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  1. Default NZ family tiki tour

    Kia ora! My family and I want to travel to Austin, Texas from California but are not sure which of the following we should do. Our must see is of course the Grand Canyon. Any help is much appreciated as we are completely new to driving in the States let alone figuring out the best way to go about it. Could be fly to Las Vegas drive to GC then on to Austin or drive from California to GC then onwards. We have about 3-5 days allocated. Thanks:)

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

    Default 'Three' or 'Five' Makes a Big Difference

    Nau mai! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you only have three days to get from the west coast (San Diego, Los Angeles or San Francisco makes a bit of a difference but not all that much) and have the Grand Canyon as a 'must see', then you almost have to fly for part of your trip because you simply won't have time to drive it all, let alone spend any meaningful time at the Canyon. Unfortunately, you'd also almost have to fly the eastern portion of your trip, say Phoenix to Austin, because you simply can't save enough time by flying the western portion to make any real difference.

    Here's my personal example. I used to have to travel between Tucson AZ and Los Angeles on my last job. If I flew, by the time I drove to the airport, got checked in, cleared security, waited for the plane to begin and end boarding, fly to L.A., taxi to the gate, wait for my luggage, go pick up the rental car, get out of the airport, and drive to my hotel (in Pasadena) eight hours had passed. If I simply drove from my own home directly to the motel it took....eight hours! Flying simply wasn't time effective, let alone cost effective over a 500 mile journey. The only way to make this work with three days is to drive to the Canyon from your arrival city (Day 1), spend Day 2 at the Canyon and then drive to Phoenix that evening or the next morning and catch a flight to Austin on Day 3. You can do a bit of sight seeing on your day's drive to the Canyon, but what exactly to see depends on where you're starting out from.

    With four days, it starts to become possible to do the trip entirely by car, but with only minimal stops other than the Canyon. With five days you can really start to make the most of your trip from the west coast to Austin. So the first things we'll need to know in order to be of more help to you are: Where are you starting out from? How many days, realistically, can you assign to getting from there to Austin?

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thank you for that. We aren't actually limited in terms of days, I was being conservative without yet researching the rental costs for a car. We can allot at least 5 days to do the trip or more if that's recommended. We are looking to hire a car abd drop in Austin so will incur a one way fee but other than that look foward to any advice or recommendations you have. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Longer is not always more expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by liannebird@yahoo.co.nz View Post
    Thank you for that. We aren't actually limited in terms of days, I was being conservative without yet researching the rental costs for a car. We can allot at least 5 days to do the trip or more if that's recommended. We are looking to hire a car and drop in Austin so will incur a one way fee but other than that look forward to any advice or recommendations you have. Thanks again.
    If you have the time available, look at a 7 day trip. Car rental is almost always more economical in a week block, especially if you can start your rental later in the week. So if you have not already set the dates in concrete, keep that in mind.

    A six or seven day trip will give you time to actually see and enjoy some of the most wonderful country on this planet, rather than just fly through it at 130 kmh. You could perhaps even take a little more time in the Grand Canyon so you have the opportunity to catch a sunrise and/or a sunset over the canyon. Unforgettable experiences.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default With a Week

    As noted earlier, five days is really the minimum needed to make this a true RoadTrip with time to see a few things along the way rather than just making it a very long drive. Five days is also, as Lifey points out, around the break even point where renting a car for a week rather than just five days doesn't really up the price, and can occasionally lower it! So let's assume that you can do a week between 'California' and Austin. What's worth seeing and how would you get there?

    First, let's deal with the car. It is true that one-way drop-off fees can be exorbitant, but our foreign visitors can often get that fee waived if they go through a consolidator in their home country. In Europe such consolidators include rentalcars.com and AutoEurope, but I am not familiar with what is available in Oceania, so a web search for such a company that serves New Zealand would be very much in order.

    Secondly, sites to see between the Grand Canyon and Austin. Here you've got a basic choice between taking the 'northern' route or the 'southern' route. The northern route would be basically I-40 to Santa Rosa NM, US-84 to Sweetwater TX, TX-70/TX-153/US-83 to Eden TX and US-87/TX-71 to Austin. A few of the things available to you if you go that way would include some of the many attractions in Flagstaff (Lowell Observatory, the Museum of Northern Arizona, Walnut Canyon National Monument), Petrified Forest National Park, Petroglyph national Monument outside Albuquerque, Fort Sumner NM (Billy the Kid's Grave and the Bosque Redondo Memorial), Buddy Holly sites in Lubbock TX, and the LBJ Ranch in Fredericksburg TX.

    The southern route would be essentially I-17 down to Phoenix, I-10 past Junction TX, and US-290 into Austin, Sites would include the aforementioned places in Flagstaff as well as Oak Creek Canyon, Tucson AZ (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum, Saguaro National Park), Kartchner Caverns, Tombstone, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park (these two involve a bit of a detour), the Caverns of Sonora, and the LBJ Ranch. So there's no shortage of things to see and do along either route, they both take roughly the same amount of time to drive, and your best choice is the one that most interests you.

    Finally, your options from 'California' to the Grand Canyon largely depend on where in California you're starting from. From San Francisco, your options include a possible side trip through Kings Canyon and/or Sequoia National Parks as well as the Mojave National Preserve and even London Bridge (in Lake Havasu AZ). But the drive from San Francisco will take close to two full days. If you're starting from Los Angeles the drive to Grand Canyon can be done in a day, but if you can add a little time you can visit the Mojave National Preserve. San Diego is also about a day's drive with the quickest route being I-8 to Gila Bend AZ, AZ-85 up to Goodyear and I-10 to Phoenix, then I-17 up to Flagstaff and the Canyon. Along this route are sites such as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Yuma Territorial Prison, and Casa Grande National Monument.

    AZBuck

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

    Default Carhire consolidators.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    ... go through a consolidator in their home country. In Europe such consolidators include rentalcars.com and AutoEurope, but I am not familiar with what is available in Oceania, ...
    Don't overlook the European consolidators. There are Aussies who have used them, and been very satisfied. You might like to check this thread.

    Lifey

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