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USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

Perth, Australia
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USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

Hi - wondering if anyone can offer some advice/wisdom/ideas on the following itinerary as we have never been to the states before. Looking at arriving 2 days after christmas 2013/14 coming in from Australia..We will have two kids with us aged 15 and 12.

Fly into LA stay 1 night

LA to San Francisco (flight?) 2 nights

Drive - Napa valley stay overnight (1)

Las vegas (Drive from napa? or fly ex San Fran) stay 4 nights (new years in vegas)

Return Los Angeles (Fly ex vegas or drive?)

Stay Los Angeles 5 nights to include trip to San diego (1 -2 Nights)

LA to mexico (fly) Stay 7 nights (cabo San lucus and Playa del carmen)

Mexico to New York (via LA or direct?)

Stay New York 8 nights

Travel by train to washington stay 3 nights

Travel to Orlando Florida (Fly?) Disney world 5 nights

Cruise 4 days ex orlando to Bahamas

Return to LA for flight home...

Looking at approx 6 weeks - can anyone offer any travel ideas/suggestions for travelling between these places - we definately want to get a hire car for Vegas so we can see the Grand Canyon and are aware that a hire car in LA might not be a good idea due traffic ect.


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1. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

I'd rather see you drive LA to SF to Napa to Yosemite to Vegas to GC to SD and back to LA. There is great natural beauty to be seen on the Cal Coast and even crossing the Desert to Vegas and back to SD via AZ.

Traffic is a time of day issue in LA:


but it should not stop you from renting a car here.

LA to Vegas is 5 hours: http://goo.gl/maps/3ond6

The longest run from Yosemite to Vegas is 8 hours:


That can be a long day but you'll see much and the kids will be sleeping in the back seat for many miles.

All my advice is worth the price,


West Hollywood...
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2. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

A few things come to mind:

1. Are there no direct flights from Australia to San Francisco? It seems odd to stay 1 night in L.A. If you can't fly direct, then I'd transfer to a flight to the SF area when you arrive at LAX. Southwest.com has hourly flights into OAK (an airport in the SF metro area). You could certainly drive from LA to SF and for that, you'd need a layover in L.A. to combat the 'jet lag' but the drive should involve stopping overnight at least once (like at Cambria) but if you do that, you'll have only one night in SF which isn't enough. Perhaps you could take an extra night from Las Vegas (or somewhere else).

2. Driving from Napa to Las Vegas in the best of conditions would take 10 hours (without stopping for food, petrol, toilet breaks, sightseeing, etc) and, as it will be winter, there will be climate issues (road closures due to snow, etc, to deal with). I'm not an expert on this route but I would consider flying out of OAK on southwest to Las Vegas (or break the drive into 2 days -- at least).

3. You understand that if you're going to drive to the SOUTH RIM of the Grand Canyon (not the WEST RIM), you will have to stay overnight so that will take one day from your Las Vegas visit (which is fine because 4 nights in LV is too long, especially for your kids who won't be able to enter any casino or bar and will be barred from some entertainment either by the venue or their parents.

After a drive from LV to the Grand Canyon and back, I'd fly to L.A. but that's up to you.

Again, San Diego is an overnight visit. Yes, you could drive up and back but that would be 5 to 6 hours (return) so you'll spend as much time visiting the city as you will driving to and from it. Besides, if you plan to fly to Mexico, it makes the most sense to spend 4 nights in L.A., drive to SD, spend one night there and then fly out of SD to Mexico (since SD is adjacent to the Mexico border).

Seven nights in Los Cabos is generous. You could do it, I guess, if you liked being lazy for a couple of days. I wouldn't fly to NY via L.A. unless the routing called for it. Most probably, you could get a non-stop flight or maybe a one-stop via Houston, Texas or Dallas, Texas. Look at Kayak.com and put in your starting and ending points and see what routing they offer.

I grew up in NY and 8 nights is a long visit to NY. You could fill it up with attractions but you'd need to do some research and decide what you're going to do. If it were me, I'd spend 5 nights in NY and 3 nights in Boston, Massachusetts.

You can travel between Boston, NY and Washington, DC by train or fly (or drive, for that matter).

Have fun!

Washington State
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3. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

The drive from Yosemite Valley to Las Vegas via Hwy 99 is even longer than 8 hours, and that assumes no stopping, no tule fog, no snow or chain restrictions in Yosemite NP. http://goo.gl/maps/jhNzd Winter driving info on the Yosemite forum can help you.

I think this itinerary is just silly. You are racing from destination to destination, and not stopping to enjoy them. You are visiting at the time of year with the fewest hours of daylight and the worst weather. Airport delays will happen. You need to check in 1.5 - 2.5 hrs before each flight, so you lose many days just to flying.

With six weeks in late December & all of January, consider....

California ~ San Francisco, Yosemite (snow sports?), coastal drive, Los Angeles, San Diego ... 2+ weeks

Eastern US ~ New York, Boston, Washington DC ... 2 weeks

Play time ~ pick two: Orlando, Bahamas cruise or Pacific side Mexican cruise, 1 week in Playa del Carmen *or* Cabo San Lucas. But pick just two - Disneyworld, cruise, Mexican beach

Santa Monica, CA
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4. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

I question going to Napa and Las Vegas with your kids. Neither of those places are really designed for young people. Yes, I know plenty of people take their kids to LV, but I've asked the kids if they had fun and they are usually quite bored while there.

I also would choose the Bahamas over Mexico. But I would go further and advise a different island, like one of the US Virgin Islands, rather than Bahamas (personal preference). Or choose Belize over Mexico. Safer, more eco-tourism, incredibly nice people, and better jungle/Maya temples, etc. as Mexico's Yucatan - and you can drink the water!

You know that weather will be a factor in the northeast? How are you going to pack? You'll need spring type clothing here in LA, San Diego, Florida, Caribbean, Mexico. You'll need really, REALLY warm clothing for Boston and New York. Luggage alone is making my head spin!

You are traveling during peak travel times and when weather is at its worst. There will be airport delays, count on it. I've seen plenty of December news stories of people stranded in airports for days.

Sorry to be such a downer, but there are some very real weather and logistical hurdles that you need to consider. We all want you to have a special vacation, see some wonderful places, and have great family experiences. I fear you will be intimate friends with airports instead!

So Cal
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5. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

Wow, this is an awful lot of criss-crossing the continent...but it's your vacation. Actually, I think it's mostly doable...it's just a lot of moving around. Kind of like 4 separate packed trips stacked one after the other. :-)

I will ditto the suggestions to skip Vegas with the kids. They won't be able to do any of the New Year's stuff at all, which will be a damper for all of you. The Grand Canyon is worth it if you can work it in, LV might be a bust.

Cabo San Lucas and Playa Del Carmen are pretty much at opposite ends of Mexico. I think PDC is perhaps safer at the current time. (Do your research on that.) Also more to do outside the hotels and a bit more kid-friendly, and I think has more value for money. Lovely beaches! Also, if you end up in PDC, you should be able to get a direct flight on to our east coast. ***Avoid changing planes in Mexico City if you possibly can - the delays can be awful.

Depending on your interests, you probably could fill eight nights in NYC. Or add some of them to Washington - we spent nine days there and there were still things we had to skip.

Is there a particular reason you'd be flying back to LA from the Bahamas? Because that's probably a three-leg-flight just to get to LAX. There has got to be a better use of your time and money.

You have quite a bit of time to plan, fortunately. I would buy a couple good guidebooks on your main areas and research what you really want to see and spend time on. You might find yourself eliminating some places.

Washington State
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6. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

Belo ~ Cabo is incredibly safe. There is only one road down the 1,000 mile peninsula, so 'Bad Guys' can't get in & out easily.

I'm looking forward to hearing back from JasonandTrishOZ.

So Cal
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7. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

PNWF, by safe, I was thinking less of the organized crime/drug war issues and more of the petty extortion, e.g. pulled over and charged cash for a traffic infringement, plus icky stuff down at the tourist docks (offers of drug sales, prostitutes etc). That didn't seem to be an issue around PDC. But times and areas do change.

Edited: 11 September 2012, 02:19
San Francisco...
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8. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

Would you want to visit BOTH Disneyland, CA and Disney World, FL?

9. Re: USA Trip - Advice/suggetsion

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