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cynlouhoo Jan 24th, 2006 08:37 AM

BC to Texas with kids-July
We (family of 5)are planning a big road trip from BC to Texas this July. Major stops we are planning are 2 nights in Vegas (hope to take in at least one show), 2 nights in Phoenix Az (family there), 3 nights in Italy, Texas (family there, but also plan to go to Six Flags), and MAYBE 1 night in New Braunfels (for the big waterpark, Schlitterbaun). We'd want to take a different, but as fast as possible, route back home.....but realize there may be sites we'd be crazy to pass up. FYI, kids will be 9, 13, and 18 by July. Also, we need to do the round trip in a 2 week time frame!
Any advise that may help us with this adventure (sites, good and affordable hotels, etc)? Are we totally nuts?!

happytourist Jan 24th, 2006 10:27 AM

Yes, unless you like driving frantically from one place to another without seeing anything. Here are the distances:
Bellingham WA (don't know your BC location) to Las Vegas: 1350 miles; LV to Phoenix 300 miles; Phoenix to New Braunfels 1000 miles; New Braunfels to Italy 200 miles. That's 2,850 miles to Texas (or five days driving at 600 miles per day) and you still have to go back home. Two nights Phoenix, 2 LV, 3 Italy, 1 NB = 8 nights. That's 13 nights. Can you get back home in one day? I'd say do Texas as one trip and then do Las Vegas and Arizona in another one. There's just too much to see to rush through it.

wsoxrebel Jan 24th, 2006 11:04 AM

It is a rather ambitious trip but if your family won't mind the togetherness, it could be fun. Your 18 year old can help drive, right? That gives you 3 drivers. You could then cover quite a bit of ground during the nights and have the days for sightseeing.

In TX, LaQuinta Inns routinely run $49/night specials. You can also check on the TX tourism websites for discounts.

The weather is awfully hot in TX summer and that may slow you down. Have you ever toured in 100+ degree heat before?

cynlouhoo Jan 24th, 2006 05:52 PM

Hmmmm, perhaps I need to re-check my expedia maps. My figures show that the 2 week plan is do-able, but no doubt somewhat hurried. Could be that in my excitement, the math suffered ;-) I am figuring on at least 10-12 hr driving days (or nights). BTW, our BC location is Kamloops, so we'd cross at Bellingham. Just a short drive to the border crossing.
Thanks for the hotel info. We like a CLEAN place, but doesn't have to be fancy...pools are always a treat in the summer. Will check out the LaQuinta. I'm originally from AZ so am familiar with summer temps in the triple digits. Our summers in Kamloops can be just as roasty, and we definately rely on air conditioned vehicles and homes.
Another idea I had, but would substantially increase costs, is to rent a vehicle and drive to Texas, drop the vehicle and fly home. I can already guess what my hubby will say about that plan. Based on the timeline, we may have to do that (still a lot cheaper than 5 round trip tickets I imagine). I'm not sure we can cut anything out at this point. We are too excited about all aspects of the trip, not to mention that family is a big part of this.
Thanks for your ideas and comments so far!

trippinkpj Jan 24th, 2006 06:08 PM

That is a lot to do in two weeks. I would use a mapping website and plan it all out. July in Vegas and Phoenix is usually nasty hot (even worse than Texas I think. Oh, my daughter lives in Austin, it's a great place.

bob_brown Jan 24th, 2006 06:11 PM

By the shortest route you are looking at 2,600 miles Kamloops to New Braufels, Texas. That means more than 800 miles a day if you make it in 3 days. That means averaging nearly 70 mph for 12 hours.
No stopping allowed to achieve that average.

If you go via Las Vegas, you are looking at 2,900 miles. That is a total driving distance to and return of 5,500 miles.

These figures add up to considerable driving. I can tell you from experience, that doing 700 miles a day for 3 consecutive days is very wearing.
You do very little other than sit in the car and drive hour after hour.

In reasonable terms, I think you would need 6 days to get there and 5 to get home. Even at that you would not see much well.

When I think of what you would go roaring past with no more than a cursory glance, I am reminded of how my father traveled. Success measured by miles covered per day, miles per gallon of gasoline, and how little he paid for a motel. Fun trips, all of them.

cynlouhoo Jan 24th, 2006 07:23 PM

Thanks to you all. You've certainly given me a lot to think about. And FYI, the driving plan is definately more about cost savings than seeing the country. Not that we don't ever want to see it, but the purpose of this particular trip is really the destination points. For a more relaxing and scenic trip we would probably opt for a cooler time of the year and of course we wouldn't be trying to cram in so much. In a nutshell, the trip is primarily about the people we will see.

rkkwan Jan 24th, 2006 08:16 PM

Do not do it. It's just going to be drive drive drive for you guys.

While you think you may save some money over flying, gasoline isn't cheap either.

I suggest you fly to Vegas, and then rent a car from there. Check drop off prices on rental car, and open-jaw ticket costs. If possible, fly back from San Antonio. Or just back to Vegas and fly home from there.

spunki Jan 24th, 2006 09:30 PM

Agree with majority opinion that it's going to be too rushed, and in my humble opinion it won't be fun either. I second rkkwan's suggestion to fly at least some of it -- check Southwest airlines for cheap fares/ sales.

Also agree w/ bob_brown. I too have recollections of long road trips w/ the family when I was young... definitely recall NOT enjoying the long hrs on the road!!

TheWeasel Jan 25th, 2006 07:08 AM

Using an estimate of 5500 miles round-trip, that's 275 gallons of gas (assuming 20 miles per gallon). At $3 gas it'll cost you $825 to drive. Of course, this assumes you're driving your own vehicle, and that the mileage and gas price estimates are reasonably close.

To fly 5 people anywhere, and then rent a car for the remainder of the trip for under $825 is pretty much impossible. Economically at least, driving your own vehicle seems to make the most sense. And given that the primary purpose of your trip is to see family, I say go for it. Speed limit on the interstates in most places you're driving will be 70 or 75, so that should help get you there a bit quicker.

Maybe it would help if you would plan out your route backwards, and figure out exactly how long it will take get home from Texas. Once you know that, you'll know how many days you have for everything else, and you can decide whether to cut corners here and there if you need to. One place I'd suggest cutting is 1 night in Las Vegas (if you need to cut anywhere, that would be the obvious choice).

rkkwan Jan 25th, 2006 08:00 AM

Of course driving will still be cheapest with 5 people. But 5,500 miles of driving is like 100 hours. That's an average of almost 7 hours of driving each day for two week straight. I just don't see how that can be enjoyable.

Chele60 Jan 25th, 2006 11:16 AM

I agree with TheWeasel. If the primary purpose of your trip is to see family and not scenery, and the objective of the road trip is to save money, go by car.

When I was 16 my family drove 5,000 miles round trip for a family reunion over a period of 2 weeks. California to Wisconsin in less than 3 days. Yes, we drove 12 hour days. No, we didn't stop except to get gas, quick (VERY quick) eats, and bathroom breaks. But, heck, there just ain't that much to see in Nebraska and Iowa, anyway! Likewise with most of the deserts of Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico!

My advice? Really plan this out. Utilize all drivers. And one important thing my father did: no driver drives for longer than 2 hours, MAX!

Sure tempers got tight, especially on the way home (but, hey, this happens on a long flight home, too), but I do look back on that trip fondly. I still think that road trip was where I developed my fondness for road trips, and where I learned patience in dealing with people in uncomfortable situations. I'd say go for it. (But do cut one night in Vegas - really, only one night is needed.)

cynlouhoo Jan 26th, 2006 08:53 AM

You guys come up with some awesome ideas! Not that our final plans are going to be easy to firm up, but it has been really helpful posting here. Thanks again. I will be sure to give you the full trip report (good, bad, ugly) when we have made it back is a little ways off still, but a trip this big needs some advance planning I figure.

cynlouhoo May 6th, 2006 08:51 AM

Just thought I would post an update on our trip plans.
Based on the great tips from all of you, we have planned on a partial fly option for this major adventure. We opted to fly from Vancouver to Las Vegas (July 1st) where we will rent a car, after spending a couple nights there, we will drive to Phoenix (family visit) and spend a couple nights there, we will then drive to New Braunfels (spending the night about half way, of course....either Van Horn or Pecos?...we may want to check out Carlsbad Caverns), we are spending 2 nights in New Braunfels (one full day at Schlitterbaun, but staying offsite), heading for Italy, Texas (family reunion) next for 2 nights, then Arlington for our last night (to take in Six Flags and to be closer to the airport), and then we are flying back to Van from Dallas!!! As it turns out, I recently got a new job, so spending the extra days for driving the entire trip would not have worked out.....besides, with 2 out of 3 kids who get car sick, that much driving really started to look unrealistic!
Thanks again for helping to plan this major trip. I look forward to giving you a full trip report when we are back. I am very particular about hotels, so we have been careful about our choices. I'll be sure to give hotel details too! I know I always appreciate reading about hotel experiences.

Wish us luck! BTW, if anyone had any last minute advice about our travel between Phoenix and New Braunfels regarding accomodations or attractions mid way, please feel free. That is the ONLY part of our trip not settled. Otherwise, everything is booked! :-)

TheWeasel May 6th, 2006 09:25 AM

"if anyone had any last minute advice about our travel between Phoenix and New Braunfels regarding accomodations or attractions mid way"

There's a big can of worms you just opened up. :)

Lots of stuff in Tucson to do. AZ-Sonoran Desert Museum is cool, but after spending a couple days in PHX and facing a 2 day drive thru the desert, it might not be all that interesting. (??)

Carlsbad Caverns are a bit out of the way. Kartchner Caverns east of Tucson are fairly close to the interstate. I've not been to either, so I don't know which would be "better". You do need reservations to tour the caves at Kartchner though.

In Texas: Balmorhea State Park has a massive (1.75 acre) spring fed public pool, which might be nice in the middle of summer. McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis has "Star Parties" every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday night (special program where you can look through their telescopes). A little out of the way, Monahans Sandhills State Park has sand surfing/sledding.

You mentioned staying in Van Horn or Pecos. If you're willing to go a bit out of the way, Fort Davis is at a higher elevation and will be cooler. Plus, you'd be close to the observatory, as well as Fort Davis Nat'l Historical Site and Davis Mtns. State Park. FDNHS is pretty good, and would take maybe 2 hours or so, depending on how interested you/your family is in old Army stuff.

Mapquest says about 10 hours from PHX to Fort Davis, and 6.5 hours from there to New Braunfels.

cynlouhoo May 6th, 2006 05:56 PM

Thanks Weasel,
I guess I did open up a can of worms. But, as usual, I am happy with the ideas I get here.
I should have mentioned that we don't have a lot of spare time on the trip between Phoenix and New Braunfels, so I suppose whichever attraction/site is least out of the way, while still being worth the visit, is really what we'd be looking for. I'll run these latest ideas past hubby (the driver). I don't think it is a panic to book a room super quick for this particular leg of the journey. Fort Davis sounds a little familiar...I wonder if the accomodation choices are less than the others I mentioned, and that's why I wasn't thinking of it as a potential stop-over? I will check again though....lots of small towns around that area, so who knows what I checked out.
As hot as I know it will be, I am still starting to get very excited for this trip! :-)

TheWeasel May 6th, 2006 08:29 PM

You're right, there aren't a lot of options in Fort Davis for accomodations. I doubt anyone would be booked up for July though, so you'd probably be able to get anything.

There is nothing in the way of fast food either, something which distressed me when I got there at 10pm and just wanted to eat NOW. It's a fairly small place.

happytourist May 7th, 2006 06:50 PM

Trust me! Get a reservation in Ft. Davis if you're going to stay there. We also didn't think we needed one, but almost had to stay the night in the minivan. If you stay in Pecos, be sure to check for reviews. The worst place we've ever stayed was in Pecos. The best place to stay, if you can get a reservation, would be Indian Lodge Historic Site, the hotel in Davis Mountains State Park. It was built in the 1930s and looks like old Indian dwellings. Lots of nice hiking trails, too.

pepper131 May 8th, 2006 01:15 PM

cyn -

There a cool vintage shop in Foreston along Hwy 77 - just north of Italy, TX. There is a sign that says "Vintage Market".

We often spend the day there - my older son (12) plays chess with John (who owns the store with his wife Barbara - they're an older couple) while I'm upstairs looking through jewelry, etc. It's a fun if you are into that kind of thing....they have the best stories - like how Barbara knew someone who dyed Bonnie's (Bonnie and Clyde) hair while making their get-away to Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors.

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