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  1. Default LV/San Diego/LA/SF/Yosemite

    Hi everyone,
    Im new on the forum, and the whole roadtrip experience!
    My husband and I are planning a trip to the states from April 18 to may 5. Our flight (from buenos aires) arrives at (and leaves from) Miami. We would like to take a cheap flight to the west coast (we had planned to start in LV) and rent a car there to do the roadtrip.
    We actually don't even know where to fly to... Maybe flying to SF and drive down to LV is somehow cheaper than the other way round?
    Anyway, we definitely want to visit San Diego, LA, Yosemite, San Francisco and Las Vegas, and maybe the Grand Canyon if we have the time.
    Do any of you have a proposed schedule?
    We need the last 3 days in Miami, so that would leave around 13 days on the west coast.
    Do you think we need to book hotels in advance? (I will be 5 months pregnant by that time, so sleeping in the car is not an option!)
    Do you have any cheap and nice lodging recommendations in the places I mentioned?

    Also, we were contemplating the idea of renting an RV. Do you think it's worth it? Is it cheaper than the car+hotel trip?
    Do you have any idea how much we could spend in gas (either with RVor car)? Gas prices are so different here!

    Thanks for the help, I apologize if I asked too many questions!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Things in Your Favor

    Bienvenido al bordo RoadTrip América foros! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It is certainly possible to make a 'Grand Tour' of all the spots you've listed in the American Southwest. In fact it is one of our most popular RoadTrips. If you make it a loop trip where you begin and end in the same city, then you will not have to pay either a one-way fee on the car rental or extra for an 'open jaw' plane ticket. The other thing working in your favor on a loop trip is that you can fly into any city on your itinerary and begin/end your RoadTrip there, wherever you find the lowest combination of airfare/car rental. So at this point you should be using a travel search engine such as ours to price out the various options. You should be checking at least Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and San Diego, any of which could serve as your destination for your internal flight. You should also check directly with Southwest Airlines which does not supply its pricing data to search engines, but sometimes competes favorably on price.

    As for lodging, some cities are currently overbuilt - too many motel/hotel rooms for the number of travel3ers - so you might find some very good bargains among the fancier chains. But to give you an idea of which chains you should be looking at, low cost motels generally include Red Roof Inns, Motel 6, Super 8, Econo Lodge, Travelodge and some others. I generally, however, find the best value at the next level up. You pay a bit more but often get significantly better rooms that frequently come with free breakfasts that can offset much of the higher costs. Chains in this category include Days Inn, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn and some Marriotts.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Coast and mountains.

    Just a couple of points to follow on from Bucks excellent advice for planning purposes. As mentioned above, a loop trip is ideal for your journey as it saves money and adds only a few extra miles given your list of places to visit, now by creating a loop that has you heading south between SF and LA you will have the Ocean and the Ocean side viewpoints on your side of the road. It's a wonderful scenic coastal highway, but taking it would mean an overnight stop between SF and LA.

    Secondly, as you read the threads in the link above you will find that when travelling between Vegas and Yosemite, driving through Death valley and over the Tioga Pass [CA120] is the popular route. At the time of year you are travelling, this mountain pass will not be open to traffic due to winter snow accumulation. You can still visit Yosemite, but you will have to go south around the mountains via Lake Isabella/ Bakersfield, Death valley would still be an option to explore with a small detour.

    In brief, a round trip would look something like this. [Starting from any City]

    Las Vegas > Yosemite [overnight stop Bakersfield/Fresno] >SF>Cambria>LA>SD>Grand canyon [overnight stop on route, possibly visit Joshua Tree NP]>LV.

    It would be achievable but you will be on the go most of the time and if you wanted to slow it down a little I personally would visit Grand canyon and not San Diego as the trip is already mainly focused on the City.

    An RV would be a much more expensive rental option when considering the additional costs of fuel and campground fees etc and they are not ideal in the City.

    You can use the RTA gas calculator to get an estimate to fuel costs, but a rough [G]estimate based on $4 per gallon and a car gas return of 20-22mpg it would cost around $400-$450. An RV would be twice that amount.

  4. Default

    Hello AZBuck and southwest Dave
    Thank you so much for your input, it's greatly appreciated.

    I think we'll go with the round trip option, starting and finishing in LV. Now, given that we have around 13 days, how many days do you recommend for each city? Also is it worht it to stop overnight in Big Sur or Carmel or Monterrey?
    Given my "condition" by that time (I told you I'd be 5 month pregnant) I really want to take it slow....
    Thanks again and Merry Xmas :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Distributing the Days

    How many days to spend in any given city/park/area is a very personal choice and depends entirely on your own interests and the pace you want to travel at. The good thing is that you have plenty of time to spread out over your route and don't necessarily have to rush anywhere. As a rule of thumb we generally recommend 500 miles as a solid day of driving. In your condition you'll want to sit a bit less and get a bit more fresh air and such, so maybe 300-400 miles should be a top day. That's still not a problem on any of your legs, but it does mean that you will take two days on most of them: Las Vegas to San Francisco, San Francisco to Los Angeles, and San Diego to the Grand Canyon. The other two, Los Angeles to San Diego and the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, and be done in a day. Note that I'm recommending that you do the drive in a counter-clockwise direction. This puts you on the ocean side of the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles and on the Canyon side of the road from Cameron to Grand Canyon Village, making pulling off at scenic overlooks that much easier.

    So, that's eight days on the road, leaving five days to spend in the cities on the way, four of them. One full per city then, and that's a fine average, and doesn't really leave a lot of wiggle room for alterations. Now as for where to stop on each of your two day legs. From Las Vegas to San Francisco via Yosemite, you won't be able to count on the road (CA-120) over Tioga Pass being open in April, so you'll need to go up the Central Valley through Bakersfield and Fresno. This is farming country and so you should plan on this being a serious driving day. 400 miles would get you to Fresno and leave you an easy drive into Yosemite the next morning and allow you most of the day in Yosemite. The valley will be accessible but not all of the park, so the better part of a day will let you get a good feel for its attractions and still leave you time to drive the 200 miles to San Francisco in the late afternoon/early evening. Between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cambria is generally a good stopping point, leaving tome to see a bit of Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur. And between San Diego and the Grand Canyon, Phoenix would be the logical choice and offer a few attractions you might like to see as well.


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