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  1. Default Summer 2017 road trip from Florida out west

    Hey! I am trying to plan a road trip out west from North Florida. We have a travel trailer, but unsure if it would be best to fly out west and rent one. Only have 10-14 days.
    Not sure what area we want to focus our trip on either! I want to see it all.... But I know that our time is limited and we can't! Any and all advice appreciated! My husband and I have two girls...'will be 6 and 9 during the trip!

    Some questions to think about :
    Has anyone ever done road trip from Florida in a camper out west?
    Would it be better to fly and rent a camper?
    If so, what camper rental company is good?
    Should we use a travel agency? If so, which one?

    What areas would you recommended..... We thought around areas around TX, WY, AZ, even CA.... Yellowstone.... Grand canyons, the desserts, badlands, salt flats, the redwoods, even the pacific coast....)! Please help! Lol! We are all over the place.... Just want to see it all!
    But... For a 6 and 9 year old... And a 10-14 day trip.... What do you recommend?
    If God willing, we can go back one day and see more.... But what destination/ area/ would be a good starting point?

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

    Default The Two Biggest Points

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Point 1: If you drive with your own trailer, it is a minimum of ten days round trip from 'northern Florida' to San Francisco (an arbitrary point on the Pacific coast near the Redwoods and Yosemite). That means that you'd be using the vast, vast majority of your time doing nothing but sitting in your car, burning gas, and watching the world flow by outside your windshield. So, it seems obvious that it would be better for you to fly and do a loop trip around some portion of the Southwest before returning home. Given the expense of renting any sort of RV (including 'kit' charges and extra gas to move it around) you'd likely be far better off renting a mid-sized sedan and staying in motels, or tent camping if you prefer and can fit your gear in an airline-checkable bag.

    Point 2: There are several advantages to a fly-drive-loop type of trip, not least of which is the immense savings in time getting to your destination. You can fly to the nearest (to your home in Florida) point on such a loop to help keep airfare costs down, and returning the rental car to the same place you pick it up means that you don't have to worry about one way drop-off fees. If you want to see the Southwest, then there are several possible gateway cities including Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. You may even find occasional bargains to non-hub cities such as Albuquerque or Tucson. And since the gateway city is not your destination and you don't have to make a connection, 'satellite' airports such as Oakland, Ontario, Mesa, etc. work just as well as SFO, LAX, or PHX.

    So, what I'd suggest is that you start now and just keep an eye on airfares from the most convenient local airport to all of the gateway cities listed above and if you see a sale that lets the four of you get round trips for a reasonable price, jump on it. There are several fare search sites that will let you set 'alerts' that will notify you of such bargains, but also be sure to routinely check Southwest Airlines since it does not share its pricing information with travel sites. Keep in mind as well that you'll be saving so much time by not driving out and back, that you can actually spend fewer days on the whole package so that you can pick days that have lower fares and also save on the number of motels/campsites you'll have to book. Once you have your flights set, then you can work out the best loop built around your gateway city. You're never going to fit every site on your list into any such loop, but you can certainly build a great loop around any flight destination. And of course we'll be more than happy to help you with the details once that basic plan is set.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Short on time.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    'The West' is a big area and you will have to pick and choose carefully with your limited time, and to really be able to explore an area, you will need to fly and rent. From Lake City FL to Grand canyon would be 4 hard days driving in each direction so with 14 days you could see some of the 'Canyons' in Utah and back through parts of Colorado, but that would amount to 9 or 10 days of driving, leaving little time for sight seeing and relaxing. Yellowstone would be 8-9 long days of driving out and back and you really need 3 or 4 days to enjoy the park and nearby Tetons.

    Shopping around to rent an RV is the best way to go if you decide to rent, Cruise America is usually competitive by the time you have added everything up and although their vehicles have always been reliable for us, they look a bit more 'jaded' than ones we have looked at from other companies.

    You really need to sit down with the family and focus on an area you really want to see and then see how you can make it work with your timeline.

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for the advice..... From
    Both of you! I really need to fly out there....and either rent motels or camper. Got to figure it out. But I def need to watch for airline specials....

    If you think of any more advice...Either of you... Please keep me posted. Thank you sooooo much
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 06-22-2016 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Removed quote for easier reading.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Enjoy the planning !

    It's really for you and the family to sit down and decide which area you are going to visit. One word of advice would be not to try and do too much as there is so much to choose from. Focus on a few places of interest and build a trip around them to ensure you don't end up rushing from one place to another without time to properly enjoy them. Once you have got that far we can help to 'Fine tune' your plans and possibly make alternative suggestions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Baseline

    Just to give you an idea of what you should be looking for, I priced out a couple of loop trips that would include four round-trip airfares from Jacksonville and a one week rental on a mid-sized family sedan. For four airfares and a week's car:

    Denver: (4x$358)= $1432 + $168 = $1600 total
    Phoenix: (4x$393)= $1572 + $208 = $1780 total

    Now, I know that seems like a lot but let's just consider the cost of driving out and back. Using Jacksonville and Las Vegas as endpoints and not counting the loop itself, you're looking at 4400 miles round trip. At 20 mpg (Does your rig really do that well at highway speeds?) and $2.50/gal that's $550 just in gas. Add $50/night for lodging for six nights ($300) and $800 for meals ($25/day/person), and you're looking at approximately $1650 to drive there and back. And that doesn't account for the extra wear and tear on your vehicle and the immense amount of time you'd have spent driving just to spend a few days in the 'West'.

    More to the point, those are prices without sales, and they're already pointing you to fly rather than drive. And they give you a price comparison point to know when you're seeing a good deal. Those are roughly what I would expect to pay for a car rental, but I'd also expect to see airfares more in the $200-225 range (maybe a bit more) at some point during the next year. That's a price that I would jump at, but you do have to keep your eyes open.

    AZBuck

  7. Default

    Wow! You guys are awesome! I have been thinking about this already for a few months! I'm so glad I found this forum! You have both already been so much help!

    Where would y'all focus? Grand Canyan? Fly into... Phoenix? What else would you focus on in that area? I know the canyans ... Horse back riding and all the "excursions"... You have to be 8 and older...??? And my youngest will be 6. Any recommendations on where to stay and what else to do?
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-22-2016 at 03:45 PM. Reason: Complete quote of previous post removed

  8. Default

    And.... Any idea about cost of hotel?
    Do we base out of one... And travel ... Or just pack up and go along?
    Or ... At that point .... When we fly out there... Should we camp?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    From Phoenix or Las Vegas [look for the best flight deals] you have a number of National parks in Southern Utah, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands as well as including the Grand canyon and Monument valley. Around Page AZ you have Antelope canyon, Horseshoe bend and Lake Powell and much more. A day either end will be largely taken up with flights and rental offices but with 10-12 days on the road [12-14 days overall] you could have an amazing family adventure. Another option from Vegas [or San Fran] would be to visit California's Yosemite and Sequoia NP's and perhaps the coast between SF and LA along with the Grand canyon. It's all pretty awesome !!

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

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Shannacamper View Post
    And.... Any idea about cost of hotel?
    Do we base out of one... And travel ... Or just pack up and go along?
    Or ... At that point .... When we fly out there... Should we camp?
    Again, that's really up to you, there is no right or wrong choice. Hotels can vary quite a lot depending on quality and location but to get some ideas you can browse motels using the link on the right of each page near the top. Personally speaking I like to keep moving forwards on a road trip rather than travelling out and back from the same location just to cover more ground, but it's a personal choice and there are benefits to having a base. Lodgings in National parks can be expensive yet camping can be quite cheap, so that's worth considering. Either way they are very popular and booking in advance is essential to guarantee a place.

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