Three Week Road-trip:

Mar 19th, 2013, 08:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,167
In order to keep to your time schedule you will be primarily driving I-5 between ONP and San Diego. Using this route you will be missing the beauty of California's coast and the majestic Redwoods. I urge you to reconsider your routing, especially between San Francisco and San Diego. It will take more than 7 hours and 20 minutes to drive from San Francisco to San Diego. Traffic in the LA Basin can add several hours depending on the time of day. At least you will be able to use the car pool lanes.
BarbAnn is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,526
1st: most of your drive times are way (waaaaaay) too optimistic.

2nd: Just the Seattle to San Diego bit would easily fill the entire three weeks if you went at any sort of reasonable pace and actually stopped to see anything enroute. Seattle to San Diego would be doable in two weeks you only spent a little time along the coast.

But it sounds you and google maps are both set in stone. I wish you luck.
janisj is online now  
Mar 19th, 2013, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 52
So true on pretty much everything I have read on the drive times. It really depends on what you are looking for in YOUR vacation. Do you want to just log states/locations, with no real time seeing/exploring the destinations, except through the car window? If that is the case, you are still a bit tight on timing. And you might want to consider renting a mobile home. I know they are crazy on the gas consumption, but at least people can move around, eat, etc.
Your second itinerary is much better in the timing to see the places you are planning on visiting, but 3 full days of travel on both ends. My kids would kill me, if not my husband first! If you can save up the extra money, fly!
I so understand and respect doing as much as you can on a budget, it is the only way my family can afford to go on the vacations we go on. You also need to think about how much space all the camping gear will take. Then there is the ice chest, food and ice. You will need to stop and shop for all of this. Also, you will need to do laundry, and that will take time, even if you have a place that has a washer and dryer, which I highly recommend. You can do laundry while making dinner, eating, etc. and run a load over night, dry while you are packing in the morning.
Consider getting a credit card that gives you points at sign up and on use, use it and pay off every month. We (4 of us) are flying SFO to DC, down to Orlando and back to SFO for $490 total. If you count the credit card fees for two years, $688. Worth it in my opinion.
Gas is currently $4.09 per gallon in CA, and I am in one of the cheaper areas.
Parking in SF, at hotels, is $40 to $55 per night. Again consider renting a condo, they usually are cheaper for more room, you can make your meals in, washer and dryer and they usually come with parking. Have done this in both SF and SD. And still expect to pay $200 for a safe area. Pretty much anything under $150 (total cost) in both of these cities is not a place I want to take my kids, unless you come across a crazy good deal, but be careful.
lmichael is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 10:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 52
Oh and I just got a Groupon emailn with deals on hotels in SF and Yosemite. Consider using them for places to stay.
lmichael is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,686
Well, as you mentioned, you have very little experience with this type of vacation vs. the one where you are just driving driving driving to get to your destination. A roadtrip vacation like this requires that you remember that the drive IS the vacation. So, to make it worthwhile, you will want to plan for scenic stops, maybe some hikes, visits to places that interest you (shops/museums/restaurants/landmarks/etc etc).

Otherwise, just imagine making that trip from Southern Ontario to Orlando over and over again, each day. Like the movie "Groundhog Day."

So for example - when I lived in the San Francisco area, we used to take a driving vacation up to see relatives in Seattle in the summer. It took 3 days to drive each way. Yes, it can be done in one veeery long day, but there was no point. The Northern California coast and the Oregon coast are just breathtaking (not like the East Coast at all). Had we stuck to I-5 it would have been endless hours of drive through hot, mostly uninteresting country.

Going to Yosemite - if you would like to work that in, a few tips: it will take 4-5 hours drive each way from San Francisco (depending on traffic) to the park entrance. Once there, plan on at least an hour to get to the valley floow - that's where you see all those pictures of Half Dome, etc. In July it will be mobbed, so traffic will likely be creeping along bumper to bumper and just miserable (if you can get in at all). Plan ahead for that one.

I do think the idea of flying across to your first area is excellent, if you can afford it. Then you'll probably need to cut out some stops. Best of luck in your travels.
sludick is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,013
A plan that sounds good to me would be a flight to Vancouver, BC (pu car in Bellingham?), a leisurely drive down the coast, actually on the coast, as far south as San Simeon, CA. Then to Yosemite, having made reservations in advance to stay in the area (if it's not too late) and returning home from SFO or Sacramento. Add Lake Tahoe and fly home from Reno or Sacramento.

I'm still hoping you can retool your plan so everyone has a good time.
MmePerdu is online now  
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,277
Arches to Yellowstone--at LEAST 10 hours and that's without any stops.
StantonHyde is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Well, with the drive from San Francisco to San Diego in one day you will have to take the I-5 and miss the beautiful Big Sur area. Hope you like agriculture, you will sure see a lot of it on this drive.
jamie99 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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"Hope you like agriculture, you will sure see a lot of it..."

And smell it.
MmePerdu is online now  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 11,375
Would definitely encourage you to fly/train over to Vancouver.

And since you will be seeing a lot of beautiful scenery - you could cut out Yosemite and see more of the Oregon and California Coasts. You could leave Portland early and drive down the Oregon Coast (say driving from Portland over/starting at Lincoln City and down the Coast to Gold Hill/Beach) and find a place to stay/camp around there - and also - ride the Jet Boats up the fabled Rogue river.

From there - if you want to see Redwoods - drive a little way into Cal - south of Crescent City (Jermiah xx park) - and then over to I-5 and down to SF.

From SF - drive down to Monterey/Carmel and camp at Jules Pfeiffer or one of the other parks in Big Sur and then on to Southern Cal.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,230
I've driven across and taken the train across the Great Plains both in the US and Canada. I much prefer taking the Empire Builder in the US. If you must see Banff and or Jasper, fly to Calgary or Edmonton. Edmonton if you want to take the Canadian train to Jasper. Calgary if you want to rent a car to go to Banff. They are both beautiful but Glacier National Park in Montana is just as nice IMHO.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,921
Cut the destinations in half. Choose to visit the northern Rockies and Cascades, maybe down to northern California; or choose the southern Rockies and high desert areas of the Southwest. By doing this you would cut down on the driving time and give yourself a chance to breathe.
Michael is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 06:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 14
We're cutting the Northern portion of the trip and flying into San Francisco. We'll add the extra days in to different stops; and continue to the rest of the destinations from San Francisco back to Yellowstone, then fly home from Denver as someone suggested. Thanks for all the helpful comments
triathletesyd is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 06:51 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,055
Much better! Have a great trip!
msteacher is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,230
If you still have the 25-26 days and find that the drop off fee for the rental car is too high, make a loop out of your trip.
Fly home from whichever airport you start from.
Can you get a reservation in Yellowstone when you want it?
tomfuller is offline  
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