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  1. Default West Coast Road Trip advise for an Intl. student

    Hi everyone,

    I've been browsing these forums for quite a bit and have found plenty of useful information and sound advise on planning roadtrips across the west coast. Thank you guys for that.
    To begin with, I'm an international student studying on the east coast. My girlfriend will be visiting UCSD in the first week of July and I plan to join her along with her friend for a 10 day trip spanning California, Arizona and Nevada. Our plan is as under.

    -- July 10 --
    Meet her friend in LA at 2130 (after arriving there myself at 8:30 PM) and try find a way to spend around 6 hours till we get to the morning Amtrak connection to San Diego. She's coming from Moscow and I believe she'll be too tired to hit the bed. But since we don't know anyone in LA, we're gonna try and spend the night near the airport or Amtrak station after checking in our luggage at the station. Right now I'm not sure if we should checki in at some hostel or a cheap lodge since we got to take the train at 7 anyway. Any tips on how to spend the night nearby will be appreciated.

    -- July 11 - 14th --
    4 Days in San Diego on Ocean Beach at a hostel. Rent a car on 14th of July till 20th.
    I've checked various car rental companies and found Avis to be our best bet since I'll be having a license from my home country (India). Right now they've quoted ~ $300 from 14 - 20th morning with GPS and some liability insurance. Since I'm still 24, (<25) they're gonna ask for $100 or something as an underage fee but they also have some promotion going on right now which waives me this penalty, so I'll have to book fast. Also, technically, the LDW ain't an insurance and just a damage waiver so I intend to call them up and ask which one is ACTUALLY an insurance. In addition, I would like your help to decide which insurance to take from the rental company.

    -- 15th of July --
    Leave early for Flagstaff, AZ. Comes out to be ~ 500 miles. Some people on this board have suggested not taking the I-8 E route. I don't know why but this one looks the shortest one. If any other (shorter) route comes to your mind please feel free to indicate so.
    - Spend the night at some hostel.

    -- 16th of July --
    Depart the next morning for Grand Canyon. (Flagstaff - GC ~ 80 miles)
    Spend the whole day at GC. Depart late in the evening for Bryce Canyon.
    (Grand Canyon South Rim - Bryce Canyon ~ 280 miles)
    Spend the night at Bryce Canyon.

    -- 17th --
    Spend the day at Bryce. Depart late in the evening to Las Vegas (BC - LV ~ 252 miles)

    -- 17th till 19th Morning --
    Lay back and rest in some hotel away from the strip.

    -- 19th Noon --
    Leave for LA for flight back to Boston via Death valley.
    (LV - Death Valley - LAX ~ 410 miles)

    -- 20th (very early morning) --
    Depart from LAX

    15th - 20th of July

    San diego - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Bryce Canyon - Las Vegas - Death Valley - LAX

    Now, I've tons of questions (:

    1) As it seems, we've booked all the hostels and hotels, so our plan loses any flexibility as it is. So, all in all, is all the driving manageable? Is there some organizational fault? Like we should've taken the clockwise route from San Diego to LA via Death Valley and Las Vegas and back to LA via the Canyons? Its too late now but in terms of previous experiences of people here can 500 miles be covered in 12 hours with infrequent stops like from San Diego to Flagstaff?

    2) The general plan is to sleep the night we arrive to get rest and drive in the morning to destinations. For example from SD to Flagstaff and LV to LA. For other trips, I intend to drive early in the evening ~ 4/5 PM. Is this okay?

    3) I come from a RHD country. Would l face more than my share of troubles driving on the freeways/expressways etc? I've driven on highways back at home but this doesn't seem to be too different? Anything special to keep in mind? Also, I'm the only driver (1 Dr + 2 pass) and this trip is going to be a long one for me as I haven't driven > 400 km in one stretch back home but I do total around 15000 kms. So I'm pretty amateur on long trips.

    4) Car and Rental: Can I drive to another state when renting? Usually they say it's valid in the three adjoining states but in case they don't, can I still drive ignoring these rules? (they can always find that out, of course)
    What kind of car should I rent? As of now I'm looking at at an Economy car, something like Chevy Aveo or similar. Would this be okay considering the terrain and the 1500 miles? Should I jump the budget and go for a better car, though I'm least in the favor? Also, can I negotiate with the company at the time of rental? Is it even allowed?

    5) Is detouring from LV to Death Valley on the way to LAX a bad idea? We have to catch flight early on 20th.

    6) Tips or anything else you guys find strange or absurd given past experiences.

    Thanks. - AJ

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The best route from SD to Flagstaff is I-8 to Gila Bend, AZ-85 to I-10, I-10 to AZ-101, AZ-101 to I-17, I-17 to Flagstaff. This is a FULL day of driving, and you won't get a chance to see Sedona.

    You are trying to stretch things too much. Flagstaff to the GC to Bryce is a lot more than you should do in one day if you want to see anything. Same thing applies if you want to see Bryce and drive to LV the same day. LV to LA via DV is also too much. All 3 of these things ARE possible, but you will be mostly driving and doing your sightseeing quickly out of the car windows.

    3 people in an Aveo is a tight squeeze, but it's doable. With the amount of driving you propose in a short period of time, I'd think about an upgrade.

    Don't ignore the rental rules, the cars have GPS locators and they will know where you are.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Musings

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    To be honest, it's been a while since I was that young and fancy free, but I think that rather than try to find a hostel that late in the evening, I'd just stay at the airport overnight and take a bus or cab early the next morning to the Amtrak station and plan on catching a little sleep on the way down to San Diego. Your friend from Russia will still be on Moscow time - to her, midnight will be noon. And I think you'll all be excited enough to be meeting up with each other and looking forward to your adventure, that you should be able to pass the night in conversation. I've spent nights in Heathrow and JFK in this manner, but not LAX. My guess would be that there would be at least one coffee shop or restaurant open well into the wee hours of the morning. If you are all flying in, try to stay inside security where most of the shops are as long as you can.

    As far as insurance on the car goes, the first thing you should do is to check with your own insurance carrier, the one who insure you to drive your own car, and ask them if your coverage extends to rental cars. If you plan to pay for the rental with a credit card, check with them and see what coverage they will provide when you use their card. If you belong to a motor club like AAA, AA or RA, they may also provide coverage. Only after you know what you're already insured for should you think about what additional insurance to buy, but do make sure that you have a significant amount of liability coverage for the damage, injuries, or pain and suffering you may cause others.

    Between San Diego and Flagstaff, I-8 is the preferred route, but not all the way to Casa Grande. At Gila Bend take AZ-85 north to Buckeye and get on I-10 east and then use AZ-101 as a bypass around downtown Phoenix to I-17 north. That will save you some of that city's worst traffic.

    Your general plan looks OK subject to glc's reservations, and if you've already made reservations, that's just fine. One less worry while you're on the road and trying to enjoy yourselves. I've made the transition from right-hand to left-hand driving several times and have never really had a problem. You just have to be very aware for the first few days of looking both ways at every corner, but I usually find that being on the 'wrong' side of the car is a pretty good reminder that things are not going to be where I would ordinarily expect them to be.

    The drive through Death Valley is probably worth it. Get an early start (shifting your internal clock for your flight the next day) and take some short hikes around the Furnace Creek Visitors Center before continuing west out of the park on CA-190 to US-395 south to L.A.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-09-2009 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Typos

  4. Default

    Hi, thanks for the reply AZBuck and glc. I've booked all the reservations needed during the course of the trip. And to make it clear, we're staying in Flagstaff for the night we arrive from San Diego, then move to Grand Canyon early in the morning, and depart to Bryce early in the evening. We'll spend a night at Bryce as well. So the general plan is to drive during the evenings, sleep, and sightseeing during the day. I think a rest for a night after each of the long drives is favorable.

    I do not own or drive a 4-wheeler currently, however, I do have my home country license. Therefore, I am least informed on the insurance type to take. Also, I do not own a credit card either.
    Avis options these three insurance plans, although I'm not sure which is them is technically the correct insurance to take:
    *Loss damage waiver
    *Personal accident insurance
    *Additional liability insurance.

    Kindly suggest which insurance to take of these three.

    I'm looking to rent a Chevy Cobalt now, since glc said that 3 in an Aveo might be a touch and go. Although they labeled Aveo a 4-seater, and that we won't be traveling with any extra equipment, I'm not completely sure which car to choose between these two.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default aveo

    I really don't think there would be that much difference between an Aveo and a Cobalt. They are both pretty small cars, but they are still pretty big by the rest of the worlds standards. Having said that, going up to a midsized car usually only costs a couple dollars more per day and would probably be very worthwhile.

    Having said that, I'm not sure that Avis or any other rental company will allow you to rent any car without a credit card. At the very least, you'd be looking at a very very large cash deposit.

    check out this thread for information about the different insurance terms you'll typicall find.

  6. #6
    Tony J Case, Super Genius Guest


    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Your friend from Russia will still be on Moscow time - to her, midnight will be noon. And I think you'll all be excited enough to be meeting up with each other and looking forward to your adventure, that you should be able to pass the night in conversation. I've spent nights in Heathrow and JFK in this manner, but not LAX.
    Here's a thought on how to beat the Jet-Lag, how I've dealt with it in the past: try and get on the new sleep pattern before you go. Here's what I mean. . .

    Lets say that we're going from Seattle to London, a nice even 8 hour difference. I get home from work at 5:30 at night, seattle time (1:30 in the morning, London time). About a week before I depart, I go STRAIGHT to bed as soon as I walk in the door. No television, no food - nothing, just straight to the sheets and I get up sometime around 1 or 2 am (10 AM london time).

    The first couple of nights are real rough, with lots of tossing and turning and generally not getting much sleep at all. But I keep this up and usually by the time I'm on the plane and heading for Europe, I'm more-or-less in sync with the destination time. It's not a perfect system - I'm still a bit punchy my first day on the ground, but I'm functional and reasonably alert and dont waste the day. Just 24 hours at the destination later, and I'm wide eyed and bushy tailed like a native!

    Now I'm not sure how far Moscow is ahead of Pacific Time, so this may not work out, but it's worth saving a day at the destination to crunch the numbers anyway.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Moscow Summer Time is GMT +4. Pacific Daylight Time is GMT -7. That's an 11 hour difference, pretty difficult to compensate for in that manner.

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