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  1. Default Summer 2016 SoCal/South West Loop

    Hi All,
    I am planning a summer trip from Ireland with my wife and kids aged 15 & 11.
    Basic criteria for trip:
    15-18 nights
    Need to start and finish in LA(due flights)
    Looking for a mixture of beach time and sights
    Travel agent has proposed following itinerary, I would be most appreciative of any comments or feedback.
    I would prefer to add Lake Powell, and exclude Vegas/Death Valley/Carmel if possible.

    Jul05
    Los Angeles, California

    Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel


    Room Only
    Jul06
    Los Angeles, California
    Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

    Room Only

    Jul07
    Los Angeles, California
    Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

    Room Only
    Jul08
    Los Angeles - Phoenix
    Domestic flight

    Economy Class
    Jul08
    Phoenix Airport - Los Angeles Airport
    Car Hire

    Self Drive

    Jul08
    Sedona, Arizona
    L'Auberge de Sedona

    Room Only
    Jul09
    Monument Valley, Utah
    The View Hotel

    Room Only

    Jul10
    The Southwest, United States of America
    Zion Mountain Ranch

    Room Only

    Jul11
    The Southwest, United States of America
    Zion Mountain Ranch

    Room Only

    Jul12
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Aria Resort & Casino

    Room Only

    Jul13
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Aria Resort & Casino

    Room Only
    Jul14

    Death Valley, California


    Ranch at Furnace Creek



    Room Only

    Jul15
    Yosemite National Park, California
    Tenaya Lodge

    Room Only

    Jul16
    Yosemite National Park, California
    Tenaya Lodge

    Room Only

    Jul17
    Yosemite National Park, California
    Tenaya Lodge

    Room Only
    Jul18
    California, United States of America
    La Playa Carmel by The Sea

    Bed & Breakfast

    Jul19
    California, United States of America
    La Playa Carmel by The Sea

    Bed & Breakfast

    Jul20
    Morro Bay, California
    Anderson Inn

    Room Only
    Jul21
    Morro Bay, California
    Anderson Inn

    Room Only

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    You can adjust your itinerary any way you want - there's nothing that says you HAVE to do what the travel agent says.

    I would not take a domestic flight to Phoenix - rent a car when you get to LA and keep it till the end. You will save on both the domestic airfare and on the car rental - there is a surcharge for returning a rental to a different city.

    I would keep Carmel in the mix, so you can return to LA via the Pacific Coast Highway, which is an incredibly scenic drive.

    You are also bypassing the Grand Canyon, something you should really see.

    To get from Zion to Carmel, you do have to go through Las Vegas - and you should go through Death Valley and enter Yosemite from the east over Tioga Pass.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default A road trip is about YOU

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you want to do a trip where you avoid Vegas, Death Valley, and Carmel, why would you hire a travel agent who builds a trip where you go to all of those places?

    I guess the other question would be why do you want to avoid those places? Also, your plan doesn't have you going to the Grand Canyon or San Francisco, are those intentional skips as well?

    I will say by flying to Phoenix, you're likely going to dramatically increase your costs. Not only will you have the flights, but then you'll be adding a one way drop fee onto your car rental. For that matter, I wouldn't fly to LA and explore the city, then head back to the airport and fly again. Personally, I'd fly into LA and just drive the whole loop, but if you want to stick with what you've laid out, then fly to Phoenix from the very start and just do your exploration of LA at the end, saving you time and money by not having to rent two cars (you'll need one for LA).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    Do you even want to go to Phoenix ? I am not sure why the TA would even suggest the extra cost of flying and adding one way rental fees to your car. You really need a car in LA and by the time you have gone back to LAX to turn the car in then check in, flight and out the other end picked up another car and driven to Sedona you really aren't saving much time over driving from LA to Sedona direct, which you could drive in a comfortable day on the road. I am not sure I would stay at Furnace creek either, it is only 2'5 hours from Vegas and you would have quite a lot to do next day as driving to Yosemite over Tioga Pass is a great drive with lots of sight seeing to be done. There are lodgings at Panamint Springs or you could spend the evening in the town of Bishop. Death valley will also be extremely hot in July.

    As others have mentioned, what about Grand canyon, an absolute must between Sedona and Monument valley. If that has been suggested as a tour from Vegas then you need to know that most of them do not go to the National parks south rim but instead goes to the west rim on Indian lands which is nowhere near as spectacular. You really should plan on spending a night in, or close to the National park.

    As already said you should go where you want to go. If that doesn't include Vegas and Death valley then you can take a more direct route towards Yosemite through Tonopah, where you could spend the night to break the journey, or as far as Lee Vining which puts you close to the eastern approach into Yosemite over Tioga Pass. On the coast I think I would opt for San Francisco and Cambria as two overnight stops on the way back to LA. If you do stop over at the GC there is no reason you couldn't drive to Monument valley and get to Lake Powell same day, if that's what you want to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The same old story.

    Each time we see one of these TA designed itineraries, it puzzles me why people don't plan and book their own trips. It does take some researching, but at least you'll go where you want to. Your children would be old enough to do much of the research. The more you get them to do, the more they have invested in the trip, the more they will get out of it. (Not so with the TA.) Having good detailed maps will also help.

    If maps are not available locally, I would urge you to purchase a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. If you order it now you will have it in a couple of weeks. Once you have the atlas you will see all the attractions and the routes between them, and can decide for yourself which you want to take (with the help of this forum). The advice above is about the most common advice given for the most common tourist trip of the west coast.

    Like those above I would definitely leave Carmel by the Sea and Death Valley in the mix. Although it will be hot, the landscape is like nothing else on earth, and not to be missed. Carry plenty of water, hats and sunscreen for the few moments you will be out of the car at each attraction.

    I would stay only the one night in LV, and add a night for the Grand Canyon.

    You might also like to note that each National Park and National Monument there is a program absolutely ideal for your children. The Junior Ranger program is an age specific program to learn more about the site, and its history. Those who complete the program have not only learned a lot, but go home with a small souvenir. It will greatly enhance the quality of the trip.

    Another very valuable activity is to get the children to keep a journal of the trip. This needs to be no more than a few paragraphs at the end of each day to record what the highlight for them was. This of course, works best if you keep a journal as well.

    You might also like to check out this page of the RTA site.

    Lifey

  6. Default

    Many thanks for all the advice.
    I have started again!
    Any comments on new itinerary are appreciated:
    Arrive Lax, hire car.
    Laguna Beach 3 nights.
    Sedona 1 night
    Grand Canyon South Rim 1 night
    Zion National Park 2 nights
    Las Vegas 1 night
    Mammoth Lakes/Bishop 1 night
    Yosemite 3 nights
    Carmel 2 nights
    Morro Bay 2 nights
    Depart from Lax.

    would like to see Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon but can't do it all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Looks good.

    Yes, we all would like to do more.... that is why so many of us have multiple trips logged up.

    What you need to do next is check for accommodation within the national parks. If it is all booked up, keep checking back almost daily to check for any cancellations. People's plans change, and cancellations do happen.

    It is recommended that you leave 24 hours after a long haul trip to let your body clock catch up, before you hit the road and start your trip.

    Allow plenty of time on the last day to get to LAX. It is unreal just how long it can take to get through the LA traffic.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Much better !

    You have a nice plan and it is quite relaxed. If you really wanted to see Monument valley or Bryce you could take a night from the coast, Laguna Beach, Carmel or Morro Bay. I would reconsider 2 nights at Morro Bay if you are flying out from LAX next day, the traffic is slow and unpredictable. It may be OK if you have an evening flight, but even then I would look at Ventura, Malibu or even Santa Monica to give you a more relaxed morning. As mentioned, National parks do book up quickly, if you are not [or unable to] staying in Zion NP then the lovely town of Springdale is in a perfect location. It's very close to the entrance and the free shuttle buses that you have to take to get into the canyon area pick up from town, so no parking issues.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I agree this plan is much better.

    One minor change I would suggest, I'd spend 2 nights either at Sedona or the Grand Canyon. You're going to use a full day just getting from LA to Sedona, and wouldn't really have much time to see that area on your current plan. If you need to steal a day, I'd only spend 1 night at Zion, because you'd be dealing with a relatively short drive back to Vegas from there.

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