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  1. Default LA/SF to NC in early May w kids...

    I'm pondering a one way road trip from CA to NC in early May with myself and two boys (7 & 10 yo). My first question - is this insane? Next - how long could I expect this to take? I don't want to drive all day each day but I don't want to stop every hour to see something new either. I'm thinking must-stops are things like maybe Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, then ??? in NM, not sure between TX/OK/Ark (open to suggestions).

    Could I do this comfortably in 5 days with fun stuff along the way? I'm open to car+hotel or renting an RV.

    I'm open to any suggestions or experiences. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Just Barely

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The fact is that driving from San Francisco to Charlotte would take all of five days assuming you drove eight hours a day every day, just to get there. Note that most places in North Carolina are east of Charlotte and so would take even longer. And that eight hours does not include stops for fuel, meals, bathroom breaks, traffic slowdowns, or anything else which means your actual on-the-road time would be more like 11-12 hours each day. That leaves no time for a detour to the Grand Canyon and precious little time even for brief stops at parks just off the highway to take a break from behind the wheel. L.A. to Charlotte would be about a half day less, but still five days would really make such a drive more of a working transit than an enjoyable RoadTrip.

    Oh, and an RV is simply out of the question. The extra time needed to find a campsite and set-up your rig in the evening, then take it down the next morning, coupled with the inherent slowness of such a vehicle would push you into six days minimum for the transit.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    This all makes sense. I was too ambitious. I will look at scaling back and see what I can pull off.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    What was your reason for picking North Carolina as a destination?

    If you've only got 5 days available, it really is too far to do a "fun" roadtrip, but also keep in mind that going one way across the country would also make things quite a bit more expensive, as you'd have one way car rental fees as well as airfare (and time) needed to get back home.

    With 5 days from San Francisco, there are a lot of great things you could go and see (it is an excellent city to use as a hub for roadtrips), although I would be looking at things much closer to home. In fact, I don't think I would be looking too far outside of California or its neighboring states.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    What was your reason for picking North Carolina as a destination?

    If you've only got 5 days available, it really is too far to do a "fun" roadtrip, but also keep in mind that going one way across the country would also make things quite a bit more expensive, as you'd have one way car rental fees as well as airfare (and time) needed to get back home.

    With 5 days from San Francisco, there are a lot of great things you could go and see (it is an excellent city to use as a hub for roadtrips), although I would be looking at things much closer to home. In fact, I don't think I would be looking too far outside of California or its neighboring states.
    NC is home. The big picture plan is (1) leave NC & get to Chicago, (2) take the California Zephyr amtrak from Chicago to SF, (3) go around SF, Yosemite, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon (or whatever is feasible) - then get back to NC. I'm now pondering just having the driving portion of the trip be between SF/Yosemite/GC, then fly back from Phoenix.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Ah, that makes a lot more sense.

    You still might look at doing this as a round trip drive from San Francisco. You could do something like down the coast, over to the Grand Canyon, back through Vegas and Death Valley, before hitting Yosemite on the way back to SF.

    Even if you do it as a short one way, I'd compare flying back from Vegas instead of Phoenix, as often you can get better flight deals and one way car rental fees from SF to Vegas sometimes are waived.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Total time.

    How much time would you actually have available for the roadtrip [not including your flight days out and back ] if you fly both ways? You could create a great loop trip out of SF that included the Grand canyon and perhaps even a couple of Utahs National parks, Zion and Bryce canyon with the extra time. If flights and car hire worked out cheaper you could start and finish in Las Vegas.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    How much time would you actually have available for the roadtrip [not including your flight days out and back ] if you fly both ways? You could create a great loop trip out of SF that included the Grand canyon and perhaps even a couple of Utahs National parks, Zion and Bryce canyon with the extra time. If flights and car hire worked out cheaper you could start and finish in Las Vegas.
    I am looking at 4/30-5/9 for dates, so if I fly to & from, then 8 total days (5/1-5/8). The train looks really cool for the kids though, which would leave me arriving afternoon of 5/2. So 5/3-5/8 then becomes my window.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A great train journey

    It would be a real pity if the children were not to experience the California Zephyr - one of the most scenic train journeys with Amtrak. I have travelled it three times, in recent years. Whereas I am not fond of the food they serve (but then, I am not fond of American food), the rest of the journey is just great. Especially for children, there is lots of room to move about and play games in the observation and lounge car. Bring some card and board games. On the other hand, there is lots to see out the panoramic windows. If you can fit the rest of your trip into the time available, it would be a pity to miss out on the California Zephyr.

    Lifey

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