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  1. Default Four week road trip

    Hi everyone, I'm new to this site but I've been reading a lot of the threads and there is a lot of great advice givers here, so I was hoping I would be able to get some input for a trip my husband and I are trying to plan for next year.
    We arrive into LAX 5th April 2016 and depart from LAX 8th May.
    This is a very rough idea of what we are considering but advice welcome!
    5-7 April - spend in LA, then pick a rental car up.
    7-19 April - LA to San Francisco (via hway 1) - Redwood - Yosemite - Death Valley- Las Vegas - Bryce or Zion NP - Grand Canyon- Vegas (return car)
    21 April - flight to New Orleans
    23 April - 6 May - New Orleans - Jackson - Memphis - Nashville- Atlanta - Washington & Jefferson NP - Washington - Pennsylvania- New York City (drop car off)
    8th may - catch flight back to LAX for flight home to Brisbane (at 10.30pm).

    I guess I'm just wanting advice if that's a doable trip - if it would be worth cutting out any parts of the trip. I've spent a lot of time on google maps looking at the distances between each place, but it's just so hard to gauge how much driving per day would be comfortable.

    Also what is the best way to book internal flights and rental cars in the US? Before we get there? I've had a lot of people say we can just turn up to terminals or companies and hire on the spot - which makes me nervous.

    My husband and I love national parks and natural wonders - but he's very keen to explore the Deep South also, which is why we've tried to split out trip into 2.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default good start

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It looks like you've got a very good start on your plan. I don't see anything that stands out like it wouldn't work, although I will note that in April, Tioga Pass across the Sierras through Yosemite will not yet be open. It shouldn't be a bit problem, you'll just have to plan to find another route, most likely via Bakersfield, to get from Yosemite to Death Valley.

    I will also say that I would pick up your car right away, or at least the day after you arrive. LA is a city that is not easy to get around via public transit. Things are just too spread out for that to work very well.

    I would also strongly suggest that you not wait until the day of your international flight to return to LA. Even though your flight isn't until late at night on the 8th, I'd still fly back on the 7th. Being that your flights will be booked on different tickets, the airlines will probably not guarantee your connection, so if you had a delay on the domestic flight, you would have to pay to make changes to your international flight.

    Quote Originally Posted by KylieG_goldcoast View Post
    Also what is the best way to book internal flights and rental cars in the US? Before we get there? I've had a lot of people say we can just turn up to terminals or companies and hire on the spot - which makes me nervous.
    You probably just show up and book a car or plane ticket, but I would call that a very bad idea. For rental cars, but especially for airlines, you're going to get much better fares by booking in advance. Also, with airlines running most flights near capacity today, there may be times where they don't have available seats. There are numerous search engines and online travel companies that will allow you to compare prices across nearly all the airlines and car rental companies. You can even do that right here on RTA. For airfare, there are a few, generally low cost, airlines that do not participate in those search engine - Most notably, Southwest Airlines - where you have to go directly to the airlines website to book the flight.

    Being that you're planning to do one-way trips in the car, be aware, there is typically a significant extra fee for dropping a car in another city. It's another reason I would never just show up to the counter for a trip like this. There are some overseas based consolidators that have been known to get very good prices, often with reduced extra fees, for foreign visitors. These are things you can, and should, research and plan before you depart.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Hi Kylie.

    I would highly recommend you follow Michael's advice, especially about the booking of car and flights. (Last year we were held up by a storm in Boston and missed our flight in LA. We had booked the flight from Boston straight through to Melbourne, but if we had not it could have cost me thousands to get new tickets for the three of us.)

    Booking a car through a consolidator can often be very economical. Check out another Brisbane member's report. He booked through a consolidator and was very pleased with the result.

    To help you plan the last details, it is advisable to have good detailed maps. If these are not available locally, you could order a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. These maps have a wealth of information on them, more than you will ever see within the confines of a computer screen. You will be able to check and see what else there is along the way from one attraction to the next. If you order one now, you will have it in a couple of weeks. Maps are invaluable during the planning and essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics.

    Furthermore, if you are a member of RACQ be sure to take your membership with you. It will give you access to free tourist information and maps from the AAA anywhere in North America.

    Another thing I have found handy on each of my trips is a flag in the back window of the vehicle. Let them know you are not a local. And be sure to bring a box of small souvenirs... you know, the type you get at the market. Little koalas, fridge magnets, key rings, post card and pens, to give to folk you meet and those who are particularly helpful. It makes a great impression.

    Last, but by no means least, consider reversing your trip. I.e. LA > Grand Canyon > Bryce, Zion and LV, Yosemite > San Francisco, then take the PCH heading south back to LA You can then fly out of LA to NOLA and save yourself a one way drop fee at the same time. But most of all you will be travelling down the Pacific Coast Highway with the ocean and all the view point and scenic overlooks on your side,. This avoids having to cross over oncoming traffic each time you pull into and out of them. Be aware the PCH is a two day drive from SF to LA.

    Enjoy the planning.


  4. Default

    Thank you so much for your advice! I have since gone through and reworked our itinerary - and essentially reversed it so we fly over to NYC first off, then work our way back west. That way we don't have to worry about missing flights back to LAX from JFK. And it will also let us drive from San Fran south along highway 1. Many thanks! :)

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