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  1. Default Driving in California/Nevada Christmas and January

    Hi all of the very helpful people who visit and respond to queries.... I have seen that there are lots of threads about these areas, so have picked up some information.

    We are from Australia - so my first thought is - what kind of insurance do I need when I rent a car over there and has anyone else driven on a different side of the road? I think I will be fine, but if others have any tips etc... planning to pick up a car in LA, so will probably get thrown right in to busy traffic!!!!

    As we are still early in our planning I thought I would see if anyone can give us ideas etc. ... We have around about 23 days in total.... but I wonder if some of our plans might not work out. We arrive 21 December - finish this road trip 13 january. We want to be in SF for New Years Eve......


    Possible plan:

    Part 1:
    3 days LA - doing things - ????
    Drive annaheim - disney land - stay overnight somewhere there...

    Christmas day - drive to Sandiego - stay 2 nights. Is the zoo a good idea for Christmas Day?

    Drive Sandiego to Vegas - what is the best route to do this around 27 December? We are planning on staying LV about 3 nights? -Are sight seeing trips doable from Las Vegas or do you need to be on the move?

    Part 2 of our trip has two options - any thoughts about the best way to go?

    Part 2 - plan A
    Take a couple of days (2 overnight stops) to drive from Las Vegas to SF - ? via death valley and yosemite.... but not sure about the roads and snow.... and how long this would take.

    Spend some time in SF (4 days?)

    Take a trip over to Lake Tahoe - (this is another one of the worrying trips) - around 6th Jan --- is snow likely on this trip? Would I be better to drive to Reno and catch some other transport to south lake tahoe (I want to see the snow and do the cable car! We don't have anything like that here.!) Should we spend a night or two in this area?

    Back to SF - (few more days)

    Somewhere along the way we want to see redwood forests - but again - prefer to avoid snow... ???



    Part 2 - plan b

    Drive to LA from Vegas - return car. Fly to San Francisco.

    Few Days in SF.

    Hire car: Driving trip from SF seeing - South Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and back to SF...... again, not sure the route to take with winter or how long and where to stay? Is this a safe trip - again around 6th Jan? As before, want to see snow and cable car....

    Few more days in SF.


    Wow, this really shows how unclear I am.... My main issues really relate to:

    Driving the Yosemite/Tahoe and other national park areas in January...... what is best route, is it worth doing in winter? Is it safe to drive?


    Is it a good idea to ditch the car in LA so we don't have to find parking in SF, and just hire another one for trips away from SF?

    Others have mentioned no need to book accommodation before hand.... how easy is it to get a hotel in LA in the few days before Christmas? Where is best location? We have looked at Marina Del Ray - but no idea really if that is a good spot to head out from..?

    Is it easy to get accommodation in Sandiego on Christmas day without pre booking? San Francisco on New Years Eve/Day without prebooking????

    Thanks for any replies .... hope you can make some sense of this??? We don't want to get too caught up in a strict itinerary, except for SF for New Years Eve/Day.... and a nice thing and place to be on Christmas Day.....

    Ann

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default From One Aussie to Another.

    Hi Ann, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by travellin' ann View Post
    We are from Australia - so my first thought is - what kind of insurance do I need when I rent a car over there and has anyone else driven on a different side of the road? I think I will be fine, but if others have any tips etc... planning to pick up a car in LA, so will probably get thrown right in to busy traffic!!!!
    Ann your travel insurance should cover your rental vehicle. Check with the insurance company. Ask them very specifically what it covers, and what insurance you still need to pay for when renting. And don't even think of coming without insurance, it just is not worth it. (I have used several over the years, but have found Covermore to have the best emergency service and the most reliable and hassle free claim proceedure. But they are nowhere near the cheapest.)

    As for driving on the wrong side of the road.... you'll get used to it in ten minutes. Though I have to admit, LA is not exactly the ideal place to practice. Still, for those of us who fly in on QF 93, it is inevitable. What I would recommend is that you leave it for at least 24 hours before picking up the car. You really need all your wits about you, and cannot afford to have any tiredness or jetlag affecting you, when faced with LA traffic, driving on the wrong side. (I found getting back to the traffic at home a bigger challenge.)

    I belong to those about whom you have read, who don't bother booking accommodation beforehand for most of the time. But when you are talking about special areas, or special times, I would not chance it. At Christmas and New Year I would not dream of taking a chance. No knowing what dregs you may have to accept. Best you look at some good places soon, in those areas, and at those times. If you check the reservations tab above, you may find some great deals that could suit your needs. Why not give it a try.

    The rest of your questions I shall leave up to others to respond to. I have only ever visited in summer.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,212

    Default

    I think the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park in Escondido would be an excellent choice over Christmas. I just checked San Diego hotels over Christmas weekend for prices and availability, there are plenty, ranging from $50 to $150+ a night.

    The best way to get to LV from SD is I-15 all the way, it should take about 6 hours.

    If you want to go to Lake Tahoe and/or Yosemite, you need to rent a car from a company that allows the use of tire chains. You may or may not need them, but you must have them in your possession to enter Yosemite in the winter. In California, if you see a chain control sign, unless you have them you must turn around.

    If you are going to be spending Christmas in SD and want to be in SF for New Year's Eve, you need to plan carefully. I would recommend you take 2 or 3 days and drive from SD to SF via the coast road and spend your time in SF *before* New Year's. Then, you can go from SF to Yosemite to Tahoe to DV to LV - and back to LA to return the car and fly home.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Ann your travel insurance should cover your rental vehicle.
    Travel insurance normally only covers any excesses that you may end up being liable for. You still need to take out at least LDW and SLI. To get an idea about the difference types of insurances I suggest you fill in the quote form on the National Car hire website and it will show you what insurances are available/included. Make sure you fill in Australian as your nationality.

    As for driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, the first 20 minutes was terrifying but after that it was pretty easy. I found driving in the UK harder ( even though they are also lefties) because of the narrow roads and constantly dodging parked cars and the likes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chironbe View Post
    Ann your travel insurance should cover your rental vehicle.
    Travel insurance normally only covers any excesses that you may end up being liable for. You still need to take out at least LDW and SLI.
    That is why I stressed to be specific about asking just what is covered, and what still needs to be paid for. (Selective quoting can lead to misunderstandings.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Ann your travel insurance should cover your rental vehicle. Check with the insurance company. Ask them very specifically what it covers, and what insurance you still need to pay for when renting.
    I have always found the folk at reputable travel insurance companies well versed in rental car insurances offered and available in North America. It has saved me a lot of money not having to pay for insurance at the rental agency .... knowing it was all covered by my travel insurance. All the rental company needed was to see my policy and photocopy the relevant section.

    I have spoken with far too many folk who were not aware their travel insurance covered the insurance necessary for a rental vehicle, and paid again.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    9

    Default

    I have always found the folk at reputable travel insurance companies well versed in rental car insurances offered and available in North America. It has saved me a lot of money not having to pay for insurance at the rental agency .... knowing it was all covered by my travel insurance. All the rental company needed was to see my policy and photocopy the relevant section.
    Can I ask which travel insurance company you use that covers you for all of the car insurances? I'm very interested

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Not a problem.

    Sure!

    My preferred company is Covermore. It has excellent customer service and emergency help. (I have used both!) And I do not have shares in them. lol Its claims department is also much less hassle than those companies which are underwritten by Mondial (which is most of the others). On my last visit I did not use Covermore (a saving (?) of $400), and regretted it soon after. In the end the claims process was so messy, I gave up trying to get refunds for the $800+ (unpaid) medical bills. One of which is still unpaid, as they do not take credit cards.

    The only times I have rented vehicles was in 2001 and 2004, when I think, from memory, I rented on six ocassions - from one day, to one month. And each time I was able to show the policy I had for travel insurance.

    I could give you lots more details, but I do not think they are relevant to this thread, or this forum. If you want more, feel free to send me a pm.

    Lifey

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