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  1. #1

    Default Andys 40th birthday road trip

    Hi Guys

    I am looking for some assistance in planning a holiday of a life time for my wife, 10 year old son and myself. As the title suggests its for my 40th birthday and as a family we have booked an RV from El Monte in Log Angeles and are planning a circular trip taking in the following places and sights.
    Los Angeles - Santa Barbara
    Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey
    Santa Cruz and beaches
    San Francisco for 2 days
    Yosemite or Lake Tahoe or both 2 days
    Death Valley
    Las Vegas 2 days
    Palm Springs / Dana point

    We have the RV for a total of 13 nights

    Now the hard work really starts and this is where I need everyone's help.

    We are RV virgins and really haven't got a clue where to start when planning our road trip, already we have seen that all the Campgrounds at Yosemite are fully booked, so could do with advice regarding first come first serve campgrounds. Could also do with advice about rough mileage to cover each day.

    I've no doubt that this trip has been done a million times, so if anyone can signpost me to a good road plan and maps that would be great.

    The above is just a starting point - your help is needed.
    Last edited by Annethanandy; 04-30-2013 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    I'd recommend you reverse the direction of your trip - that way the scenic pullouts on the coast highway will be on your side of the road (we drive on the RIGHT side).

    I would order a Rand McNally road atlas for your planning, I prefer the Large Format as it's spiral bound. Supplement this with electronic devices. We have a Map Center (green toolbar at top) to help you with planning. Google Maps can help you with drive times, but add at least 20% to its calculations.

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

    Default A few thoughts.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Reversing your trip order is a good idea and even moreso in an RV where it is trickier to pull out across traffic with a limited rear view.

    It's most likely that the RV company will not let you cross Death valley in the summer months and if you did so it would be at your own expense if anything went wrong. Check your terms and conditions carefully.

    You might get lucky with an RV site cancellation in the NP's, but there are limited RV sites and the NP's are very popular. If you have no luck you could consider booking one [or two] outside of the park. There are a couple of options near Mono Lake to the east of the park and some to the west such as Yosemite Pines in Groveland. One night on each side could work well, for example if you come from LV stop in Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining and then enter the park next day over Tioga Pass [CA120] and visit the valley and then stay out the other side with the possibility of re-visiting other areas of the park [Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove] the next morning before heading to SF. Yosemite is quite amazing and I would not miss it for the world !

    You would have time, if you wished, to visit the Grand canyon NP [south rim] which you could head towards from LA, spend a night [or 2] and head back to Vegas, Yosemite, SF and down the coast. You can break the journey to GC up with a stop in Palm Springs, Lake Havasu or Kingman and visit Joshua Tree NP

  4. #4


    That's great RT Guru, never even considered reversing the route, it makes great sense.

  5. #5


    Thanks Southwest Dave
    The more I read the more I feel like a novice.
    I must admit that I am starting to panic over this holiday which is wrong as it should be enjoyable.

    I have bought dozens of books and feel over loaded with information.

    My biggest issue is not knowing how long to plan to stay in each place.
    All this aside I have already decided to reroute in the opposite direct and rethink staying in the Yosemite NP's.

    Keep the information coming guys....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Don't panic, enjoy !

    I have bought dozens of books and feel over loaded with information.
    Knowledge is not a burden to carry. ;-) It's the same for most of us when planning, you will never get to see it all in a single trip, so it's a case of prioritising what's most appealing to your tastes, then you can go back another day to visit those places you can't this time around.

    Yosemite is a simply amazing place and there are surrounding campgrounds, but I would recommend to start looking for available sites.

    My biggest issue is not knowing how long to plan to stay in each place.
    Again this comes down to what holds the most appeal to you personally. We love to travel with an RV and it's real 'strengths' are when out in the National parks and natural wonders which is what they really are designed for and are not so friendly around the City. City parks are also limited and you might want to book for peace of mind, I would be looking for one with good public transport links into the city in San Fran. In Vegas you have Circus Circus RV park located on the Strip which is more like a parking lot but convenient, or you have the Oasis RV resort with all the 'bells and whistles' but is south of the Strip.

    Once you have worked out the basics of your itinerary we can help to 'fine tune' it and make suggestions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Oakville, ON, Canada


    Don't panic too much. I enjoy planning the trip as it allows me to look forward to it long before it arrives. I find some of our most enjoyable trips are the ones where we didn't see everything and want to return one day such as NYC, D.C., and cross country on Route 66. Your trip sounds amazing. Have you thought about what you want to do in Vegas for two days with a 10 year old? I agree with Southwest Dave and try to go see the Grand Canyon. It was an amazing place. Our twin boys (13 at the time) loved it.

  8. Default

    You'll have a great trip. Everything will be an experience not just the "major tourist destinations." I'm sympathetic because I always hit a point in planning when I feel overloaded but know I move beyond that point. I'm sure your 10 year old will have some "wishes" too. Happy Birthday.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default An echo

    I'll echo the don't panic messages above.

    Just remember, not every day of the trip needs to be planned to the 'N'th degree. It's rather refreshing to have some flexible time / days to enjoy those unexpected gems which may catch your attention along the road. Gems which none of us would think to mention, but which just may be the very thing to spark your, and your family's interest.



  10. #10


    Hi Southwest Dave

    Thanks for the reassuring words - the planning is currently full steam ahead, so your offer of 'fine tuning' will be gratefully received in the near future.

    Last edited by Annethanandy; 05-12-2013 at 12:46 PM. Reason: Repied to wrong person

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