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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default Planned west ~ east by road and rail: September 2013 to Mid oct 2013

    We are from the UK and as retirees planning our next "big trip" to be from west to east USA over a 6 week period from early september to mid october. We've done similar before in New Zealand but the scale was a little smaller!

    Fixed points are starting in San Francisco and ending in Boston.

    Accommodation would be a mixture of cabins ( if open then ) , motels and when needing some luxury even hotels!
    We plan to use a hire car for a large part and AMTRAK for some longish hauls.

    We have pencilled in;
    Yosemite ; Monterey ; Pacific highway ( a bit of it ! ) ; Las Vegas ; Bryce / Grand Canyon ; Monument Valley ; Mt Rushmore ( ?? ) ;
    Denver ; Chicago ; Washington DC ; Kentucky / Appalachians ; New York ; New England.

    Advice welcomed on booking cabins ; motels ; any obvious pitfalls in our plans ( Denver to Washington section probably all AMTRAK if available )

    All advice and comments welcome!

    tks

    Mike and Felicity

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    You've got quite a trip planned, definitely "do-able". Sounds like a lot of fun!

    Pitfalls -- the one that glares out at me right now, regards the rental car. Every time you drop off a rental at a place other than where you rented it, they will probably charge you a "one way drop off fee" which can range up to $500 each. That brings up the fee quite a bit. There are consolidators online that may be able to get the fee waived if you book with them, but that's not a guaranteed thing. If you were to rent one while in a specific city, and return it to the same place, there probably won't be such a fee.

    In Washington DC and NYC, a car is a liability, though. Both cities have sufficient public transportation that it might be easier (and cheaper) to stay outside of the city and commute in on a bus or train. For instance, you may find a NJ hotel to park the rental and just take the bus into NYC each day. That's because parking in NYC will *start* at $40/day (or so we discovered), IF you are lucky enough to find a space.

    In September and October, there will be plenty of areas where you don't need to book accommodations ahead of time. I would definitely book hotels ASAP for Yosemite, Grand Canyon, if planning to stay in the park itself. (They may even be booked already.) Ruby's Inn is the closest accommodations to Bryce -- friends of mine stayed there this summer and thought it wonderful. You didn't mention Arches NP, but if planning to go, Moab is the town with all the motels and hotels.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Two Suggestions to Start

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your general plan can work, more or less, but there are a few problems. For example, Mount Rushmore is far enough away from everything else on your San Francisco to Denver leg that I would probably forego it on this trip. As a bit of compensation, you can look at adding a visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Amtrak is certainly available from Denver to Washington. Specifically, you should be looking at the California Zephyr from Denver to Chicago and the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington. Obviously, that would give you a good opportunity to spend a day or two in Chicago while you're at it.

    However, what I really think you should consider is taking the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to Boston and do a loop RoadTrip from Boston down the east coast including New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Then cross the Appalachians to Kentucky and follow those mountains northeast into New England before returning to Boston for your flight home. That would save you a bit of money on the car rental.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks Donna - we will start booking hotels in the most popular places very soon but want some flexibiilty when more off the beaten track.

    I agree that cars and unfamiliar cities don't mix and will use public transport.

    Thanks also for the do-able comment - that means a lot!

    We will probably book hire cars in advance with the total contract price settled before we leave - I'm aware they can make small additions whichj add up to large amounts over a couple of weeks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks very much for the suggestions about AMTRAK and the Lake Shore option - that pd worried me a bit.

    I understand about mount rushmore and will have to decide whether the time is worth it this time around !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default Car hire for West to East USA

    We are seriously considering a single hire from pick up in San Francisco in early September to drop off at Boston airport 38 days later.

    The most competitive to date looks like National ( only $250 for one-way fee ) but finding and believing reviews is difficult - looks like only those with bad experiences can be bothered! - I have hired throughout Europe and New Zealand with no problems from either small or large companies.

    General recommendations seem to be to use a nationwide company and don't get too small a car - for big cities we would locate outside and travel in by local bus or train.

    Any comments on National or more general views on car hire ?

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about this trip together in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-15-2013 at 05:17 AM. Reason: Merged

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    When I rent a car, I always go with the cheapest option. I haven't really found any significant differences between the major chains, and at this point, all of the different brands are owned by about 3 different companies. The biggest differences to me seem to be the features and programs aimed at business travelers and other frequent renters.

    I'd also say the customer service is going to depend largely on the staff at the specific locations where you pickup/dropoff the car, so it can be hard to make company wide judgements on such a small sample.

    I would make sure you go with a major chain, so you do have support in case you do have a problem along the way, but most small chains aren't going to allow a one way cross country rental anyway. I would also recommend getting at least a mid-sized car for a major trip, just because the compact/economy options tend to be very barebones. I would also always encourage people to make sure they are comparing the full quote, including all taxes and fees, and not just specific factors like the one way drop fee.

    Finally, since you are coming from overseas, make sure to check out the various UK/Europe based consolidators, which often have better prices than dealing with the rental car companies directly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks michael - you're confirming most of my views - we're still planning !

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Washington, Tyne and Wear UK
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks to all for your advice and help most of which I hope we have taken.

    Our schedule is much changed but is now fixed - San Francisco ; Monterey ; Lee Vining ; Tonopah ; Cedar City ; Page ; GC Village ; Flagstaff ; Mexican Hat ; Moab ; Glenwood Springs ; Denver - taking 4 weeks- then fly to Boston and 2 weeks around New England in the Fall .
    Cannot wait now until we start in early September ............
    Thanks again to all

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Lots to see !

    Are these just places to mark out your route or planned stops ? I ask as Lee Vining would not be the best choice if you are planning to spend some time in Yosemite when coming from Monterey. A large part of Yosemite NP is on the west side of the Sierras and you should consider staying in one of the towns to the west, [Groveland, Mariposa, Oakhurst etc] or better still, in the park and then either Lee Vining or Tonopah.

    On the way to Page you could also consider the wonderful town of Springdale UT as an overnight stop, unless there is a special reason to vist Cedar City. Springdale is right on the doorstep of Zion NP, another wonder of the park system followed by a great drive through the Mt Carmel tunnel on the way to Page AZ ! Of course you always have the option of a detour to Bryce canyon prior to Page and while in this area you could consider visiting the quieter North rim of the Grand canyon NP, either instead of going down to the South rim, or as well as.

    There are many, many great sites between GC and Denver as well as those you have listed. Monument valley, Mesa Verde NP, Colorado National Monument, Black canyon, Loveland Pass and Rocky mountain NP are just a few !

    Now that you have a fixed plan, if you need help with routing or suggestions, don't hesitate to ask !

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