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  1. Default Our first road trip

    Hi guys,
    We are planning our first trip to the west coast and I'd like to share the draft 1 of the itinerary.
    We are flying from UK to NYC direct and we will stay three days in NYC before heading to Las Vegas.
    22/07/2016. Fly to NYC
    23/07/2016. NYC
    24/07/2016. NYC
    25/07/2016. Fly to Las Vegas

    On arrival to Las Vegas
    25/07/2016. Day 1. Sightseeing
    26/07/2016. Day 2. Grand Canyon
    27/07/2016. Day 3. Leave Vegas, towards Death Valley. Quick stop there and continue (I had originally thought from Death Valley direct to Sequoia but my husband quickly killed that idea) so we will drive half way to Bakersfield.
    28/07/2016. Day 4. Leave Bakersfield toward Sequoia
    29/07/2016. Day 5. Sequoia
    30/07/2016. Day 6. Leave Sequoia towards Yosemite
    31/07/2016. Day 7. Yosemite
    01/08/2016. DAY 8. Leave Yosemite towards Sacramento
    02/08/2016. Day 9. Leave Sacramento towards San Francisco.
    03/08/2016. Day 10. San Francisco
    04/08/2016. Day 11. San Francisco
    05/08/2016. Day 12. San Francisco
    06/08/2016. Day 13. Leave San Francisco towards Monterrey/Carmel
    07/08/2016. Day 14. Leave Carmel towards Santa Barbara
    08/08/2016. Day 15. Leave Santa Barbara towards San Diego
    09/08/2016. Day 16. San Diego
    10/08/2016. Day 17. San Diego
    11/08/2016. Day 18. Leave San Diego towards Los Angeles
    12/08/2016. Day 19. Leave LAX towards NYC / connect to UK

    Is this "doable" travelling in summer with two teenagers (13 & 18)? Is it too much? Enough? I haven't yet decided what we are doing in all these places but I have some ideas (although welcome experienced travellers)

    Also. Two options we were presented with... Book all accommodation prior to travelling (safe) OR book accommodation as we go along (some people say this is great to get the best prices for hotels but I'm worried that I won't get rooms being high season, also because I'm a compulsive organiser and travelling blind scares me!).

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Great with a few tweaks.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    That is a great trip you have planned there. Most of it is doable as you have outlined.

    The first thing which jumps out at me is Day 2 after arriving in LV. The Grand Canyon is not a day trip from LV. It requires an overnight stay, two is preferable, as it will give you time to do a little exploring and see all of the view points, etc.

    Be aware that day trips from LV to the GC rarely if ever go to the National Park. They go to the west rim, which is on Indian land, and no where near as spectacular as the NP. Nor is it is as deep. There is nothing like standing on the rim in the NP and look at the canyon below. It is also highly recommended that you plan to see either a sunset or sunrise over the canyon.... or both. Unforgettable experiences.

    Some of us like to wing it, others like to book everything. Whatever you are comfortable with is the best option for you. However I do need to point out that if you wish to stay within any NP (highly recommended) you need to book that many, many months in advance. Accommodation within the parks is limited and much sought after. This especially applies to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Further thoughts.

    Reading over your post again, I noticed a few more things.

    Your husband is correct, there is no direct route from Death Valley to Sequoia. I would recommend that you not head down to Bakersfield, but enter Yosemite via the spectacular Tioga Pass. It is so much of the Yosemite experience.

    You would be best of leaving LV towards Death Valley. Another great NP, however be sure you have hats, sunscreen, and plenty of water. It will be very hot, but you will still be able to enjoy the major attractions. There are many attractions in Death Valley, and your car will have good airconditioning. You may only want to spend minutes out of the car at places like Badwater (the lowest point), Dante's lookout, Devil's Golf Course, the Sand Dunes and many more. (I left the engine running and the a/c on while I was out of the car.) You will probably also want to drive artists drive. Then plan to spend the night in either Bishop or another place close to the Yosemite entrance.

    The next day will see you driving another great highlight of your trip, Tioga Pass. Take your time and be sure to stop at all the pull offs and view points.

    Are you planning this trip with good detailed maps? If these are not available locally, I recommend you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store, via the link below. If you order it now you will have it in a couple of weeks. Good maps are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. They show so much more than can be seen within the confines of a little screen. Don't be tempted to rely solely on electronics.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would rearrange the trip in the following order:

    Las Vegas -> Death Valley -> Yosemite via Tioga Pass -> Sequoia -> San Francisco -> LA -> San Diego -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas

    Doing a "loop" trip will save you on both airfares and car rental. A round trip NYC-Las Vegas-NYC will be less expensive than 2 one way trips NYC-Las Vegas and LAX-NYC. Renting a car in Las Vegas and returning it at LAX will carry a "one way" surcharge.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Thoughts.

    I would certainly agree that the loop described above will work well. With your time scale and given the fact that you are travelling in August, I would book lodgings well in advance. If you are visiting Alcatraz Island [recommended] while in SF, I would also book your ferry tickets in advance. The only Official booking office where you have no need to pay agents fee's or book other tours you might not want [they have to make their money somehow] is through the National parks page found here.

    I would also like to highlight what has been said, if you want to see the Grand canyon you need an overnight stay either in, or close to the National park. It's worth it !

  6. Default

    Thanks so much for the very good points raised. I will review the arrangements to see if I can make savings in flights etc. I already noticed returning the car to a different airport was adding to the cost considerably.

    Thanks also for the suggestions about maps and bookings. I'll get onto it and will definitely come back with the revised plan... for your comments. ��

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    What you could do is compare airfares and car rental costs to/from any city along that loop - LV, SF, LA, or SD. It doesn't really matter where you are starting/ending a loop trip, you will still be seeing what you want.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    What you could do is compare airfares and car rental costs to/from any city along that loop - LV, SF, LA, or SD. It doesn't really matter where you are starting/ending a loop trip, you will still be seeing what you want.

    That's a great idea. I already saw savings from doing NYC/LV/LV/NYC, both on flights and car rental. I'll check other airports too, thanks!

    One question, one of the suggestions was to go from San Diego to Grand Canyon, that's a straight 8 hour drive... Is there any other way?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You certainly don't have to make the drive in one shot if you don't like. There are plenty of things that could break up the trip - like Joshua Tree NP, a Colorado River town like Lake Havasu City, parts of Route 66, or even Phoenix.

    The larger point of the SD-GC suggestion is that going to Vegas first adds quite a few miles, so you're better off on a route that goes directly between the two places.

  10. Default

    I think we like the idea of lake Havasu City. Kinda relax by the pool after almost two full weeks non stop.

    I'm looking st my current plan (before I ask again for advice) and wanted to check. From Sequoia I added a drive to Sacramento and stay the night. Is this worth doing or am I better off adding an extra night in San Diego (only one night on the current schedule)

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