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  1. Default December Road Trip across the U.S.

    Hi There,

    Myself and my fiancé have 3 weeks from mid December until early January free and are looking at the possibility of doing a road trip across the U.S. What would be the best route to take over this time period with the thought of avoiding as much cold weather as possible.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default wide open

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Obviously staying south will generally result in warmer temperatures, but the reality is that about 90% of the US can see pretty cold or snowy weather in December and January. You'll also be traveling over the holidays, which will make you one of many travelers on the road.

    The weather will be what it will be, so I would recommend planning your trip based on what you want to see and do much more than what the weather could end up being.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default maybe not quite wide open

    There will be some key places that close to traffic every winter. Places like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Tioga Pass, North Cascades Highway, Going to the Sun Road at Glacier NP, parts of Rainier NP, parts of Yellowstone NP, etc. I suggest you identify the places you want to visit and then visit the websites for those places to find out about winter closures.

    If you want to list the places you plan to visit here, I'm sure some folks can give you specific information along with possible alternative routes or other tips that might be helpful.

    Interstates, in general, will be open. If a severe storm comes in, they might shut down for a few hours or, if especially severe, a few days but that is very, very rare. And this can happen anywhere so you really need to check the weather daily and plan your route accordingly.

    If you care to share more info, we can help you out with more specific recommendations.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    It would be prudent having a set of cable chains in your vehicle if you are traveling cross country in December, unless you purposely avoid the mountains or are willing to hole up somewhere for up to a few days.

    Where are you starting from?

  5. Default Some more details...

    Hi All,

    Thanks so much for all your help so far. Your tips have been invaluable!!!

    So just to recap, myself and my fiancé are both in our late 20’s and are leaving London to move back to our home in Australia. We’re currently planning our trip home and are working on a road trip in the U.S. staying as far south as possible to ensure the best possible weather given the time of year.

    Any thoughts on our current below plan? Places we should skip? Places we’ve missed? Cities we’re spending too much/too little time in?

    Sat 13th Dec Fly: London - Washington
    Sun 14th Dec Fly: Washington – Miami
    Mon 15th Dec Miami
    Tue 16th Dec Miami
    Wed 17th Dec Miami (possible Everglades day trip)
    Thurs 18th Dec Pickup hire car
    Miami - St Petersburg or Mobile (Via Walt Disney World for a photo – don’t think we’re interested in visiting)
    Fri 19th Dec St Petersburg or Mobile - New Orleans
    Sat 20th Dec New Orleans
    Sun 21st Dec New Orleans
    Mon 22nd Dec New Orleans - Houston
    Tue 23rd Dec Houston - Austin
    Wed 24th Dec Austin – Houston
    Drop off hire car
    Fly: Houston - Las Vegas
    Rather than fly this leg should we continue from Austin to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Sedona? Our guess is that its too cold and with such short time we should fly?
    Thurs 25th Dec Las Vegas
    Fri 26th Dec Las Vegas
    Is it worth a day trip to the Grand Canyon in our car or even by coach? If we go do we need more time in Vegas?
    Sat 27th Dec Pickup hire car
    Las Vegas - San Francisco
    How can we fit in Yosemite National Park or is December the wrong time of year to see it anyway?
    Alternatively should we visit Sequoia National Park?
    Sun 28th Dec San Francisco
    Mon 29th Dec San Francisco
    Tue 30th Dec San Francisco - Los Angeles
    Wed 31st Dec Los Angeles
    Thurs 1st Jan Los Angeles
    Fri 2nd Jan Los Angeles
    Sat 3rd Jan Los Angeles - San Diego
    Sun 4th Jan San Diego
    Mon 5th Jan San Diego – Los Angeles
    Drop off hire car
    Fly Los Angeles - Australia

    Thanks in advance!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Odd Comment or Two

    Thurs 18th Dec Miami - St Petersburg or Mobile
    That's quite a difference! St. Petersburg (275) is hardly a full day's drive. Mobile (725 mi) is not possible. Probably a better halfway point on the way to New Orleans is around Madison, FL.

    Walt Disney World for a photo
    It's been a while since I've been there, but it could cost you around $20 just to get into the parking lot!

    Rather than fly this leg should we continue from Austin
    You've got three weeks to get from Miami to Los Angeles. That is plenty of time to have a great time, driving all the way. I wouldn't fly at all between those to cities. Not only will this save you on airfare, but on the car rental(s) as well since you'll have one less one-way drop off fee to pay. You'll also get to see some more of the Southwest including Santa Fe, the Petrified Forest. Also, the Grand Canyon really can't be done justice on a day trip from Las Vegas.

    Tue 30th Dec San Francisco - Los Angeles
    This is another spot where I think you could use more time. the drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) is a must, but as a two lane, winding road with much to stop and see, including Monterey and Hearst Castle, it does require that you take your own sweet time.

    Finally, be sure to use the Search function and the Similar Threads listed at the bottom of the page to find many more ideas.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default trimming

    I agree with Buck that making the entire trip by driving would be very easy. By the time you drive back to Houston, drop off your car, get through security, fly to Vegas, get off a plane and get another car, you'll have wasted a full day anyway. Plus, if you're going to drive to the Grand Canyon, you'll spend another half day driving the other direction. When you factor in that time, it will probably only cost you another 2 days to make the drive at a fairly leasurely pace.

    Considering you are planning to spend 4-5 days in many of the cities you're talking about, I think you could easily shave one or two days off to make the drive.

    I also agree with Buck that you should give yourself at least one more day for the Coast Highway. And if you really want to stop at Disneyworld, your best bet might be "Downtown Disney." That section is about the only thing that is free - although its basically just a big disney themed shopping complex. You won't be able to get a photo at any of the big iconic things like the castle or Epcot dome without paying a pretty pennty.

  8. Default December Road Trip across the U.S.

    Hi All,

    I just wanted to say how invaluable your comments have been for us putting together the ultimate 3 week U.S. Road Trip. Myself and my fiancé have been working hard on getting our itinerary right for our trip to head back to Australia after living in London for the last 3 years.

    Any thoughts on our current below plan? Places we should skip? Places we’ve missed? Cities we’re spending too much/too little time in?

    Sat 13th Dec Fly: London – Miami
    Sun 14th Dec: Miami
    Mon 15th Dec: Miami (Possible Key West Day trip)
    Tues 16th Dec: Miami (Possible Everglades Day trip)
    Wed 17th Dec: Miami then fly to Houston early evening
    Thurs 18th Dec: Houston then mid afternoon drive to Austin
    Fri 19th Dec: Austin – El Paso (eat at Salt Lick BBQ)
    Sat 20th Dec: El Paso - Santa Fe (See White Sands National Monument
    Sun 21st Dec: Santa Fe – Sedona (Visit Alburquerque)
    Mon 22nd Dec: Visit Grand Canyon (Southern part) (Stay in Flagstaff)
    Tues 23rd Dec: Flagstaff – Las Vegas
    Wed 24th Dec: Las Vegas
    Thurs 25th Dec: Las Vegas
    Fri 26th Dec: Las Vegas – San Fransisco
    Sat 27th Dec: San Fransisco
    Sun 28th Dec: San Fransisco
    Mon 29th Dec: San Fransisco – Big Sur (Via Santa Cruz, Monterey)
    Tues 30th Dec: Big Sur – Santa Barbara (Via : San Luis Obispo, Ventura)
    Wed 31st Dec: Santa Barbara - Los Angeles (Via : Ventura)
    Thurs 1st Jan: Los Angeles
    Fri 2nd Jan: Los Angeles
    Sat 3rd Jan: Los Angeles
    Sun 4th Jan: Los Angeles – San Diego
    Mon 5th Jan: San Diego – Los Angeles. Fly to Australia late evening

    Thanks in advance!


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