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  1. Default SF to Riverside and Riverside to Tusayan

    Dear all,

    I am a Singaporean (where we do right hand drive in a really small country: 31 miles from east to west) driver whose longest driving time has thus far been 2h at a stretch. I have never done a left hand drive before.

    I am planning a longish trip in the US to visit friends I have not seen for years and am considering driving in between - a road trip is on my bucket list and so is driving a muscle car - so I'd like to check both off.

    Thus far this is the itinerary I have planned:

    • Day 1 - land in SFO from Austria (where I will be attending a work related course) and visit a friend in SF
    • Day 2 and 3 - pick up a rental car (looking at the Dodge Challenger from Hertz) and drive Highway 1 over 2 days to LA/Riverside, with a night stopover at San Simeon. Return muscle car at Riverside
    • Day 4 - stay with a friend at Riverside for a day to catch up
    • Day 5 and 6 - pick up a car and drive from Riverside to Tusayan (will try to drive the old Route 66 if possible), which will be my base to explore the Grand Canyon. Probably a one night stopover midway.
    • Day 7 and 8 - explore the Grand Canyon
    • Day 9 - drive from Tusayan to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert. Half a day there, followed by a drive down to Phoenix where I will return the car and fly from Phoenix to North Carolina
    • Day 10 and 11 - meet another friend in North Carolina. We might rent another car and drive to Disneyworld in Florida from there.
    • Day 12 - flight to New York from either North Carolina or Florida
    • Day 13 and 14 - meet up with friend in Brooklyn
    • Day 15 - fly home to Singapore

    This will be in the last 2 weeks of September, going to the first few days of October.

    I am using up all my allotted leave for this trip - so I might have one or two more days to play with, but not very much more than that. I will be mainly travelling and driving solo, except for the bit between North Carolina and Florida. My Riverside friend might be meeting me for the drive down Hwy-1, but that is unconfirmed, and I will definitely be driving from Riverside to Tusayan solo.

    I have some questions:
    1. Does this itinerary sound doable, especially given my inexperience with driving in the US and on long drives in particular?
    2. Do you guys think I should keep the Grand Canyon time at 2 days, or shorten it to 1?
    3. I have been driving the same small car for 10 years in Singapore - which would be a compact car in the US, and therefore am more comfortable with driving and parking (!) a compact. I have read some forum posts on this and other forums advising travellers not to drive subcompact or compact cars on the highway. Is there a reason for that? Should I stick to what I am more comfortable with, or rent an intermediate size car for the trip?
    4. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to stop for a night between Riverside and Tusayan?
    5. How difficult is the terrain in the Mohave Desert and are there special precautions I should take?

    Thanks very much in advance! Would also appreciate any tips from anyone more seasoned than I (ie, everyone on this forum).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks good.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    1. Yes your trip looks doable.

    2. I would always recommend at least a day a half at GC with time permitting so 2 days would be nice.

    3. An intermediate car offers a good compromise between comfort and value but the US is basically geared up to cope with bigger vehicles so you shouldn't have any difficulties adapting. A compact is a little under powered and basic to be comfortable on long runs in general.

    4. You would have time to drive through Joshua tree NP if you wanted to detour, maybe pick up a section of old route 66 through Oatman. Lake Havasu, Needles and Kingman are OK for an overnight stop.

    5. You should have no concerns the roads are great. Carry some paper maps, drinks and snacks with you and don't let your fuel tank run too low.

    You might find that it is cheaper to keep the same car all the way to Phoenix so check it out before renting twice, although that might not be the case if you want the muscle car. Keep in mind that when renting they always state " or similar" so you will not be garuanteed a particular model, just a car in that class or higher if they can' t provide what you booked.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Rte 66 et al.

    Probably the most authentic section of Rte 66 still in existence is that section between Topock and Kingman, through the lovely old west town of Oatman.... where the burros wander in the main street. Be sure to stop there and at least breath in the atmosphere. As you travel over Sitgreaves Pass, think of how challenging this must have been more than half a century ago, in what we now call vintage cars.

    I have never spent more than a day at the Grand Canyon, but regardless how long you plan to stay, be sure to take in either a sunset or a sunrise over the canyon. An unforgettable experience.

    If you pick up a car in SF and drop it in Riverside, I doubt that you will be charged a one way drop fee. I have never been charged a one way fee between SF and LA, though that may be because I have always dropped rentals at LAX.

    Don't worry about left hand drive. You'll get used to it quicker than you expect. The worst that will most likely happen is that each time you go to turn on the indicator, it will be the windscreen wipers.

    I agree with Dave that you may be better with a slightly larger car, if for no other reason than the large truck traffic can get quite intimidating if you are not used to them. Still if you'd rather the smaller car to which you have become accustomed, it should not be a drama. Since cars are much bigger in the US, parking is easier, as parking spaces are designed to meet the local needs.


  4. Default

    Thanks very much, Dave and Lifey!

    I'm getting more and more excited as the days creep closer to September...

    I'm planning to pick up a few supplies in Riverside, like a duffel bag, a small cooler, lots of water, snacks, and sandwich fixings.

    Should I get a breakdown kit, just in case?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Not necessary, rental cars are almost new and very trouble-free, if something should happen the rental agency will take care of it. A prepaid cell phone or sim for your phone wouldn't be a bad idea to get.

  6. Default

    Great thanks! That's a relief... I keep hearing about tires exploding on the desert highway.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I've been driving across the desert of southern California and southern Arizona, for about 35 years. I have never had a tire explode on me. Never. We've had other types of breakdowns, but never tire problems. My dad has had tire problems, but he has had them a lot of other places than the desert, and it was mostly because he didn't always buy quality tires.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A tire is only going to explode if it's grossly underinflated or overinflated. If it picks up a puncture, it has to be changed whether or not it explodes before it goes completely flat.

  9. Default

    Thanks guys! It made for an interesting mental image... =)

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