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  1. Default Planning road trip May ‘19

    Hi all! I have just come across this forum as we are thinking of doing a 14 night road trip in America next May. We are from the UK and the only time I have been to the states was a long time ago!

    So we originally thought Route 66, from Chicago to LA, however after speaking with some people that have done this, they advised against it due to a lot of long roads with not an awful amount to see on them. Also, from the itinerary we have done through a couple of different companies, it seems quite rushed only have one night in most places and a good 3-4 hour drive most days.

    So, we are now thinking of doing the East coast, from San Francisco down to LA, through Napa Valley, Vegas and Yosemite. This seems a much more ‘relaxed’ route in the sense we would spend a couple of nights in each place and there is more, seemingly, to see and do.

    We would rather go through a company as opposed to sorting it out ourselves, I would prefer for our first road trip like this to be all planned out and we know where we’re going beforehand by a (hopefully!) trusted company. The two so far that we have been in touch with are Wexas and Complete North America.

    I was hoping for peoples thoughts on this if possible please, as we are practically total newbies in the country! What are the roads like, and which of the above two routes would you recommend? Also any absolutes must-see areas along the route? If also love to get in an NBA game too, and my partner is hell bent on going to a shooting range!!

    Thanks in advance,
    Sophie.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,010

    Default Make it yours.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Whereas you can still follow parts of route 66 and find old towns, most of it has been replaced by Interstate and where I get the 'Romance' of it, I would much prefer to go places I want to see rather than follow a route number, as Historic as it is. I would choose the west anytime but it's for you to decide what works for you.

    Now to clear things up, San Fran LA are on the west coast not the east. ;-)

    Although this is your first trip I would strongly advise you create your own trip rather than using a company. We have seen it so often when people come on here with a bad itinerary only to discover it was put together by someone in an office who has never stepped foot in the west of America. Now if you want to go it alone we can certainly help to put your trip together using your ideas. The first thing you need to do is look at a good map and do a little research so you discover things like Napa Valley is North of SF and LA is a long way south. The trip you describe is very popular and you should find lots of info using the search function. A very popular 2 week route would look something like this. You can start from any city but I have chosen LA as it's likely going to offer the cheapest air fares. LA> Grand canyon south rim (worth including) >Las Vegas> Through Death valley towards Yosemite>Yosemite>San Francisco>Coast to LA allowing at least 2 days.


    There are many variations and options in how you could go about it but that will come as you research and continue with questions. Part of a really good road trip is you planning it to your liking and not someone else's idea of the perfect trip. I would suggest you travel late in May to give you the best change of the Tioga Pass into Yosemite being open allowing you to enter from the east and enjoy a great drive ! You will find the roads a complete pleasure to drive compared to the Pot holes and congestion of the UK's.

  3. Default

    Hi! Thank you for such a quick response. Oh sorry, I meant West Coast!!

    Yes I think that route sounds good, I understand what you mean about doing it ourselves, I am just really weary of booking things with little to no understanding of how easily it is to get to places, so that's why were thinking of going with a company. Basically, what they have proposed would be ;

    Fly in to San Francisco, 3 nights there, onto Monteray for a night, onto Yosemite, 2 nights there and then onto Death Valley for a night, then to Vegas for two nights, Grand Canyon for a night, Lake Havasu City for a night, then finally to LA for two nights and then home. There are two other options of ending the trip, either San Diego or Arizona. Really not too sure which option we would choose at this point.

    I don't think this would include any time for visiting Napa Valley however? I don't want to cram loads of stuff in, I would rather do a shorter trip and have more time to see things, and for it to be relaxed rather than stressful.

    Late May would be perfect, plenty of time to save up for it! Haha yes UK roads are shocking, so that is really good to know!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,010

    Default

    Yep I get it but nobody is going to give your trip the same care and attention to detail as you are, but it's what makes you comfortable. I'm pretty sure that flying into SF will be more expensive than into LA but if you are not doing a complete loop trip the price will balance anyway. I would also think that the option to fly out of SD or Phoenix would be more expensive and you could face one way drop off charges on your car rental. One advantage Phoenix would have is that you could spend a second night closer to the Grand canyon as 1 night won't give you much time there once you take the drive from Vegas and back to Lake Havasu into the equation.

  5. Default

    Has anyone had any experiences on here with using companies? The one I’ve been speaking with a lot (Complete North America) seem very good, and willing to alter/add the bits in that you want to see and go to, I mean we were quoted something like ฃ3,800 for this including flights, car rental (no one way charges) and hotels. I’m not sure if we could it cheaper? The hotels they have offered all seem reasonable too thanks to Tripadvisor reviews!

    I get that by doing it yourself it’s more personal and you can completely do what you want and go where you want but I feel a bit nervous of doing that!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Yep I get it but nobody is going to give your trip the same care and attention to detail as you are, but it's what makes you comfortable. I'm pretty sure that flying into SF will be more expensive than into LA but if you are not doing a complete loop trip the price will balance anyway. I would also think that the option to fly out of SD or Phoenix would be more expensive and you could face one way drop off charges on your car rental. One advantage Phoenix would have is that you could spend a second night closer to the Grand canyon as 1 night won't give you much time there once you take the drive from Vegas and back to Lake Havasu into the equation.
    I like that option of Phoenix though, I would love to go to LA but it might be a bit too much hustle and bustle, I’m not sure yet.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,339

    Default

    The route you've laid out looks solid, although I would make sure to continue down the coast through Big Sur - if you go down as far as Cambria/Morro Bay, there is also a pretty sizable wine country in that part of California too.

    I agree with Dave, I think you'll ultimately get more out of the trip and have more enjoyment if you do things yourself - where the trip is built around exactly what you want. If you do go with a travel company, really make sure they're building the trip around what you want, and not just around what will give them the biggest commission. Be sure to ask lots of questions, and don't be afraid to offer alternatives to their ideas - if they are resistant to the ideas you're giving them, I'd use an extra level of caution.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    The route you've laid out looks solid, although I would make sure to continue down the coast through Big Sur - if you go down as far as Cambria/Morro Bay, there is also a pretty sizable wine country in that part of California too.

    I agree with Dave, I think you'll ultimately get more out of the trip and have more enjoyment if you do things yourself - where the trip is built around exactly what you want. If you do go with a travel company, really make sure they're building the trip around what you want, and not just around what will give them the biggest commission. Be sure to ask lots of questions, and don't be afraid to offer alternatives to their ideas - if they are resistant to the ideas you're giving them, I'd use an extra level of caution.
    It’s so hard to try and fit everything in with only two weeks, I will look into Big Sur though - should be doable as one of the destinations is Monteray.

    I know what you mean about the company we choose to use, i will do more research into them for reviews etc. They already have got back to me to say they can alter it to include Napa, and I’m wondering if we can also change some of the hotels if we wish. I’m sure they be very accommodating but I guess they all are at first! I will definitely approach with caution if I get any red flags. We will do as much research as possible before booking and I think I will also look into doing it myself, just to get an idea of how it may work out differently.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,010

    Default

    Once you are sure about what you want to do and where you want to go and you have an itinerary set up (with or without a company) you can always post it up in this thread and we can cast an eye over it and offer our opinions if you wish before committing to anything. You can also test them a little by asking questions that they may or may not of thought about. For example from Yosemite to Death valley, would their suggestion still work if Tioga Pass was not open for the season at the time you travel.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,051

    Default Company vs. experts.

    Quote Originally Posted by SurfCFC View Post
    Has anyone had any experiences on here with using companies? The one I’ve been speaking with a lot (Complete North America) seem very good, and willing to alter/add the bits in that you want to see and go to, I mean we were quoted something like ฃ3,800 for this including flights, car rental (no one way charges) and hotels. I’m not sure if we could it cheaper? The hotels they have offered all seem reasonable too thanks to Tripadvisor reviews!
    Ask each person with whom you speak when they last roadtripped in the US, and for how long, If it is not in the last 24 months, for at least a month or so, I doubt they would have anything like the experience on this site.

    It's not the 'company' you should look for, its the experts who have been there, done the route, and in lots of cases moire than once. It may not formally be called a company, but on this site you will get the experts. Experts who are speaking from their own experience.

    The reviews may not be on other sites, but if you look through the Roadtrip Field Report Forum you will see the comments from those who were in your position once, and the feedback they have given. Not only that, many roadtrippers, especially those who come from far away, come back again and again to get help with subsequent trips, after their success of the first trip.

    Right now you are hesitant, but I can assure you, as time goes on, you will be glad you did it all yourself. Point is, even the vaguest question will be answered here for you. Just keep asking.

    Edit:
    One thing you need to think about carefully. That is the last Monday in May is a very big public holiday in US, and very busy. Booking for wherever you will be at that time, would need to be made early. Another great question to ask companies with which you speak. Ask how early they would book for the last weekend in May, and see if they even know about Memorial Day.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-21-2018 at 04:57 PM. Reason: added another thought

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,816

    Default

    San Diegan chiming in here about flying out of here overseas. Most of my friends who have traveled overseas, have left from LAX. The flights out of San Diego will either be a hopper up to LAX or SFO, then another flight, and the hopper is actually more expensive than just getting up to LAX using one of the shuttles (or asking a friend to haul you up there).


    Donna

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