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  1. #1

    Default Grand Canyon - SanFran roadtrip

    Hi all!

    Glad to be part of the community!
    I'm American, but lived abroad all my life, so now I'm planning some trips to get to know my country!
    One of the main one's is a big road trip with some friends in California, but also try to see Vegas and the Grand Canyon while we're at it! The initial idea is flying in to Phoenix (from NYC), rent a car, and then drive > Grand Canyon > Vegas > LA > Pacific Coast Highway > Big Sur > SF ! We're planning on doing this in 9 days, stopping only for a day or two in each place...The route seems perfect, but I'm running in to issues with renting a car, since 1-way rents are so expensive. I'm also under 25, so that doesn't help either.
    So I was thinking about doing part's of the trip by bus, and renting cars only in-state, to avoid drop off fees (but that could be complicated, since it would be 3 states!).
    I also thought of flying in to and renting in Vegas, and then go to the Canyon and back, but that didn't seem to change the rental prices muchs.
    I was wondering then if anyone has tried anything like this, or has any info on the best parts to do by bus, best place to rent a car...etc! Of course, any tips/suggestions on the trip idea as a whole, are welcome!

    Thank you very much for any insights!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Suggestions to minimise those fees.

    HI, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Froum.

    You do not say where you are/have been living, but it would be worth your while to check out some of the rental consolidators, such as There have been quite a few different ones mentioned on the forum over the years. Travellers have often been able to get the one way fees dropped, and in some cases even the under age fee dropped or modified.

    Planning on multiple rentals would only be counter productive.

    Neither have you mentioned in which month you will be travelling. But I would seriously look at driving through Death Valley and visiting Yosemite Valley - unfortunately Tioga Pass is often not open till early summer.

    It would also be a great idea if you planned your trip to be able to drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, when all the pull offs and view point over the ocean will be on your side of the road. Making it lots easier to pull in and out of them.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A loop trip ?

    I would simply do a loop trip which would negate the one way drop fee and possibly offer cheaper return air fares from the same airport. Unless you want to go to Phoenix I would fly into Vegas, LA or SF depending on which offered the best air fares and car rental rates when combined. You would then go [as an example] LA >GC >LV >SF [possibly visit Yosemite Valley] > Big Sur > LA.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I agree with Dave that a loop trip would really be something to consider.

    Otherwise, I'd look into flying into Las Vegas, as one way fees are often relatively low - if not waived altogether - on trips from Vegas to San Francisco. From Vegas head to the the Grand Canyon and then onto LA (via Phoenix if that is a priority stop for you, but directly via I-40 if it's not) and continue up the coast to SF.

    You might also look at starting in SF and reversing your trip, to let you drive on the ocean side while coming down the coast. You could also compare those costs to going the other way.

    I would not recommend your bus idea at all, simply because it will make going to most of the places you want to visit impossible. There is no direct bus service to the Grand Canyon - you'd have to either take an organized tour from Vegas, or take a bus trip to Williams or Flagstaff and then find another shuttle service onto the Grand Canyon. There also is no bus service I'm aware of that will take you along the coast/Big Sur, and in LA, there is so much sprawl that it is very difficult to tour the city by bus. San Francisco is a place where you don't really need a car, and you can survive in Vegas without one, especially if you're mostly sticking to the strip and/or downtown.

  5. #5


    Thank you so much Lifemagician, Southwest Dave and Midwest Michael !! (Is there a "thank you" button in this forum?)
    You guys have given great tips, and I'll look in to all of them right away! You might just make my trip way better!
    I did forget to mention or didn't make clear some things: me and my friends are currently studying in NYC, and will fly out and back to here. And I'm thinking of going during my spring break, which is in the end of March.
    Also, we might be a group of 6... would you recommend renting a minivan or two compacts?
    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Also, we might be a group of 6... would you recommend renting a minivan or two compacts?
    That's really a matter of opinion and comes down to what your group would rather do, but if selecting one vehicle, you will have to take the amount of luggage each takes into consideration. The advantage of having two vehicles is that you can alter who shares with who throughout the trip which can relieve any tension that might arise with such a big group. Although we think we know each other as friends, when you are in close quarters for long periods of time, people can get a little irritated with each other from time to time. ;-)

  7. #7


    What you said, makes a lot of sense, Southwest Dave!

    I'm really going towards Dave's and Michael's idea of a loop trip. Air fares don't seem to be much cheaper actually, but I think it will make the car rental much cheaper and simpler; plus Death Valley and Yosemite sure seem worth passing by at least!
    But thinking of a possible route like this: SF > Big Sur > LA > GC > LV > (Yosemite) > SF , do you consider it to be possible/pleasant to do under 10 days? Should I maybe scratch out the Grand Canyon, and maybe even Vegas? I know the actual answer will vary person-to-person according to their driving preferences etc, but I just wanted some general opinions!
    Another possibility, is doing a one way trip, but with start/end points inside CA, since I understand that in state locations normally don't have drop off fees. (For example, SF > LA > Vegas > Death Valley > LA ).

    Thank a lot again guys!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I think you can have an enjoyable trip and manage it all but as you rightly said, it varies person to person. The most important thing iskeeping the whole group within their comfort zone.

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