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  1. #1

    Default Planning a trip in late April

    Hey guys :)

    I'm 24 and planning a cross country trip with my bestie this April -ish.
    I have been to the states before but only to Washington, D.C. And Las Vegas.
    I am flying from belfast to New York. I want to spend a few days in New York then move on. I was thinking of staying away from Florida because the only place I'm interested in seeing there is the Everglades and it seems like a good bit to travel to for just one place.
    I love the thought of the south. I would love to see Memphis and New Orleans. Then maybe head over to Texas.
    I'm a real foodie and every time in watch 'diners,drive ins and dives' my mouth waters with all that southern goodness!
    I was also thinking Roswell cuz I'm a syfy girl lol. Then San Francisco down to Los Angeles and finishing in Vegas.
    However, I am a HUGE scenery person and would love to see Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
    I'm just sooooo confused about what my best option is !
    If you guys could give me some advice I would greatly appreciate it! Is the south a good choice?
    Would I like North better? Best scenery? Best drives? Places to see that you wouldn't think of? Please help!!

    Daisy xo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default You know best for you.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    The good news is that there are no wrong choices, just a million and one options for you to choose from ! The best way to make an informed decision is to get a good map of the USA and do some research with your 'bestie' and see what it is that appeals to you the most. Once you have a few ideas on paper you can look at how to join the dots up and make a trip to remember. When you have got that far then we can help to fill in the gaps and make suggestions but no one knows your likes better than you. Of course you also have the 'middle' option and some wonderful scenery through the Four Corners region. Colorado and Utah along with Arizona have wonderful and diverse scenery with a high concentration of National parks. The other thing is that you have not mentioned how much time you have available, if you have enough you could drive a complete loop taking one route out and another back to New York.

    Another thing to note is that in the mountains Spring comes late to the high ground and could still be snow bound, if you have a choice you might want to wait until mid May and into June.

    Have a look around the forums, the road trip field reports have some great info and photos from other peoples adventures and check out the planning pages in the tool bars above. As new questions come to mind, just ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time Constraints and Choices

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As you've seen with your decision to forego a visit to the Everglades, time (and money) will put constraints on where you can get to on your US RoadTrip. Unfortunately, I think the same will prove to be true about Mount Rushmore which is not only very far from any of the other destinations you've listed, but could also still be in winter's grip in April. However, there are plenty of other iconic destinations on a trip that basically goes from Washington DC through the south and southwest to Las Vegas or the west coast.

    Very, very roughly - just to give you an idea of where to start looking - your basic trip would look something like this. Land in New York and do NOT rent a car. Use public transport, particularly the subway system, to experience that city for as long as you'd like/can and then take Amtrak (rail) down to Washington DC. Still without a car check out the many museums, monuments and government buildings there. Washington also has a good subway system and most of the most famous sites are all within walking distance of each other. Finally, when you're ready to leave Washington rent your car. Be forewarned that a one-way rental to the west coast could end up being expensive but you might do considerably better if you set this up through a European consolidator such as carhire3000 before your departure from Belfast.

    You would then wander through the south at your leisure heading south from Washington through Virginia and North Carolina before turning west toward Nashville. Stick to the US and state highway systems rather than the Interstates to get a better flavor of the countryside. There are plenty of old diners such as the Rockin’ Comet Diner in Clayton NC to sample, and let the foodie in you note how 'barbecue', 'barbeque', 'BBQ' not only changes spelling but also ingredients and cooking technique as you move from region to region. Pulled pork is a local specialty through much of the mid-south. And although it's not fiction, there is plenty of space science and rocketry to be seen at NASA's center in Huntsville AL.

    Memphis and New Orleans can certainly be included in your travels both for the food as the music. Indeed US-61 which connects the is known as both the Great River Road and the Blues Highway and will also give you the chance to check out both Vicksburg and Natchez, two great old southern cities with lots of history and charm. I would suggest, though, that rather than take the straight route into New Orleans via I-10 from Baton Rouge you head east from Baton Rouge on I-12 end enter the city by way of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway just for the experience of driving over that much water.

    As you head west through Texas, Houston and NASA's Manned Space Flight Center are other logical places to visit. Another is Austin which has a vibrant local music scene and one of the southwest's best BBQ joints, the Salt Lick, just outside of town. That would also set you up for a drive throughout the hill country and high plains to the west on the way to, say, Fort Stockton where a turn north would take you through Mentone (a ghost town that is still the county seat of Loving County) and Carlsbad (world renowned caves) to Roswell. After Roswell, continue west and you'll pass near the Trinity site and within stopping distance of the VLA outside Socorro which has appeared in more than a few Sci-Fi movies.

    Your next goal are some of the truly spectacular national Parks, Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, before continuing into Las Vegas. I would urge you to do LV now rather than at the end of your trip since backtracking to it after the west coast will waste both time and money and you can probably find better flights back to Belfast from either San Francisco or Los Angeles. In fact, depending on where you find the best combination of return flight/car drop-off logistics, you can head for the other city from Las Vegas and then go to your departure city by way of the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Well, as I said, that's a very rough idea of what you can accomplish on a Washington to L.A. or S.F. RoadTrip without going too far out of your way. Still, you should probably have a minimum of three weeks to do such a trip justice. More would be better. If, after you start firming up your plans, you have other questions don't hesitate to return and ask.


  4. #4


    I have a million and one pages with routes from New York - using google maps and not driving for longer than 6 hours ... Now I'm starting to think that that's too long on the road?
    I have about 3 weeks, my original plan consisted of 28 days but I can't get that long off work.
    I want to see New York then maybe drive to DC for a day, was then thinking of flying to Tennessee, renting a car and seeing Nashville and Memphis then depending possible New Orleans. Is it then that I get stumped ... The though of Arizona and New Mexico really appeals to me however the likes of Phoenix and Albuquerque is millllllles away from Roswell lol.
    I agree about Mount Rushmore. I looked into further north and might do Chicago, Maine and Seattle etc some other year, that way it's closer to South Dakota.
    Could maybe get a cheap flight to Roswell and spend the day looking at alien stuff then get an early morning flight to San Francisco ... That way I could spend around a week travelling from there to vegas, what do you think?
    Your advice is really helpful, thank you guys so much.
    I also wanted to ask about tolls ... Are they expensive? Do the police pull you over a lot?
    Would it even be better to do the whole bus/train/fly thing ... I dunno, maybe driving is better cuz you can stop whenever you want ... Which reminds me ... Do you think it would be ok to just go without booking accommodation? Do you think it's easy enough to find cheap hotels on the road where you won't end up in a horror film? Lol
    Thanks again guys :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Can't beat a road trip !

    The popular choice here would be to drive the whole route, after all it is a road trip forum. ;-) The open road gives you the freedom to see and do the things you want to do and when you want to. Six hours is not a long time on the road especially when broken up into sections. For example some days you could drive a couple of hours after breakfast and stop at a point of interest and then continue on your journey and so on. Some days you may want to stay in one place and another day drive for up to 10 hours with just the basic stops, you can mix it up how you like as long as you meet your deadline at the end of the road. You should have no reason to book in advance if you want to keep things open and enjoy that kind of freedom and most places have a good selection of lodgings to suit all people.

    With 3 weeks you would have enough time to make an enjoyable relaxing drive across the country, Albuquerque is about 3.5 hours drive from Roswell and Phoenix could be done the same day, which beats being in and out of airports and missing everything from the road. You could travel from Roswell to Flagstaff in a day and next day get to visit the Grand canyon National park. You could then go to Vegas and then to SF and finish your trip there or drive down the coast to LA, or Vegas to LA direct, but it wouldn't make much sense going to the west coast and then back to Vegas. However it is your trip and you need to unravel your thoughts and decide whats best for you.

  6. #6


    Yeah I suppose you're right ... The only thing is, and I don't want to get too personal but, I was in a serious car accident last April and it's only now I'm really even able to stay on the road for a long period of time. I've been 'planning' this trip since January and then that happened and basically killed my dreams BUT coming round to the idea again :) the longest I've been in a car since then is 3 hours ... From belfast to Galway almost. My friend will be the one doing the driving so I'm trying to think of them when not driving too long.
    But I would definitely be lying if I said I didn't want to see South Carolina etc.
    Have you done this before dave?
    Thanks again for the advice!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Understandable.

    I can understand how the aftermath of a road traffic accident can make a difference both physically and mentally as my wife was involved in one a little while back. Although she was not seriously hurt the muscle tissue has not recovered fully and her confidence took a big knock. :-) Driving in the US, particularly in the west is generally speaking a much more pleasurable experience than found on this side of the pond.

    Have you done this before dave?
    I'm not sure exactly what the question is, but yes I have road tripped in America but have not been to South Carolina or the east coast before. I love the diversity of the West and the scenery and National parks [I guess the clue is in my forum name. lol] and if I were to fly into New York for a few days, I would then fly out to Vegas, LA or San Fran and do a smaller round trip from there to include some natural wonders, especially given your circumstance and time period. However that's me and that is why we always try and encourage you to make the trip your own, based on your interests as we are all different, and then we can help fill in the blanks and offer advice on how to get the best from your plans.

    A ball park figure for you to drive from NY to New Orleans via SC and to Roswell, GC, Vegas, SF and LA and stick to 6 hours per day of driving would take 12 to 13 days to complete. That's a comfortable pace and would leave you 6 or 7 days to spend 'wherever' with 2 days accounted for for your flights. It is important not to cram too much into your trip as you could end up seeing less, concentrate on your 'must see's' and then we can see how you can build a trip around them.

    How old is your friend ? If they are under 25 years of age you could pay quite a premium for a 'Young driver fee' and dropping a car off on the other side of the country can be very expensive with the 'One way rental fee'. Of course it's important to know just how much driving they would be comfortable with doing and how experienced they are.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Things to Keep in Mind

    Since you mentioned South Carolina, this is a fitting place to point out one fact that you need to be aware of in your planning. South Carolina is roughly the same size as the entire island of Ireland, Republic and Ulster. The United States is a huge country by European standards, and while I'm a huge fan of breaking up each day's drive into 2-3 hour stretches, it really isn't possible to see everything on your wish list by car, I'm hesitant to suggest internal flights due to the expense. We don't have anything comparable to Ryanair. So, to keep your road miles down and to save on money what I think you should really be looking at is a loop trip through the south where you land in New York, see that and Washington by public transport as I mentioned in my first post, and then do a loop RoadTrip down through the Carolinas, over to New Orleans, up to Memphis and back through Tennessee and Virginia to Washington. Return the car and take the train back up to New York to catch your return flight to Belfast.

    That would easily, and very solidly, fill three weeks. One of the pitfalls that trips up first time RoadTrip planners is to try to fit too much into too little time. You end up rushing from place to place, not experiencing the country you're passing through, having no time for serendipitous finds along the way or to talk to the 'locals', and feeling rushed and exhausted for most of the trip. I will note that on my first visit to Ireland in January of 1972 I spent 2½ weeks in Belfast alone (although a few of those days were as the 'guest' of the British army - King's Own Scots Borderers to be exact). There is always time to return later. Enjoy this trip at a pace that allows you to relax. I'm afraid that means skipping the southwest altogether this time. At least that's what I'd urge you and your friend to consider.


  9. #9


    Thanks for the advise.
    I'm definitely going to look at my options. I clearly need to re think everywhere I want to go. Sky scanner is good for internal flights which is why I thought of flying to the likes of San Francisco and working my way to vegas.
    Thanks again guys :)

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