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yet another newbie road trip planner!

yet another newbie road trip planner!

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1. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

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Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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61,934 posts
114 reviews
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2. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

Hi Ali S, and welcome to TripAdvisor forums

I'm glad you're willing to do the planning. With the help of other members who know & love the destinations you've chosen, you'll plan a much better trip than a travel agent can do.

Here is one sample itinerary:

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i38853-Three_we…

It includes links to some articles that can help your planning including a primer to the Hwy 1 coastal drive and the drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas via Death Valley (don't exclude it just because of the heat! It's still fabulously beautiful.)

The problem with selecting 'hidden gems' or less visited attractions in major destinations is that you have to skip the attractions that are popular because they're so good! But with your ample planning time, you can determine if the most popular trail in Yosemite is "worth it" or if a quieter Yosemite experience is more "worth it." You can choose to kayak near some marine mammals and go to a tide pool and miss all the other things you might see at a very popular aquarium. You'll have to choose!

Last tip for the moment ~ hotel recommendations are best on the city/destination forum. Read the Top Q for tips about neighborhoods. "Lurk" on the forum by reading other folks threads and saving the best suggestions offered to them (learn quietly.) If needed, post on that forum. Then book as far in advance as possible. Lodging in Yosemite books a year in advance. I think that the South Rim GCNP (in Arizona, not in California) is the same. Some of the best rooms at some Anaheim motels (across the street from Disneyland) book far far in advance as well.

Happy Planning!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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52,484 posts
149 reviews
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3. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

This is August 2016 ? Seriously fares hotel prices are all set about 300 days in advance so while it is good to do research In advance. I don't think most would remember all they researched 2 years ago and it will be a analysis paralysis So no harm reading but don't look at hotels or other things now. Prices will be 10 to 20 percent higher in two years in some areas and perhaps the exchange rate could get better or worse. You get my point

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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20,694 posts
10 reviews
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4. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

For the LA to SF part of your journey, we generally recommend Pismo Beach and Monterey for families. Santa Cruz is about 45 minutes north of Monterey, but the drive to Monterey from Pismo Beach has a lot to see/do, as well as Monterey itself.

Some of the sights worth a stop between Pismo and Monterey:

Morro Bay to see "The Rock"

Hearst Castle

The elephant seal rookery 4 miles north of Hearst Castle

Ragged Point

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Nepenthe/Phoenix Shop (Lunch with a gorgeous view of the Big Sur coastline)

Bixby Bridge

Point Lobos State Reserve

Carmel Beach

The Monterey Bay Aquarium/Cannery Row

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pismo Beach lodging options:

Pismo Lighthouse Suites (Rooms are HUGE and have 2 bathrooms)

Sandcastle Inn (Right on the beach)

Best Western Shelter Cove Lodge

Cottage Inn

The Cliffs Hotel

Dolphin Bay Resort (Upscale)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Monterey lodging:

Monterey Plaza Hotel

Monterey Bay Inn

Andril Fireplace Cottages (A bit rustic, but located in a woodsy area near Asilomar Beach)

Embassy Suites

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Since you will be traveling during peak summer season, you will need to pre-book all your lodgings, keeping in mind that many places along the coast have 2 night minimum requirements on weekends. It would also be prudent to avoid the Monterey area the week of the Con Cours de Elegance Car Show. Rooms are hard to come by that week and lodging rates are through the roof.

yorkshire
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4,235 posts
103 reviews
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5. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

Sounds like your planning an amazing trip .... I can answer your first question. Your travel agents is quite right, you can book flights in one airport and out of another.... You can even have internal flights if you so wish. You are right, do it all yourself, it will be cheaper, and Tailor made just to suit your family plus you'll have a greater satisfaction knowing you did it all.

British airways do multiple flights as we have used them in the past. Easy to do online. You can cross reference dates to compare cheapest. Though flights are not released until 11 months prior.... Also try opodo.

I'm planning our second road trip for next April... Starting from Vegas, Grand Canyon, Scottsdale to San Diego then internal flight back to Vegas.

Happy planning!

Edited: 10 July 2014, 18:15
6. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

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Removed on: 18 July 2014, 11:14
Uden, The...
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60,942 posts
42 reviews
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7. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

Death Valley will be hottest place on earth in summer but no problems with a rental car. Just bring water and the drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas is so much nicer than than driving around it so I strongly suggest to add this drive:

tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g28926-c182361/Cali…

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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20,694 posts
10 reviews
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8. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

Well, I think it's great that you're planning ahead. We have seen a lot of travelers lately attempting to plan last minute summer trips at the height of tourism, which is mind boggling crazy! So ask away now for ideas on things to see/do, places to go, places to eat, stay etc. Making a compilation now and molding it to your travel style well ahead of time is a smart move.

San Francisco
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36,629 posts
26 reviews
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9. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

While it may be too early to get a handle on fares and hotel rates, I'm very pleased to see that someone has done some thinking about their trip and wants to spend some quality time getting to know the state. If I hear from one more person who hasn't researched properly and is trying to shoe horn in the entire CA coast in an hour and a half I will go mad!

Three nights between LA and SF would be Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach (or its environs) and Monterey. Nice stops and not too much driving in any one day. It would not be horrible to cut out Santa Barbara (stop there for lunch instead) but the section of road from Pismo to Monterey deserves an entire day.

Go over to the specific destination forums for specific questions about lodging in those area. For San Francisco, read through our Top Questions as they are quite thorough and very current. There is one there on what to do with kids that could be very useful.

In San Francisco you might have a look at the family suites at the Columbus Motor Inn.

IF you leave out of the SF then plan on dropping your car when you arrive in SF as a car isn't necessary and parking in many places is expensive. The Columbus Motor Inn has free parking but not many places do.

So Cal
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9,391 posts
75 reviews
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10. Re: yet another newbie road trip planner!

Regarding the open-jaw fly/drive question: are you absolutely set on booking these as a package? I would suggest checking to see if this works out easier/cheaper by booking separately by yourself. It's true that open-jaw flights are often more expensive than standard return flights, but often doesn't mean always. And oversees visitors have access to car rentals through agencies that don't charge a one-way drop-off fee. In short, plenty of people do the fly in to one city, rent a car, fly out of another city trip that you want. You just might not be able to get it in a single package.