California road trip
Replies: 28 - Last Post: Dec 14, 2012 7:41 AM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
Dec 5, 2012 1:51 PM
Dec 5, 2012 3:40 PM
16I totally get the appeal of the "epic road trip" as I have a DD graduating HS this year too and a college freshman daughter. Both of them would want to do this too! Driving is the best way to go for a trip like this. Just make sure the car is checked out before you go. Have a GPS or turn by turn on a smart phone. Get paper maps! I know, "old school", but they REALLY will give you the big picture for a trip like this that you can get on a computer or phone. Familiarize yourselves with the paper maps and your route beforehand and have whomever is best at navigating as a passenger when you go into big cities. Use google maps to give you an idea of drive time, but add to it to cover for getting lost and driving carefully (you will be driving carefully says the mom in me?).
We are members of Hostelling International- we have stayed in a few with my Girl Scout troop. They have member hostels all over the world and there are reviews on each (read them). We are staying in one in London next year for a week and the membership gives us a discount. Something to look into to save money since you will likely more than pay for it with this length of trip. Will you both be 18 during this trip? Some places may not rent to you if you are 17 and don't have an adult (incl possibly State Park campgrounds so look into that if that's the case). As a mother of girls your age (I am assuming your friend is also female?) I think I would be more comfortable with the safety aspect of hostels rather than camping in this situation. (Make sure you get unisex rooms. Some hostels have coed rooms.) And, putting up and taking down a tent all the time would get old. All you have to bring to a hostel is towels, linen is supplied and all cooking/eating equipment. Bring your own lock to keep your stuff secure. Take a cooler. Eating out adds up and if you're like my girls, you'll want to buy souveniers! I can't advise you on Washington or Oregon hostels, but I can personally recommend the San Fransisco Fisherman's Wharf hostel- stayed there with my GS troop. Bus right outside, free breakfast and FREE parking (I have never paid for parking at a hostel). Don't use the car in SF-loads of public trans and not a great place to drive for a beginner :) We also stayed at the Marin Headlands Hostel, but not as well located for your needs.
Drive down Hwy 1 from SF to this hostel: http://norcalhostels.org/pigeon/features/
It's not that far so you could leave SF lateish that day, but get there when it's still light so you can appreciate the view. The hostel is spectacular and unlike the other posters comments that cheap accomodations are not on the coast, this one literally hangs on the edge of the cliff! Has an ocean view hot tub (reserve before you go). It is about 40 min north of Santa Cruz so you can go play at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk the next day. Monterey is another 40 miles south so you can have a full day at the Boardwalk and go to the hostel in Monterey (came recommended to us, but we never stayed there). The Monterey Bay Aquarium needs a visit and there is great sea kayaking there. Driving south down the coast from Monterey on Hwy 1 is one of the most beautiful drives ever, BUT it is a very twisting, hug the cliff , 2 lane road that can be daunting to the inexperienced driver. My girls prefer that kind of driving over big freeways- you can't go fast that's for sure! You can go inland and take hwy 101 south, a much easier drive. Only you 2 will know at that point how confident you feel. Going on hwy 1 from Monterey down the coast to San Simeon will take time (but you could see Hearst Castle in san Simeon. It's quite a "house"- google it). If you take hwy 101, you could make LA in a day driving, but taking hwy 1 would be a LONG day all the way to LA and you wouldn't be able to stop and enjoy the vistas. There is a hostel in San Luis Obispo which is on the way to LA. Hwy 1 joins up with hwy 101 in San Luis Obispo. Take hwy 101 south through Santa Barbara. A side trip off the freeway to the beach there would be nice. SB is beautiful. I grew up there. Every Sun there is an art show that streches for miles along the beach. Unfortunately, an expensive place to stay. You can hook back up with hwy 1 in Ventura and take it all the way to Santa Monica through Malibu. There is a neat sounding hostel in Santa Monica 2 blks from the beach. There are tours you can take from there as driving in LA can be intimidating (massive freeways and fast drivers).
As far as things to see in each city you visit, search the posts here for each one. You can also check out Fodors forums for the same info. Only you know what would appeal to you :) Use the hostel services. They cater to a young crowd and know all the "cool " places to go and have planned walks, tours and such. Come back here as you put your itinerary together and we can advise more :)
Dec 5, 2012 5:49 PM
17Rmmom's post is absolutely spot on. I was going to say exactly the same thing about having your
car mechanic check out your car (I did a California to Yellowstone roadtrip after high school and the valves went out on the return home.) Study the maps of any megalopolis- -particulary San Francisco and
LA-- and know the routes to your lodgings before driving into these urban areas. It will help with
all the freeway signs that can overwhelm you at times.
Dec 5, 2012 6:46 PM
18Wow, thank you all so much! and yes, I am aware that we will not be of legal drinking age so we have no intentions of clubbing or going to bars. That can wait for another trip! It's great to hear that there are so many hostels. I think they will be our main source of lodging as opposed to campsites, although a few nights camping is still fine by me. So do any of you have a ruff idea of that this trip may cost? Just for the gas, lodging, food, and parking, not extra "fun" money.
I will start working on a itinerary, so are there any "must see" places? Must go to restaurants, beaches, parks, hikes, and anything else! Thanks again!
Dec 5, 2012 7:48 PM
19Estimate high because trips are always better if you have extra for the unforeseen. If gas is
$600 (for both of you so $300 each) and hostel costs can be figured out if you go to the top of this screen to the hotel
box and research hostels. I think you can figure on $25-$30 each but you can send rmmom a private
message and find out what she found the hostels cost. Just say $25 x 18 days= $450 each. I omitted
the days you're at your relatives in Portland. Maybe they'll let you stop in overnight on the return journey
to Vancouver. So around $750 at least plus food. Picnics save a lot of money over restaurants so the
ice chest is essential. ( Ask your parents what they think three weeks groceries for you costs) Of course,
you'll eat at restaurants some of the time so figure about, say, $25 each a day for food costs sounds
like a good generous estimate. Depends on what you usually eat. And do you need a passport?
Have a great trip!
Dec 7, 2012 4:16 PM
Dec 11, 2012 10:56 AM
21Parking is cheap enough that I'd lump it into your "miscellaneous" budget line item, along with the replacement for the bottle of contact solution you'll leave behind in Eureka and that nice belt you decide to buy in Santa Monica. A few state beaches might charge $5 or so for a day visit. Even the Fort Mason hostel in SF provides it free. You'll need quarters for parking meters in various towns along the way -- lots of quarters to park in a business district in SF.
Dec 11, 2012 11:19 AM
Dec 11, 2012 3:54 PM
23Have been away from the keyboard the last several days spending time travelling myself!
Just thought you should know that a quick check of the Fort Mason Hostel (HI San Francisco)
showed it to be completely booked throughout June, July and August 2013. The hostel in
Santa Monica (LA) seemed to be similarly booked when I looked at their reservation calendar.
Plan Accordingly..... It looks like 2013 will be a banner year for people travelling!
Dec 11, 2012 4:23 PM
Dec 13, 2012 2:00 PM
Agreed. But given that driving in SF is a pain and the transit system is fairly comprehensive, they should be taking advantage of the free parking at Fort Mason, leaving their car at the hostel, and relying on buses/bikes/feet to get around town.
Dec 13, 2012 6:01 PM
26Yaguri has an exellent suggestion. Reserve at the Fort Mason hostel, park the car until your ready to leave\
San Francisco. You can walk about everywhere from the hostel, and where you can't walk just take cable cars, buses and trolley cars. The street signs and parking signs are just too complicated to deal with in San
Francisco, and a lot more fun to be had not bothering with figuring it all out to avoid a ticket or worse.
Dec 13, 2012 8:38 PM
27Definitely can't beat free parking! I like the idea of getting around San Francisco on foot and by transit better anyways. Looks like a nice place too! Anyone have any suggestions of places we should go/things we should see while we're in San Fran? Thank you!
Dec 14, 2012 7:41 AM
28Although everyone calls it the Fort Mason hostel, the official name is the Fishermans Wharf hostel. It's not in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf, but it is nearby. They describe themselves:
You did mention "hiking" earlier. There are actually hiking trails within the city of SF. Another popular thing ot do is to rent a bike, go across the Golden Gate Bridge, and take the ferry back from Sausalito. Also, click on "hostel activities" on the Ft. Mason hostel web site for some ideas.
Free walking tours
What else? Museums? Natural history? Art galleries? Shopping? Historic sites? Architecture? Want a big splurge meal? A baseball game?
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