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  1. Default Need Help with LA Trip

    Hello all, new to this site because of an upcoming trip I am conflicted on... Here are some details to set the scene:
    I am 20 years old, the longest I have ever traveled is about 2 hours away. I live in Northern California and am planning a trip with 3-5 friends, all around my age, to go to Universal Studios (about 7.5 or 8 hours away). The only option is to drive, no matter what the cost is, but I want some advice as to whether I should even do this trip or not....

    Pros: I will be with friends who could possibly help drive - It will be a chance to get out of the area for a while - I love the Hollywood area of Cali - I love traveling and embracing new things

    Cons: It is very costly, especially as a student - I have only ever planned a trip like this to SF (only 3 hours away), and that fell through - I am worried about driving the full way or allowing someone to take over

    So I do have 4 pros and 3 cons, but the cons feel very weighty... I wanted to get some opinions on what I should do! Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Your instincts are usually right.

    Hi Gregg, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You sound like a very level headed young man who has thought things over. I am impressed with your list of cons, as most young people would ignore and dismiss those concerns.

    My only advice would be to go with your gut instincts. If you don't feel right about something, especially about others driving your car, then follow your inner feelings. They will always lead you to the best decision for you.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Yep, the little voice inside your head knows best.

    Stepping a little out of your comfort zone is sometimes the only way to discover new things. I think the main issues you need to address is whether you have the time and funds available to make it an enjoyable trip, if not I would wait until you do. Also keep in mind that if you are using an electronic mapping program to use for travel times it's likely to be at least 20% longer to complete the journey. I agree that you should go with your gut instincts as to whether some one else should drive your car, and although taking more people reduces the costs, it can lead to more distractions, such as fooling around or higher chance of 2 of the group falling out and causing tensions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Congratulations on looking at both sides of this dream trip. (I'm sort of assuming you want to try to see Harry Potter World, since it opens April 7th.)

    Gasoline - figure how many miles it is between your home (Redding???) and Universal City, CA, then double that. Add a few miles for good measure. Figure on $2.75/gallon (it's higher in LA than in NoCal, I'm pretty sure). The only other thing you need to know is your car's average fuel mileage per gallon. Go to the fuel cost calculator that's on every page of RTA, enter the information, and voila, you have your fuel costs.

    Overnights - if you go alone, you can take advantage of a hostel. I'm sure one of our other regulars can offer you suggestions on which one might work for you. Motels and hotels that are anywhere close to Universal Studios are going to be over $100/night. With the opening of Harry Potter World, they are probably also going to be in high demand.

    Food - on the road, it's easy to bring a cooler and food from home/grocery store. It's much healthier for you, too. In the park, though, they've got you cornered. I'm not sure what Universal allows you to bring in - we haven't been to the CA Universal in 15 years, and while in Florida a few years ago, we were planning to eat at the Three Broomsticks for lunch. It was a bit pricey, but we expected that.

    Theme park admission - Ouch, this is where it really hurts. Unless you have a way to get severely discounted tickets somewhere, Universal is going to set you back about $95 for one day. I'm not sure they have a 2-day ticket that's discounted. I just remember seeing that number bandied about in a San Diego area magazine. Then there is parking -- count on $15-18.

    As far as being able to drive, it would all depend on you and your comfort zone too. I had never driven more than 3 hours at a stretch when I drove myself halfway across the country. The suggestions given to me then are ones I still use today: take a stretch break every 2 hours. It doesn't matter if it's in a rest area, parking lot, or walking a neighborhood, just stretch your legs out. You'll feel better and it clears your head as well. It's going to take a full day to get down to LA from NoCal, and a full day back, plus the time you want to spend in Universal.

    All this said, I think you should crunch some numbers and see how it works out for you!


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