Carefully Plan, or Carefree Car Trip?

Apr 18th, 2009, 10:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 3
Carefully Plan, or Carefree Car Trip?

I have always wanted to go on a nice, relaxed car trip. To just get in a nice rented car and drive and drive and drive while enjoying the radio and the scenery. Part of me thinks it would be nice to drive from the west coast through Nevada and into Utah and to just find lodging when I get tired, or do not feel like driving at night. Another part of me feels like I need to carefully research my lodging options and plan in advance where I will want to stay. If I plan things out, then that may hamper some of the carefree portion of the trip, but it would make certain I am getting a fair price for the hotel and can know the reviews of the hotel in advance as I will not take internet access with me when I travel.

I also want the trip to be 5 days long...not sure if I can reach Utah and back in that amount of time.

Do you recommend any good websites specifically for road trips?
dreamsoftravel is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 04:45 AM
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I believe I would at least have some points of interest, particularly in those two states. There is a lot of distance to be covered. And since I would not care for Reno or Las Vegas, Nevada might be just a drive through (and we have done it). UTah has some very lovely natural beauties, plus Salt Lake City. A rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle choir is a stunning event.
Gretchen is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Where are you leaving fom ???
The idea of going "bare" -no reservations-as my husband calls it (which he will not do)
is OK for weekdays and not in "tourist" season..
I love your idea-just driving, radio on or favorite CDs..Brings back great memories..
Some of our best trips were spur of moment--then again I can remember a disaster or two...
I totally agree about SLC. Las Vegas its self is remarkable but all routes to get there are sort of
"wide open spaces" OK if you like desert..
Reno area at least has beautiful Lake Tahoe nearby. One thing to consider both these places have bargains in lodging..
Main thing--do not give up on this..Idea is great..
traveler24 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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I appreciate all of your suggestions. Right now the idea is floating around in my head of a low-cost, but uber relaxing vacation via car.

I really want to visit some of the scenery and landscapes of Utah and Nevada. I will check the Utah board of tourism to start jotting down some key points of interest. Since I tend to plan a lot for my vacations, the idea of just stopping in random spots, or driving along a scenic route is very alluring.
dreamsoftravel is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>>I have always wanted to go on a nice, relaxed car trip. To just get in a nice rented car and drive and drive and drive while enjoying the radio and the scenery. Part of me thinks it would be nice to drive from the west coast through Nevada and into Utah and to just find lodging when I get tired, or do not feel like driving at night.

That is the way we do all our annual road trips, except we do not rent a vehicle but use our own. We will start our road trip odyssey in mid June this year and will not return to our home in Florida for 2½ months. Last year we stayed in well over thirty different motels, all without reservations. Its a wonderful way to travel if time permits. If you are wanting to keep cost at the very lowest mix a few days of camping in with the motel stays as we do.. To borrow a phrase - No reservations required.
RedRock is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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When are you planning this and from where will you start?

I think Utah is a little far for a 5 day roundtrip from the West Coast if you want to see anything and spend some time there. However, if you fly into Salt Lake or Vegas and rent a car, that's another matter.

You could do a nice 5 day trip through the Eastern Sierra and Western Nevada by car from SF. Nevada is a very interesting state but much of what's neat is out on the backroads where camping is the best option.

Also, if you want to explore the desert don't forget about southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho.
Supercilious is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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FWIW . . We do all our trips that way. If we have a particular location in mind that requires reservsations ( e.g. El Tovar at the Grand Canyon ) we will plan around that, but otherwise, we pretty much just wander around to see what we happen upon.

We do take lots of maps, brouchures and magazine articls in a big plastic box and use the internet in the evenings to roughly plan the next day.

It is a very relaxed and casual way to travel if you have the time and do not feel the need to plan every minute of the trip.
Rich is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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We also do most trips that way. Pick up a discount magazine with coupons for hotel/motels. They give maps that show where there are some and what they have for extras- eg. free hot buffet breakfast- that might make your decision a bit easier. Even if you don't get to use the discount because of some restriction, you have an idea of where you are likely to find rooms. Agree with Rich though if you want to go to a particular place like GC it is better to make a reservation though we did blow into Yellowstone in June and scored a room via a cancellation, but I wouldn't count on that.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2009, 06:01 PM
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"""a nice, relaxed car trip"""

To some that phrase will seem oxymoronic...

But I think I've experienced it on the Alaska highway in April when driving for seven hours and seeing only 2 cars heading in my direction during the whole time. (so 'relaxed' that when I'd see a stunning view and want a photo, I'd just STOP right in the lane and sometimes exit the car, knowing full well I'd hear any approaching vehicle 5 miles away)

Nowthen, as to your quest...

Looks like San Francisco to Salt Lake City is about 740 miles or Portland to Salt Lake City is 770 miles.

IF "Utah" itself is central to your interests, maybe beginning and ending in Phoenix would be more scenic. You could see the Grand Canyon, and then drive up through Utah toward Salt Lake City and return on a different path. Phoenix to SLC is about 650 miles.

When I make plans like this, I typically use Priceline to confirm hotels in the larger cities, and then just "go bare" (as someone said up there) in smaller locations. I need the flexibility when out on the open road but like to stay in nicer places at cheap-O rates in the big cities.

Finally, if it were me, I'd fly into Phoenix on Day one, maybe spend a night near the Grand Canyon (that night?)... then another, randomly, on the path toward SLC... then two nights IN SLC... then another one at a random locale on the return path, which is different from the road taken on the way north... and the last somewhere near to Phoenix again.

(I don't know whether we have *five* nights or *four* nights, but Utah does seem very suitable for your quest for a relaxing drive)
NorthwestMale is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2009, 08:08 AM
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It seems you have never actually done the drive between Reno and SLC. Believe me, you can die happy if you NEVER do it. It's not relaxing, just deadly boring.

I agree that only 5 days round trip west coast to SLC and back is far too short. I would either fly to SLC or Las Vegas and drive one way.

SLC - Capitol Reef - Hwy 12 - Bryce - Zion - LV, or the reverse.
Dayle is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 02:41 PM
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We just did a 5 day semi-unplanned trip from LA to Zion NP and back. We did not have hotel stays on Friday or Saturday, only Tue-Thursday. It all worked out, but it isn't high season at the moment.
I had done a little bit of pre-trip checking for Springdale lodging choices but didn't book because I had seen that there was good availability. I wish I had done a bit more checking for restaurant choices. We did stay in Las Vegas but not at a casino type place. Just used it as an overnight sleep and gas-up stop.

Here is my report. I say go for it.
mlgb is offline  

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