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Old 06-20-2009, 10:08 PM
 
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I am going from Dallas to SoCal this summer, in 2 weeks. Maybe I am too conservative but I think your plans are pretty ambitious. We are going to goof around the entire route because there are so many things to do and see along the route. I am traveling with a 15, 11 and 5 year old. The Petrified Forest, dunes national park, the Grand Canyon, Hoover dam, will be the major stops along the way but we are going to follow every whim so it ought to take a little while to make it there. While in SoCal we will check out SeaWorld in San Diego, I know you have one in SA but what the heck. Maaaybe two days in DW, LA-the Chinese theatre, universal studios, the Hollywood sign, griffin observatory, Venice, the Santa Monica pier or just get their feet in the pacific ocean wherever. We MIGHT intrude on a couple of distant relatives too. But we bagged a trip back to DC for the 4th for the Wild West tour on a whim. We just want to keep a wide open adventure without the standard vaca nonsense. Of course that means we will probably bag DW.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:44 PM
 
24,034 posts, read 11,941,601 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_flawless View Post
Okay, here's a challenge for y'all!

We're planning a rather ambitious road trip for next year, probably Spring or Summer 2009.

It will be 2 adults (30's), 3 kids (16, 11, and 6 at the time of travel)..

We know where we want to go and how long (approximately) we want the trip to last but other things are still up in the air. Oh, and none of us have ever been to California.

We plan on about 14 days total (not set in stone) and the itinerary is something like this;

Leave our city (San Antonio, TX) and head for Anaheim, CA (Disney!). Google maps says 19 hours and we figure with 2 drivers we can do this in 2 days, staying overnight half way (where ever half way is from here to Anaheim? ).

We planned on 3 days at Disney (is this enough? I've been told it should be but I'd like other opinions), and are considering a package deal with hotel and food and park tickets all in one. Could we do Disney in 2 days??

Leave Anaheim for a day (??) sightseeing in Los Angeles (Hollywood). I think a day is enough for that but I don't know, that's why I'm here. Probably spend the night somewhere around there unless it's too expensive? Next day drive to Big Sur, spend one day and perhaps the night.

From Big Sur head to San Francisco. NO idea what to do or see, just know we want to go. Could spend 2 days but not sure if it's needed.

From San Francisco we'd head home but we'd like to take a different route to get to see the Grand Canyon, maybe spend the day, and from there home to San Antonio.

So, that's the plan. So far we've calculated it to be about 4000 miles round trip (not including any driving around sightseeing) and about $700-800 in gas (for our own vehicle). Obviously Disney will suck up a lot of our budget so we have to watch it on the rest of the trip.

The decisions we have to make:

Should we use our own vehicle? We have an older but well maintained minivan that gets decent mileage and is roomy enough to provide comfort for the kids. Of course we'd have a TOTAL checkup by our mechanic before going anywhere, plus we have road service, plus we'd have some sort of back-up plan should the worst happen (a major breakdown) with money set aside for the back-up plan. Need to work on the back-up plan details though! Rent something else if something goes wrong? Buy some Greyhound tickets to get us where we need to go? (ugh, bus phobia!)

We have considered the possibility of purchasing a used pop-up camper to pull behind our van. Need to check towing limits with the van of course, but while this would slow us down and increase gas use a little, it would save us a LOT in hotel costs. Even when you consider the costs of RV parks at around $50 a night. Unless you think we could find hotels cheap enough to balance it all out? But then again if we go with this option we'd own the pop up for future trips...

We also talked about renting a SMALL RV but the few sites I've checked rates on, well, it looks like at least a couple grand, plus gas and mileage. I think that option is going to make it too pricey even with the savings on hotels.

If it turns out we don't feel totally secure driving our own van (it is older)... I wonder how much it would cost to rent a minivan for such a trip?

So those are our options and questions. I figure we have 8 months or more to figure it all out so there's time. We would like to do this as economically as possible though.

I just want some feedback as we've never done anything like this before. We are not opposed to flying but just figured it would be cheaper and much more interesting to drive, even with gas prices the way they are. We could be wrong though. The older kids are really into the whole "seeing the country" thing and a road trip seems more memorable.

I also have no clue about California... are there other "must see" places and things I might have missed?

How to cut costs for hotels... without resorting to driving while tired (we won't do that!)... we aren't picky, honestly, and have stayed in some ratty places, and consider it an adventure for the most part. As long as it's fairly clean (I'll bring my own bedding if needed!) and has working a/c and a shower, we're good. We stayed at a few cheapie places on our last weekend road trip, in a double room and with a blowup bed for the 5 year old. No big deal. It does NOT have to be the Hilton!

Thanks in advance for your input. I'm excited, but my head is spinning with possibilities!
If I was in your position, I would head east to Orlando. do Disney there. Then the MGM theme park and then beaches, do the Everglades thing and best of all, its cheaper than CA and more to the point, closer.

I-10 from central TX through NM and AZ is deadly dull driving. Been there, done that, will never do it again.
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:34 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
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I would not do florida at all it is way costly here to do any of that now . also it was reported on tv the other day , tourists are avoiding florida like the plague because it is exspensive and much cheaper to go to europe now . so take it how you like but just know florida is costly the only reason I am here is cause of a job but will be transfered next yr to ohio and then another transfer after that most likely .
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Rockland County New York
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After my wife did a seven day cruise out of Miami we spend an additional ten days in Florida to see my parents who live sixty miles north of Orlando. The drive from Miami to my parents place was like hell on Earth with my two young sons in the back seat who fought like demons. Are you sure you want to do this?
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Old 06-21-2009, 08:13 PM
 
24,034 posts, read 11,941,601 times
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Originally Posted by Stac2007 View Post
After my wife did a seven day cruise out of Miami we spend an additional ten days in Florida to see my parents who live sixty miles north of Orlando. The drive from Miami to my parents place was like hell on Earth with my two young sons in the back seat who fought like demons. Are you sure you want to do this?
If you drove from Miami to north of Orlando, imagine almost 900 miles a flat, straight, dull Interstate driving on I-10 through, TX, NM, and AZ with children.
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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Here's a great place to stretch your legs on I-10 in California. There are several life-sized dinosaur sculptures just West of Palm Springs. There's a Burger King, Denney's and a C-store there, as well. It's at I-10 Exit 111 (Verbinia Avenue) One of the dinosaurs even has a kitschy gift shop inside!
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Arizona, The American Southwest
51,817 posts, read 29,906,122 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foma View Post
I've done Houston to Phoenix and let me tell you it was borrrrrring. I think your kids are old enough though that they should be fine. I didn't read the whole post but personally, I think road trips are really fun.

There's not much to do on I-10 from the stretch starting in San Antonio to El Paso but once you're out far enough, at least you can drive 85 mph. Have fun!
I've driven on that stretch of I-10 from Phoenix to Houston, and back, and I remember getting bit in one of my feet by a Texas red ant at a rest area in Texas between El Paso and San Antonio, and that caused my foot to turn red and swell up slightly, and itch. I was wearing sandals and I wasn't paying attention.

The drive is not completely as boring as others have described. There are some areas that are flat with not much scenery, but not all the way to the LA Basin.

There are scenic areas in southern New Mexico, and Southeastern Arizona, until you go past Tucson, and past the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, then it turns a little dull. There's still some scenery, with mountains in the distance, but it's mostly desert until you get to the Phoenix area.

When you drive through and past the Phoenix metro area, you'll see some mountains within Phoenix, and mountain ranges in every direction around Phoenix, like Four Peaks and the Superstition mountains to the east, the Estrella Range to the south, the White Tank Mountains just west of Phoenix, the Bradshaw mountain range to the north, and some scenery up until you get to Tonopah, about 70 miles west of downtown Phoenix, then it turns into mostly flat desert, with a mountain or two here and there, and it stays that way until you get to Indio, and Palm Springs, in California, then the scenery starts getting better gradually as you drive through San Bernardino and Ontario, California, as you go west on I-10 towards the LA Basin.

Have fun.
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