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 ?