Here is my long overdue field report on my first ever (and EPIC road trip) from Sept to Oct 2015 (oh wow it's been so long... no wonder I'm getting withdrawal already).
Here was my itinerary:
Day 1 - land in San Francisco from Austria (where I was on a work related trip)
Day 2 - exploring San Francisco
Day 3 - pick up rental and leave San Francisco to pick up a friend at San Jose airport and head out on Highway 1. Stop at San Simeon for the night
Day 4 - continue on Highway 1 to Riverside LA
Day 5 and 6 - hang out with above friend and her family
Day 7 - hit the road again, random stopover (as recommended by friend) at Joshua Tree National Park, then aim for Route 66: Oatman, ending at Kingman
Day 8 - back on Route 66 to the Grand Canyon
Day 9/10 - 2 days in the Grand Canyon
Day 11 - back on the road to Phoenix and to the airport to fly to North Carolina (to visit another friend)
The rest of the days didn't involve driving (except when I was BEING driven) so I will leave them out - but let's just say this was the most epic vacation of my life so far. :)
Background (everything here is just background, so if you just wanna skip ahead to the real trip, go ahead to the next post)
The background behind this trip is that I have lived in Singapore all my life which is a tiny tiny country that you can drive across in half an hour. It's almost all city with a huge amount of traffic, especially during rush hour.
We also drive on the left side of the road. So before the trip, I had never driven for very long distances, never had any major car problems or tire issues (more on that later), and always drove on the left side of the road.
Almost of my close friends in high school eventually moved to America and I hadn't seen them for AGES, although we correspond a fair amount. Furthermore, because I was completing residency (to become an Orthopaedic surgeon), I hadn't gone for a long holiday (more than a week) for the last 10 years - and America is a little far from Singapore to just go for a couple of days before flying back.
So last year I FINALLY completed my training! Woohoo! And suddenly my time was my own. A road trip has always been on my bucket list, so the first thing I did was to try find a travel buddy (my best friend in Singapore). Unfortunately he had work commitments so I spent some time waffling about doing this solo - before finally deciding to go for it. (Also, my Singaporean friends were telling me I was crazy.)
I'm fairly OCD by nature and training, so the first thing I did was to research extensively.
I researched the Pacific Coast Highway (which was easy enough). I mapped out Route 66 on Google Maps (which took a lot of online searching and figuring). And I tried to figure out how far I could and should drive in a day, and I planned my stops.
I found this forum - which was awesome, because I could confirm that my planned itinerary was feasible and not insane for a complete noob like I was (and am).
Things I bought online before the trip
- CabinMax carry on luggage - I packed everything in that and had no check in luggage so moving in and out of airports was a breeze
- A turn by turn Route 66 guide which I highlighted and dogeared the appropriate pages (I used EZ66)
- A current US road atlas for CA/AZ
- Reams and reams of handwritten notes and a trip journal
- A US SIM card
So then I was all raring and ready to go.