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  1. #1

    Default What would be the FIRST ideal Road Trip?

    Hello Everybody,

    I'm Ricardo, from Portugal.

    As a foreigner who knows USA from the many movies he has seen, don't worry, as I don't fantasise America as they "put" it in the movies... but more the landscapes and locations and the scenario as a whole... Anyway, so what should be, in your opinion, my first real contact with America, I mean, what road trip should I pick first as an introductory voyage to the country I hope to visit so many times?

    Which states and route whould you recommend?
    Let's imagine I have like 10 or 15 days... and I can pick any time of the year to do so... and what would be the preparations (Insurance, renting, logistics, etc..)?

    PS: I put this in the summer road trip forum, but it can happen in winter...

    I look forward to be hearing from you! Thanks! :)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default Summer recommendation




    Either trip, you could fly in & out of LAS VEGAS since you have 10-15 days (really close for Arizona & southern Utah).

    Look up national parks for these areas at
    You will want to plan your route going to national parks. That's the easiest & best way to get a feel for the beauty & scenery of the area.

    These states (above) are all different, but beautiful & favourites of many travellers.

    Any specific details of your interests, age group travelling, rental car help? Let us know.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Syv definitely gave you some great locations to explore. The scenery in those states are amazing! I'm going to give a plug for Washington state.

    Washington has coastlines, the Olympic Peninsula which is the home to the only temperate rainforest in the US (some say in the world but I'm not sure of that), rugged islands, sophisticated cities, mountains, forests, wheat fields and other types of farms and orchards that remind one of the mid-west (the "bread-basket of the world" and all that), deserts, and coulees that remind one of the southwest. In other words, we've got it all, imho.

    Oregon and California have similar terrains/topography that will give you a taste of most every kind of landscape but, of course, I'm partial to Washington.

    I always direct those from other countries to this page which has tons of good tips for international travelers. It's a good starting point for you to start planning your trip.

    I hope you continue to visit us and give us a chance to give you more feedback once you've narrowed down what you're planning to do.

  4. #4


    Thank you Syv, thank you Judy for your answers (so far).
    I am now a proud member of this great "family"! It is my wish to make as much road trips across USA (and Canada) as possible, so it would be the quest of a lifetime, in some peculiar way.

    Yesterday, before reading your posts, I somehow got the impression that selecting one of the coasts would be a good FIRST road trip. It would provide me a good "know how" of things to do, to select, and also things not to do, it would serve me to learn how to manage time and money on the road...

    If on one of the sides you have an ocean, your bias tends to be smaller :) , so your choices of visiting/travelling/sightseeing should narrow, which could help in a INTRODUCTORY road trip. Still, this is just me thinking, it's an opinion of an ignorant :P
    I wish to visit all states, it's just a question of selecting an easy one to start off.

    Oh, and yes Judy, I am hoping to gather all the help, tips, advices you can give me...

    Thank you again. Keep posting ;)


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Either coast would also make an excellent road trip. I was answering you with a place I think you would enjoy but, at the same time, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that phrase? It's similar to being facetious. Washington would make a great trip, but the best? Gosh, that's hard to say because this country is so diverse. I'm sure if you polled 100 people, you'd get 100 different answers.

    If you want to drive either coast, go for it. I'm sure you won't regret it. The East Coast is more populated but still has gorgeous scenery and, if you're interested, more historical things to see. The West Coast is only heavily populated in parts of California but has some of the most incredible scenery you'll ever see anywhere (in my opinion, of course). I think you would enjoy either trip.

    If I were you, I'd poke around old posts on these forums and read about some of the roadtrips other people have taken. If you go to the top of the page and click "site directory" you will see a section called "Destinations and Attractions". Reading through this section will give you some great ideas to explore as well. Of course, there are suggestions here for books that can help as well. Hope this helps a bit.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default Coast or Inland

    Boy, this will be hard to narrow down!!!

    I still think as a "first trip" you do not need to do the coast. You "already have" a coast in Portugal :-)

    To find scenery DIFFERENT than Portugal (in case you, God forbid, do NOT get a second, third, fourth trip overseas)... I still suggest seeing national parks which highlight the most spectacular landscapes all across the country.

    If you insist on seeing the coast as well, you could fly in / out of California then drive across as far as Arizona, seeing Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Yosemite National Park, perhaps Death Valley National Park, and come across to Las Vegas and over to Grand Canyon National Park.

    How expensive can you afford? If you can afford to fly one-way in & out of TWO different airports, plus the cost of a rental car (with the added one-way drop-off fee), we can dream up all sorts of fabulous routes for you.

    You mentioned you only have 10 - 15 days though.
    Will you have children with you? Are you interested in driving a lot each day, or settling down in one spot for a few days at a time? Are you interested in hiking / scenic walks? Will you be wanting night life / big cities / shopping ?

    Let us know some ideas & we'll go from there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default First of many

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo
    I'm Ricardo, from Portugal.
    Welcome to RTA! Like the other roadtrippers, I am stumped as to what the ideal first road trip might be, not because of the topography but because of how I define a roadtrip. A road trip is more a state of mind than a physical description of getting between points A & B. It is adventure, an embracing of the unknown and the unknowable. I do have some tips about starting this process -- read the essays we have written about roadtrips. The first one -- How to Plan a RoadTrip i s a good place to start. And look at the rest of those articles, here.

    Since this will be your first of many trips, I would fly into Las Vegas, and take a look at the fastest growing city in America. And then use this western city as the hub to explore California, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.


  8. #8
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default What ever you decide...

    I first agree with Judy. Washington State offers the widest range of scenery and experiences of any state in the Union. There is no other state in which you can visit the ONLY temperate rainforest with species of plants and animals that exist nowhere else, but also the ONLY Fjord in the lower 48 states (Hood Canal), and the lowest year-round glacier in the lower 48 (Whitehorse Mountain, near Darrington), and the 5 "mountains of fire" (St. Helens, Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker.), and then see not only ocean, but pristine lakes, the "American Alps" (Cascade Mountains around Stevens Pass and Levenworth), but the Columbia Basin and the desert grasslands there, not to mention the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia. Washington also has one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the US (San Juan Islands), and The Peace Arch!

    But whatever you decide, to truely experience America... make it a point to make your trip route well rounded. Don't stick to the interstates, but take State Highways and US Routes, and even some Local Roads. There you will find America as it truely is... warm, welcoming, proud, and with a rich heritage! Stop at as many local shops and cruise many small town city centers as possible. Talk to people, visit museums, and don't just wander around like a tourist... engage in conversations, even it it's just about the weather!

    Welcome to RTA and welcome to the United States of America!
    -Brad M.

  9. #9


    Good Morning to you all,

    I would like to say thank you very much for your answers, so far. They certainly provide lots of good advices and will be much useful.

    Brad, that advice you said, to meet and talk to people in order to know the real America, that is exactly what I have in mind :)
    Of course, I'll try to avoid the Interstates... As for the roads designations (State Highways, US Routes, Local Roads) even that is somehow new to me, so you see, everytime I come to this wonderful site, I get tons of info... :D

    Syv, I'm glad you know things about my country! You might be aware of the fact that many people take us as Spanish state. :P
    You're most right: one of the things I am more interested in visiting are the national parks. But, in order to avoid big bias, perhaps I'll chose one of the coasts. Please notice that the coast is mainly a reference, For instance, choosing the West Coast, it would mean that I could visit the State of Washington, not just its seaside.

    But as you well put-it, it will be hard to narrow down. :))) Let's try to do so.

    Hypothesis A: West Coast

    From Seattle to San Diego

    My data: 20 days, months (any, but I'm guessing that May and/or June would be advisable), 2 to 4 people (1 or 2 adult couples).
    I don't know the flight possibilities, but the road trip itself would consist - if possible - in renting a car in Seattle and dropping it in San Diego. I would like to rent a reliable car (probably the so-called classics are way-too-expensive), so I would stick to one average american car... I'm also guessing they have discounts if you rent them for 20 or so...?

    Answering Syv's questions:
    Are you interested in driving a lot each day, or settling down in one spot for a few days at a time?
    Both, depending on the sightseing. Perhaps to stay in big cities for a couple of days and do a lot of miles in other days.

    Are you interested in hiking / scenic walks?
    Well, yes, if it's not too intensive. :)

    Will you be wanting night life / big cities / shopping ?
    Night Life: not necessarily, but eventually will happen (for instance in LA).
    Big Cities: Quoting Queen, "I want it all" :))
    Shopping: Hell, no! If the shops come across my way, fine, but to go and look for them, no way.

    How expensive can you afford?
    It's a relative question. I won't do a roadtrip counting the cents, but I won't be livin' la vida loca. Out of the blue, for instance, would $3,000 dollars suffice?

    So, 20 days are enough to Washington, Oregon and California? Shall I add more states? So, members of my family, in all of these matters, what say you?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default $3,000 ?

    Sounds like you are getting some great ideas to start planning.

    I don't think $3,000 (U.S. funds) will be enough for two or four persons for 20 days.

    The car rental (one-way drop-off charge adds a lot) will likely be $1,200 & up (including taxes and insurance). But NOT fuel. Fuel could be anywhere around or over $2.00 per gallon. The car might get 40 miles per gallon to give you an idea.

    Budget lodging could be $80-$100 & up per night, per room. It is sometimes possible to find it for less, but not likely on the west coast / big cities.

    The flights one-way in & out of different locations will also cost more.

    Hope that doesn't put a damper on your plans.

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