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Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

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Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

Hia guys,

Right - basically I'm just after a little general information and suggestions about road trips in America.

My partner and I are hoping to go to America for a month next April, and he mentioned that he'd like to do the Route 66. I've been looking into doing the trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, rather than Chicago to L.A, but I didn't realize hiring a car would be so expensive. We were hoping in doing it in around 15-16 days, but a car would cost over £1000 for this - is this the general going rate?

Might be a silly question, but neither of us have been to America before so not really got a clue!

If so, we were looking at maybe doing part of the journey - is there any part you'd recommend more than others?

I'd really really appreciate any kind of suggestions!

Thanks guys!!

London, United...
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1. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

You made the right start by posting here. Seriously, that was step one. Tick.

Having said that my advice to you is to go away and do loads of your own reading before getting into too much of the specifics with the experts here.

You need to do your own research to work out where you do actually want to go, where you can live without, how much time you can give, what sort of accommodation you're going to choose and the answers to at least seven other questions. We can't answer those questions for you.

Personally I think you need longer than you've got to do Route 66 justice.

And the reason your car rental costs are coming out so high is you will be charged a whacking great one-way drop-off fee for collecting the car in Los Angeles and dropping it half way round the world in Chicago.

I don't know why your boyfriend wants to do Route 66. He might have strong reasons. Equally it might just be because it's the famous road trip route.

If you're not dead set on it might I suggest you look at a California road trip instead? It's an easier introduction to road tripping in my opinion.

Instantly you will save the one-way drop fees as there is a deal in place where foreigners don't get charged them between places in California, Arizona and Nevada.

You're also in a lot smaller bit of geography so you're a) not covering an enormous distance in your 15-16 days and b) you can actually enjoy the trip rather than it just being a long slog from one place to the next.

April is a great month to be in California.

It doesn't have to be just California. You can include Las Vegas, Arizona, the Grand Canyon...

The Pacific Coast Highway is the second most famous road trip road in America. And definitely the most dramatic.

Accommodation is varied and cheap. You can stay in some swanky hotels, camp and have nights in amazing old motels.

There is every type of place imaginable there... major cities, small towns, wine country, desert, mountains, National Parks.

In 15-16 days you could include most or even all of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Deigo, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Napa wine country, the Pacific coast and a million other small places your research will throw up.

I don't know how set you are on Route 66 but a California road trip would, for me, not only be a valid alternative but a better one.

Something to think about maybe.

Henderson, Nevada
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2. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

As an American, who grew up about a mile from the Mother Road…. Aka RT66… Who has strong feelings about the mother road… I saw signs for RT 66 when going to school…

The story of the road is mythological… the myth is beyond any truth, but the story is good… for Americans the story is frequently less compelling… from those from Europe and other places the story is part of the story of the open road… wide open places… and so is more compelling…

The cartoon “Cars” speaks to the story, as an earlier TV show, (filmed in Black and White) “RT 66” takes place there… there is a song, “Get Your Kicks on RT 66”…

The road called those who wanted to go to Southern California… to Hollywood… to the land of sunshine… of oranges… A westward migration followed the road… The dust bowl migration (read, watch Grapes of Wrath which speaks to the dust bowl and the Okies and the movement west.)

My grandfather followed about 1922… from Colorado

With the road as story… The road, from Chicago to California, takes you through wonderful places… through places that speak to the western experience…. And maybe more important, along the open road… This open road might be the thing that speaks to visitors from far away…

The Mother road runs through a wonderful part of the Southwest… through a wonderful part of the US…

You can drive the road in a week or so… or a few weeks… or more…

If only traveling a part of the road, I would suggest Barstow to Oklahoma City…. It is the best of the open road… and a really nice slice of America…


Tacoma, Washington
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3. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

Randy wrote it well...the part of rte 66 worth seeing is in California and Arizona.

for about 2 weeks in April look at flying into LA and doing a loop rental.

In april and May you can see some one way car rental deals taking you from Phoenix and Vegas to California or to Denver where car companies will give you a really good rate to move their car.

If you move this to late March..its a good time to visit death valley, joshua tree, and the southern arizona national parks. So a sample road trip:

day 1-3 LA

day 4-5 SD

day 6 drive to Tuscon

day 7-9 PArks around Tuscon

day 10 drive to South Rim

day 11 south Rim

day 12/13 route 66

day 14/15 Joshua Tree/Palm Springs

day 16 fly home

Norwich, United...
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4. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

Here's a personal video (not made by me) about a trip along the entire route of US66, in which the creator/narrator hunts out as many of the surviving sections as possible. I think it gives a very good idea of what that drive would be like:


IMHO deciding what to do is all about personal wishes and preferences - but equally it's very important to make that decision based on as much knowledge as possible.

London, United...
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5. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

I should add that a California, Nevada, Arizona road trip can include some great bits of of Route 66 - Kingman to Seligman and Kingman to Oatman - so you needn't miss out entirely.

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6. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

Thank you so so so much for your suggestions people. They are greatly appreciated.

I think to be honest like you said LDN_2009, my other half has taken to the idea as it’s the famous route, and I’m not particularly fussed on doing it or not. Bu I do love your idea of doing the Pacific coast highway. It sounds amazing, and totally more up my street! Have you done this yourself? Or anyone else here done the Pacific Coast Highway.

Today will definitely go on to be a day of a lot of researching this.

I think my other half is also up for this, and feels that maybe Route66 should be left to another time, when we’ve done a few more road trips, and have a little more time (and money!)

But any other suggestions are massively appreciated – it’s such a great forum here!

Thank you so so much!

Norwich, United...
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7. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

> Or anyone else here done the Pacific Coast Highway.

Yes, and it is excellent. Most people are of the opinion that to do it justice, it needs three days from San Francisco to Los Angeles (or vice versa) with overnight stops in the Monterey area and the Cambria/Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo area. Here's a couple of personal videos but there are many more of that road on YouTube:



This is a set of videos made by a small British family who did the popular loop Los Angeles > coast road > San Francisco > Yosemite > Owens Valley > Death Valley > Las Vegas > Los Angeles:


Another great road is I-15, not so much for the road itself (although it's not without some excellent scenery), but more for the large number of great national parks and other scenic areas within a relatively short distance (in US terms) on either side, such as Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier (and Waterton Lakes in Alberta). The road's southern terminus is San Diego but at the northern end it terminates in the middle or nowhere at Sweetgrass, Montana but you could fly out of Great Falls Montana with an internal flight or continue on to the Canadian Rockies, amongst other options - time permitting, of course.

Yet another idea - the Grand Circle, starting in Las Vegas and looping right round the Colorado River as far east as southwestern Colorado, as in this personal video:


There are some excellent commercial videos of the US national parks here:


Here's another couple of personal Route 66 videos:

Kingman to Seligman via AZ66 and Peach Springs (eastbound):


Kingman to Oatman (westbound; complete with wild burros):


London, United...
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8. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

I've done three California/West Coast road trips. Setting off on my fourth, which doubles as my honeymoon, in twenty-seven hours. There are many members here who also have so you do not need to worry about getting opinions (oh no!) and experiences.

Route 66 is great, would be great, but it's ambitious. And I think you would benefit from getting a California road trip under your belt before you attempt it. (And California is better! Nah!)

There is a magical, indescribable, feeling - an energy - in California. A hippy kinda thing. You'll feel it. And you'll love it.

When you embark on your research - it'll take more than just today ;) - think about how you can create a great mix between cities and the outdoors.

A couple of quick planning thoughts:

Virgin Atlantic (BA, too) fly to all of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Maybe it'll work out for you to fly into and out of the same airport. But you don't have to. It won't cost you more to go into one and out of another. So don't feel hamstrung to plan a loop.

If you book your car rental - it has to be a convertible! - through a third party UK broker (like Netflights or Carhire3000) you will not pay a one-way fee to pick up in one place and drop in another. It's a foreigner thing. Book through a rental company direct and you'll probably get hit with it.

Give yourselves a couple of days in all of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Use these as hub destinations from which to string the rest of the itinerary.

Make sure you include some wine country. Even if, like me, you're not wine drinkers.

Absolutely, positively, definitely make sure you go to Yosemite National Park. It made me emotional. And I am the most macho guy ever. EVER. ;)

Time may be tight but if you can drive to and stay at the Grand Canyon it will be a massive improvement over taking a day trip there out of Las Vegas. Imagine sunset, the evening and sunrise at the. Grand. Canyon.

And, of course, the Pacific coast. Oh boy!

At any National Park - so Yosemite and Grand Canyon that I've mentioned - you should book accommodation as early as possible. Don't delay. Your dates are out now and I assure you they are booking up. Even if you end up cancelling, book now. I mean right now!

Additionally, a couple of general road trip tips I scribbled down and some fool here considered worthy of including in the Top questions can be found on the right under 'Planning a road trip', 'Top 5 road trip tips'. If you take those tips onboard I think you will have a better holiday.

Which is all that matters to me!

Norwich, United...
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9. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

ps One other magnificent long drive, this one in the eastern USA: along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains for well over 500 miles from Front Royal, Virginia to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, via Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There's great views (totally different to the western states, and very different in the north to the south), loads of interesting exhibits along the way (nearly all with no entrance charges other than that for the national parks; there's no charge for using the Parkway) such as pioneer farms and cabins, and a lot of very pleasant little towns either side to stay in overnight. But this is not a road for people who like to drive fast for long periods - it's very much a long stretched out national park which just happens to have an access road running through it, a road to drive along at a sedate pace with frequent and numerous stops.

These links are to the official US National Park Service site, which is a great source of information:




Here's a list of the places of interest along the Parkway:


Uden, The...
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10. Re: Road Trip - Possibly Route 66 - no idea where to start!

The name Pacific Coast hw only is valid for the stretch between Oxnard and San Clemente in the great LA area. Other parts of the highway are called Cabrillo Highway but we all just call at hw1 (you'll drive partly on 101) and it runs along Pacific Coast most of the way.