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  1. Default May 2013 road trip guidance- san fran - ny

    Hi Everyone,

    My partner and I are planning a 6 week road trip from San Fran to New York, for May 2013.
    We are from Australia, both under 30 and really looking for an adventure of both beautiful landscapes, great food and some wacky things along the way. We are both pretty cruisey, we won't mind if we change plans and want to stay or skip somewhere if we want to keep driving.

    I'll admit first, there are quite a few stops and places we want to if anyone can suggest what we could turn into a day trip/or just as a place to drive through rather then stay that would be great (or if there's somewhere to cut out altogether!)

    We are hoping to fly into San Fran (5 nights, another night at Yosemite) down to LA along the coast (3 nights), drive to Vegas (3 nights), Go to Bryce Canyon (1 night), Grand Canyon (1-2 nights?), Phoenix (2 nights)...This is where it gets a bit confusing...whether we drive from Phoenix to Tucson (?) , then Roswell then Houston/or Dallas. I know this is a BIG we were hoping to have a night or two at Tucson then a night in Roswell to break it up..

    Would Dallas be okay to visit for a few nights instead of Houston as well? From all of the reviews, Dallas looks a bit more desirable.

    From there...New Orleans for 3 -4 nights.

    Two plans...1) New Orleans to Georgia, Drive and visit Savannah (1 night) and Charleston (1 night).
    Then Norfolk to Washington. From there we wanted to FLY to Chicago then do New York.

    Or...we could just fly from New Orleans to Chicago and New York.

    I know that's a lot of kilometres and reading, but would like to know what locals and other travelers can suggest.
    Also - we are looking at an RV or something that means we can sleep at parks etc along the way...or at a hotel for a bit of luxury!

    Esse and Andy
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-05-2012 at 09:32 AM. Reason: Removed Non-Standard Fonts

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! That sounds like a wonderful trip, and you have plenty of time to drive.

    As for the ideas of RV vs. motels, that's a lifestyle choice rather than a way to save money. By the time you pay for the rental of the RV (about $1000 per week!), then the extra fuel that it takes (those things get 5-6 mpg), and the overnights ($15 even at state parks these days), they're not necessarily cheap any more. A motel would run you $50-125/night (depending on which one you choose and where they are located),and a rental car around $250/week. Where the biggest differences are, is the food. Within an RV you can cook like you would at home ... sort of. (It depends on how the RV is equipped.) With motels, you're limited to what you can provide from a cooler and hotel microwave ovens, or restaurants.

    Here is a thread about RVs vs. Motels.

    Phoenix to Dallas, via Tucson and Van Horn TX, means about 2 days in the car (500+ miles a day). Phoenix to Tucson, along I-10, is around 2 hours. Tucson to Van Horn, without a stop in Roswell, is about 450 miles -- a day's drive. Van Horn to Dallas is 500 miles.

    Dallas to New Orleans is 600 miles -- a VERY long day in the car (unless you are married to an ex-trucker, like I am, who thinks its a drop in the bucket).

    Dallas vs. Houston -- that's like comparing apples to broccoli! Both have their pros and their cons, and different things to see. It also depends on whether you're looking for history, scenic, nightlife, music, and more. Dallas has history, shopping, a great zoo, and more. Houston has history, space history, shopping, AND its near the Gulf.

    Back to RV vs renting a car: either way, you'll have to bear with a one-way drop off charge. If you're under 25, you'll find that renting a car will cost you extra bucks for "underage fee". (For Enterprise, a few weeks ago, it was $25/day/per driver.) We just read that another road trip planner was having trouble finding a place in Louisiana to drop an RV -- New Orleans was not on the list for that particular rental agency. So you may come across that problem. (For cars that's not an issue.) If you go for a rental car, you may find a consolidator in your home country that can arrange for a rental car with lowered one-way fees and maybe some of the underage fees waived.)

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 05-05-2012 at 07:52 AM. Reason: Added link

  3. Default

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks so much for your speedy reply! We've been trying to work out whether an RV or car would be better..I love the idea of being able to just pull over at one of the parks if there's room. But again, I do love the idea of a hotel! That's something we will have to sort out. Especially by the time fuel, fees etc is added.

    Do you think Tucson is worth a few nights?

    I've read a few forums about the drive from Dallas to New you have any recommendations of where to stay in between? Since we've got a bit of would be good to break it up a bit..even if there's any place we could stay for more than 2 nights so it doesn't feel like we are constantly driving, unpacking and packing again!

    Thanks for your suggestions - I'll check out the RV vs Motel thread now!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default From one Aussie to Another.

    Quote Originally Posted by esandy View Post
    Do you think Tucson is worth a few nights?
    Definitely!! Especially in May. It was unbearably hot when I was there in August 2001.

    There really is so much to see around there, and the desert scenery is spectacular. I ended up in Tucson unplanned, and had never heard of the place. With a rental car I got around to some of the sights, but I was astounded by just how much there is. One of the regulars on here is a resident there, and no doubt he will chime in with his favourites.

    As for the RV / car + motel issue, maybe you could have a little of each. There is a place which rents vans (SUVs) with beds and a cooler, which you could use for camping in parks, and then spend other nights at motels. On the other hand, I am not too sure that they would let you take it to NY. They are based in SF.

    Even with the car and motel option, you do not need to always eat out. Only recently, in Missoula MT, I cooked a lamb chop in my sandwich maker, and bought a fresh salad to go with it. (I do so miss my lamb!) I have also cooked bacon and eggs in it. For six weeks it could be well worthwhile investing in something like a sandwich maker or a small electric grill - or both. You may even be able to, as I did, pick one up in a charity shop. Then donate it back when you go home.

    Great trip in store for you. Make sure you have a small notebook to write down all the places you did not have time to stop and check out. They will make the basis for your next trip.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Night or Two in Tucson (or Three or Four)

    I am the 'regular resident' that Lifey referred to. Fortunately, I recently posted a 'One Tank RoadTrip' from Tucson that covers most of the best sites both in town and nearby.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As Lifey mentioned, no doubt our Tucson resident AZ Buck will reply, but here are some of my favorites from 3 years of living in Tucson. Mind you, it was years ago, but they're all still there, and some are "new and improved":

    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum....a very inexpensive place to see the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, close up in many cases. It's worth spending a few hours there.

    Saguaro National Park -- both the Eastern side and the Western side. One has the older "groves", and the other has them practically in forests, closer together. You can see these amazing cacti close up, just by driving through and stopping at the pullouts here and there.

    If you are into movies, particularly any of the older westerns, you might want to check out Old Tucson. It's a movie lot where lots of John Wayne movies were filmed. Just to warn you, it's a little pricey -- similar to a small theme park.

    Sabino Canyon is beautiful, and a drive up Mt Lemmon is beautiful (and cools you off if it's one of those hot May days).

    Driving down from Phoenix to Tucson, you will pass a weirdly shaped mountain, called Picacho Peak. There's a state park there, and a nice place for a picnic breakfast! Just down from there is the Pinal Air Park, though I'm old enough to remember when they called it the Marana Air Park (our HS band swimming party was held there, grin).

    Later edit: it seems that AZ Buck and I were typing at the same time. (grin)

    Unfortunately, I haven't looked for a great place to stop between Dallas and New Orleans. We would probably head for Alexandria LA on one day, and then pull in earlier to NO on the 2nd day, if we didn't do it in one day. Alexandria is big enough to have several choices for hotels and eateries.

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 05-05-2012 at 04:19 PM. Reason: added information

  7. Default

    Thanks Donna, Lifey and AZBuck!
    Great advice - I will have a look through the link.

    Sorry about the delay in getting back to you all - in between work I've been reading it all but haven't managed to get back to you.

    Lifey - we were thinking getting a smaller RV so we can camp at some areas and also stay at some hotels etc along the way.

    Because of the time and distance, we have decided to drive all the way until we get to New Orleans...and then fly up to Chicago then to NY. That way, we won't be as rushed. (If we were to go up the east coast to Washington).

    what are your thoughts?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are no national RV rental companies in New Orleans, so you won't be able to drop off a RV there. The closest one is in Houston.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    There are no national RV rental companies in New Orleans, so you won't be able to drop off a RV there. The closest one is in Houston.
    Thanks for that! I'll have a look for some cheap flights across!

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