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How much activity is too much?

Adelaide, Australia
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How much activity is too much?

I've been planning a trip to the US for a while now and my wife and I have had some disagreement as to the mix of activity versus rest and how much driving we should do.

My current plan is to spend about 10 weeks and kinda drive a lap around the country. I've broken down the journey, and we'd be driving about 4-5 hrs on days where we actually travel. Some of these days would end with some light activities or sightseeing, others with nothing specific. The most days travel in a row, without taking a whole day in the one town/city is 5.

I think that it's an ambitious but not agressive schedule and that there will be plenty of time for rest if required. There's not many things which we'd *have to* be at a certain spot by a certain time, or even day. I understand that there will be a lot of cool stuff I'll miss out on, but that's true of most holidays.

My wife thinks it's an impossible schedule and that we will have no time for anything but driving and no energy left over to enjoy anything we do.

I've never really done anything this big since I was a kid, and my memory is a bit fuzzy about it. It's possible I'm only remebering the good parts.

In brief the schedule is;

Land in LA, spend 4-5 days getting over jet lag, and maybe go to a couple of theme parks.

Drive up to Yosemite and spend a couple of days there - mostly sightseeing and light hiking.

Drive to San Francisco and spend a couple of days there.

Spend a few days driving up to Seattle, where I have some friends, and spend a coupldof days there.

Spend about a week driving to and checking out Yellowstone.

5 days driving from Yellowstone to Chicago, and spend a couple of nights there.

I'm giving us a week to get from Chicago to New Jersey, where I have more friends. This will include Niagra falls, and prolly a theme park or two.

Spend a week and a half with friends, and doing some activities in and around NYC.

Drive down to Washington DC, and spend a day there.

Take a few days driving down to Orlando, Florida, and do some parks, the Kennedy Space Centre. ~ 3 days drive, 3 days in Orlando.

Couple of days driving to New Orleans, and a couple of days there.

About 4-5 days getting across Texas, and 3ish in New Mexico.

Get over to the Grand Canyon and spend a couple of days there - Grand Canyon Village, or close enough.

About 3-4 days going the long way around to Vegas, thru south Utah.

Day or two in Vegas.

Drive to LA for a coupleof days or so.

Fly Home.

This is all a ways down the track that we'll be doing any of this, so nothing is set in stone. I guess I'm trying to gague from more experienced holidayers whether my plan is ok, or if I'm being stupid, or what. I'm mainly asking about the pace of the driving and activities, but I'm open to advice on spending more or less time in certain places if it's backed up with reasons.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: How much activity is too much?

I am sure you will have a lot of fun with your trip. I would suggest you post this in the Road trip forum where there are many who share your passion about travel.


Please also put your dates so that people can gauge if this is Summer Fall or winter (hope this is not winter).

Once you have the plans ready then I suggest you post on the local forums say LA or CA or SF for specific ideas once you have read the Top questions, Itineraries and where to stay details that are on the LHS and RHS of the page.

San Diego...
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2. Re: How much activity is too much?

I think what will wear you out is the driving, not the activities. What you are proposing is 7,875 miles (12,600 km) of driving, about 131 hours of sitting in the car. Spread out over 10 weeks it may be acceptable, but I would bet by the time you are near the end of the tour you will be weary of sitting in the car. The long drives across the midwest and later through Texas will seem endless. Seriously I would consider buying high-quality seat cushions for the car which will make a difference over such a long drive.

Assuming you rent a vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon on highways, you will use about 265 gallons of gasoline, and even with a conservative estimate of USD $3.50 per gallon, that's $927.50 for gasoline for the trip, something you will have to consider in your budget. If you can afford this and are willing to sit in the car a lot over the 10 weeks then it sounds like a really fun trip.

What month of the year this trip will be makes a big difference in your route and the temperatures. If this trip is in the summer, when places like Yellowstone will be fully open, then it will be very hot and humid in places like Florida and New Orleans. The southeast should be avoided in the summer months because of the heat and humidity. New York and Washington also suffer from heat and humidity in the summer.

If this trip is in the winter, when Florida and New Orleans are comfortable, then places like Yellowstone could be having temperatures of -50 F (-45 C) and thus would be difficult and uncomfortable to visit. Yellowstone is best from late May through late September.

It will take you 2 days to drive from Seattle to Yellowstone, then Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks deserve 4 full days to see them. You could leave Yellowstone by the northeast entrance and drive the Beartooth Highway for a high mountain drive before continuing on east to Chicago.

New Orleans has their Mardi Gras celebration from about Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 through Tueday, Feb. 21 2012, when the entire city virtually stops everything and turns into one giant party.

June is one of the best months for a large trip like this because of the long hours of daylight, giving you plenty of time for sightseeing each day. September and October are good months for travel in the U.S., as the weather is usually good most places and the big crowds of the summer months are generally gone by then. The famous waterfalls of Yosemite Valley will not be impressive in September and October, though, so if those are a key sight on your trip then May or June would be better for those. But don't go to Yosemite on Memorial Day weekend (which in 2012 is May 26-28) because it's too crowded that weekend. I think 3 full days in Yosemite is best.

There is endless discussion of which Disney resort is best, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim or Walt Disney World in Orlando. Both have their good and bad points. My own opinion is that you should go to Disneyland in Anaheim. In Orlando you could visit Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure park if you are interested in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter there.

One thing missing from your trip is the spectacular central coast of California, incluiding Big Sur, Point Lobos, Carmel and Monterey. You might want to work that in after your time at Yosemite and before San Francisco.

Fremont, California
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3. Re: How much activity is too much?

When I read your trip, I actually liked it.

10 weeks is about the minimum amount of time you want to spend on this loop trip.

You seem to have a good idea where you want to spend more focused time

About the only question I have at this time is what time of year are you doing this? Summer? If in the winter, it would be much harder to do this due to winter driving conditions.

In terms of planning the trip, I would post in each state/city where you want specifics on what to do in that particular area. Road Trip forum is a good place to post as well - since you are seeing so much of America.

Overall though - I like your initial overview plans. (Note: I have tried to plan this trip several times myself and once you said you had 10 weeks, it is possible. Anything less than 10 weeks is a bit hard to do as such a large country.).

Parsippany, New...
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4. Re: How much activity is too much?

Sounds like a FANTASTIC trip! Everyone's idea of "too much" is different...to me it's not too much given the time frame you have.

Just a few suggestions....Yellowstone is easily 3 days and Grand Teton easily a day. We did a horseback ride and float trip in Grand Teton that were fabulous. Also did a chuckwagon dinner out of Jackson. We went to Cody for their rodeo. I really felt like I got a taste of the "west".

Since you're going to Yosemite, I'd see the waterfalls there and skip Niagara Falls. While it is cool to see once, it isn't as high as the ones in Yosemite nor as beautiful as the one in Yellowstone. It's way out of the way from the direction of your trip- about 5 hours each way from New Jersey.

If you can, try to squeeze out at least 2-3 days in Washington DC. I know it may not be "your country's capital", but since you are obviously interested in seeing it, just seeing the monuments alone is a good day and the museums are not to be missed.

On your way to Florida, from NJ, try to stop in Charleston, SC or maybe Savannah, GA for a taste of the "south". Give yourself a day in either one. Try a good southern dish - the shrimp and grits are my favorites in Charleston.

Don't hit any amusement parks on the east coast until you get to Florida. My suggestion is Disney World, but I'm a Disney freak (in case you couldn't tell by my name).

Book any lodgings in the National Parks VERY early- at least a year in advance! Yosemite is already sold out for next June...

Have a GREAT trip!

las vegas
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5. Re: How much activity is too much?

Sounds fun, and I think is quite doable with the amount of time you have. I'm sure many readers will wish they had 10 weeks to travel.

I strongly agree with bw that with that much time, it would be a shame to miss the central California coast, which deserves, in my opinion, at least 3 or 4 days. A "couple" of days in San Francisco is good, but more would be better. Also, southern Utah and its National Parks may warrant a little more time than you have allotted.

Conversely, I think you may have allotted too much time for some other parts of the trip. A week seems like it might be more than you need to get from Chicago to New Jersey. Also, I would probably cut out some of the time you have planned for Texas: yes, it is big and will require a lot of driving time to traverse (maybe 9 hours from, say, Dallas, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico), but there's just not that much to see per mile traveled in that part of the country. If it were me, I would probably just wake up early one day, drink a lot of coffee, and blast on through that stretch in one go, so I could have some extra days to spend elsewhere.

las vegas
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6. Re: How much activity is too much?

Also, you should read the classic American road trip novel, "On the Road," by Jack Kerouac.

Dublin, California
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7. Re: How much activity is too much?

Great trip, just be flexible in your schedule (i.e. book hotels that allow for cancellation). Just briefly I see only one day in Washington DC? That's not nearly enough. At least 4 days to 1 week.

Parsippany, New...
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8. Re: How much activity is too much?

We go to DC frequently. It can be done in 2-3 days if need be. 3-4 days would be ideal. Definitely more than a one day though...

kelev mentioned Utah's parks....Bryce and Zion would be beautiful if you can spare the time to go.

BTW...you only have 3 days alloted to Orlando. If you like theme parks, I'd skip them other parts of the country and spend more time in Orlando. Disney World has 4 parks and to see them all, you can't do it in less than 3-4 days (we usually spend a week there). The Space Center will also take a day.

Oregon Coast
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9. Re: How much activity is too much?

Hi and welcome to TripAdvisor.

I'm going to side with your wife on this one! Whilst I don't necessarily think that it's "too much" overall, I think by the time you get to Washington DC you may both be sick of driving . . . yet you've still got thousands of miles to go.

I know you Aussies are used to driving like mad for hours on end, but I see several of your stops that you could easily add a day or two to make them more enjoyable, but you won't have time.

My thought might be to keep the road trip through to Washington DC, then fly to Florida. Drive to New Orleans, then fly to Arizona, and continue via car from there.

It does sound as if you're trying to cram *everything* in to this one trip, which many if not most of us try to do - we want to see it all!

Also, as several others have mentioned - what time of year?

Adelaide, Australia
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10. Re: How much activity is too much?

Thanks for the replies all.

We're looking at arriving early September and leaving mid November. Looking at the weather around the country, I'm hoping we'll be out of the North before it gets too cold, and down thru the South/Southwest after it's cooled down some.

If it was entirely up to me I'd prefer to speed up some legs of the trip. I'd rather do 2 days full on driving then have an extra day to rest and enjoy myself, my wife would rather have 3-4 days of smaller drives. The first plan I did had us driving from Yellowstone to Chicago in 3 days, but she exercised veto and said she wan't spending that much time in a car in a day, period, let alone 3 days in a row.

This means a bit more time overall getting from A to B, and less time looking at, riding on, and eating B, but it's a deal breaker for her, so way it goes. I'm sure there will be days where we drive for 4 hours, spend a little while looking at the small town we've stopped in, then sit about the motel until dinner. Hopefully this will give enough rest to not make it feel like we're just forever in the car.

I am kinda trying to see most things I'm interested in. It's a bit hard, becuase it's all spread out, but that's also what makes it a fun adventure. We will, I'm sure, wish we had more time here+there, but we could take a 2nd, smaller trip to anything we feel we missed out on in later holidays.

I'm looking at it like a US tasting plate. There will be bits where I'll get my fill of that part, and bits where I'll wish we could stay forever, but without trying it out first it's hard to tell which is which.

I'll have to post in the roadtrips section! The forum menu just broke it down into country, then state, the area. Thanks for the link!