First Timers From New Zealand

Sep 13th, 1999, 08:23 PM
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First Timers From New Zealand

Please help,
We are planning to spend 2-3 weeks holiday in California/Arizona in April/May 2000.We will hire a car (National sounds like a good rental company ) and take in as many sights as we can.We will suffer from a harsh exchange rate so are looking for motels with rooms around $30 to $50. There seem to be a lot on the internet at this price but we have no idea of the standard...... any advice?We would be grateful for any words of wisdom on our proposed route which is as follows.
After a day or two in L.A we would head to Fresno/ Yosemite.
Next day take Tioga pass to overnight Bishop. On to Las Vegas via Death Valley.
A couple of nights in Las Vegas then off to see as much of Zion n/p and Bryce Canyon as we can in one day. Overnight Page? On to Monument Valley..... overnight somewhere?
We hope to spend a couple of days around The Grand Canyon south rim area then head off to San Diego for a couple of days before heading back to L.A.
What do you think, is it possible?
Thanks..... Christine.
Sep 14th, 1999, 04:17 AM
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I hate to be the prophet of doom, Christine, but you're not going to find much, if anything, at the $30-$50 rate at American motels, especially those in the heavily visited tourist spots that you plan to visit! And, what you might find, you probably wouldn't want!
Sep 14th, 1999, 04:21 AM
Paul Rabe
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One MAJOR problem -- Tioga Pass will NOT be open in April, and may not be open when you get there in May! Check out for a list of openings of this pass over the last twenty years. Plan to get from Yosemite Valley to Hiway 395 via I-80 highway, through Lake Tahoe.

Your itinerary is POSSIBLE but will be a bit rushed. I know -- you travel the way I do, but it's not something I recommend for everyone!

A way to cut costs is to go camping, which will be very easy in the Southwest but may be a bit cold in the California Sierras during this time. If you don't have a tent, you can buy one for $50(US) at any discount store when you arrive. It'll pay for itself in just a couple of nights. If you don't want to carry it back, just donate it to a charity sales store.
Sep 14th, 1999, 04:44 AM
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If you belong to an auto club, see if you can get a copy of the American Automobile Association (AAA) Guide for the area (a travel agent might also be able to get a copy). These guides only list hotels and motels which meet some minimum standards for cleanliness, etc, so even the cheapest listings shouldn't be total dumps.

Also, if your auto club is associated with AAA, you may be able to get a discount on rates at some of the motels listed, and also on some rental cars.

Sep 14th, 1999, 06:48 AM
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christine -

howard is right in that most places you'll find in the us$30-50 range in those cities will not be places you'll want to stay, however there are exceptions:

there are several new extended stay hotel chains you may want to check out. they offer very low weekly rates, but if you're not staying that long their nightly rates are also much lower than a standard hotel. and because they are brand new, the accomodations are sometimes much nicer even than much more expensive full-scale hotels. most have larger rooms than regular hotels, including a full kitchenette. some that i've had good experience with: candlewood suites (my favorite, they even have a pantry with very reasonably priced food and snacks...25 cent cans of coke! most hotels cash in at .75 to $1.00 per can if heaven forbid you get thirsty) studio plus, extended stay, crosswood, homewood suites,
country inn & suites, and marriott's residence inn (though prices tend to be higher here).

if you're feeling bold you can find very good rates at excellent hotels in downtown los angelos near the airport, but for good is not the safest area. the area is fine during the day (i was traveling alone - 24 yr old female - and had no probelms) but i'd highly recommend taking a cab if you venture out of the hotel at night.

i've had great luck with rates using can specify exactly what areas you are willing to stay in and at what price and how many stars you want the hotel to be and they try to hook you up. only catch is you can't make any changes or cancellations. if they find it you pay for it.

another hotel you may want to check out is la quinta...they sometimes offer very low rates and while they accomodations aren't luxurious, the rooms are always pretty large and clean and i've never seen anything creepy crawly in the room. they also come with a free continental breakfast.

some cheap hotels that i have had bad, bad experiences at: ramada limited (cockroach city) and shoney's inn (cockroach hell), holiday inn express (multitude of probelems at various locations)...also try to avoid anything with "motel" actually in the the states it pretty much translates to cheap not-so-great lodging and sometimes translates to rooms by the hour.

the best idea may be to post exactly which hotels you can get great rates on, somebody on here will probably have stayed there or can at least tell you about the area...good luck!
Sep 14th, 1999, 11:18 AM
My T. Le
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My biking buddy and I spent 3 weeks touring the Southwest a few years back
and have a fabulous time. Our route was
similar to what you propose in your message so you should also have a great time.

A few suggestions:
1) If lodging cost is a worry, I would suggest camping. I have camped all over the U.S. (and Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) and absolutely love it. If you want more information about camping, let me know and I will dig it up.
2) Monument Valley is awesome! There is a wonderful trail where you can bike all around and admire the scenery. You can drive on that trail, but riding gives you the chance to look around and truly take in the beauty of the place - I hight recommend it! There is a nice campground right next to the motel if you are interested in camping.
3) Don't miss the sunrise at Bryce Canyon! It is an amazing experience.
An advantage of camping right in the park is that I got an early start before all the tour buses and viewed the sunrise in "almost" solitude - it was a sight to behold.
4) If you want a bit of luxury while visiting Yosemite, check out the Four Seasons rental company. They have a wonderful collection of houses and condos in Yosemite West which is very close to Glacier Point. Their website is:
4) Don't know about the snow situation in April/May, but I would recommend the North side of Grand Canyon over the South side. My buddy and I spent the entire evening in the verandah of the lodge watching the sun set over the canyon - another marvelous experience!
5) AAA puts out a wonderful map that covers the Four Corners area. You might want to get a copy before you take off. It was my main guide during my trip.
6) Moon Publication puts out several books that cover the areas of interest (Utah, Arizona, etc). I have been using them for years and like them very much.
I could go on and on about the Southwest, but I better stop. Contact me if you have any questions and I will try to answer them. Have fun!
Sep 16th, 1999, 07:00 AM
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Julie rqaises another point to take into consideration.

In the States, a motel is different from New Zealand. Here it usually means a low rise bulding (usually out of the city geared to accomodate people arrivng in cars.

Motels generally offer fewer ammenities than hotels and do not have the cooking facilities found in New Zealand motels.
(We stayed in New Zealand motels in November and benefitted from the exchange rate)

You are getting good advice on this board about being very cautious of any motels in your desired price range.
Sep 16th, 1999, 07:56 AM
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Along with everyone else I hate to say you probably won't find much in the $30-50 range in the areas you are looking at, however I suppose anything is possible and some chains may have promotional rates at about $49/night in some places. These will not be fancy places tho. You can check out the Comfort Inns chain, they do have lower priced rooms. Most lower end motels/hotels tend to be in the $59-$79 range in most places. Someone mentioned Residence Inns by Marriott - they are very expensive however. Camping may or may not be an option, even tho it is spring it can be quite chilly in some locations - in fact parts of ARziona had snow on Easter Sunday this year, so you never know. Post a list of the motels/hotels you are considering and see if people on this forum are familiar with the location, etc. It is possible to get inexpensive lodging in Las Vegas (but not at the newer luxury hotels) at certain times, i.e. Sunday thru Thurs. I frequently see adds for things like $39 a night at the Excalibur for example (I live in Arizona and hotels in 'Vegas are heavily advertised here.

One way to save a bit on spending is to picnic out - stop in grocery stores and buy picnic food along the way. Another is to eat at "all you can eat buffets", you can really pack it in for a low cost at many of them, particularly lunch buffets. Of course the U.S. is full of fast-food places, i.e. McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. on nearly every corner, so you won't starve to death for sure. Another thing to ask about with motels is if there is a refrigerator in the room (many do have them). That way you can buy snacks, soft drinks, etc. and save some money too.

Good luck with the planning!!
Sep 16th, 1999, 01:49 PM
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The lower-cost chains we've had the best luck with have been La Quinta and Red Roof Inns. If you check the priceline string, you'll see that people have gotten bargains using
Sep 18th, 1999, 06:03 PM
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The standards in the U.S. are not what we found in New Zealand. We stayed at some very cheap places in New Zealand and found they were nice and clean. If we would stay at places like that in the U.S. it would probaly be flea and roach infested. Also to keep in mind, we were amazed when we were in N.Z. about the low crime/murder rate. Our friends there told us there was usually only 20 or less murders a year in the whole country. In the U.S. we can get just that in one day in the city. So my advice is just to be careful about the areas you stay in to get these rates. Camping may be a good idea because you
know your tent will be clean. GOOD LUCK!

P.S. If you do stay at a hotel La Quinta is usually all right but We've ran into some pretty bad Red Roof Inns.
Sep 18th, 1999, 06:32 PM
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Some years back when I was on a budget similar to yours I would stay in peoples' home. There are services that will arrange for you to stay in someone's spare bedroom. These accommodations were about one-third of the cost of a hotel, and the people I stayed with had nice homes in good neighborhoods. I gave up some privacy, but I had decent rooms for a price I could afford with a feeling of safety. Does anyone on this board know of any services like this -- I haven't used one for quite some time.
Sep 18th, 1999, 06:37 PM
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I've never tried this before, but in looking at another post, I saw an answer to another question that might be helpful to you. I did a cut and paste. I can't believe this is so easy! Anyway, this is about San Diego.

"Message: Emily is right. Went to SD in July and wouldn't haven't gotten to see hardly anything w/o the car. If you don't know how to drive, stay in the downtown/Gaslamp area. Then you will be able to walk where Emily has already mentioned and to Balboa Park and the SD Zoo--a must see. I stayed in a small hotel called La Pensione in the "little Italy" section (it was VERY little). It was very nice, clean, with fridge and microwave. Only $50/night!!"

Sep 20th, 1999, 06:58 AM
Jud Compton
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We have a couple from Australia here right now who just followed your itinerary (plus this detour to Texas).

Motel chains we've used: Days, Choice (several different types), Econo Lodge, Super 8, Best Western. Our favorite is Hampton Inn (but a few dollars more). The couple used some hostels and rated them okay. (Just put "hostels" in a search and you can find them all over the world.)

Will be interested in watching your planning as you post more questions.


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