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  1. #1

    Default Toronto to Big Sur: cost + time + suggestions

    Hi RTA!

    I have a few questions to throw your way.

    First, an overview:

    My 2 amazing cousins, my sister and I have decided to brave an all-girls road trip this summer.
    Our goal: Dip our toes in the ocean off the coast of Big Sur.

    We're starting in Toronto, once in the US we plan on taking the I-80 for most of the way because we want to spend the majority of our time in California, and then taking the I-70 back so we can make a short stop in Las Vegas.

    To save some money along the way we are opting to camp while in California and to use the cooler method for *most* of our food; restocking at grocery stores wherever possible.

    My questions are:

    1) Can this be done on $6000-8000 (altogether) comfortably?
    2) in 14 days?
    3) What are your top 3 spots that you think we should hit up along the way? We've done research, but would love input on some seriously scenic stops.

    Thank you for your time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I would say time is your biggest concern. You can certainly make this trip in 14 days, but that's about the minimum amount of time I would consider for this trip. You're looking at a minimum of 5-6 hard days of driving to get from Toronto to Big Sur (yes, that does account for having multiple drivers). That means you do have time for the drive, but you are only going to have a few days in California before you need to turn back for home.

    Your budget on first glance looks very comfortable, and unless you have some big expenses I'm not thinking of, that shouldn't be an issue for you. I suspect you'll find things in the US are much cheaper than in Canada, because of the current exchange rate.

    There are lots of potential scenic stops on your trip. Yosemite and Death Valley would be a popular choice in California, although it also depends at least a little bit on how you want to use your time and if you also want to include SF and LA into your trip. As you head back along I-15/I-70 there are several National Parks not far from the highway, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mountain, to name a few.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Kind of.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    To your first 2 questions I would say yes, it can be done with your time and budget. However you will not be spending the majority of your time in California, the majority will be dedicated to travelling. It's going to take at least 5 days to travel each way in a fairly comfortable and safe manner without any major sight seeing, just rest breaks, to eat and fill with gas etc, plus a little time to explore where you stay for the night. This will mean averaging your overnight stops out at between 500-600 miles apart which is the maximum we recommend for multiple day trips and is equivalant to 9-10 hours on the road.

    That's quite a journey for 4 days in California [less any time in Vegas or other places] but if thats what you were expecting and ok with, then it'll work. Just don't pay any notice to mapping program times where they count the journey in hours and not days. A computer doesn't need to sleep, eat, fill the car with gas or deal with other 'human' factors such as congestion or construction delays.

    In Cali you have one of the most spectacular scenic wonders anywhere in the world in Yosemite NP, if you head to Vegas you could go to the Grand canyon NP and then through Monument valley to I70 via Moab UT where you will find Arches NP. Those 3 NP's would be my top 3 spots for "seriously scenic stops", although I could mention many more.

    Your budget could stretch to further days for the trip, if all of you can then I would take them.

  4. #4

    Default

    Hi Midwest Michael,

    Thank you so much for your quick response!

    I was definitely worried about the budget from reading a few other threads and suggestions that detailed $200-250/day comfortably, but wasn't sure if that was as a whole or individually.

    We had planned on using one of the days to make a day-trip to San Fran, but were only going to attempt that if we had the time to spare.

    Love your suggestions for stops!

    Thanks again!

  5. #5

    Default

    Hi Southwest Dave,

    Thanks for your quick response as well!

    We had envisioned only a night or two in California, hoping that it would afford us some time to make a couple of stops along the way.

    I had calculated it down to 500/600 miles per day, thanks for letting me know that it is your recommended max. My cousins are go-getters, so they probably would have pushed for more.

    You don't like my 'seriously scenic stops'? haha I thought it was pretty swell. Yosemite made the list again! I'll have to look into all of the NPs along the way. Is it true that there is a park pass that can be purchased for $80 for the year?

    Unfortunately, time is really our biggest constraint, we could probably only add a day or two max to our trip, but I wanted to leave that unplanned for to accomodate if we get lost or decide on an extra day in Cali.

    Thank you so much for all of your input!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Tis true.

    Yes there is an $80 annual NP's pass that you can purchase from the first park you enter. It usually pays for itself if you are planning to visit 4 or more major NP's in a year, so if you are planning on future trips or 4 stops at NP's, it's certainly worth it.

    You don't like my 'seriously scenic stops'? haha I thought it was pretty swell.
    Nope I love seriously scenic stops and gave you my top 3 spots that I would contemplate for this trip as requested. [Am I missing something ? lol]

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Yes there is an $80 annual NP's pass that you can purchase from the first park you enter. It usually pays for itself if you are planning to visit 4 or more major NP's in a year, so if you are planning on future trips or 4 stops at NP's, it's certainly worth it.
    Perfect!! Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Nope I love seriously scenic stops and gave you my top 3 spots that I would contemplate for this trip as requested. [Am I missing something ? lol]
    my failed attempt at a joke, nothing more! lol
    And your suggestions were great, Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default One [of many] possibilites.

    Have a look around the forums and road trip planning pages in the tool bars above where you will find routes, attractions and can create both in the Map centre. Once you have a rough idea of where you are headed we may be able to help 'fine tune' your trip.

    Have you considered going from 180 to I70 on the way out and use I40/44 ETC on the way back ? For example you could get as far as Glenwood Springs in Colorado in 3 days with stops around Ottowa IL and Grand Island NE to break the journey. On the way back you could get from Oklahoma to home in 3 days with a little time in St Louis and visit the Gateway Arch.

    That would leave 8 days for a round trip from Grand junction to the coast and back to Oky. On the way west you could visit Arches NP, [Moab] and stop around Richfield UT and then visit Zion NP on route to Las Vegas. Then travel across DV to Yosemite for a night and then to San Fran. [4 nights] From SF head down the scenic coast road around Big Sur to Cambria for another night before heading inland towards Kingman or as far as Williams. Next up a quick visit to Grand canyon south rim and on to Albuquerque and then Oky.

    It's a lot to do but you might be able to cherry pick some ideas to suit your tastes, but I will say it again, if you could manage a few extra days [even 1 or 2] it would make a huge difference.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Oakville, ON, Canada
    Posts
    28

    Default

    While I think you can do the trip in 14 days, you may be very tired from driving by the end of it all. We travelled from Toronto to LA and back and took 23 days. We took 7 days to get there, 9 days in the LA area and 7 days to get home. We went via the I-40/Route 66. On the way down, we spent an extra night in Albuquerque, NM and two nights at the Grand Canyon to break up the drive. We all appreciated that we did that. It gave us some time to get out of the car and see things and slow the pace down a bit. On the way home we stopped in Vegas for 2 nights and drove less each day spending more time seeing the sights along Route 66 like Cadillac Ranch. We drove 10,600 km including side trips along the way. Enjoy your trip. Your budget should be fine if you don't lose it all in Vegas!

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