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  1. Default Feedback on upcoming trip

    Hello everyone :)

    I am looking for a bit of feedback regarding an upcoming trip I'm planning. I have read around these forums quite a bit, and picked up a ton of helpful info. That being said, I am still looking for a bit more personal oriented advice.

    The current planning is:

    Day 1: leave from Brussels for San Francisco intl. (SFO). Estimated time of arrival is around 20 in the evening. Pick up the rental car and head to motel 6 in the san mateo area (good experience with this chain, and a good starting point)

    Day 2: start going down Hwy. 1 to the south. I am unsure at the moment if I will take the "San Mateo Rd. 92" or if I will head north via fwy 280 for a detour. Is the southern SF area worth it ? Plan is to drive at a leisurely rate, taking stops, sightseeing, to end up in Monterey

    Day 3: In the morning visit the city, and maybe the aquarium. In the afternoon I will drive down south to San Simeon. Depending on the hour of arrival I might try to cram in a visit to Hearst castle the very day.

    Day 4: I think this is the more ambitious piece. Start early-ish in San Simeon, and head for Santa Monica via Santa Barbara. I am still looking for a good, cheaper hotel to spend the nights. Currently I have my mind set on motel 6 in the LAX proximity, hardly ideal.

    Day 5: exploring a bit of Santa Monica, walking on the beach, maybe taking a bike ride -> a chill day.

    Day 6: do the trek through most of LA, doing stopovers in Hollywood, Beverly hills and some other downtown destinations (haven't decided yet which ones), drive to Barstow to spend the night in a cheap motel. Ideally I would want to drive through the woody parts surrounding LA during the day.

    Day 7: do a bit of shopping in Barstow, just for fun. Then we head for - you guessed it already :) - Vegas. The only downside in the planning is that this would be a Friday. Which, is I understood, is hardly ideal for a LA-vegas drive. Perhaps a few stops in the drive there.

    Day 8,9,10: I will be staying at a fancy hotel on the strip (Bellagio, Wynn and Pallazo are being considered) I will cram in a plane tour of the grand canion, which will end up taking the most of a day.

    There is one major issue to this: I am 23, and will be traveling solo. This, coupled with the one way fee makes the car rental insanely expensive. It will be around $1100 for the car rental (not including gas - I am counting on 40-45 gallons@4$/gallon). Any tips to reduce this would be welcome. I have noticed quite an oddity also; economy cars are actually more expensive than the ones I've been considering for this. I am looking at a Mustang convertible for the scenic part, or a Ford Escape for the more luxurious drive. Neither get great gas mileage, seems to be around 20-22 MPG.

    The last issue would be going to vegas on a Friday; would it be a lot better if I left during the day (read: around 1900 in Barstow) or would it be much better to go on a Saturday ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Nice trip.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    To start with, you have a great trip planned so far. It is plain to see you have benefitted from reading around these forums.

    However, a couple of suggestions. Firstly, I would urge you to find a hotel near the airport on your arrival and pick up the car on the following day. It is not a wise idea to pick up a car after a long haul flight. Add to this that you will be arriving around 8pm, immigration, customs, etc and picking up the car will probably add another hour. Then you will be driving solo in a foreign place in the dark. That is not an ideal situation. Get a good night's sleep as close as you can to the airport on your arrival and pick up the car the following day.

    As far as car rental is concerned, considering the one way fee and the under age driver fee, you may do better by booking a car through a European consolidator such as carhire3000.com.

    Lastly, be aware that most flights from LV do not go to the National Park section of the Grand Canyon. If you can possibly manage it, I would urge you to drive to the GC and experience actually seeing the Colorado River there while standing on the rim. An overnight stop would be recommended which would enable you to see either a sunset or sunrise (or both) over the canyon.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Highway 92 from the Bay area over the mountain to Half Moon Bay is a very pretty drive. I would take that before I'd go around on I-280.

    You will need to book a tour at Hearst Castle in advance.

    San Simeon to Santa Monica in one day is quite possible. There is a Motel 6 in San Simeon.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    To start with, you have a great trip planned so far. It is plain to see you have benefitted from reading around these forums.

    However, a couple of suggestions. Firstly, I would urge you to find a hotel near the airport on your arrival and pick up the car on the following day. It is not a wise idea to pick up a car after a long haul flight. Add to this that you will be arriving around 8pm, immigration, customs, etc and picking up the car will probably add another hour. Then you will be driving solo in a foreign place in the dark. That is not an ideal situation. Get a good night's sleep as close as you can to the airport on your arrival and pick up the car the following day.

    As far as car rental is concerned, considering the one way fee and the under age driver fee, you may do better by booking a car through a European consolidator such as carhire3000.com.

    Lastly, be aware that most flights from LV do not go to the National Park section of the Grand Canyon. If you can possibly manage it, I would urge you to drive to the GC and experience actually seeing the Colorado River there while standing on the rim. An overnight stop would be recommended which would enable you to see either a sunset or sunrise (or both) over the canyon.

    Lifey
    Thanks.

    Maybe silly of me, but I forgot to mention, I have driven around the bay area before. Last time we had a late evening flight from Dulles ( DC) after a day of hiking around the mall. We had a motel in Oakland, so I am comfortable with the drive.

    I had previously considered the website, but problem is that most cheaper rentals are via dollar, with whom I have bad experience. I prefer to rent via avis unless not possible otherwise. And regardless, rental would still be 500$ plus 300 underage fee, plus an unknown one way fee.

    certainly something to consider regarding the canyon. I will look into. it.

    One other thing: I might be interested in handling a few weapons in a shooting range (read: a safe, controlled environment). I seem to recall from last time that gun laws are very strict in CA. This seems possible In vegas (well, i take it that mostly everything is possible there, given enough money). Would there be any better places to do this though ? Or are the 500$ packs where you shoot a bunch of theme based weapons purely a Vegas thing ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The consolidators can often get the underage and one way fees waived.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I am still looking for a good, cheaper hotel to spend the nights. Currently I have my mind set on motel 6 in the LAX proximity, hardly ideal.

    Day 5: exploring a bit of Santa Monica, walking on the beach, maybe taking a bike ride -> a chill day.

    Day 6: do the trek through most of LA, doing stopovers in Hollywood, Beverly hills and some other downtown destinations (haven't decided yet which ones),
    For your stay in the LA area, to be able to do Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, etc., you could stay in Glendale or Burbank. This would give you access to all of it, without paying through the nose like you might somewhere around LAX! I've personally stayed in several places in this area. The most reasonable was EconoLodge in Glendale (on Colorado St). However, they had a poor excuse for a "continental breakfast"! Ramada Inn in Burbank wasn't bad -- but I was NOT impressed by the parking situation at all. The Burbank/Los Angeles Marriott often has some good deals to offer, and was by far my favorite of the 3. It's also a little more expensive unless you can get in on one of their deals, but they'll validate your parking (yay!), and you're right up the road from some of the Hollywood studios.

    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Hostels?

    If you are at all into staying at hostels, even if you prefer private rooms to dorm beds, I would highly recommend the USA Hostel on Schrader between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. USA Hostels in LA are amongst the best hostel I have ever seen and stayed at. Their security and cleanliness is fantastic, and their social activities for young travellers covers a wide varietey of tours, and inhouse functions.

    Best of all, it is right in the middle of the main attractions in the Hollywood area.

    (I'd also highly recommend that you check out the various consolidators for the reasons mentioned by glc.)

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Hostels/dorms are out of the question. I will be traveling with 4-5k of camera gear, I am not leavin this in the car or at my bedside for the taking :D (i am a heavy sleeper, can sleep through a thunderstorm)

    I will try some other firms for car rentals then, possibly even through the airline.

    Thanks for all the advice !
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-30-2014 at 02:58 PM. Reason: Removed quote. Not needed for inline response.

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