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trip planning from Houston

comoros islands
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trip planning from Houston

Hi, I will arrive at Houston on Sept 4th and seek guidance to visit the following places:

1. Houston to Grand Canyon by air and onward to San Francisco by rent a car. (need to spend 5 days at SF for personal visit)

2. Houston to Yellowstone National Park. (may not be able to club this trip with the above)

3. Houston to visit Prairies.

4. Carribean Cruise from Houston. (4-5 days will be ideal.)

Constraints are minimal budget; i will be travelling alone. I am a teetotaler but not a veggie, got an international driving permit so would love to explore the countryside and nature by road. I will have roughly one month for the above activities.

Thanks in advance

Pearland, Texas
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1. Re: trip planning from Houston

The closest airport to the Grand Canyon is Las Vegas. Check for flights on Southwest airlines from Houston Hobby to Las Vegas. I suggest you fly from Las Vegas to San Francisco.

I'm not familiar with Yellowstone so I can't advise.

What do you mean by Prairies? The Great Plains?

Check Carnival or Princess Cruises for cruises from Galveston. Four or five day cruises will probably stop in Mexico and the Cayman Islands. Cruises for the eastern Caribbean typically depart from ports like Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Edited: 01 September 2013, 06:20
Houston, TX
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2. Re: trip planning from Houston

IMO, if you are arriving in 3 days time and have nothing researched, planned or booked except a rental car, your chances of making this work aren't too good. As a solo traveler, the distances involved are so great that you would spend days in the car driving hundreds of miles to try to do just GCNP, SF and Yellowstone.

There are factors that I think you have not considered. Re the rental car--if you pick up the car in one place and drop it off in a different one, you will pay a high drop-off fee each time you do this. If you are planning to rent a car in Houston and return it to Houston, the distances you must drive are immense. Go to a site like www.travelmath.com and check driving distances and times. Bear in mind that the times given are for driving without stops for anything at all and don't take into account weather, traffic or construction delays. Lodging at the national parks opens for booking a year in advance and most things book up fully. For lodging at GCNP South Rim use www.grandcanyonlodges.com to check. If nothing shows up, call them directly--cancellations do occur and you might get lucky. If they have anything at all take it. You can also check Tusayan AZ, the small gateway town at the southern entrance to GCNP--there are 5 or 6 places there but you will have the same pricing and availability problems. Same with Yellowstone--go to the nps website and follow the links for lodging. That will get you to the official vendor for bookings.

You could fly from IAH to LAS and pick up a rental car there. Drive to GCNP South Rim; stay at least one night at a lodge in the park so you can see sunrise and sunset. Then you could choose to drive in the direction of SF via Route 66 through Kingman, back through Las Vegas and see Valley of Fire SP, visit Death Valley National Park, possibly Yosemite (fire burning there now) and then into SF. Return to LAS via Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks and fly back to IAH. Separate trip for Yellowstone, flying there and back.

Another thought would be to post this on the Road Trips forum here on TA, but first do a bit of research so you can have a realistic plan. Also define what you mean by prairies.

Houston
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3. Re: trip planning from Houston

Another consideration is that you may end up booking one-way airline trips, which can often be EXTREMELY expensive (sometimes more than the cost of round-trip tickets). If you're flying with the same airline, try to book the trip as "multiple destinations", which will allow you to do a combination of flying and driving without the exorbitant costs.

As previously noted, "drop charges" for picking up an auto in one city and leaving it in another can add quite a bit to the cost of rentals, so be sure to check into that before your rental.

If you're trying to get to Yellowstone National Park ("YNP"), the closest airports are going to be Billings, Montana, Idaho Falls or Pocatello, Idaho. I doubt you'll find any cheap air fares into any of those airports. You could probably fly into Salt Lake City for a reasonable fare, rent a car, and drive roughly 200-250 miles into YNP, but that's probably the closest airport to which you could get a good fare. You could then return the car to Salt Lake City and fly to San Francisco, and eventually, from San Francisco to Houston. Here's the website for Southwest Airlines:

http://www.southwest.com/flight/?int=GNAVBOOKAIR&disc=pdc:1378063975.412000:EaQQj8Q4TkCgqXckidQU-A@74AC5095C29013C52C9A7BAFA4572448ADDE911E&ss=0&cid=&companyName=&memberName=

Aubrey, Texas
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4. Re: trip planning from Houston

I would rent an economical car in Houston and drive. Google Maps puts it at 4700 miles Houston-Yellowstone-San Francisco-Grand Canyon South Rim-Houston. The large majority of the route is over fast interstates. Allowing for slower highways and breaks you may average 55 mph, so that'sabout 85 hours on the road.

If you subtract 5 days in San Francisco, 5 for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs, and a couple at Grand Canyon from your month you've got 18-19 days to drive. But you'll probably want to see some other places near your route such as Lake Tahoe, Yosemite or Monument Valley which will require detours and driving time. Allowing about 4 extra days for that leaves 14 days to drive or an average of 6 hours per day which is no problem for a solo driver.

Along the way you'll go through the southern and western part of the Great Plains. Much of the plains was put to the plow long ago but there are large stretches where prairie grass goes on for miles.

As mentioned lodging may be a problem at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. You can dodge that issue by camping. You'll recover the cost of a small tent, sleeping bag, blanket and mattress the first night. No need to worry with cooking equipment as both parks have cafeterias and restaurants convenient to the larger campgrounds. Bear in mind that it gets chilly at night in Yellowstone and cool at Grand Canyon so you'll need appropriate clothing.

If a long road trip appeals to you, take the suggestion to post on the Road Trips forum for ideas.

5. Re: trip planning from Houston

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