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  1. Default 1st Time Family RV Trip LA - San Diego - Grand Canyon - Vegas - Yosemite - San Fran


    We're a family from New Zealand going on our first RV tip to America in September 2013.
    I'm hoping to get some advice on our planned itinerary as it will be our first time to go on an RV trip and will be travelling with 2 kids - a 2 year old and a 5 month old infant.

    Would appreciate any feedback on the itinerary described below and the specific questions I've listed:

    Day 1 (30 Aug) - Arrive at LAX. Rental Van straight to Anaheim accommodation for Day 1 only.
    Day 2-4 (31 Aug - 2 Sept) - 3 Days at Disney staying in Anaheim accommodation
    Day 5 (3-Sept) - Pick up RV at LA at noon. Is it possible to tour LA on an RV? If not, what would be the best way to go about going around LA? Our plan for the night is to stay overnight at some campsite near Universal Studios?
    Day 6 (4-Sept) - Universal Studios during the day. Leave to stay overnight at some RV park near Laguna Beach? as ideal stop on way to San Diego?
    Day 7 (5-Sept) - San Diego rest day - stay overnight at some RV park near Sea World? or wondering whether to skip this day altogether so we can have a day to add at the other sites - Grand canyon, Yosemite, San Fran, etc.
    Day 8 (6-Sept) - Sea World during the day. stay overnight at some RV park near Legoland waterpark?
    Day 9 (7-Sept) - Legoland Waterpark during the day. Leave for Grand canyon. through Needles? Stay overnight at RV park in Needles?
    Day 10 (8-Sept) - Drive to Grand Canyon Trailer Village. Stay overnight at RV park? (Wondering whether to stay 2 nights if we skip one day in San Diego - Day 6)
    Day 11 (9-Sept) - Head out to Vegas passing through Hoover Dam. Stay overnight at RV place in Vegas. (Considering Circus Circus at the strip or Oasis resort further away)
    Day 12 - 13 (10-11 Sept) - still in Vegas - same RV accommodation. or opt to book a hotel and park RV somewhere?
    Day 14 (12 Sept) - Leave Vegas for Yosemite. Go through longer but more scenic route? Stay at Bishop for the night at some RV site?
    Day 15-16 (13-14 Sept) – Yosemite – stay at Upper Pines?
    Day 17 (15 Sept) – Leave Yosemite to head out to San Francisco – go to Candlestick RV park
    Day 18-19 (16-17 Sept) – San Fran tour (use shuttle service to city provided by Candlestick RV park)
    Day 20-22 (18- 20 Sept)– Head back to LA through coast. Recommended RV overnight stops? – Monterey, San Simeon, Santa Barbara, and/or Malibu?
    Day 23 (21 Sept) – Return RV to LA by noon – flight out by midnight

    Is the above trip even feasible to cover - time-wise? Noting also that we don't want the drive to be too difficult on our kids - a toddler and an infant.
    We've rented a 22 foot RV - do we assume 40 miles an hour on average?
    Any specific RV route considerations for heading from San Diego to Grand Canyon to Vegas to Yosemite?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    Is it possible to tour LA on an RV? If not, what would be the best way to go about going around LA? Our plan for the night is to stay overnight at some campsite near Universal Studios?
    This is the only part of the trip that stands out to me as far from ideal. LA is not a particularly RV-friendly city, both from the getting around aspect, and from where to park it. I'd recommend you rent a car and stay in hotels till you are ready to completely leave the city. Anaheim is as good a place as any to base yourselves for touring the area.

    When you do leave for San Diego, I doubt you would have to spend a night enroute, it's probably not going to take you more than 2 to 3 hours unless you hit some really bad traffic.

    Best way from San Diego to the Grand Canyon is I-8 to AZ-85 to I-10 to Loop-101 to I-17 to Flagstaff. The Phoenix area would make a decent overnight.

    Ask the RV rental place if you will be permitted to drive through Death Valley when you will be there. This will make a difference in how you get from Las Vegas to Bishop.

    Depending on the roads you take, I think I'd figure more than 40 mph average. You will see speed limits as high as 75.

  3. Default

    Thanks glc! Really appreciate the advice. Will make the minor adjustments you suggested and check out those points you said I should validate. I feel reassured that the itinerary is generally feasible and not way off track. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Bits and pieces.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I would certainly plan on an extra night at the Grand canyon and have time to enjoy this natural wonder.

    I wouldn't book a hotel in Vegas while you have the facilities and expense of the RV sitting idle, but it's certainly an option. The Oasis is a nice resort with pools etc, but is a cab fare away from the Strip.

    Upper Pines is a great location for Yosemite, be sure to book a site there and at the GC Trailer park when the booking window opens. They are very popular parks and RV sites are limited.

    With the amount of time you have planned in the City where an RV is not the best mode of transport, I wonder if it is the right choice for this trip and whether you have the right to cancel and consider going with a car and Motels for the trip.[?] Don't get me wrong it's a wonderful Lifestyle choice [and one I love] but it's going to be more expensive and less convenient than a car and Motels for this trip. [Just a thought]

    As glc mentioned there are restrictions on RV travel through Death valley placed by the rental companies, but I think you should be OK in September. [still check though] If that's the case I would head to Pahrump on 160 [easier from Oasis RV resort] and then north of town turn left on Bell Vista Ave/Ash Meadows/State Line road to Death valley junction. Turn right and immediate left onto 190 across Death valley all the way to 136 to Lone Pine.

  5. Default

    Thanks Dave and glc.

    Since we leave san diego from Carlsbad, can we take the I10 instead of I8 to Phoenix on way to grand canyon?

    Do you have a recommendation for RV site at Phoenix?

    We are now tempted to add another day at grand canyon.

    You are right about the RV trip being a more expensive option than doing hotels for this itinerary ... We just thought it would be easier when doing a road trip with an infant. Was my husband's idea. .. I personally would have preferred hotels.

    Still hoping to make it work and have a great family holiday

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think you are spending enough time outside of cities where an RV could work for your trip, but I've got to say, I think your current reasoning of doing it because of the small kids is pretty faulty. If anything, traveling in the RV could be more difficult, especially because your kids are so young. At the very least, you're going to need to check with the rental company about how car seats are going to work with your RV's layout. I would really think that a sedan or minivan, where you could have the kids within arms reach would be a lot easier.

    At the very least, I would wait until after you are done with all of your stops in LA, and perhaps even San Diego before you pick up the RV, as getting around LA with an RV is going to be a big headache.

    If you're starting from Carlsbad, then I think your original idea of going to the Grand Canyon via I-15 and I-40 is probably your better bet than heading over to Phoenix.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Two thoughts.

    I'm not sure I would be travelling through Death Valley with a five months old. September can be still very hot, and inevitably you are going to need to stop for the infant.

    One advantage for you this trip, with an RV, is that it will give the two year old the same bed, and same surrounds in which he will settle each night. Sometimes, when we travelled with our little ones, they would become disoriented as if they no longer knew where they belonged.

    Looks like a great trip.


  8. #8


    With an infant and 2 year old, if it were me, I'd be renting a minivan and doing hotels - the convenience of parking, maneuvering, etc. is just so much easier than with an RV. I'm saying that having spent a month doing an RV trip with my 8 and 2 year old this past fall - they had a blast, but are older, yet with my 2 year old, it would have been easier in some ways to have been in a minivan or car for stops and being able to park closer to things we were doing.

    Down in San Diego, if you do the RV still, there is a great RV park right on the bay north of Sea World. It's a good example of driving in tight areas to get to, but once you get through it all, it is a nice place - just very pricey for an RV park.

    Driving in LA in an RV (I was in a 23.5" B+, so not too wide or long) is also not exactly easy - doable, but parking is difficult since you have to find surface lots that will let you park in 4 spots or into two, and that's if you're in a shorter RV (less than 24'). Also call your hotels and on check-in confirm again their policy if you have to pay to park. We had business in San Diego and the hotel said parking was normal price ($28/night) even with the RV taking 4 spots......upon departure, four nights later, the parking lot attendant tried to charge me for all 4 spots and it was back and forth with the hotel until I found the person that confirmed (write down names!) that we were allowed to park and that it would be only for one spot. You can imagine the mini heart attack I had on that one! Thank goodness I wrote down names and dates when I'd called and when I'd checked in.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Carlsbad instead of SD to the GC does make a difference. If you are going to take 2 days anyway, you could go through Joshua Tree and also see some of old Route 66.

    Take CA-78 east to I-15. Take that north to I-215 to CA-60. Take that east to join I-10 to the south park entrance. Leave the park by the north entrance into 29 Palms, cross CA-62, go about 2 miles, and turn right on Amboy Road. That will end in Amboy, turn right, you are on old 66, take that to I-40. Depending on how much time you take, you can spend the night in 29 Palms, Needles, or Kingman. If you don't want to go to Joshua Tree, just stay on I-15 to I-40.

  10. Default

    Hmmm... everyone's posts about traveling with an infant and toddler has now got me worried.

    Should I revise the itinerary to just do a rental van perhaps perhaps from LA to San Diego and Vegas. Then do RV to Grand Canyon then Yosemite, san fran and Pacific Coast Highway back to LA?

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