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  1. Default Advice for a British newbie - Atlanta to Texas????

    Hi everyone, this is an amazing site!

    Having just returned home from an amazing 3 weeks in Florida doing all the usual things it has to offer we have been talking about a USA road trip for a number of years and have decided that Summer 2016 is the time to do it!

    The trip will be me, my husband and our two children who will be 10 and 8. We will be flying in from the UK, and have around 24 (end of July to mid-August) days to complete and will be hiring a car (intermediate SUV or similar) from Atlanta airport and we're on our way!

    Originally we were going to do Atlanta to San Diego which sounds amazing but it's such a long way to go for our first trip. We feel Atlanta is the best best to fly into as it is quite central to the southern states and there are regular flights from Manchester, but please advise me if you have a better idea!!

    The places we really want to visit are:
    - Memphis
    - Nashville
    - Roswell
    - Texas - Dallas, Lubbock, Austin and Houston (Buddy Holly places of interest)
    - Beach, if possible???
    - Ranch visit would be fabulous
    - National park, views etc.
    - Water and theme parks (Dollywood, Six Flags?)

    I've heard Flagstaff mentioned a few times so this seems like an interesting place to visit. We hope to stay in hotels, motels and some privately owned houses, condos that are available through Airbnb.

    Does this sound feasible? Is there anything along the way that would be amazing to see?

    Where we fly home from will depend upon where we end up. What I don't want to do is spend too long in the car driving for hours and missing places and attractions along the way. I'd like to stay somewhere for a reasonable amount of time if there is a lot of things to do and see (if you know what I mean) I'd hate to arrive somewhere and absolutely love it, but have to leave as we've booked in someplace else. We love to eat and enjoy seeking out interesting places and sampling lots of different foods (I've already got a list from Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!!)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as we are complete novices and need lots of help! (Can you tell!!) I will be booking the flights around January when hopefully we'll get the best deal, so nothing will be set in stone until then in terms of exact dates.

    Sorry for the long post, hope it makes sense to some! And thank you in advance.

    :)

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

    Default The Zen of RoadTripping

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You seem to have a pretty good idea of what you want to do generally, and don't appear to have any serious time or financial concerns. In fact your questions really are more about the philosophy of how to best achieve your goals rather than any specifics. Besides, you have lots of time to work out the details, so let's concentrate on the overview and then touch on just a few specifics as you start your planning.

    Your biggest concerns seem to be about gateway cities and scheduling. The best gateway cities are those that work for you. Atlanta is certainly the best US hub for seeing the South, and Phoenix or Las Vegas - or even Denver - would work as a return gateway from the Southwest. Keep all those in mind as you search for the 'best' air connections. Remember that 'best' includes gateways, timing, amenities, and reliability as well as just price. Check what's available every few weeks. You can expect the best prices a few months before your actual flights, but the best seat availability (if leg room and/or being all together matter) will be starting to disappear by then. It's a balancing act. Also check more than just the majors. There are several relatively new lower-cost carriers such as Norwegian and La Compagnie that fill specific niches, one of which may suit you better than the more traditional carriers. Also keep in mind that on a trip of this magnitude a few hundred miles difference in your gateway city doesn't matter all that much so don't rule out Washington DC or possibly Charlotte NC as starting points.

    As far as scheduling goes, my wife and I also travel using AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO and other house rental facilitators. Those have to be booked ahead and leave no wiggle room. But the upside of having a whole house rather than just a motel room or two easily outweighs that minor 'inconvenience'. The fact is that you will always miss something on any give RoadTrip. Just accept that fact and concentrate more on the joy of what you are seeing and far less on any regrets about what you're 'missing'. We've also found in traveling with our two grandsons, about your children's ages, that trying to fit too much into the schedule is counter-productive. They just get worn out and cranky. Fewer attractions seen at a gentle pace will lead to better and more lasting memories than rushing from place to place and squeezing in as much as possible. So schedule away, do the best you can, and then just relax and enjoy - including a fair bit of just 'down time' where you're doing nothing but relaxing.

    Now, just a few specifics as you continue to plan. If you're going to include Roswell (which I wouldn't recommend) and Flagstaff (which I definitely would), then you're really not that far from San Diego which is just a day's drive (through some scenic country) from Flagstaff. If you do decide to return to the UK from San Diego, then that's where I would suggest you get your beach time, otherwise I'd look at Gulf Islands National Seashore for a more natural setting or Galveston Island (near Houston) for a more honkey-tonk experience - both are more or less on your way. Speaking of the national seashore, if you plan to visit a handful (five) or more national parks, monuments, seashores, lakeshores, etc., be sure to ask for an annual pass at the first one you come to that charges an admission fee. The pass is $80 and covers all admission costs for all facilities in the national parks system for a year. One pass is good for the holder and everyone in the vehicle with him/her. And be sure to stop at the visitor center or ranger office at each facility and ask if they have a Junior Ranger program. That will give your children some fun activities to do while in the park that will help the learn more and pays off in free souvenirs such as badges and certificates.

    Anyway, you've got a lot of planning to do (one of my favorite parts of any holiday) and lots of time to do it. You're doing a great job so far, so don't worry - you'll have a great time!

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Hi AZBuck, excellent advice and information, thank you for taking the time to reply.

    What you are saying makes perfect sense, I'll have to have a think about San Diego/Houston idea for a bit of beach time. We all fancy Houston because of the space centre connection so that is definitely an option.

    Can I ask why you would not recommend Roswell? It is my husband that is interested in visiting this area, but he is happy to ditch the idea if it'll be a waste of time that could be filled with something more purposeful and exciting!

    Thanks again, I love the planning elements of a trip. It all adds to the excitement!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I think one thing you probably need to decide is if you want this to be a trip that focuses on the southeast or a trip that goes across country.

    It's easy to underestimate just how far apart things are as you get into the west. Lubbock is 350 miles - 6 hours of driving - from the other things you want to see and do in Texas. Roswell is yet another 200 miles (3.5 hours) beyond that. Flagstaff would be another 500 miles (9 hours) past Roswell. And, as Buck mentioned, at the point you're at Flagstaff, you might as well just keep going to California.

    Most of your other destinations could work themselves into a nice loop of the South, going up to destinations in Tennessee, down to Texas, and then back along the gulf coast - perhaps continuing back towards coastal Georgia and the Carolinas.

    A big advantage of a loop trip is that it can keep your costs quite a bit lower, both for car rental and airfare. But, if you've got things you've always wanted to see in the American West, then spending a little more money might be worth it.

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

    Default Roswell and Other Tourist Traps

    I'm not sure what your husband wants to see in Roswell so I may be wrong in my assumption that it has to do with the purported 'UFO incident' of 1947. The thing is that even if such an 'alien invasion' actually happened, there is no trace of it today. What there is, however, is nothing more than a cheap collection of 'museums' and trinket shops. And a couple of art galleries. That's it. It's reputation is based on a nonevent almost 70 years ago, and while there are plenty of people willing to appeal to that reputation and make a buck, the truth is that there is nothing real relating to that event to see there.

  6. Default

    Thank you to you both, what you say makes clear sense and we're now kind of thinking a loop starting in the west heading towards Texas and then back. Flying from the same airport seems more financially viable with the flights and car hire which is a great point. I shall check out and compare costs from the western airports. In the meantime I shall be researching and planning!

    Thanks again! :)

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I'm not sure what your husband wants to see in Roswell so I may be wrong in my assumption that it has to do with the purported 'UFO incident' of 1947. The thing is that even if such an 'alien invasion' actually happened, there is no trace of it today. What there is, however, is nothing more than a cheap collection of 'museums' and trinket shops. And a couple of art galleries. That's it. It's reputation is based on a nonevent almost 70 years ago, and while there are plenty of people willing to appeal to that reputation and make a buck, the truth is that there is nothing real relating to that event to see there.
    As we thought, so thank you for the clarification. We shall take this off our itinerary:)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Texas now seems a long drive.

    If your focus is now swinging towards National parks, beaches and theme parks then perhaps you should consider visiting the west and leaving Texas for another time with Memphis and Nashville etc in a separate loop. From LA, SF or LV you could visit the Grand canyon, Yosemite, Sequoia, Alcatraz and the beaches and theme parks of San Diego and LA, not to mention possibly venturing into Southern Utah via Lake Powell for great scenery and more NP's. Of course it's for you to ultimately decide based on your interests, I just thought I would put it out there as Texas now seem to be a long way away from your other highlights.

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