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  1. #1

    Default Hello and East to West and Route 66

    Afternoon Everyone

    Messaging from the UK. Early doors but planning has started anyway - we are two couples looking to do a East-West US road trip - all for retirement (early retirement - we are all early 50s and reasonably fit and healthy) and celebrate the kids fleeing the nest. Looking to do this over about 6 to 8 weeks (can be flexible on this). Intent to fly to JFK and return from LAX.

    The original dream was to get a RV but I think I will get hacked off with the sheer enormous size - so we are pretty certain we want to hire a super large SUV (no idea what - Escalade?? Navigator??) and hotel it for the most part, but might take in a motorhome for a week if we can find an all inclusive deal somewhere.

    While we are looking to start in NYC, we want to do Niagra, then hit Chicago and start the Route 66. We want to do all the main sights, but also a detour hit Independence Pass in Colorado, a couple days in Las Vegas, and I want to do a lap of Lake Tahoe (initial thoughts are here for the motorhome week??), Yosemite and such like. I am an engineer, so major/wild bridges are a particular thing of mine! Oddly, my mrs wants to see bears.

    So a big, significant trip probably in spring/late spring 2024 or 2025. Seems natural to do East-West - interested if anyone feels West-East is better.

    Anyway - hi. Hope to glean great info and tips!

    Cheers

    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,819

    Default Out and back could be best?

    Hi Matt, welcome to the RTA forums !

    Giving yourself plenty of time to plan your dream trip is a good start and I always find it an exciting part of the trip as whole. I first came to the RTA site in 2007 for our 'Once in a lifetime trip' and have enjoyed many more since, all with the help of the resources here at RTA ! Whether it be searching the forums or one of the many planning links you will find at the top and bottom of each page, the information is endless. We can answer more specific questions you have as you move forward with your planning but keep researching and making notes and putting dots on the map, it's perfectly normal for it to keep changing shape as you go.

    We like to travel in an RV as we really enjoy the National parks and wilderness areas and the roads over there are much better designed to deal with them than here in the UK, but obviously not so 'city friendly'. The RV's are not cheap to hire by the time you add mileage costs, camp fees, bedding and kitchen equipment hire, higher fuel costs etc to the rental fee. It will probably work out as much as a high end car rental and hotels so it really comes down to personal preference. Either way you are likley to pay higher rental costs for the the one way hire if you stick to a one way trip across the States, which brings me to my next thought.

    When you start planning and see that you like many attractions to the North, middle and south of the country you may well decide that a round trip is more beneficial than zig zagging across the country. It might not add too many miles, you naturally see more and you save money on your rental ! You certainly have time to do this comfortably.

    If you did hire an RV part way through your trip it might be cheaper to just keep the car for that week rather than adding another one way drop fee.

    If you are planning on visiting a few National parks, purchase the annual pass, it will be cheaper than individual fees. Book NP lodgings well in advance. Late Spring would be better if travelling over Independence pass, visiting Yellowstone and Yosemite where there is a lot of snow still around at high elevation and passes may still be closed. (My favourite time is actually Autumn, or Fall as I now know it !

    One other thing for now, Route 66. As romantic/historic as it sounds I wouldn't concentrate on a route number, a lot of it is now Interstate and business park areas of town, instead concentrate on where you want to go. You can certainly pick up historic sections of it as you travel but don't make it your focus, there is just so much to see and so many natural wonders to enjoy.

    Keep planning and asking questions here and we will help you to build YOUR perfect trip. Enjoy the planning !

  3. #3

    Default

    Cheers Dave

    Thanks for a welcoming, quick and detailed response.

    We discounted the RV mainly because of it likely to be cumbersome if we happened to go more off the beaten track so to speak, but also, hotel rooms give us and our friends some separation... living together for two months might become tricky and we don't want that.

    So we are set on big wallowing SUV - and as its the States - a V8 one!

    Will have a couple hours pouring over the map to look at Round Trip, might be a good idea. We have just assumed into one way!

    The annual pass is a great tip - thank you. Are the resources for contacting national parks and lodgings here on this site? Useful links always appreciated.

    Your last comment about not necessarily sticking to R66 - had sort of come to that conclusion from other reading we have done - more to this trip than just (I say just!!) R66.

    I mentioned bridges in my OP. I have before walked over Brooklyn Bridge, now want to drive it. Also want to drive over Golden Gate Bridge (so another detour). From SF then want to see Malibu - and the coast down to LA.

    Planning is key!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,777

    Default

    Hi, welcome to RTA!

    As far as contacting national parks and such, I know there are links to the NPS campgrounds on the Camping forum. This link takes you to the forum regarding camping in the national parks. Once on that, the first post lists all the national parks with campgrounds, so you'd just click on the NP you want. Once you're on the NPS site for the campgrounds in that park, you can get to the home page, find lodgings, etc. (If there's an easier way, one of the mods will let you know.)

    Should you go from SF to Malibu, you can use CA-1, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). There are some beautiful sights and, going south, all the pull-outs will be on "your" side of the road.

    Congratulations (early) on your retirement. I just retired (from teaching) a year ago; love to be able to travel when I want to rather than focusing on school year vacations. That's a definite perk to retirement!


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,189

    Default

    As it stands now, if you were to rent from Enterprise you would probably want a "Premium SUV" which would be a Chevy/GM Suburban or similar. 2 or 3 years from now the market may be different.

    Escalades and Navigators aren't much different than the other GM or Ford vehicles they are based on, they just have more luxury and convenience items and may cost more to rent.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,205

    Default D'Accord

    I am in full agreement with Dave, Donna and glc on a couple of matters.

    First, if you've never driven an RV before, a 6-8 week RoadTrip meant for enjoyment is not the place to start. Just consider one logistical item no one has mentioned yet. There are usually no 'rooms' in an RV, so you and your spouse will have no real privacy from the other couple. Even if there is a curtain or some other partition, it will not be soundproof. You will literally be committing the four of you to being together 27/7 for 6-8 weeks. I couldn't do that with my brother let alone a friend I'd never spent significant time with before.

    Then another logistical item: Vehicles of any sort are significantly more expensive to rent one-way. Picking up a car in New York and dropping it off in Los Angeles will be expensive. I did a quick check and a two-week, mid-size SUV rental from JFK to LAX would run between $3k and $5k, while a four week rental returning to JFK would cost $2k to $3k. Now consider if you did three one-way rentals, say an SUV from New York to Denver, an RV from Denver to Las Vegas for all the National Parks in that area, and a third one-way from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and you could easily be looking at around $7k just for vehicle rental, and BTW RVs are not known for their fuel efficiency.

    Second, with the time available to you, you can do and see a lot more than what you can accomplish on a one-way drive across the country. One of my all-time favorite RoadTrips was one I refer to as my 'lap around America', where in three weeks I did a complete circuit of the United States driving the length of both coasts and both borders. You've got twice as much time, and by returning you hire car to wherever you picked it up you'd have a few thousand extra pounds to spend.

    Besides allowing you the chance to see more of our country, such a round trip would let you adjust for the season. For example, if you were to come over in early spring, then you could take a more southerly route west-bound to enjoy the Deep South and southwestern deserts while they're still bearable, and then return to New York by a more northerly route once the last of the spring snow had melted. Or you could do just the reverse if you came in late summer/autumn.

    Just a few more odd notes. US-66, the highway better known as "Route 66", no longer exists! It was decommissioned in 1985 after it had been replaced by parallel Interstate Highways, I-44 and I-40. The actual old roadbed is still there, usually re-branded as local state route 66. But since traffic no longer uses it, most of the roadside attractions that made it such a mythical road have long since closed their doors, and the roadbed itself is not in very good shape in a lot of places.

    As far as the type of car you'd need for an extended journey with four people, I'd think you'd be quite happy with even a smaller SUV. My wife drives a Subaru Outback and it is quite comfortable for four and still has loads of luggage space in the back for even camping gear plus luggage. While Americans love their large vehicles, especially trucks and SUVs, as near as I can tell the only thing they're using all that room for is their ego. My two all-time favorite RoadTtrips were taken in a 1972 AMC Gremlin and a 1979 Subaru Outback, both considered 'sub-compacts'.

    One place where I would suggest you spend a bit more is to register all four of you as drivers. That will not only spread the workload around a bit, but also give each of you the chance to experience the trip from behind the wheel.

    As Dave noted, we have a ton of detailed experience we can share with you once you've got a basic outline of your RoadTrip set up, but it's important to get that outline optimized otherwise we're talking about lipstick on a pig.

    AZBuck

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Hi, welcome to RTA!

    As far as contacting national parks and such, I know there are links to the NPS campgrounds on the Camping forum. This link takes you to the forum regarding camping in the national parks. Once on that, the first post lists all the national parks with campgrounds, so you'd just click on the NP you want. Once you're on the NPS site for the campgrounds in that park, you can get to the home page, find lodgings, etc. (If there's an easier way, one of the mods will let you know.)

    Should you go from SF to Malibu, you can use CA-1, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). There are some beautiful sights and, going south, all the pull-outs will be on "your" side of the road.

    Congratulations (early) on your retirement. I just retired (from teaching) a year ago; love to be able to travel when I want to rather than focusing on school year vacations. That's a definite perk to retirement!


    Donna
    Hi Donna

    Thanks for the info - so much appreciated. And thanks for the PCH - I knew that but at the time I wrote the message above it slipped my mind! that's being in your 50s for you!

    Its a great feeling planning retirement so early - after a 35 year military career (Royal Navy) I feel have earned it! Youngest will be at university, so its definitely our time!

    M

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    As it stands now, if you were to rent from Enterprise you would probably want a "Premium SUV" which would be a Chevy/GM Suburban or similar. 2 or 3 years from now the market may be different.

    Escalades and Navigators aren't much different than the other GM or Ford vehicles they are based on, they just have more luxury and convenience items and may cost more to rent.
    Thanks glc - I understand we will be booking the motor much nearer the time but we want something like I said before, luxury, comfy, probably set up as a very spacious 4-seater. Fuel I know is expensive ATM - not going to let it bother me though.

    M

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    lipstick on a pig.

    AZBuck
    Brilliant. Going to use that at work tomorrow!

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. Quite agree about the RV and we have all agreed we only want one for a week max. Not looked yet but am assuming we would be able to rent one with all the kit included.

    I am quite liking the "round trip" idea - not necessarily because of cost but playing the seasons to my advantage. That is a great suggestion so thank you - one to ponder with a bit more detail. Might allow us to take in Houston - going to have to look and weigh up travel times etc.

    We will talk more no doubt about the motor - agreed already all four of us will drive - worth being prepared at the very least.

    Will work on optimising - thanks again for the response.

    M

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,819

    Default

    We discounted the RV mainly because of it likely to be cumbersome if we happened to go more off the beaten track so to speak, but also, hotel rooms give us and our friends some separation... living together for two months might become tricky and we don't want that.
    Yep, get that. Its nice to have a bit of time as a couple.

    Are the resources for contacting national parks and lodgings here on this site?
    I know Donna has given you a good link but here is the official National park site. Click on a State you get the list of parks, click on a park and it will have all the info you need.

    Your last comment about not necessarily sticking to R66 - had sort of come to that conclusion from other reading we have done - more to this trip than just (I say just!!) R66.
    There are so many great driving routes in the USA, honestly they will blow your mind !! Just in Colorado (as you mention Independence pass) there is the Trail ridge road through RMNP, Loveland pass, San Juan skyway including the Million dollar highway, the Colorado National Monument rim drive to name a few. Don't get me started on Utah, Arizona and California ! lol

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