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first timer - looking for direction

Sydney
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first timer - looking for direction

G'day guys, have been lurking in the forum for the past week or so, looking for any tips as planning a solo trip to California in July 2014.

I'm a 50yo male travelling solo & first time to the mainland USA,

l have 3 weeks holidays and i'm trying to decide between either doing it solo (travelling along the coast from SF to LA & San Diego) or joining an 'Intrepid' style tour and have free time before and afterwards.

A couple of options so far;

1) do it solo, SF>LA>SD (& maybe Vegas) for 16 days.

2) 12 day "Intrepid Wild Western USA" tour that covers LA > SD > Joshua > Grand Canyon > LV > Yosomite & SF). (4 days free in LA before & 2 days free in SF afterwards)

3) 10 day "Intrepid California Coast" (LA>Santa Barbara>San Luis Obispo>Monterey>SF.) with 7 days free afterwards (hopefully fly SFO>San Diego to see a mate, then back to LA.)

I choose these Intrepid tours as they cover places I'd like to see but probably wouldn't do if i was travelling solo (sit back and let someone else do the thinking/driving hehe).

I've previously done an Intrepid tour thru Vietnam and loved it, especially travelling with likeminded others rather than doing it on my own.

Anyway, I guess I'm just 'thinking out loud' in posting this, but feel free to join me in my thoughts.

cheers

Edited: 31 December 2013, 04:51
Chula Vista...
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1. Re: first timer - looking for direction

Hi John

Welcome. First, are these the tours that you're looking at?

intrepidtravel.com/us/…california-coast-69859

intrepidtravel.com/us/…wild-western-usa-72843

Personally, I've never gone on a guided tour like those. I'm just too independent minded and like to stop when I want, where I want, for as long as I want, and don't want to be rushed by a schedule. But, as a fellow solo traveler, I admit that I miss out on some of the knowledge and insights that come with a guided tour.

Of those two tours, I would pick the California Coast tour (although the link I have is 8 days, not 10 as you said). It's a more reasonable schedule / pace than the other. The Wild Western USA tour has too much driving time and too little touring time, IMO. It just doesn't do some of those destinations justice.

If I were to take three weeks, I would spend nights number:

1-4 in San Francisco

5 & 6 in Yosemite

7 in Monterey

8 in Cambria

9 in Santa Barbara

10-13 in Los Angeles

14 - 17 in San Diego

18 in Palm Springs

19-20 in Las Vegas

If you're doing a return trip in/out of San Francisco, you can catch a short internal flight on Southwest Airlines back to SFO from Las Vegas (their fares only appear on their website, www.southwest.com).

Also, if you use a third party consolidator for your car rental, the usual one-way drop off fee is waived for foreign visitors for rentals between California and Las Vegas. Check out this post in the Road Trips Forum for more tips on that:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k4713887…

Only you can decide which you enjoy more--being on a guided tour or exploring on your own.

Hope this helps with your decision-making and planning.

Zed

Sydney
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2. Re: first timer - looking for direction

G'day and thanks for your reply, after doing my sums! I've taken a different approach, spend 8 days in San Diego / LA region and then 6 days in Waikiki relaxing! on the way back to Sydney. cheers for your reply.

Chula Vista...
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3. Re: first timer - looking for direction

Hi John,

Glad to help out and I think your new plan is a great one. You'll have a built in tour-guide here in San Diego with your mate here, and LA can be quite interesting.

Perhaps to give you a little taste of the desert area, you spend 3-4 nights here in San Diego; 1 or 2 nights in Palm Springs (only a 2.5 hour drive from here); and the remainder in LA.

I can give you a primer on San Diego if you tell me a little more about your interests or, perhaps more appropriately, you post a question in the San Diego forum so that others can chime in with their ideas as well.

Zed

Anaheim, California
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4. Re: first timer - looking for direction

There is a lot to do/see in the Southern Caliofrnia area, such as South to North up the coast, San Diego County, Orange County and Los Angeles County.

Heading inland, Riverside County is popular with places like Temecula and Palm Springs/Palm Desert area.

What do you like to do, there are major popular Tourist attractions such as Theme/Amusement Parks, Aquariums and Zoos, lots of Shopping including plenty of Outlets Malls, National Forests such as the Cleveland National Forest, maybe check out a few of the Missions in the area, Indian Casinos are plenty, though not really near the main city areas, and much more...

www.sandiego.org

www.visittheoc.com

www.discoverlosangeles.com

www.visitpalmsprings.com

Edited: 01 January 2014, 04:16
San Diego...
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5. Re: first timer - looking for direction

Since you may be visiting San Diego in July, just make note that the annual Comic-Con convention will be in San Diego from July 24 to July 27, 2014. That convention brings an estimated 100,000 extra people to San Diego, and everything will be crowded and probably more expensive, especially in the downtown area. I would recommend you plan to be somewhere else instead of San Diego during those dates.

Anaheim, California
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6. Re: first timer - looking for direction

Good point about ComicCon, avoid the San Diego area if you can on the dates mentioned, maybe a day or two earlier and/or later.

Also, the Palm Springs/Palm Desert can get VERY Hot in July, and I would look at coastal options instead. (Love the are, just not in the middle of the summer).

Edited: 01 January 2014, 04:58
Sydney
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7. Re: first timer - looking for direction

Just to finalise this posting. I was only able to book into San Diego for 3 nights (instead of 4) in the SD Gaslight area as was 'priced out of town' on the 4th night due to 'Com Con'.

No real drama or problems though as I was intending on an early start after the 4th night to catch very early train to Anaheim.

So I can still enjoy my last day/morning in SD, maybe check out the USS Midway, have some lunch and then catch a train (love trains) to Anaheim in time to check in, spend the afternoon at the Outlets then be at Disney bright and early the next day.

I'm staying 2 nights at Anaheim Hilton and then will move onto to LA for 4 more nights.

I'm unsure if to hire car in Anaheim and drive up to LA but think I will catch a train to LA Union Station, metro to hotel. (as mentioned I love trains) and rent a car later after I've exhausted everything i can see on public Transport. .

I'm staying at Hollywood Celebrity Hotel and I'll spend another night in a hotel near LAX so will hopefully be able to drive myself to LAX and drop off the car off the night before as I have an early morning departure to Waikiki for a further 6 nights.

Anyway, hotels are booked (yippee!) so plenty of time to oraganise the rest. Thanks again for your feedback,

cheers

Brett

8. Re: first timer - looking for direction

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