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  1. Default East to West Coast Honeymoon

    Hi there!

    My fiancé and I are getting married in May of this year and are coming back to my home country from the UK to do a road trip for our honeymoon. Our goal is to drive from Ocean City, Maryland, to San Francisco, California in 12 days. This requires us to cover about 300 miles per day, which from reading on the website doesn't seem too unreasonable? We want to camp as much as possible to save money on accommodation costs, and I think this is reasonable as we want to see as many national parks along the route as possible. Here are the details of what we know/would like to do:

    • We are having our US ceremony with our family on Saturday, May 26, 2012 - that evening we are driving to Ocean City, MD and staying the night. So officially our road trip will begin on Sunday, May 27th.
    • After getting up very early and dipping our toes in the Atlantic, we want to drive to Washington D.C. and see as much as we can see before dinnertime. After dinner, it's back in the car. We want to stay in a hotel or camp in West Virginia.
    • From WV we want to follow Route 50 through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas until we get to Colorado. I'm a little bit lost as to the major sites in these states - we are still trundling through our guidebooks to pick out the main things we want to see in this stretch - however I think most of this we will spend just racking up the miles so we can spend some more time in the states that follow. We would appreciate any advice on things to see in this stretch of the route or how best to spend the time we have on this leg of the journey.
    • Once we get to Colorado we really want to hit up the national parks - Garden of the Gods, Yellowstone, Rockies, and some of the National Monuments if we can. We want to spend more time in the parks than in the cities. Any advice on where to spend most of our time would be extremely valuable!
    • From here we want to dip into Nevada and see the Grand Canyon, and then onto Las Vegas. We want to drive some of "The Loneliest Road" via route 50 through this state if possible.
    • Once we hit California the route changes a bit. We definitely want to see Death Valley on our way from Nevada - and then dip down to Los Angeles. If need be we can spend the night driving through the San Francisco. Our flight leaves late afternoon on July 7th - so we want to be in San Francisco either the night before or in the early morning (our dream is to see the sunrise from the Golden Gate bridge!). We can then do a bit of sightseeing in San Fran before dropping our car off at the airport and catching our flight.


    We really just want some general advice to see if this whole thing is achievable/reasonable, and how best to spend our time. Also we have some more specific questions:
    • Should we buy a pass for the National Parks?
    • We have a SatNav to help us get around - but is there anything else we need to help us in spontaneous moments? We thought about buying an iPhone to help us when we want to find where the nearest motel/restaurant/etc is, but is it worth spending the money? Or should we definitely have a set route before we leave?
    • Should we bother buying KoA membership? We intend to do a lot of camping to avoid motel/hotel costs - but is this viable on the route we have chosen, and if so, is the KoA membership worth it?
    • We are renting our car through Hertz - we are both under 25, and they have quoted us just under $1,500 for the trip. I am under the impression that this is one of the best prices we will find, would I be correct in assuming that?
    • Should we drive highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco? Or would it take too much time for the sort of time constraints we would be under?


    Any help/advice would be appreciated. Neither of us have done a road trip before - and even though I am a citizen I have never really been out of my home state of PA!

    Thanks a bunch!

    Laura and Ben

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

    Default Busy Honeymoon.

    Hello, Congratulations and welcome to the RTA forums!

    I'm not sure if that is a typo or not [?] but firstly Yellowstone is nowhere near Colorado never mind in the State. Secondly, and just to clarify, the Grand canyon NP is actually in AZ.

    Whereas 350 miles a day is very reasonable for a cross country trip, it will still be 6 hours a day of driving, every day. Or equal to half of your trip being spent behind the wheel. Keeping in mind that this is a Honeymoon trip, where you don't want to be rushing around all day and will want to spare a little time for romance, you are going to have to pick and choose what holds the most appeal to you. The attractions already on your mind are really starting to push things with your time constraints and that's Yellowstone aside. Garden of the Gods and RMNP will take a minimum of 2 days and to make GC worthwhile you should plan a full day there. It would take 2 days to do the coastal Highway between LA and SF plus time in the City, so you can see how quickly time disappears.

    If you are planning on 'Hot tailing' it to Colorado, you could look at RMNP, Colorado NM and then to Moab [Arches and Canyonlands NP] in Southern Utah and then south through Monument Valley to the Grand canyon and then go to SF via Death valley and possibly Yosemite NP, which is a true wonder !

    1] It pays to buy a NP pass if you plan on entering more than 4 major NP's.

    2]A Sat Nav is a good tool to have but it will not take you the way you might want to go. They can actually add several miles and save little time just by pushing you towards main Highways and Interstate. Paper maps are essential which enable you to see the places you are passing and the terrain around you. You will miss out -A LOT- if you rely on technology.

    3]I don't care much for KOA. They all start to look the same and generally work out more expensive imo, even with the so called memberships. State and National parks are cheaper and located in wonderful surroundings and there are plenty of private run campgrounds to choose from. Again, you are not 'locked in' to finding an area with a KoA in and can find the hidden gems.

    4]I'm not sure about the car rental. If it definitely includes the one way drop off fee it seems reasonable given your age. Just keep shopping around and compare.

    5] I would miss out on LA and spend a couple of romantic nights in SF at the end of your trip to unwind, reflect and enjoy some down time before flying out.

    Look around RTA and get that paper map and do some research. When you have some dots on it and an outline plan, post it up and we will help to 'fine tune' it into a manageable and memorable trip !!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default miscalculation

    I think there is one huge factor that is problematic in your plan.

    Our goal is to drive from Ocean City, Maryland, to San Francisco, California in 12 days. This requires us to cover about 300 miles per day, which from reading on the website doesn't seem too unreasonable? We want to camp as much as possible to save money on accommodation costs, and I think this is reasonable as we want to see as many national parks along the route as possible.
    Here's the thing: Driving from Maryland to San Francisco directly can certainly be done in 12 days. Its a drive that's a bit over 3000 miles, which fits into your idea of driving about 300 miles a day. However, to hit all the places you've listed, you'd have to be driving more than 5000 miles, which means well over 400 miles a day.

    I think you are also miscalculating how much you can actually do in a day. To add to what Dave mentioned, there are other details with your plan that are going to be more time consuming that you're currently planning.
    We are having our US ceremony with our family on Saturday, May 26, 2012 - that evening we are driving to Ocean City, MD and staying the night. So officially our road trip will begin on Sunday, May 27th.
    After getting up very early and dipping our toes in the Atlantic, we want to drive to Washington D.C. and see as much as we can see before dinnertime. After dinner, it's back in the car. We want to stay in a hotel or camp in West Virginia.
    Right out of the gates you're pushing yourselves very hard. I strongly suspect that you'll end up getting to bed quite late on Saturday Night, as wedding days rarely go exactly as planned, and it will certainly be a pretty tiring day, so getting up at "very early" the next day to start your trip may be starting on the wrong foot. Then DC in a day is very rushed anyway, but you'd also have at least 300 miles of driving, depending upon where in WV you are targeting. Its a 2 hour drive just to get to the WV state line, which is a lot to do "after dinner" when you've already started your day early, and have thousands of miles left to go on your trip. Camping here would most certainly mean setting up well after dark.
    From WV we want to follow Route 50 through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas until we get to Colorado. I'm a little bit lost as to the major sites in these states
    Here's another potential problem. US-50 is a fine route to take, except that it is mostly a 2 lane road which is going to take a lot more time than on an interstate. While on an Interstate you can reasonably drive 500-600 miles in a full day on the road, with limited time for extra stops, an a route like US-50, driving 400 miles a day is a pretty full day. At the very least that's going to mean you'd need a whole extra day just to get out to Colorado.

    Once you're out west, Dave has indicated some of the problems with the amount of zig-zagging you'd have to do it hit all the places you've listed. It would be great if you had several weeks for this trip, but with just 12 days you really can't do it all.

    12 days is still enough time for a nice coast to coast trip, but you're going to have to scale back a bit. Remember, its about 6 full days just to make the coast to coast drive directly on the interstates, with just the minimum of stops. That still gives you about half of your trip to really explore places, but if you try to do everything, you'll end up so rushed that you just won't have any time to enjoy it, much less have time for any "honeymooning"

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

    Default

    Something that noone has brought up: The weekend of your wedding is Memorial Day weekend here. Hopefully you'll have reservations somewhere -- hotel OR campground -- because especially campgrounds will be full that weekend without reservations.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Hello again,

    Thank you to everyone who responded. That's exactly why I posted here - because people would be honest and say if we were planning too much! We have gone away and really thought about it and cut out a few things. We figured we could try to settle on seeing one big thing per day, so 12 days equals 12 destinations.

    So here's our new plan:

    Sunday, May 27th - We intend this to be a big driving day to get us out of PA and to central Ohio. Breakfast near Reading, PA. Hop on Route 422 through some Amish country (Myerstown, Lebanon). In Lebanon, turn onto route 72 to join up with I-76. Expect I-76 to be busy due to the holiday weekend. Near I-76 is the Flight 93 Memorial, so we will visit this memorial for a few hours. Lunch nearby. Drop on I-68, then Route 50 and head for Peebles to see the Serpent Mound. Stay somewhere outside of Cincinnati on Route 32.

    Monday, May 28 - We'll spend the majority of the day in Cincinnati sight-seeing. After dinner we'll get back to the car and on stay the night in a motel somewhere on I-75.

    Tuesday, May 29 - We plan on following the Ohio River at this point - either via Route 42 in Kentucky or by hopping over the river and joining Route 156/56 on our way to Madison, Indiana. By the end of the day we want to be near St. Louis, MO - so plan on taking route I-65/I-64 to visit and stay near the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois.

    Wednesday, May 30 - Spend the day in St. Louis, Missouri. Stay outside of St. Louis on I-70.

    Thursday, May 31 - A BIG driving day to get through Kansas. We'll follow I-70 to Konza Prairie, and then continue on I-70 and get as close as we can to Colorado Springs, CO as we can, realistically probably finding a place to stay on I-70 again.

    Friday, June 1 - Spend the day in the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. At the end of the day, get in the car and drive up I-25 toward Denver. Stay outside of Denver as close to Rocky Mountain National Park as possible.

    Saturday, June 2 - Visit RMNP and make the most of the day there. Get a drive in down I-70 toward the Grand Canyon, hopefully ending up somewhere near the border of Colorado and Utah.

    Sunday, June 3 - Early rise and drive to the Grand Canyon via I-70/Route 89. The drive from CO to AZ is a long one - so hopefully we have split this drive evenly between Saturday and Sunday so we can spend a good part of the day in the Grand Canyon National Park. Stay in or near the GCNP.

    Monday, June 4 - Drive to Las Vegas via I-15 and spend the day here. See the night lights and then get out of there, staying somewhere on Route 95 near Indian Springs.

    Tuesday, June 5th - Drive to Death Valley NP via Route 95. We might not spend a lot of time here considering it's one of the hottest times of year and we'll be in one of the hottest places on earth! We want to make a point of seeing it though. Drive through DVNP on Route 190 and drop onto Route 395. If we haven't spent much time in DVNP then we will make a point of visiting the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Depending where we end up we will start making our way toward LA.

    Wednesday, June 6th - Spend the day in LA seeing the sights. I expect this will be a full day, but we will make sure we're in the car in the evening to start our drive toward San Francisco via I-5/Route 101.

    Thursday, June 7th - We plan on making the drive to get here a night drive and our dream is to end up near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as the sun rises. Spend the rest of the morning and afternoon in San Fran, making our way toward the airport for our flight in the early evening.


    I hope that this itinerary has improved from our itinerary before. What does everyone think? Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thank you!

    Laura and Ben

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Your first day is already too ambitious. It's over 500 miles from Reading to Cincy via the Interstates, and if you plan on getting off on the other highways you don't have enough time.

    St. Louis to Colorado Springs is over 800 miles - another impossibility in one day.

    RMNP to Grand Junction is at least 5 hours.

    Bottom line, you are trying to cram too much into several days.

  7. Default

    Okay, if this is still too ambitious then could someone recommend what we should cut out and focus on? We're struggling to get this right.

    Neither of us mind long drives in the car, and I understand that the trip from St. Louis to somewhere near Colorado Springs could be done in a 12 to 13 hour driving day, which is what we intend it to be. This is the idea with the first day drive as well; we intend to spend the majority of the day in the car just covering the mileage.

    We don't really intend this to be a relaxing holiday either and we understand that due to time constraints it won't be reasonable to see a lot of things. We just were hoping to get some more guidance as to what we CAN do in 12 days rather than what we CAN'T do.

    Thank you!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A different approach.

    Laura and Ben, do you actually have a large paper map of the USA? That needs to be your starting point.

    With a honeymoon of 12 days, you could make this memorable, if you take a most direct route, and settle on maybe one or two attractions. As it is, you are covering so much ground, but you will not be able to stop anywhere and really enjoy it. Try to pick two attractions which are at the top of your list, and make them a priority.

    Then look at the most direct route between your starting point, those two attractions and your final destination. Do a little research to see what there is to see along that route, or very near that route, and mark them down.

    I think trying to do both RMNP and GC on this trip is almost impossible. You are just rushing through all these places without enjoying either the sights, or your honeymoon. Where is the time to spend some quality time together. Some time sleeping in or relaxing over a nice restaurant meal? You will want some time to stroll together through the GC (or whatever attraction you choose). As it is, you are going to be too tired for anything worthwhile. And the only memory you will take home will be that it was all too much.

    Good luck.

    Lifey

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

    Default miscalculation pt. 2

    Quote Originally Posted by baltroth View Post
    Neither of us mind long drives in the car, and I understand that the trip from St. Louis to somewhere near Colorado Springs could be done in a 12 to 13 hour driving day, which is what we intend it to be.
    This to me seems like the major problem with your plan: you keep drastically overestimating how far you can get in a single day. You'd practically need a police escort and a car with an unlimited fuel tank to make this drive in 12 to 13 hours. In the real world, where you have to stop for food, fuel, and restroom, and you have to deal with slowdowns for other traffic and construction, this would be a minimum of a 15 hour drive, and its the kind of drive that is going to make you too exhausted to enjoy anything the next days for several days after.

    We don't really intend this to be a relaxing holiday either and we understand that due to time constraints it won't be reasonable to see a lot of things. We just were hoping to get some more guidance as to what we CAN do in 12 days rather than what we CAN'T do.
    We actually have told you what you can do - we just haven't told you where you should stop because we don't know which places are the top priorities for you. We've told you that 500-600 miles is a pretty full day on the road when you are on the interstates, and if you are going to take 2 lane highways, you should limit yourself to about 400 miles a day.

    Despite those recommendations, you've got a new plan where your interstate travel days are beyond 800 miles, and your 2 lane travel days are beyond 500. That's why you're being told your new plans also need some big cuts, but ultimately only you can decide which things are most important to you. And while there are other things you might think about doing (for example, between Grand Junction and Grand Canyon you've got dozens of unique wonders and national parks, like Arches, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, and Monument Valley if you go down along eastern Utah, the Million Dollar Highway and Mesa Verde if you go down western Colorado, or Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion if you stick with US-89) you're already so rushed that adding more ideas doesn't seem like it would be all that helpful.

    We figured we could try to settle on seeing one big thing per day, so 12 days equals 12 destinations.
    Respecting the fact that you don't necessarily want this to be a relaxing holiday, there is a line between trying to see as much as you can and trying to see so much that you just end up being exhausted and don't get to enjoy anything. 12 "big things" on a 12 day trip, when you've also got a minimum of 6 full days worth of driving is probably too much.

    Just look at your last 2 days, you plan to see both Los Angeles and San Francisco in a day and a half, and don't plan to spend any time sleeping. Not only will that not be fun, your drive between the two will be dangerous! That's the worst, but many times you're still taking the "spend most of the day" in one place, and then planning a long haul drive the same night. I really think that's going to be a recipe for disaster, and your entire trip will be a battle to stay on schedule rather than to enjoy what you are driving by.

    So your new plan is better, but it still needs quite a bit of work. Hopefully what you've read here gives you the tools to make the cuts you need and decide what works best for you. We'll be glad to help you continue refining your trip so you can come up with something that really will be the trip of your lifetime.

  10. Default Change of Plans!

    Thank you everyone for giving us so much support - I know we've been a nuisance trying to fit all of this stuff in and being terribly unrealistic about this whole thing.

    We have been looking at flights in order to get us out west where the majority of the stuff we want to see is anyway and have found a good deal to get us to Denver on Sunday, May 27th. So if we decide to book these flights effectively we would have from Monday, May 28th (Memorial Day) to the afternoon of Thursday, June 7th (when we're getting our flight back to the UK) to do a road trip.

    These are some of the things we'd like to see/do:

    Rocky Mountain NP
    Garden of the Gods
    Grand Canyon NP
    Las Vegas
    Death Valley
    Yosemite
    Los Angeles
    And (if we have enough time) enjoy the costal route up to San Francisco to finish it off

    If anyone could give us route advice or advise on how to best spend our time that would be lovely.

    Sorry again for being a pain.

    Laura and Ben

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