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  1. Default Maine to California - Honeymoon Roadtrip

    Hello,

    I am getting married August 4th next summer and we are hoping to do a road trip for our honeymoon. We plan on renting a car and leaving August 5th from Bangor Maine, and flying back from San Francisco on August 19th or 20th (we can be a little flexible on the return day).

    Along the route we would like to spend a day at Niagara Falls, spend a day at the Grand Canyon, stop at the Sequoia National Forest, and drive the Pacific Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Is this something we could reasonably do in 14 or 15 days? Any suggestions on routes to take or places to stop?

    We have always wanted to do a cross county road trip, we are trying to save some money, and we think it will be a really cool journey.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,347

    Default Working at Cross Purposes

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, you could easily do the RoadTip you've outlined in two weeks. But you can't do it and "save some money". That's mainly due to the exorbitant cost of renting a car in Maine and 'returning' it in California. Also, I'll just note that the only place you've listed to see east of the Rockies is Niagara Falls, which would make for a very nice week-long RoadTrip out of Bangor in its own right.

    So instead I'm going to strongly recommend that you just get a round-trip flight to somewhere in the west, do a 'local' car rental there, return the car to the same place you got it from, and fly home. I think you'll find that much more cost effective. It has the added benefit that you don't have to fly all the way across the continent. Since you'll now be doing a loop RoadTrip, it won't matter where you fly to. Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are all possibilities. Any one of them would be a nice start/end point for a great RoadTrip through the Southwest including all the spots you've listed, even California, plus many more.

    So as a first step, take a look at what roundtrip airfares are to each of those cities. (Note: It might be worth your time to drive to Boston, Portland, Providence, Hartford, Manchester, or Burlington. Flying from one of those cities could save you enough to more than cover the cost of parking your car there for a couple of weeks.) While you're at it, check car rental prices as well. You're looking for the combination of departure city, arrival city and car rental that costs you the least. There will be no magic answer and costs will fluctuate with time, so just do this from time to time until you're familiar with the general range of costs and then pounce when you see something that fits your budget.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,051

    Default probably not a good choice

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While a roadtrip can be a great way to spend a honeymoon, I don't think the trip you've laid out will work well for you.

    First, you mention doing this to save money and this trip probably would really be quite expensive. One way car rentals are very costly, especially when driving all the way across country. I'd expect you'd be looking at around $1000 in one-way fees alone.

    Second, 2 weeks would be pushing the limit for the amount of time you really need to do this trip. To hit the places you listed in your post, you're looking at more than 4000 miles. That alone is about 9 days just to cover the miles. Spend a day at Niagara Falls (make sure you have your passport and permission to take the rental car across the border if you want to see the Canadian side), Grand Canyon, Sequoia, and 2 days along the coast, and your time is already up, and you haven't left any time for any "honeymooning"

    So, yes, you probably could do this, but I don't think it would be the enjoyable honeymoon or the cost-effective trip you are hoping for.

    What I think would probably work better for you would be to fly out to the west coast and spend your 2 weeks out there. It probably will cost significantly less, it would give you the opportunity see many of the things that are already on your list, add in some of the other National Parks of the area like Yosemite, while still giving you the opportunity to actually relax and enjoy each others company. You could do a loop trip out of LA, San Francisco, or Vegas, which would save you money on your rental car, and let you shop around any of those places to see where you can get the best deal on airfare and car rentals.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your suggestions! This is why we are starting to plan this now, that way we have thought everything through and asked the questions to make sure it can be the trip we hope it will be.

    If we were to do the road trip that I had mentioned, how long do you think is a reasonable amount of time to do so? I am curious, even though the point about the rental car price gives us something to think about, I am wondering how long you would recommend taking to do this trip?

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,051

    Default

    For a honeymoon, I'd say at least 3 weeks. As I noted, just to cover the miles of what you laid out, you'd need at least 9 hard days worth of driving - that's full days on the road, not leaving time for extra fun stops and exploration along the way.

    As noted, you could do everything you listed in 2 weeks, but it would be a very rushed trip, it would mean long days in the car pretty much every day, leave little to no time for other stops, and ultimately a pretty stressful way to start your marriage!

  6. Default

    What if we drove out to Niagara in our own car (drive out 8/5 and 8/6) spent the full day of the 7th at Niagara, then flew out of Detroit or Toronto on 8/8 to LA or SF. Then spend a the next week and a half or so driving around hitting all the things we wanted to do out there, then fly back to Niagara on 8/20 or 8/21 and take a couple days to drive home. Would this be a more relaxing trip? It would certainly save on rental car cost if we fly out of the same airport.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,051

    Default yes but....

    Again, could you probably do what you've laid out, I suppose, but

    1 - you haven't really solved the problem, you've just moved some things around. In the end, this plan really wouldn't save you much in the way of driving. By the time you factor in driving back from Niagara Falls to Maine at the end of your trip, as well as driving back to California from the Grand Canyon, your total amount of miles doesn't change all that much with this plan.

    2 (and this is the bigger one) - Why? Nothing against Niagara Falls, but if you are going to take all the time, energy, and money needed to see the west coast, then why don't you go see the west coast? You could drive to Niagara Falls the next time you have a 4 day weekend, you can't really do that with California. It's not like you are going to run out of things to see if you give yourself a full 2.5 weeks out west.

    With the plan you laid out, about 6 days of your trip would be taken up by traveling to/from/seeing Niagara Falls, but if it's me, I'd much rather take those 6 days and see a few more places out west (like say the waterfalls and other attractions of Yosemite), and see everything at a pace that will also let you decompress and enjoy each others company after the relative chaos of planning and executing a wedding!

    As a side note, if you do move forward with the drive to Niagara and fly from there, then Buffalo is probably going to be your best bet for flights. Toronto is usually quite a bit more expensive, because it becomes an international flight to get back to the US, and in fact, it's pretty common for people from the toronto area to drive to Buffalo (or Rochester) to catch a cheaper flight to a US destination.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    9,347

    Default The Devil's in the Details

    Yes, if you really want to visit Niagara Falls on this trip as well as do a fair bit of driving, your new outline can certainly work, and save you some money over your original plan. As I noted in my original response, what you'll need to do is get 'down in the weeds' and start looking at various combinations of departure and arrival cities for the round-trip airfare as well as the cost of renting a car at your western destination.

    Besides Detroit (which would really require you to drive through Canada to make it a good option) look at using Cleveland or Pittsburgh, perhaps even Syracuse, as your eastern departure point for your flights. For a western terminus, consider Los Angeles (several airports, not just LAX), San Francisco (again multiple airports including San Jose and Oakland), Las Vegas and Phoenix. Most search engines will allow you to enter 'all airports' and/or 'nearby airports' when looking for flights to major cities.

    Now, while your new plan would be more relaxing than your original, I'd still recommend that you drop Niagara Falls. With your new plan you're still spending at least five days of your limited honeymoon time to include this in your itinerary. Spending those five days on the west coast would, I think, make this even more relaxing.

    AZBuck

  9. Default

    Thank you guys for the advice, it really is appreciated! The biggest reason that we would like to go to Niagara is because we have been told by several people that they wished they had seen Niagara before the Grand Canyon, because Niagara isn't as impressive after seeing the Grand Canyon. I understand that we could "go on our next 4 day weekend" but that most likely won't happen before our Honeymoon (trying to save up that vacation time!). Has anyone ever been to both the GC and Niagara? Is Niagara much less exciting after seeing the sheer size of the GC?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default In a Word: No

    I've been to both Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon several times. So I guess that means I've been to the Grand Canyon before (and after) Niagara Falls as well as to Niagara Falls before (and after) the Grand Canyon. To be perfectly honest, there is no comparison unless you insist on making one. And by going out of your way to see both sights in a matter of a couple of weeks, you are insisting on making that comparison.

    Both sights are natural wonders and each should be appreciated on its own terms. This is your honeymoon and what you choose to do with your limited time us up to you. But if you are "trying to save up that vacation time!", 'wasting' five or six days to make a needless comparison does not seem, to me, to be the best use of your time, nor make for the most relaxed of honeymoons.

    AZBuck

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