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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Posts
    6

    Default Roadtrip: Houston to the West Coast and Back in 25 days

    I am planning a roadtrip to California this summer and am looking for overall advice. The plan thus far is to go by myself, but that could change before July. I am really excited about the idea of being out on the road alone and doing exactly what I want, but I also want to be smart and safe.
    I have a couple of MUST SEE's, some places I've been told to visit and places I will stop to visit/stay with friends or family. I know that I have 25-27 days, but I haven't fully decided on how much time to spend in any particular place. I have a skeleton and want to see what is realistic when thinking about driving by myself... I won't have anyone to trade with =)
    • Houston -> Austin 3-4 days
    • Austin -> Pecos, TX or El Paso, TX
    • Pecos, TX or El Paso, TX -> Carlsbad, NM
    • Carlsbad, NM -> Silver City, NM (Possible detour to Roswell, NM)
    • Silver City, NM -> Phoenix, AZ
    • Phoenix, AZ -> Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon, Sedona)
    • Flagstaff, AZ -> Las Vegas, NV
    • Las Vegas, NV -> San Diego, CA
    • San Diego, CA -> Pacific Coast Highway (Stopping at beaches, not sure how far north to go)
    • San Francisco, CA -> Reno, NV
    • Reno, NV -> Denver, CO (Family, Other Towns In Colorado TBD)
    • Denver, CO -> Houston, TX (No ideas where to stop... Amarillo? Maybe Dallas)


    After looking at the list I know that this will be a stretch in the amount of time that I have. I am open to any suggestions, changes, ideas, etc. I can change or leave a lot a lot of things but MUST SEE:
    Carlsbad, NM (Caverns)
    Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon, Friend)
    Las Vegas, NV
    San Diego, CA (And Surrounding Beaches/L.A.)
    Denver, CO (Family)

    I haven't done a trip alone like this before so any advice will be helpful I'm sure. I have been daydreaming about it for months now and slowly planning, but I want to start locking things down now.
    Also, is there anything specific I should do or get checked on my car it is only a year old....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Generally Speaking

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There is a lot to like about your plan so far. First and foremost, you have scheduled plenty of time for the trip you have in mind. Even if you were to go to each and every town you've listed as possibilities, you'd only have to drive about a third of the time, leaving two days out of every three for just enjoying the places and people you'll be getting to. If you read enough initial plans on this site, you'll realize what a luxury that is.

    Secondly, I love the fact that this is not just a bunch of straight line shots to a few "must see" sights, but rather a go-where-it-may wandering, There are clearly reasons for everything on your list. Ultimately some will disappoint, but most will exceed your expectations, and the fact that you'll be taking a few less traveled roads will inevitable lead to some serendipitous adventures and discoveries.

    As you now start to fill in your itinerary, keep both of those fact in mind. You have plenty of time and some of your best memories will be made at smaller venues and places you least expect. There are tons of lesser known national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, forests and historic sites, as well as state parks. Use them and enjoy them. Since your trip isn't until July, you still have a little time for that all important and often overlooked RoadTrip planning step you mention: daydreaming. Exactly. and the best way to go from daydreaming to locking things down is to get yourself a good road atlas and start marking places already on your list and then look for other 'attractions' in between as well as roads with dotted lines alongside (indicating a scenic drive) or that go through national forests rather than big cities. Basically, just keep on doing what your doing.

    Where we can be of the most help is if you have specific interests and are having trouble finding spots that cater to them. As far as your car goes, I can't imagine a one year old car that wouldn't be up to a trip like this, but if you have a mechanic you trust or if you're due for some major service interval during the trip, have it looked at by your hometown dealer before you leave rather than while on the road.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    San Diego County resident here - there's a lot to see and do here and in the LA area. Bear in mind that parts of LA (Hollywood, Burbank, etc) can be a 2-1/2 hour drive one way because of the traffic and the sheer size of the LA Mess-tropolis.

    San Diego things:
    Beaches
    Sea World
    San Diego Zoo
    San Diego Wild Animal Park/Safari Park (old name/new name)
    Old Town San Diego State Park
    Legoland
    NOTE: The last ones are all $25-50 admission for one person, one day, often more)

    LA:
    Beaches
    Disneyland (1-1/2 hours from San Diego) $$$
    Knotts Berry Farm (1-1/2 hours from San Diego) $$$
    Hollywood Walk of Fame (free, except for parking which will set you back $10+)
    Burbank - some of the studios have a tour, like Warner Bros $$
    Universal Studios - $$$
    Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda
    Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley (a good 4+ hours from San Diego)

    Definitely get your car looked at - a "trip check" of all belts, hoses, your brakes, and any service that might come due while you're gone. It doesn't hurt and gives you a bit of peace of mind! A membership in a road service like AAA also never hurts, and gives you freebie books and maps as part of the membership.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Posts
    6

    Default Responses

    Thanks so much for your helpful responses. I will be getting my car looked at and have really started locking down dates and possible lodging. Thanks for the help! There are so many attractions in Cali.... its going to be hard to choose!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Posts
    6

    Default Planning for hotels

    Hello,
    I am planning a roadtrip to the westcoast and back in 25 days. For the most part we will be staying with friends and family, but at a couple of stops we will not know anyone and do not want to camp so I'm wondering how well I should plan for hotels/motels. We aren't picky on where we stay we just need a bed, shower, etc. Can we fly by the seat of our pants and just look for something on the road? Or should I make reservations for cheap motels? I don't want to be to restricted on how the roadtrip goes by reservations.... any advice will be great! Thanks!!

    Moderator Note: Please don't create multiple threads about the same trip
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 06-16-2011 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Merged

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default 'Flying' is Fine

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Generally, if you're just going to be sticking to the Interstates and other well traveled roads, there is no need to pre-book motels. With travel and tourism being generally down, you run almost no risk of finding No Vacancy signs. The obvious exceptions are near major tourist destinations such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, and during periods of festivals and other big local events. Also, motels along the highway will tend to advertise their prices on billboards (where legal) if that is their main selling point. But sometimes you can do a little better by going the extra few miles into town to the local motel rather than sticking to the chains by the exit ramp.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Posts
    6

    Default

    So we will be flying =) Thanks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Posts
    6

    Default

    http://maps.google.com/maps/myplaces...&dirflg=t&z=14

    This is a link to a map I've created on google... it is the automatic routes that show up. Are there changes that I should make to have a better route? Should I still buy a good paper map to draw out the route on? I have printed this one, but am not sure if it will be enough. Any advice will help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    When I clicked on your Google map link, all I got was a nice map of the downtown and bay area of San Diego. So I couldn't tell your route.

    Yes, yes, yes....get a paper map and definitely do not rely on the maps provided by Google or Mapquest unless they are a secondary map source. Same goes for GPS, which is a nice tool if you are trying to find a local address. Get a map. Are you a AAA member? You can get any maps you need there, free, and also have the peace of mind regarding your vehicle in an emergency. If no AAA membership, go get a good atlas. You can get a decent one from Wal-Mart, Target, or any bookstore.


    Donna

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