There are always deals to be found in LV - the bad economy is resulting in a lot of vacancies. However, you do need to be aware of where the hotels are and what condition they are in - quite a few properties are getting pretty run down and are in need of maintenance, and there are some dodgy areas in the city off the Strip.

    I was able to get a room at Bally's for $29 on a Thursday night the week before Christmas 2009. The room was in great shape and it was almost 800 square feet. I have a Harrah's Total Rewards card and it was a "Hot Deal". On New Year's Eve the same room was $289. Free parking in the casino garage, but it was quite a hike to the room - they make you walk through the whole casino to get to the hotel desk and the elevators. No in-room coffee maker, that seems to be pretty standard at Harrah's hotels, they want you to go downstairs and pay $3 a cup at the kiosks. Internet access is $14.95 a day, that's pretty standard too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    quite a few properties are getting pretty run down and are in need of maintenance, and there are some dodgy areas in the city off the Strip.
    Which are the dodgy areas? We really don't have high expectations of anywhere that charges that little so as long as it is safe and there aren't other hidden charges we'll be fine.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JonAndSophieTravel View Post
    While doing some more research for the trip, I found that according to Kayak.com, we can stay in several Vegas Hotels for as little as $13 a night? That can't be right can it?
    $13 a night - you're getting ripped off! I've stayed in Vegas on a weekend for as little as $6 a night!

    Admittedly, my $6 hotel deal was 7-8 years ago, and that was during the deadest travel time on the calendar (early december), but it was for a decent Casino downtown right on the Fremont Street Experience.

    With Kayak you do have to make sure taxes and fees are included, because sometimes they are only including the base rate, but still even when those are added on that shouldn't change it too much, so it sounds like it could be quite reasonable. With the thousands of rooms, and the down economy, I could easily see that off-strip, non-casino properties could easily be offering deep discounts, just make sure you're checking out the reviews of these places so you know what you are getting for the money.

    Because of the nature of Vegas, prices there tend to swing rather wildly based on supply and demand. A room that is $13 during a down period could easily be going for $130 or more a few weeks or even days later if there is a holiday or major event in town.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the Vegas advice glc & Michael, we're going to book one as soon as we can to take advantage, after checking it out of course.

    I'm still looking for help with my previous post though... Sophie now doesn't want to camp at all so it looks like motels for us. Obviously the ones in the parks are very expensive, so how far do you have to drive out of them to become cheap enough? We don't mind driving in and out but don't want to be travelling an hour or two back and forth each day.

    I found another website and found this route (http://www.roadtripusa.com/routes/pa...ificcoast.html). This takes us from Seattle to San Fran, the only thing I'm worried about would be are we missing anything inland in Oregon or Northern CA that we should see? And will the coast get boring?

    Looking forward to your replies :)

    Jon & Sophie

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