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  1. Default Two weeks roadtrip - California

    Hello everyone,

    my girlfriend and i come from Belgium, but we'd like to visit the western half of the USA. We are thinking about a roadtrip around March-April 2008 for about two weeks.

    Our main points of interest would be Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, ... I was thinking of taking the plane to San Francisco and drive down to LA. The idea is to make a loop and end up back at our starting point. We are used to driving long distances for our jobs, so we don't mind spending hours driving. We also have experience in camping.
    Our total budget would be somewhere in the 2500 USD range. We'd buy food from supermarkets and grocery shops to save money for the rest.

    Edit: We're both 23 years old.

    So i was wondering about the following things:
    * Would San Francisco be a good starting point? Any other possibilities?
    * What are must-see things we should certainly stop by? (urban or not, doesn't matter)
    * Can you recommend us places to spend the night, is camping a better idea?

    Thanks a bunch, I really appreciate the advice!
    Last edited by Kerby; 10-16-2007 at 04:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I would use Las Vegas as your hub

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerby View Post
    The idea is to make a loop and end up back at our starting point.
    Unless you are able to get a better airfare deal using San Francisco as the airport, I would suggest you use either LAX or Las Vegas. And Las Vegas would be my #1 choice because it more closely approximates the center point of your loop. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! You are actually trying to cover a little too much ground in two weeks, even with your experience of driving long distances for your jobs. Your budget is reasonable (except -- does it also include the airfare?) If it does, you probably need to look at this thread and see if you have included all of the elements in your budget. Weather is also going to be a factor in March and April will some mountain passes closed or delayed due to snow and other weather considerations.

    Here are some ideas and resources as you begin the planning.

    A nice list of routes and tips between San Francisco and the Grand Canyon
    Mono Hot Springs, Sequoia, Coastal Route -- Fall 2007
    Yosemite to Vegas via Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley (summer 2007)
    Sequoia National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument - JWest
    Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley (Spring 2007)
    Tips for Visiting Los Angeles,
    One of the must-see spots on the Big Sur!
    A discussion about safe driving distances in one day
    Field Report about Grand Canyon and Bryce

    Happy Planning!


  3. Default Doable in 2 weeks.. but you'll need to keep moving..

    Hello Kerby,

    First, the trip you've laid out is very doable, but even with the rough loop you laid out, you'll only see part of the western US, and you'll need to keep moving every day or so to cover the distance.

    As noted in another post, you need to check to see where you can get the best air fares to. That will set the start and end of your trip -- although you can end somewhere else can catch a short flight back to the start if you need to. Renting a car and returning it to the original rental site can also save you significant money in avoiding "drop off fees" from returning it to another location.

    SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) are the usual major entry points since they are the largest international airports in the region. However, sometimes you can get low fares into other regional airports like Las Vegas and even Phoenix. Any of these would be good starting points.

    One thing you might note, if you're coming in March or April is that you may see some colder weather. Some of the dessert regions you're visiting may be cold at night -- and some may even be snowy. For example, the rim of the Grand Canyon is at 7000' (2130 meters) elevation, and be cold in the winter.

    Camping is always an option -- campground run about $20 per night, compared to $60-80 for a moderate hotel/motel room. However, you'll need to balance this against what you're comfortable with and the weather.

    I am somewhat concerned about your budget -- Rental cars will run about $30-50/ day (depending upon age of driver(s), type of vehicle, etc.). Gas will run about $40-60 per day (depending upon mileage and how far you drive -- plus gas price and grade of gasoline you need; for budgeting gas is currently running $3-3.5 per gallon).

    For a rough loop in 2 weeks you might consider something like this.. (assuming starting at SFO)

    Days 1-3 in San Francisco, sightseeing
    Day 4 through to Monterey and to San Luis Obispo area via Coast 1
    Day 5 to Los Angeles
    day 6-7 Los Angeles
    Day 8 to near Grand Canyon
    Day 9 at Grand Canyon
    Day 10 Grand canyon to Las Vegas (1/2 day's drive -- afternoon and night in LV)
    Day 11 LV through Death valley to California Central Valley (possibly Yosemite -- Tioga Pass over the Sierras will probably be closed. You can make it to Yosemite in a day but it would be a long day, if you stop anywhere in Death Valley. Bakersfield or elsewhere in the Cental Valley would be a better stop I think)
    Day 12 in Yosemite
    Day 13 Return to San Francisco
    Day 14 -- extra day.

    You could do a similar loop starting at Los Angeles. If starting there, I'd add a free day at the end to relax on the beach somewhere like Laguna Beach or Huntington Beach, or Santa Monica to round out the trip -- weather in April can be very good. Otherwise, there's a free day to pick somewhere to add somewhere else, or just relax somewhere.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the quick replies, they contain very valuable information that i will certainly take into account. The budget might be boosted to 3000USD (excl air fares) depending on the fare prices and the course of the USD vs EUR.
    We could also make the trip around May instead, if we manage to take two weeks off at that time.

    Appreciate the help! Thanks

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