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  1. Default CALIIII! Er.. I mean... California. Road Trip (Obviously)

    Hi, any help/info would be great.

    I've seen loads of posts about road trips around California, but mine is slightly different.
    I'll be flying into LA late August/early September from the UK, with around 5 friends, all of us 21.

    Current plan is to spend around 4 days in LA, then pick up a minivan and try to do the popular 'circle' that is LA-SF-Yosemite-Vegas-LA. However, being 21 with very little in the way of money, I would really appreciate help on SERIOUS money saving tips, as well as things to do which we'd actually enjoy (sightseeing is cool, but some student-type fun as well - like somehow getting invited to a frat-party...)

    In terms of what we want to do/see, we don't really have any desire to see SF (unless its awesome?..). As for Yosemite, my vision is that we have some fun in the day kayaking/hiking or whatever, then at night, get drunk around a campfire. Is this accurate...? Then Vegas is, well, Vegas... (no gambling for us really, just drinking.

    The drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas is brilliant I've read, but do you think we could get away with camping somewhere on route? Or possibly just parking up and sleeping in the car? These are the kind of money-saving tips i'm after. Our plan is to sleep in the car anywhere we cant pitch a tent. Is this genuinely possible in places like Death Valley? Or will we be eaten by wolves?

    As I said, any help is great. I don't blame you if you haven't even made it through this whole essay I've ended up writing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    For cheap entertainment, a night of sitting around a campfire throwing back a few beers is pretty much a perfect night and a highlight of many a roadtrip for me. There are a lot of places in this part of the country to camp - although sights specifically within a national park like Yosemite can be more limited and reservations could be a good idea.

    What sounds like pure hell, would be trying to "sleep" with 5 people packed into a minivan. Aside from the limited number of places where you can legally park, there's just no way that any of you would really get any sleep, and without getting any sleep you won't have much fun. (btw, just so you are aware, drinking in a parked car - even if you don't plan to drive anywhere else for the night - can still fall under drunk driving laws in some cases. For example, simply having the keys in the ignition with the radio on can be considered "operating" the vehicle) This really is a case where you couldn't possibly save enough money for trying it to be worthwhile.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Somebody I know....

    Somebody I know....had been at a party and drank a bit too much and so she was parked in driveway of private residence -- Sitting in the passenger side of the car - listening to the radio and trying to sober up so she could drive and a police officer stopped to check on her. Since her keys were in the ignition (listening to the radio) and she was impaired... She was arrested on a DUI and spent the rest of the night in jail....

    Drinking in a car is never a good or safe thing to do.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default

    On the budget side of things, are you aware that there is a daily surcharge for young drivers and that it will apply for each person under 25 who wants to drive ? That can get expensive real quick ! A popular tip is to reverse your trip if you are considering taking the coast road between LA and SF, that way the Ocean will be on your side of the road heading South. It would require an overnight stop, the coast road is slow going but very scenic. [BTW, I happen to think that SF is pretty "awesome"]

    Enjoying a few beers around the campfire is pretty awesome to, you just need to remember that you are sharing a quiet[ish] campsite in the NP with other visitors/ family's and you need to observe 'quiet hour' rules and respect your neighbours.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default And the next day?

    Quote Originally Posted by miatara View Post
    ... then at night, get drunk around a campfire.
    On top of Dave's caution, be aware, that if you plan on any driving the following day, you may still be impaired.

    Enjoy a few drinks, and leave the 'getting drunk' for when you are at home.

    Lifey

  6. Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    In terms of the whole 'drunk' issue, I honestly meant enjoying beers around a fire, no harm to ourselves or others. The 'drink drive' issue will also not be an issue at all, the driver will be fully sober before stepping behind the wheel.

    As for the camping issue, would it be possible to simply park up somewhere and pitch a tent, as opposed to paying for a spot at a campsite? I know this may not strictly be 'legal', but is it honestly possible? We wouldn't make a mess and would be gone by the morning. If not, how much are we looking to pay for a spot at a campsite? Would we need to book it in advance?

    Route-wise, would you definitely recommend driving the route in reverse (i.e LA to Vegas and so on)? Other than being ont he coast-side of the road between SF and LA, are there any other drawbacks/advantages of taking this route as opposed to the other way around?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default Where to pitch a tent

    Quote Originally Posted by miatara View Post
    As for the camping issue, would it be possible to simply park up somewhere and pitch a tent, as opposed to paying for a spot at a campsite? I know this may not strictly be 'legal', but is it honestly possible? We wouldn't make a mess and would be gone by the morning.
    Check out this site. It may be of help to you. There are many similar sites on the internet.

    Quote Originally Posted by miatara View Post
    If not, how much are we looking to pay for a spot at a campsite? Would we need to book it in advance?
    Carry a comprehensive camping guide, such as the AAA publishes. It lists just about all campsites their facilities and cost, from dry camping in forests to full resorts. Tent sites are rarely, if ever, all taken. You could always call ahead on the day, and check which has room.

    Lifey who never books ahead

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by miatara View Post
    As for the camping issue, would it be possible to simply park up somewhere and pitch a tent, as opposed to paying for a spot at a campsite? I know this may not strictly be 'legal', but is it honestly possible? We wouldn't make a mess and would be gone by the morning. If not, how much are we looking to pay for a spot at a campsite? Would we need to book it in advance?
    Absolutely not. You would be guilty of trespassing, and that is not something you want to deal with.

    There are some area, generally within National Forest Lands, where "dispersed" camping is allowed, that is free without a designated site. However, you still need to check the restrictions on where it is allowed (how far you have to be from roads, rivers, etc.). Also be aware that in California, you are required to have a permit to have a fire. This is something that is free and easy to obtain from a ranger station, and really not an issue if you are camping in a designated campground.

    A campground will typically range in price from $10-30. Split among the group, its really a very small price to pay to make your life a whole lot easier - plus you get things like toilets and sometimes showers.

    BTW, be aware that many of the "campgrounds" recommended in the Free Site linked by lifey are basically places where overnight parking is allowed - which as was noted before really is not an option for your group.

    Campground reservations would be recommended for very high use areas like inside Yosemite National Park, or along the beach at Big Sur, but otherwise you should be able to find a site without too much difficultly.

  9. Default

    Once again thanks so much for the replies, much appreciated.

    Ok so it seems we may need a little more planning on the Yosemite/Death valley front, but I'm sure it'll work out and be brilliant.

    As for our time in LA and possibly SF, is there any advice on some things to do which may not neccessarily be the 'popular' or 'usual' things to do, as I've researched quite a lot on the popular websites etc. Specifically San Francisco actually as we already have a number of things planned for LA. We are genuinely up for anything, as long as its interesting/fun or hopefully both. Also bear in mind our age, so no farmers markets!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Default Not on the www

    Quote Originally Posted by miatara View Post
    As for our time in LA and possibly SF, is there any advice on some things to do which may not neccessarily be the 'popular' or 'usual' things to do, as I've researched quite a lot on the popular websites etc. Specifically San Francisco actually as we already have a number of things planned for LA. We are genuinely up for anything, as long as its interesting/fun or hopefully both. Also bear in mind our age, so no farmers markets!
    Searching on websites will not help you find those gems which are not 'popular' or 'usual'. The very fact that they are on the www makes them popular. If you are 'up for anything' may I suggest that you leave both your route and your daily destinations flexible, and follow those signs you see, and which look interesting to you. You never know what you will find. But be equipped with good maps of the area - do not rely on digital mapping alone.

    And of course, talk to the locals. I cannot begin to list the out-of-the-way places I have been, which were suggested to me by a ranger or local resident.

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