We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

West Coast Trip 2014

Sheffield
Level Contributor
77 posts
78 reviews
Save Topic
West Coast Trip 2014

I'm planning to visit in 2014 with my wife. The options are going to be either a coach trip with Archers (Archers Golden West Adventure) or Virgin (Western Adventure) or alternatively a self drive. We do fancy the service of a tour guide and the hotels seem to be OK. Virgin use ATI as the tour operator in America and they seem to be well thought of. I have just spoken with Archers and they will not disclose the coach operator for some reason so does anyone know who they use please?

The other option is self drive and have arrived at a provisional itinerary of

Arriving San Francisco - 3 Nights

Pick up hire car on last day

Monteray 1 night

Los Angeles/Santa Barbara 2 Night

Palm Springs or San Diego 1Night

Scottsdale 1 Night

Flagstaffe 1 Noght

Las Vegas 2

Mammoth (For visiting Yosemite) 2

San Francisco for flight back

The itinerary is not set in stone and a couple of extra nights are available as we seem fit (Total nights will be 17 Max)

Any assistance will be welcomed.

Budgets are around £4,500 for Flights and accommodation including car hire. Coach tours are coming in at around £4,000 which seems to be good value.

Wednesbury, UK
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
13,700 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Hi and welcome to the forum.

I can't comment on the coach trips, but would always encourage you to go DIY. That way you spend time where you want to and stay where you want to, not to someone else's timetable.

Also, don't just assume the locations the coach company pick are the best for toring or hotels, they go where they get the best deals.

That being said, you plan is not bad , but in 17 nights I think this is a better outline.

3 nights SF.

1 night Monterey.

1 night Cambria, so you get time down the Big Sur, Hwy 1.

2 nights LA.

2 nights San Diego.

1 night Laughlin or Kingman. ( no point going to Scottsdale or Phoenix for a night, see a bit of Route 66, and maybe Joshua Tree NP.)

1 night at the Grand Camyon, rather than Flagstaff.

2 nights in Vegas.

1 night in Lone Pine, Bishop or Mammoth, through Death Valley.

2 nights in Yosemite.

1 night near SFO on the coast, Half Moon Bay, or Pacifica maybe.

Edited: 13 October 2013, 15:38
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
58,688 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Hi

What time of year are you hoping to travel?

Your self drive itinerary won't work. You have chosen locations that are hours from the destination. For example, Mammoth Lakes is 2.5 hours from Yosemite Valley. Santa Barbara is 1.5 hrs from L.A., without traffic.

The usual loop is SFO - SF - Yosemite Valley - Lone Pine - Las Vegas - South Rim Grand Canyon NP - San Diego (if you have time, need at least 2 full days) - L.A. - Pismo Beach / Cambria - Monterey - SFO

The loop works 'better' this way as Monterey to SFO is only 2 hrs and Yosemite to SFO is 4 hrs. Stay in the destination you want to visit rather than hours away.

No experience with coach tours other than they tend to select lodging far from the destination and to allow you minimal time in the destination. For example, the Yosemite visit is a 2.5 hr drive from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite Valley and then a 2 hr drive to Sonora. When do you get up to Glacier Point? You miss a visit to the Giant Sequoias. Most folks spend at least 2 or 3 full days in Yosemite, but only a few hours is definitely not enough.

Link for others to comment about the tours...

Archers archersdirect.co.uk/holiday/golden-west-adve…

Can you share the link for the Virgin trip?

Wednesbury, UK
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
13,700 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Hi PNWF.

Running it clockwise would free up the last night I put on the coast near to SFO, depending on flight times, to LA and San Diego area maybe.....good shout ! : ).

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
58,688 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

The OP has posted on the California forum as well. The trip is planned for September.

Yes, either direction works, and a last night in Pacifica or Half Moon Bay would be lovely. Lots of great options (and none of them use Scottsdale, Mammoth Lakes {for Yosemite}, Sonora or anything like that.)

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
20,062 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Hi Lancslad

I think you have to basically decide what kind of trip you wish to take. The coach based trips will always work out cheaper because of the economies of scale from bulk booking hotels etc. They are also good for folk who really don't or can't drive in the USA but wish a taste of what the country has to offer. They are generally rather rushed and they only offer a brief taste of each stop, and often skip worthwhile places, if only you knew they were there!

If you aren't on a super tight budget, are happy to drive yourself (and it's not difficult over in the west, many, many first timers vow to come back and do it all over again somewhere else!) are prepared to put in the extra effort to plan the trip and do all the individual bookings so that it's very much your trip with lots of elements that suit your own travel style, then DIY really is the way to go.

The helpful and knowledgeable folk who frequent this forum are more than happy to offer advice and suggestions, or point you elsewhere for details we don't have at our fingertips. That's what the forum is for.

You've had lots of great advice already, and I'm sure much more will follow. In the meanwhile, to get an idea of options over and above what those coach based trips cover, have a look at old topics on this forum. Read the links on the trip reports post sticky and use the search function by entering some key towns you wish to see and read what the posts that are pulled up have to say. This will help you ask more questions to meet your specific needs and lead you along the correct route. Also, don't neglect the Tops Qs over on the right of the full page version of this forum, particular regarding car rental and driving tips.

Have a great trip,

SWT

Sheffield
Level Contributor
77 posts
78 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Thank you to everyone that has taken time to respond. I think when the good old USA Senate gets it's act together and sorts out the budget beyond 12 months I'll get around to booking it (Don't want to book for next September and find the National Parks closed again).

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

We are just back from another 6 weeks USA trip and as always drove ourselves. But I have seen several Arches Direct busses and spoke with the driver. Must say, those busses were spotless, clean and new . Big disadvantage is the time they spend at a place. When we were at our hotel by 4pm enjoying the pool and facilities the bus arrived at 7pm. Next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and left by 9am but the bus already left before 8am. That's the nature of such trips so if you like to travel fast this will be it for you. We prefer doing it ourselves.

Tet

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
42,889 posts
1,048 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

Tet brings up a very good point about the bus tours. Every one I've read about or friends have gone on (I have not) , was "regimented". Early to leave the hotel, Stop A was 30 minutes, Stop B was one hour and so on!

Planning your own trip does take more effort and research, but once you are on your trip, if you want to take an extra hour to stroll along a beach or drive up that inviting looking road, you can do it :-)

9. Re: West Coast Trip 2014

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 16 October 2014, 06:21