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  1. Default California to Pennsylvania

    Our family would like to plan a trip cross country. We live in PA and are considering flying to CA and renting a car and driving back to see sights of our great land. No clue where to start. We'd love to see Pacific Coast, Yellowstone, Redwoods, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, etc.... We'll have two weeks! Thanks for your help. Hugs, Excited and Clueless!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Three Things to Do First

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's easy to get overwhelmed when trying to plan a long and involved RoadTrip such as your contemplating, especially the first time you do it. So let me give you what I consider are the first three things you'll need to do. Note, however, that this will be an iterative process. Do the three things, then repeat steps two and three until you're happy with the results, then move onto the next level of planning and repeat, etc.

    First: get a fair-sized map of the U.S. as well as a good atlas with more detailed maps of the individual states. There is simply no substitute for being able to visualize what your 'dreams' look like.

    Second: Make some hard cuts/choices. Your present wish list, short though it is, is too much. It's not that you have too many stops, it's that they're too far apart and don't make a logical progression to get back home. I think your first hard but necessary choice is whether to fly to Los Angeles and take a more southerly route (e.g. Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Taos, Memphis, Natchez Trace Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park) or fly to San Francisco and take a more northerly route back (e.g. Yosemite, Great Salt Lake, Yellowstone, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Great Lakes, Cuyahoga Valley National Park). The simple fact is that it's going to take you a week or so just to drive across the country leaving you only a week to actually see all the places you drive to. You really can't 'waste' time by zigzagging too much north/south.

    Third: Run a budget. Look at what airfares are going to be for your crew, the cost of a car rental including the inevitable and stiff one-way drop off fee, hotels and motels including the higher coat of stops near popular tourist sites such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, food (be realistic), gas, entrance fees, souvenirs, etc., etc., etc. If you're comfortable, fine. If not, return to step two and make more hard cuts/choices.

    When, and only when, you have a basic framework for your trip that you're happy with, return to the first step and go through the same iterative exercise for the spaces between your chosen major stops. And don't forget, we'll be happy to help you in each step on the way.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-05-2016 at 05:21 PM.

  3. #3


    In addition to what folks mentioned above take a good hard look at car rental costs and trade off the cost of round trip airline tickets for your family plus car rental from the same rental location. Often times car rental costs include a drop off PLUS additional costs per mile.

    Many of the car rental companies are tricky these days in not showing the bottom line cost so scrutinize those estimates carefully.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Return flights and a loop trip.

    My thoughts too. Have you thought of flying into any of the big cities out west, doing a loop trip and then flying back home. It would likely cut your costs. With your limited time that would probably allow you to see the most. It would be a shame to spend your time driving through areas which could easily be visited over a long weekend. Often return flights aren't a great deal more than a one way, and you would avoid the fee for dropping the car on the other side of the continent.

    Buck's three steps in planning would still be relevant.


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