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  1. Default Miami - Las vegas, 7-8 days

    Hello everyone, and thank you for this wonderful road trip resource

    We are 2 danes (possibly 3), aged 25 and 24 respectively, looking to complete the drive from Miami to Las Vegas in about 7 days. This does not include time spent in those towns (and surrounding area) as we have another 6 days just for them.

    Currently we are planning to spend a day or two in New Orleans and Houston and, of course, visit the Grand Canyon (briefly, we have both been there before). Other than that, our knowledge of the 7-8 states we will be driving through is extremely limited. Basically, we are looking for suggestions; natural sceneries, historical towns, legendary diners and bars. Nothing is set in stone and we are very open to suggestions!

    Judging by the distance, it seems one week might a bit short as well? Some help with the itinerary would be great - we are thinking reaching New Orleans in 2 days, crossing texas in 2-3 more and the last stretch with the final 2 days. Does this seem reasonable?

    Also, the price of the rental car. We are looking at prices in the range of 1000-1500$ for a full week with insurance. Again, does this seem reasonable? :-)

    Finally, any unforeseen costs we should know about? Road pricing, state taxes and such (we are not seriously strapped for cash, so only if they are sizabe).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!


    Martin and Jonathan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Crossing an Unknown Continent

    Velkommen! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Miami to Las Vegas comes pretty close to doing just that - crossing the continent. Seven days would be enough to do it at a relatively leisurely pace, but if you spend a day in New Orleans and a day in Houston, then you will have used up your leisure time and the other five days will have to be pretty steady driving days of 500 miles each. Also, Houston is not on the most direct route between Miami and Las Vegas, so seeing it would add another couple of hours to your overall drive, but more importantly would change the entire course of your trip in the west. So you've got at least a couple of major decisions to make before we can help you start filling in the details.

    If you go by way of Houston, then you'll continue west on I-10 all the way to Phoenix and then take US-93 up to Las Vegas. Some of the major sights along that road are the Alamo, White Sands, and Kartchner Caverns. If you skip Houston, then you'd take I-49 north out of the New Orleans area to I-20 west to Dallas, US-287 northwest to Amarillo, and I-40 west to Kingman before joining US-92 into Las Vegas. That route would bring you close to the Cadillac Ranch, Petrified Forest and within side-trip distance of the Grand Canyon.

    The other choice is how you want to spend your two leisure days. If the big cities such as New Orleans and Houston are what attracts you, then spend the two days there, but be aware that you then won't have a lot of spare time to see much else along the way.

    As far as your rental car goes, that price is probably reasonable given that one of the drivers is under 25, you're dropping the car off somewhere other than where you're picking it up, and you're buying the rental company's insurance. All of those things drive up the price a good deal. Just make sure that the price includes all those items in the contract. If you have the ability to check with your own insurance company before you rent, ask them what coverage they offer that you are already paying for, and then you won't have to buy that coverage again from the rental company.

    For more general ideas on what to see in the various states that you'll be driving through, have a look at these lists.


  3. Default

    Thank you very much for your helpful reply. Much time has been spent looking over the various attractions and we think we are about ready to announce our plans!

    Leaving Miami on a Friday and following the coast to visit the famous beaches, then heading to Orlando to spend the night.

    Saturday: visiting the Kennedy Space center (seems like the most interesting attraction) and driving as far as we can get afterwards - thinking around Tallahassee.

    Sunday: Driving to Mobile for lunch (probably not very authentic Alabama, but seems the best we can do with this schedule) and on to New Orleans - hoping Bourbon Street is lively, even on a Sunday.

    Monday: Spending some time in New Orleans and heading along the coast (should be much more interesting than the highway) towards Houston. Possibly visiting the Creole Nature Trail on the way if time allows.

    Tuesday: Off to San Antonio to visit the Alamo! From then on, happy driving towards El Paso (quite likely overnight). Think we will have to skip the Big Bend.

    Wednesday: More driving, Carlsbad Carverns, then to El Paso. Cross the border (if possible) for a burrito and a tequila and spend the night on whatever side looks more fun.

    Thursday: Up to white sands (is it possible to enter the reserve from the south or do we have to track around?), on to Kartchner Caverns if time allows and then to either Tuscon, Phoenix or Flagstaff (again, depending on time and which town is more interesting - more research to do!)

    Friday: Grand Canyons south rim and on to las vegas (with a route 66 sidetrip of course), arriving in the evening with any luck.

    This trip is around 2-300km longer than the northern route and really seems more interesting from our point of view. Overall, the trip is 4600km (2900 miles) and we have around 7 days to do it (with some buffer days if something goes wrong).
    We are well aware that is going to mean an obscene amount of driving, but given the time limit we still think this route is the best we can do.

    If you have any thoughts, please do not hesitate to comment :) Especially if anyone has suggestions on how to better use the little spare time we have (large cities are not as important as it might sound reading the above, we use them here more as waypoints - only New Orleans is a must).

    Thank you for your help again

    Maritn and Jonathan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I hope you like to drive!

    Because you definitely will be doing a lot of that.

    I'm not as familiar with the eastern portion of your trip to comment. However, I don't think you have to limit yourself to Mobile to find an "authentic Alabama" style lunch. As you're driving along, look for locally-owned type restaurants packed with cars, ask at gas stations for recommendations, etc. You might also check out the links on this page for ideas of where to get that quintissential southern meal.

    I don't quite get the Tues/Wed, San Antonio to El Paso section. San Antonio to Carlsbad is about 450 miles so this is do-able in one day. That should probably be your Tuesday night stop. While you might get to Carlsbad too late for any tours into the caverns, you will probably enjoy going there for the nightly bat flight. Millions of bats pour out of the at sunset. It's quite impressive.

    Carlsbad to El Paso is only 163 miles. If you do the cavern tour that day, I can see where El Paso might make a good stop for the night. However, can do a tour that day, visit El Paso, cross the border for a quick meal/drink, and spend the night closer to White Sands. Just a thought.

    You're doing so much driving that I wonder if you wouldn't be better off to skip the Tucson/Phoenix areas. Not that those places aren't worth a visit. They are. However, you could also have a great drive by taking I-10 to Deming then going NW through Silver City and some fantastic hills on 180 to I-40 at Holbook. You could make a stop at the Painted Desert, see the kitschy stuff in Holbrook (dinosaurs and wigwams) and then spend the night in Flagstaff, setting yourself up easily for an early morning drive into the Grand Canyon. This will shave quite a few miles off that portion. Of course, take this with a grain of salt if you really would prefer going through the heart of Arizona.

    If you are going to do Grand Canyon and then driving to Las Vegas that night, you will need to plan to be in Grand Canyon quite early. Actually, the earlier the better to get amazing light. Even sunrise would be very cool if you could drag yourself out of bed for it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Resources Allocation

    Your first few days are fine, maybe even a bit too relaxed. You only to plan to cover about 250 miles or so on each of the first 3 days. Then you increase that to about 475 on the day you plan to see New Orleans, your one stated urban goal. That really does not leave much time to see the city at all. Then the next day (and night!) you plan to drive nearly 750 miles to El Paso and stop and see the Alamo. Better would be to see the Alamo and then stay overnight somewhere in the vicinity of Sonora, TX and seeing Carlsbad on your way to El Paso the next day (Wednesday) and spending the evening on the Ciudad Juarez side of the border.

    The main entrance to White Sands is from the southeast off US-70/US-82, so it would be possible to see both White Sands and Kartchner and stay overnight in Tucson, but that would be another long day. The next day is another one where the distances and number of things you want to see are going to be catching up to you. Tucson to Las Vegas by way of the Grand Canyon is about 650 miles. That is more than is comfortable on a day when you are well rested, and you will be far from that. It also doesn't leave much (if any) time to actually spend at the Grand Canyon other than to look over the edge and say, "Yep, that's a whole in the ground."

    So I think, all in all you need to better allocate the time you have and recognize that you haven't got a lot to waste. I'd spend at least a day less in Florida, and shave another half day from the Gulf Coast portion so that you can better appreciate everything else along your drive.


  6. Default Heh, well

    it is a "road" trip after all!

    Your suggestions are extremely helpful, so thank you again - trying to plan this from across the ocean with little prior experience means we will probably be in for a few surprises when all our expectations don't quite hold up.

    For the Florida part, it seems very difficult for us to remove anything - maybe we could make it to New Orleans from Orlando in one go, but that sure is a long drive as well. Besides, having read about a recommendation in another post, perhaps we will head to Apalachicola and spend the night there - swimming at pristine, secluded beaches are one of the finer ways to spend a morning!
    Problem is, we do want to spend the time we can in Florida, having been suckered into longing for big name locations from one too many a teen-movie.

    From Tuesday, I guess we simply intend to see San Antonio and drive for a bit. Stopping at some random motel and heading towards the (now must-see!) bat exodus on wednesday. Then off to El Paso and spend the evening in Mexico.
    From then on, its White Sands and then take it from there given whatever time we have left. Dropping the larger Arizona cities is definitely a possibility (also, kitschy stuff is good!), but I think we have to make that decision after having driven for a few days.

    Wouldn't wanna plan too much anyway, right ;-)


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Glad you're going to see the bats!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kronborg View Post
    Wouldn't wanna plan too much anyway, right ;-)

    You have the right attitude to have a terrific adventure! Just go with the flow, have some rough idea of where you need to be every few days to stay somewhat on track so you're not too rushed at the end, and enjoy!

    I have no other specific tips but I think you're on the right track and have a good idea of what kinds of things to expect. Enjoy...and please consider returning after your trip to give us a roadtrip report. We love those! :)

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