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Old 02-27-2013, 09:02 PM
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GoingNowhere GoingNowhere is offline
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Default To those of you who've gone west

I want to take a road trip (well fly out, but then rent a car) this summer. Any things I shouldn't miss?

Very tentative plan is to fly into either Vegas or Phoenix and head to the Grand Canyon from there. After the Grand Canyon we'll drive to Joshua Tree National Park and then probably up to Sequoia. From Sequoia the plan will be to go to Yoesmite and from Yosemite to San Francisco. Then up to the Redwood National Forest. We'll likely either drop off the car there, or go back to a city to drop it off and then fly back home!

Anything I shouldn't miss while I'm in that area? Feel free to recommend different locations or things to do at the ones that I've already mentioned.

The biggest goal apart from having a great time and seeing new places is going to be to travel on a budget (think college student budget...). Plan is to stay with family, in hostels, or camp. If I can do the whole trip (thinking 2-3 weeks), including flights + car for under $1000, I'd be ecstatic.

I've already done LA and as it isn't really on the way to anywhere, unless I can get free tickets to go see the filming of a cool show, I'll probably skip that one this time. I've been to the Grand Canyon before years ago, but want to go back. Been to Vegas as well, but only as a kid and flights into Vegas seem to be cheaper than those into Phoenix.

I love:
  • hiking and pretty much anything outdoors
  • horses (but I think I'll be hard-pressed to do any riding on my budget)
  • beaches!
  • cute towns that can be explored
  • shows, music, etc.
  • interesting places with a "Wow!" factor

Not big into:
  • Huge nightlife scene - though I'd love to go to a bar or two while I'm out west - just not a clubber, huge partier, etc.
  • Museums/Historical sights (unless it's a MUST see)
  • Walking around a city just for the sake of walking (if there are buildings I can go in, then I'm all for it)

Goal is to do this in August, so the weather should be warmish.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:55 PM
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I really don't think it's doable for under $1000. Open jaw flights (in to one city, out of the other) will eat up a good portion of the budget, and 2+ weeks renting a car will eat another chunk. Feeding yourself and paying for gas takes up whatever remains. I think $2000 would be a much more realistic number. (How are you planning to camp? Are you going to check a tent/sleeping bags as luggage? Buy them once you're out west?)

Be sure to budget TIME. People who aren't from California struggle to grasp the enormity of the state. Joshua Tree to Sequoia/Yosemite is a full day's drive through the ugliest parts of the state. Also, book places to stay now! Yosemite used to sell out the first day it opened for reservations in the summer. Not sure if it still does, but I'd definitely reserve spots now if you want to stay in the park!

Finally...San Fransisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. Expect to spend a pretty penny if you add a night or two there. (For example, you really have to do alcatraz if you go, and that's $30 (plus another potentially $30 to park the car...) A cheap dinner from a walk up place can cost $15. It is COLD there in August (the fog rolls in when the warm air from the valley crosses the mountains. It is not a beachy city. Too cold and too rocky.

All negatives aside--What a neat trip! You'll get to see all kinds of climates and ecosystems, and Yosemite/Sequoia are gorgeous.

Beach towns in that region...Santa Cruz, Capitola...Highway 1 is a really pretty drive along the coast. If you end up going south on the coast, Monterey has an awesome aquarium, and Carmel is cute.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliTerp07 View Post
I really don't think it's doable for under $1000. Open jaw flights (in to one city, out of the other) will eat up a good portion of the budget, and 2+ weeks renting a car will eat another chunk. Feeding yourself and paying for gas takes up whatever remains. I think $2000 would be a much more realistic number. (How are you planning to camp? Are you going to check a tent/sleeping bags as luggage? Buy them once you're out west?)

Be sure to budget TIME. People who aren't from California struggle to grasp the enormity of the state. Joshua Tree to Sequoia/Yosemite is a full day's drive through the ugliest parts of the state. Also, book places to stay now! Yosemite used to sell out the first day it opened for reservations in the summer. Not sure if it still does, but I'd definitely reserve spots now if you want to stay in the park!

Finally...San Fransisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. Expect to spend a pretty penny if you add a night or two there. (For example, you really have to do alcatraz if you go, and that's $30 (plus another potentially $30 to park the car...) A cheap dinner from a walk up place can cost $15. It is COLD there in August (the fog rolls in when the warm air from the valley crosses the mountains. It is not a beachy city. Too cold and too rocky.

All negatives aside--What a neat trip! You'll get to see all kinds of climates and ecosystems, and Yosemite/Sequoia are gorgeous.

Beach towns in that region...Santa Cruz, Capitola...Highway 1 is a really pretty drive along the coast. If you end up going south on the coast, Monterey has an awesome aquarium, and Carmel is cute.
Thanks! Yeah, the car is actually proving to be the most irritating part, because there are a million add on rates, not to mention some exorbitant ones for being under 25 y/o. I've looked at flights and think I could manage for $350ish if I do a round trip ticket to get there/back plus a one way from northern CA down to LV or wherever I flew into. I've got a backpacking tent + sleeping bags so hopefully that won't be a huge issue (they will both easily fit into a checked bag). Only question then is if I can find a cheap flight with a free checked bag or not...

You're probably right about the cost, though I managed to do a 10 day trip to Spain last summer for just about $1600 (and the flight was about $1100 of that!), so I'm holding out! But it won't be the end of the world if I go over. Just need to work to make some money. Fortunately, the car rental and gas will be split with another person and we should have free housing (and maybe food?! ) in Twenty nine palms and Phoenix.

San Francisco doesn't sound quite like I pictured it. If this trip happens, it may end up being a pit stop rather than a place to stay. Bummer, I was hoping for a beach somewhere along the way!

Thanks so much for the recommendations as well - I'll do some research!
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:22 PM
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Bonus Spain photos just because I feel like it. A friend and I went to Lanjaron and Granada. It was just gorgeous! We got to ride horses through the mountains and see some pretty cool towns.











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Old 02-27-2013, 10:23 PM
JessLough JessLough is offline
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Yes, definitely keep in mind, many companies charge quite a bit if you drop the car off at a different location than you pick it up (rightfully so, they have to pay somebody to drive to get it!). You also need to check into just paying the fee for unlimited mileage, because with all that driving the fees for mileage will kill you, too.

I'm no help else wise
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JessLough View Post
Yes, definitely keep in mind, many companies charge quite a bit if you drop the car off at a different location than you pick it up (rightfully so, they have to pay somebody to drive to get it!). You also need to check into just paying the fee for unlimited mileage, because with all that driving the fees for mileage will kill you, too.

I'm no help else wise
You're making me want to just buy an old clunker when I get there Doubt my mother would approve of that! Has anyone heard of Fox car rentals? They look like possibly the cheapest and have unlimited mileage, but I've read some SERIOUSLY varied reviews and really don't want to get screwed over.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:51 PM
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I live in AZ. (about an hourish from Vegas) Shamefully,in the 5 years I've lived here, I have never been to the Grand Canyon. Family came to visit once and my husband went there with them, but I was on call and they couldn't guarantee getting back by the time my on call started. So, I stayed home.

Small town wise, there's not much around me. There is Oatman, where burros wander the town and mooch off people, if you're into that kind of thing, lol
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:39 PM
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Awesome! I live road trips and have done one similar to the one you are planning.

I love San Fran I think it's a great city to explore. We go just about every August/ September and the weather is perfect!

What rim are you planning to go to at the Grand Canyon?

You can get some awesome hotel deals in Vegas. Last year we stayed at treasure island for $14 a night for 3 nights!
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