Road trip for 3 - 4 weeks western and northwestern USA
Replies: 35 - Last Post: Dec 1, 2012 3:48 PM Last Post By: bzookaj
Nov 27, 2012 10:54 AM
15Thanks keno....I have calculated the total rental cost for an economical petrol car to be £600 plus another £600 for fuel. The car costs do cover unlimited mileage and they can cross state lines. Accomdation is at 40 pounds per day = 1200 pounds. Leaves 30 dollars plus for food. If anyone could advise me of the price of petrol that would be great.
Summary of basic budget for 4 weeks
£600 is $962 dollars. ( so $1800 dollars for rental and fuel )
£40 = 62 dollars ( Accomodation budget per day )
£20 = 30 dollars ( budget for food each day)
We shall be eating cheap diner food or supermarket food as much as possible but I think the food budget is very lean. Park fees are not budgeted. The budget presumes we will be driving every day (which we won't be) and paying every 62 dollars night for Accomodation (which we won't be )but then again I have not budgeted for tolls and all the bits and bobs inbetween.
If these figures don't add up ( especially calculating petrol ) then I can't afford my journey. I have no experience of such a trip beforehand so if I need my head reexamined let me know !
Nov 27, 2012 10:56 AM
Nov 27, 2012 10:59 AM
Nov 27, 2012 11:00 AM
Traffic, in particular, will get you in xYellowstone in summer. Many people visit, and the moment one sees their first bison, the road becomes a parking lot.
I once spent around 7-8 hours driving a "2.5 hour" drive, after all the stops were accounted for. The time flies before you know it.
See FAQ 146.
We shall be eating cheap diner food or supermarket food as much as possible but I think the food budget is very lean.
THe annual pass is $80. One pass allows entry for everyone in a non-commercial vehicle, or four people total as individuals. It does not, however, cover campground fees, tours, and other add-ons.
The general rule of travel:
The less you move, the less you spend.
Nov 27, 2012 11:02 AM
Nov 27, 2012 11:05 AM
Nov 27, 2012 11:13 AM
Nov 27, 2012 11:20 AM
23The price of gasoline (petrol to your) varies from state to state, depending on a number of things, including local taxes. You can find average prices by state here.
You are going to have to calculate gas costs in miles per gallon (MPG). If you have an idea what make of car you might be getting (they usually say something like "Ford Focus or similar") you can go here to find out how many miles per gallon to expect.
You are still pretty low for food & accommodation. The more places you can find to stay for free, the better off you will be. Hostel dorm beds run $25-$35 or so, plus tax. You may find a cheap motel for around $50 (plus tax) but it is not likely to be centrally located, so you have to consider extra driving.
Your bits & bobs are going to include camping equipment, unless you bring your own. Campfires will be illegal in many places, due to danger of wildfire, so you'll need a camp stove & fuel. And pots and dishes. A cooler plus ice.
This is a large California supermarket chain. Safeway/Vons. You can look at their weekly ads to get an idea of prices. You can also go to "grocery delivery" to see more prices. The delivery prices may be a bit high, but, again, it gives you an idea. It asks for a Zip Code. Just use "90210," the Zip Code form the old TV show, Beverley HIlls 90210.
Nov 27, 2012 2:23 PM
24Given your arrival and departure points, you may want to consider an alternative itinerary. Also, please specify the time of year for your travels.
From Las Vegas, you can easily visit the Grand Canyon NP which is truly spectacular. Heading north through California, you can see Yosemite NP which is absolutely spectacular.
Leaving Yosemite, you can link up with I-5 (main north-south highway in far west of the U.S.) and continue into Oregon which has Crater Lake NP. Portland is in the very north of Oregon and is supposed to be a fantastic city itself, so try and enjoy that as well.
Turn around and head back towards San Francisco before arriving back in Los Angeles. Remember, if you rent a car in Las Vegas and drop it in L.A., there will likely be additional charges.
Even this is ambitious for 4 weeks. Consider increasing your budget. Unfortunately, it is difficult to cover lots of ground in the U.S. on a shoestring. You need to assume $4.00 per gallon in California.
Hope this helps and good luck.
Nov 27, 2012 3:29 PM
25I recommend the route suggested in #23 by bzookaj. You will see many spectacular sights in that itinerary. Save Colorado and Yellowstone for your next trip.
I also recommend that you rent a compact SUV, such as a Jeep Liberty or Honda SUV so that you may simply fold down the back seat to stretch out 2 sleepingbags and not be bothered setting up a tent every night that you want to camp. There are not as many hostels in the USA as in Europe, but I use http://www.hostelbookers.com or http://www.hostelworld.com for my worldwide travels. Some of the budget motels, such as Motel 6 and Quality Inn, cost the same as two bunkbeds in a hostel and would give you more privacy. Quality Inns include a large buffet breakfast, indoor swimming pool, and gym. I also park for free overnight at the truck stops -- Flying J and Pilot Travel Centers, which you will find on the major highways. The Flying Js have security cameras and Country Kitchen or similar restaurants with large buffet breakfasts or dinners at budget prices. They are open 24 hours, so you may use their bathrooms during the night. I park discretely near their restaurants instead of amongst the large trucker rigs. Most Wal-Mart Supercenters that are open 24 hours also allow free overnight parking -- just park near the other congregated RVs and car-campers. Wal-Mart is the discount supermarket where you can find nice sleepingbags cheap plus a small stove and lantern.
It would be best for you to travel in the early summer/spring, rather than July/August, because the temperatures in Las Vegas and the desert can reach over 100F degrees in the summer. Along the main highways, there are many rest stops with latrines, so you do not need to worry about drinking coffee in the morning! It is recommended that you bring at least a gallon of water in a jug, especially when you drive through the desert and may have an emergency break-down.
Have a good trip!
Nov 27, 2012 3:46 PM
Nov 27, 2012 7:42 PM
27Leonidas, I've been everywhere on your original itinerary and- while Glacier, Yellowstone and Durango +
Million Dollar Highway are all beautiful- when you fly into a place you've never been to- the best thing is to saturate that region with all your sight-seeing. There's just soooo much for you to see around Las Vegas
and here in California, along with Oregon- there's no need to go zipping off 1,500 miles to see Montana.
To do so means you might miss out on places like Yosemite or Redwood National Park- where the largest trees
in the world are. That's where the saying "Pleasure sought is pleasure lost" came from. If we are compelled to go in search of a terrific place to visit- we just might miss the one we're standing right next to.
The "team" of travel writers here can give you some tips on where to visit- and you could not have a better
trip. I've seen a fair bit of the world, and believe me, Yosemite is one of the most incredible places to see.
Grand Canyon is another. Seeing the Redwoods and Sequoias is another transcendental experience-
there are many terrific places right here in California, along with Oregon and Arizona.
Nov 27, 2012 8:22 PM
28I applaud you enthusiasm to cover as much ground as you can! I understand it as I drove Dublin - Waterford - Cork - Cliffs of Moher - Galway - Belfast and back to Dublin in 5 days!
The contributors on your post have a great deal of insight and wonderful advice-- except those who say your crazy. ;)
I live in Los Angeles and have driven this country no less 10 times north and south, east to west. Road trips are one of my favorite things to do. In our most recent one, we flew LA to Portland ($79), rented a car 1 way to San Francisco ($36 total) and flew back to LA. ($49) in 3 days. We went to craft breweries in Portland, OR, Eugene, CA, and Santa Rosa, CA. Up at 6am or sooner to get the drive on. (If you want details, I can email you) Portland is where our friend joined us, and then bicycled across to Florida in 3 weeks, so your trip can be done! (Granted we are all in our 30's)
If you want to see a lot of different landscapes, the west can offer a lot- except tropical. Being the desert, it will be on average 20 degrees cooler at night than in the day, so don't get stuck having to buy a tourist sweatshirt because you're cold. ;)
What I'm about to say might upset a few people, but I'm thinking of getting the most diversity in a short period of time-- Once you've seen the California coast, you do not need to drive the whole thing! As well as the mountain areas-- one twisty long road with trees-- all awesome, but a few hours of this is good, not a few days-- IF you want to see more versatility in landscape. (Yes, I have driven Tijuana to Seattle, on US1/101, as well as Seattle to Salt Lake. Interior California, the 4 corners-etc...-- and no, I'm not a truck driver.)
Major different landscapes: Grand Canyon, Arizona; Arches National Park, Utah; Colorado Rockies; Bonneville Salt Flats on hwy 80 in Utah; Yellowstone; Crater of the Moon, Idaho; Oregon/Northern Cali coast; Huge trees in Northern CA; Lake Tahoe, CA; Southern California surfing beaches- Huntington Beach.
I use carrentals.com to find car deals-- I used them for Ireland, Mexico and Puerto Rico as well.) Check with your credit card company to see if it covers car rental insurance. (Also if that they do not charge you international currency change fees.) Ours covers car rental insurance so we do not need to get it internationally. About $1000 USD sounds about right for a LAS -LAX one way rental. No added insurance.
One thing about google driving distances-- if the road is windy on the map, add a few hours. If it's 2 lanes, add 1 more. If there is elevation, add 1 more.
I would highly recommend watching Ken Burns National Parks: America's Best Ideas. You'll get the history of them and you can decide what you really have to see. http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/
see the spot before you reserve http://www.campsitephotos.com/
Another way to save money is to be on loyalty programs with places. Say if you want to stay at the MGM Grand in Vegas, get on their email list. I get promotions for their rooms for $55 per night. Including buffet- which is huge!! And they have the lazy river...
The same thing with car rental companies. They will often run specials for free upgrades even if you used a third party site to book. (This is depending on the agent you get. )
It never hurts to ask for a free upgrade, remember that.
You will be a driving fool! But it will be worth it. http://goo.gl/maps/MQgze
Feel free to email me if you have any questions about what I wrote. I feel like I need to go on another road trip. ;)
Las Vegas http://www.smartervegas.com/ Tons of discount codes. See the Cirque du Soleil show "O".
Grand Canyon http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/el-tovar-409.html
If you can be there at 4 am, do it! The sun starts to rise and it is the most amazing way to first see the canyon.
Arches National Park http://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm So many beautiful colors!
Colorado Rockies If you're going to go through Colorado, why not see if you can catch a show-- http://www.redrocksonline.com This is one of the best venues to see a band in the entire country. We have flown in to see many shows, and camped not so far away at Golden Gate State park. http://www.parks.state.co.us/Parks/GoldenGateCanyon/Camping/Pages/GoldenGateCanyonCamping.aspx
Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ut/salt_lake_fo/bonneville_salt_flats/pdfs.Par.43019.File.dat/Bonneville%20Salt%20Flats%20FAQ.pdf Never been, can't wait.
Yellowstone http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm Don't need to say much about this place, except-- Largest geyser concentration in the world. See it.
Craters of the moon http://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm I never knew we had this. Now I must go.
Coos Bay, Oregon- there are huge rocks just off the coast in the ocean- very cool, kind of like the 13 apostles in Australia.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation/recarea/?recid=42465
Jedediah Redwoods State Park (Northern California) http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=413 The trees are approximately 500 years old and measure 30 meters across. (yes, meters) This is next to Redwoods National Park as well.
Humboldt Redwoods (Northern California) http://humboldtredwoods.org/ Avenue of the Giants. Ridiculously huge trees.
Some help for planning your Yosemite trip: Camping reservations go QUICKLY! On the above link, it gives the dates you can start booking you site by which dates you want to camp. For summer, it's Jan15, at 7am Pacific Standard time (GMT +8). It's like when you buy tickets on ticketmaster, they go fast! I used this website to see what site we wanted-- but of course, in the end took what we could get.
We were there to hike half-dome, which I recommend, but it does take 14 hours to hike to the top and back.
Lake Tahoe, CA - Amazing, I used to live there-- so clear and pristine. Rent a kayak. The only challenge with Tahoe is the distance from things. You can drive around Tahoe in about 3-4 hours, but you'll want to get in! It's a little cold-- but you're from Ireland, so no, it's not.
Huntington Beach, CA http://www.surfcityusa.com/
Nov 28, 2012 4:10 AM
29Thanks a million
Well I'm drawing up another quick plan but this one will not be as extreme as my last. It still sets a cool pace. Though your post has given me confidence not to cut everything out.
Ok, I'm trying to justify justify parts of my original trip again. I'm just fishing for ideas though and I have been listening. At the end of the day I'm gonna enjoy either options :). God loves a tryer eh !
Have you any tips about getting from arches park to yellowstone ( Jackson actually). Salt lake city seems the obvious halfway point. But perhaps there is a very scenic route maybe. Thanks for all the ideas...I will get back to you with a little home work and time.
Guys I know people are saying I will need way more than two day in Yellowstone and the region itself but what are the coolest parts. I will camp there or near abouts for two nights. That gives me two and a half full days. It it's not worth a two day trip then I will cut it out and save time and mullah !!
I reworked my plan to something like this. I feel it gives me options to change my mind and is much more manageable. it a general idea to calculate mileage and days needed. I have not mentioned places in between and you guys have given me tons of ideas which I have to find on the map yet !
Vegas 2 nights
Grand canyon area 2 nights
monumental valley camp 1 night
Durango ( for million dollar road) 1 night
Million dolllar road to arches park 1 night
Salt lake city 1 night
Jackson ( for early morning start in Yellowstone) 1 night.
Yellow stone 2 nights.
Glacier( sun road). 2 nights
Halfway ( Spokane ) 1 night.
redwood national park 2 night.
San fran 3
Lake tahoe, Yosemite and sequoia 2 night.
La 3 nights
I don't mind cutting days from the cities to compensate and i have rougly 4 days spare. We will start ( as much as early as possible in the mornings, hopefully at dawn )l
I'm scared now of the reaction I will get.
I'm still fighting for the big ass trip....but if you guys say it won't work then I will just concentrate on calafornia,
Am I still crazy guys ?
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