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  1. Default Road trip or fly?

    Hi, the wife and I are travelling to New Orleans from the UK for a 3 week road trip for our 40ths! We are arriving in August with 3 days booked in New Orleans. The rough plan was to hire a car and see parts of Texas and then head over to California, looking to end the trip in San Francisco.
    Boy did I underestimate the driving! So we're thinking about flying from Texas (not sure where yet) to San Diego and travelling up to SF via LA.
    But we really want to see rural America, not just big cities, so we were kind of looking forward to the drive (in a weird way).
    I'm just looking for some advice of any description, where to visit, what to eat, where to avoid and if the drive or flight would be best!
    Thank you all in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,452

    Default It's a big place !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    As a road trip site we always prefer the drive but you have 2 options really. One is to do as planned and drive from NOLA to the West coast, or you could fly out west and rent a car and do a circular road trip after visiting NOLA. To drive direct from NOLA to SF would be close to a full 5 days of driving leaving you time to do some sight seeing but keep in mind if your 3 weeks include flights, 3 days in NOLA and a couple in SF (or wherever) at the end of your trip then that's a week already accounted for. You have many many route and attraction options so you would have to do some research and narrow them down a bit. The main downside is that you will pay a premium for your one way car rental. If you flew out West you could use the cheapest city to fly into and out of going home, possibly from LA, SF or LV. Then you could do a loop trip around the 3 City's where you could include the likes of Grand canyon, Bryce canyon, Zion, Death valley and Yosemite National parks and the Pacific coast Highway as 'highlights' among others. There are no right or wrong answers, it's a case of doing a little research and weighing up the Pros and Cons and seeing what has the most appeal for you personally. Once you have got that far we can help with finer details and answer any further questions. Enjoy the planning !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,879

    Default It's Big...But the Best Parts are in the Middle (of Nowhere)

    Dave has given you a bit of a reality check and some options. I'm going to do the same, but with different options. Yes, the United States is a big place, roughly equivalent in size to all of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, so it can be intimidating. But Americans love their cars and our roads are set up to allow relatively rapid and unhindered driving from point to point. Contrary-wise, inter-city public transportation ranges from sketchy to non-existent

    Now, you say that you "really want to see rural America, not just big cities," so you'll pretty much have to drive to those places. As Dave indicated, we here at RoadTrip America are a bit prejudiced towards driving so you can take that bias into account, but... You could drive from New Orleans to Los Angeles in four days of steady driving, or you could take a week or so at a more leisurely pace stopping at many natural wonders (including a few major national parks) and smaller towns and venues along the way. Add in three days in New Orleans, two or three in Los Angeles (where a car is a must), two or three days in San Francisco, and the drive time from LA to SF - and you're starting to look at a trip that's roughly a 50/50 urban/rural mix with a few days still left to schedule. That's the rough outline that appeals to me for seeing the most with the fewest changes of transportation media.

    Another option, that might prove cheaper when you weigh the cost of internal flight tickets against two one-way drop-off fees on the car rentals. Is to do a week to ten days out of New Orleans in one car-based loop through Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston and back to New Orleans. You'd need to do a full two days worth of driving for this, spread out through those 7-10 days. Then fly from New Orleans to Los Angeles or San Francisco (depending on both the cost of the internal flight as well as the cost of the return to the UK) and do another week-plus Roadtrip from one city to the other and back, using a more-or-less coastal route one way and an inland route the other.

    That, I think, is your first major decision. What do you want your basic trip to look like? How much of your time do you want to spend in cities and how much in the countryside? Once you make that basic decision we can help you fill in details of specific sites to visit to meet your specific interests. Remember that the American Southwest, what's between Texas and California, is like nothing you've got back home, whereas Los Angeles is much like New Orleans is much like London is much like Liverpool...., to my way of thinking anyway.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Thank you both!
    At least you've both said that the rough plan is possible, which makes me happy!!!
    I'll sit and work out the finer details and probably come back and ask for more advice if that's ok?!?

    Thanks again, it's much appreciated!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    Default Please do!

    I'll sit and work out the finer details and probably come back and ask for more advice if that's ok?!?
    Of course, that's what we are here for and it helps us keep sane while we are between trips ourselves !! As Buck touched upon, City's are much the same to me as well. If you are looking for outstanding natural beauty, great driving roads then I would recommend your route takes you through parts of Colorado, Southern Utah and Arizona before crossing the Sierra Nevada to Yosemite NP in CA on route to San Fran. (Being from the UK myself I just love the red rock country of Utah)

  6. Default

    Fly!

    The U.S. is a huge nation and everything you’ll want to see is far apart. The WEST is blessed with gorgeous scenery and you’ll see plenty of it just driving between attractions. You really won’t miss much of anything by flying out of New Orleans.

    By the way, August will be hot in the desert areas of Utah, Nevada, etc. I mean HOT, like over 100 degrees so dress accordingly and drink plenty of water. A lot of people visit the desert areas off season to avoid the heat, but speaking from experience, the intense heat greatly adds to truly appreciating the West. Bryce, Zion, Arches, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef and Las Vegas will be hot. Death Valley will be ridiculously hot. Cotton clothing will be more comfortable.

  7. Default

    Hi! Thank you for the replies, it gave me a kick to get a plan together, so here it is!!!!

    Land in New Orleans on the 8th, got 3 nights there.
    11th - Head to Houston with a stop over in the Oak valley plantation. Spend a night in Houston (not sure where, ideas welcome as we arent bothered about staying in the city)
    12th & 13th - Go to Lake Travis for the day, with two nights in Austin.
    14th - Head up to Wild Catter Ranch, West of Dallas (we have booked the night there)

    From here, thats about all we have booked so the rest is a rough idea more based on the travel distance, so any input on things to do on the way/where to stay would be appreciated!!

    15th - Ranch to Amarillo
    16th - Amarillo to Colorado Springs
    17th - Colorado to a place called Bluff (8 hours!)
    18th - Bluff, Horse shoe Bend then onto Grand Canyon
    19th - Grand canyon to Las vegas
    20th - Las vegas to LA
    21st - day in LA
    22nd - LA the San Fran
    23rd - Day in SF

    Thats it, the flight is booked from San Fran on the PM of the 27th. So we have a few days spare to use wherever.

    Things im not sure about are Amarillo, Bluff, Vegas but would love to see Horse shoe Bend!

    What do you all think?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,620

    Default

    I think that's a lot of driving with very little time to see anything expect what you're driving past at 70mph. While you could physically do all of this, I see driving day after driving day.

    For example, Colorado springs is a huge detour, and since you'll spend most of the day driving there, and all of the next day driving to Utah, what's the point of going there?

    The next leg has you trying to get from bluff to the Grand canyon, which is half a day of driving by itself, but then you also want to see horseshoe bend and the Grand canyon (and presumably monument valley, as that's generally the reason people go to bluff) all with the remaining half day.

    The same could be said about your other days, but the point would remain the same. I'd rework this plan to cut down the miles so you have time to explore the places you'll be seeing.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I think that's a lot of driving with very little time to see anything expect what you're driving past at 70mph. While you could physically do all of this, I see driving day after driving day.

    For example, Colorado springs is a huge detour, and since you'll spend most of the day driving there, and all of the next day driving to Utah, what's the point of going there?

    The next leg has you trying to get from bluff to the Grand canyon, which is half a day of driving by itself, but then you also want to see horseshoe bend and the Grand canyon (and presumably monument valley, as that's generally the reason people go to bluff) all with the remaining half day.

    The same could be said about your other days, but the point would remain the same. I'd rework this plan to cut down the miles so you have time to explore the places you'll be seeing.

    Thanks Michael! I totally agree, i'm used to driving about 7hrs a day in the UK with my job. I've ripped Colorado out of the plan and it fits a lot better.


    This now give us three full days to do with as we wish, detours or lazy days!

    Whats the drive like from LA to SF? it's about 7 hrs, so thinking about having a stop over somewhere in between, is there anything that worth seeing on route?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,452

    Default Spare days ?

    I would concur with Michael, you are rushing from place to place to try and see a lot leaving little time to actually see anything. Although can you clear something up for me. You say a day in SF on the 23rd but you don't fly out until the 27th, so do you have a day in SF or 4.5 days in SF ?? If you want to get from LA to SF same day you won't see anything of the coast highway it will have to be Interstate all the way, but if you have those days spare you could use 2 or 3 nights travelling up the coast but having said that you really need another day to visit Horseshoe bend and the Grand canyon. Only you can decide what works best for you, but I would consider going from Vegas to SF via Death valley and Yosemite NP and forget the urban jungle of LA, especially as it's only for a day of which you will spend a large part of that day sitting in traffic.

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