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Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Milton Keynes...
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Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Hi all,

Looking for some guidance on route/budget and any handy tips to help keep costs down for a roadtrip we are planning for September next year.

Firstly, we are looking to fly from London to San Francisco (catching a connecting flight from Copenhagen with SAS Airlines is half the price of flying directly so that is an option).

We will spend 2 days in San Francisco seeing the sights and preparing for the mammoth journey ahead. We will then drive down to LA, I've estimated that this would take approximately 7 hours, is somebody able to verify?

Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco, stay 2 nights

Day 3: Drive to Los Angeles in the morning and spend 2 nights

Day 5: Drive to Las Vegas, will take approximately 4 hours. Spend 1 night in Vegas

Day 6: Drive the 250-odd miles to the Grand Canyon, not sure whether to spend the night here as I hear it can be costly. Any advice much appreciated.

Day 7: Drive down through New Mexico (Albuquerque, Roswell) en route to Dallas. This is the longest drive of the trip, so would probably require an overnight stay somewhere like Albuquerque or even Santa Fe? Would it best to avoid Roswell? Is there much to see here? This is one place we could happily skip, it's just an idea.

Day 8: Arrive in Dallas. Stay here for 2 nights to recuperate.

Day 10: Move down to Houston, should take about 4 hours. Spend 1 night here.

Day 11: Drive to New Orleans to take in the sites, enjoy the food and drink. 2 nights here before hitting the road again.

Day 13: Head up to Atlanta, approximate journey time 8 hours. Spend the night.

Day 14: Day in Atlanta before moving further north. Overnight stay near Spartanburg.

Day 15: Drive up to Charlotte, spend the day (maybe visit Carowinds) and night.

Day 16: Drive to Washington D.C, spend the day here but move on in the evening. Spend the night in Maryland.

Day 17: Drive from Maryland to Philadelphia, spend the day and night here.

Day 18: Drop vehicle off in Philadelphia and continue our journey on public transport.

Day 19: Get train to New York City and spend 3 nights here.

Day 22: Fly home from New York City back to London.

There will be 4 of us in total on the trip, all aged between 26-28 so there hopefully won't be any Young Driver fees to pay on top of car hire. There will probably be 2 drivers.

My main question revolves around vehicle hire. I am leaning towards hiring a 7-seater SUV for duration of the trip, though some have said it would be better to hire an RV. Now, the RV hire cost is less than the SUV and, in theory, it would be more practical for sleeping, washing, eating etc. But, my concern would be that the route we are wanting to take goes through some major cities, so would an SUV be more convenient for things like parking and city driving?

Furthermore, fuel cost is a big factor. I am assuming that an RV would cost more on fuel of the duration of the trip, which would span about 4500 miles. Would this extra cost be less than the difference between paying for accommodation/SUV hire cost or more? I would prefer an SUV but the girls in the group are concerned about places to shower.

Also, we would like to keep costs down by camping as often as possible. What is the deal with camping in the areas I have suggested above? Quite a lot of the places we will be going to are big cities, are there normally good camp sites approximately 1-2 hours away from these where we can sleep or would motels, hotels and B&Bs be more suitable?

Food shouldn't be too much of a problem, will try and stock up on things like fruit, cereal bars and crisps when in San Francisco to last us at least until half way.

What do people make of this route, are there any amendments you would make? Definite destinations include:

1) San Francisco

2) LA

3) Las Vegas

4) New Orleans

5) New York

Would love to find some way of incorporating Niagra Falls too, though not sure if this is achievable in the 3 weeks we have given ourselves.

Budget: approximately £2500 each.

United Kingdom
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1. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Hello,

I am not at all an expert on anything to do with road trips but just to say that I have found cheap lodging at the Grand Canyon NP, the cheapest rooms are in Bright Angel Lodge. For a double room with shared bathroom facilities, 1 night (on a saturday in July 2014) only cost me $70 so could be worth checking out. Have fun planning your trip!

LA
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2. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Get ahold of the Lonely Planet USA guide.

It will give you a better itinerary.

You can drive SF to LA in 7 hours on a big freeway in the middle of the valley in the September heat. A guidebook would probably tell you to go down the incredibly beautiful Big Sur coastline and take 2 nights to do it.

Are you really going to eat potato chips and cereal bars for your entire trip? Shame on that.

Your budget is adequate for some things. Each person who drives the car must be on the rental car agreement. The agency often charges an additional fee per person per day. Critical that anyone driving that car be on the agreement. You may run into huge one-way rental charges.

RV's are a poor choice for a long trip. Impossible to use in major cities. Huge fuel consumption. Driving issues on some roads and in parks.

LA
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3. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Your list of destinations is only cities. None of the spectacular natural wonders of the US. No Yosemite, no Death Valley, no Yellowstone, no Zion or Bryce Canyon, none of the wonderful ancient cliff dweller ruins, etc.

I would suggest you just fly between cities. What's the point of driving SF to LA if you aren't going to stop to see Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings' Canyon, etc.

What's the point of trying to drive from Grand Canyon to Dallas, stopping only for dubious tourist hoax Roswell?

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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4. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Welcome to the TT ...Book the vehicle through a off shore consolidator... As insurance cover is included and drop off fees minimized ... Make that rental a small van rather than a fuel hungry FWD / SUV ... Day 6, spend in Santa Fe... Day 7, zip through Roswell (perhaps lunch) and go on to Carlsbad Caverns for a afternoon tour & remain for the evening bat flight... Drive then, the I-10-290 to Austin for that stopover... Continue on the 290 passing Houston, to New Orleans. Spend at least two days in Washington DC... Return the car there and use Bus/train from There ... Happy trails ... carracar

Oregon Coast
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5. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Hi Ali B and welcome to TripAdvisor.

>>RV's are a poor choice for a long trip. Impossible to use in major cities. Huge fuel consumption. Driving issues on some roads and in parks.<<

Yes. Yes. Yes. No, not very often.

I've been RVing for many years and with your kind of trip, I would not rent one, for many reasons. If you click on the blue link below, you will find a Traveler Article about renting motorhomes. At the bottom of that, there are additional bold blue links that will take you to other articles with more information:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c187230/Califo…

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Camping - you mean with tents? There are thousands of campgrounds all across the USA. Cost varies but as an average figure about $25 per night. Unless you opt for really rustic, they all will have hot showers, although there may be a small charge. ($1-$2 in quarters) Camping is safe.

There are also hostels in many cities and inexpensive motels all over. B&Bs in the USA are much more expensive than in the UK.

Buy a cooler and gallon size zip loc baggies and go to grocery stores for lunch supplies. You can make good healthy sandwiches, no need to survive on crisps! There are grocery stores *everywhere*!

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You've got a massive trip planned and I second the idea of Lonely Planet guide book.

LA
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6. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Unlike Europe, the US does not generally have campgrounds in major cities as inexpensive accommodations.

In the US, camping is generally done as an outdoor travel experience in state and national parks.

In the US, a B&B is an expensive accommodation in a fancy old house, ususually booked by middle-aged couples. It is not the same as a pension in Europe and you really don't want to be looking for B&B.

Oregon Coast
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7. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

>> are there normally good camp sites approximately 1-2 hours away from these where we can sleep <<

Yes.

Whilst there are few if any campgrounds *in* major cities, there are campgrounds *near* major cities.

There are thousands and thousands of campgrounds all across the USA that are privately owned and are not state or National parks.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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8. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Camping should not be considered for this trip ... As you will move down the road only as fast as the slowest participant can be moved... Keep it simple ... use roadside lodging throughout the tour ... carracar

USA
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9. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

Almost all of your listed cities will have a KOA campground nearby if you decide to tent camp. KOA campgrounds are usually on the outskirts of cities & towns and are not wilderness campgrounds, but work for urban locations:

http://koa.com/

We've stayed in many KOAs & appreciate the hot showers & wifi when traveling to an urban setting, although we prefer wilderness camping.

Edited: 19 September 2013, 15:40
Oregon Coast
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10. Re: Planning a San Fran to NYC roadtrip for September 2014

KOAs usually have swimming pools and a very small store as well. Plus, many have camping cabins in case the weather is bad.

>>As you will move down the road only as fast as the slowest participant can be moved... <<

What? How fast do you think four young women in their 20's are going to get ready in the mornings even in a hotel, sharing one bathroom . . . LOL!