Thursday, August 19, 2010

South by Southwest / Coachella Road Trip - 2011 !

Hi Jamie,

We're 4 British girls looking to embark on our first American road trip, in spring 2011. We're 27-29 yrs old and have been talking about this for about 5 years!

We hope to base this around starting or finishing at the South by South West Music festival, or Coachella.

We'd like to cover California or Southern California/Las Vegas & possibly Texas areas.

We have just 2.5 weeks!

We'd like to see some 'real america' & have some fun. But also view some typical bits, Palm Springs (old hollywood), Grand Canyon, retro Motels & bars etc posb route 66.

Do we need/should we book accommodation in advance?

Should we book a car in advance; we want an open-top car. Can you recommend a car rental company / service?

Also, can you recommend a route for us to follow, and any 'must dos' along the way?

Many Thanks for your help in advance!



Hello Laura --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA -- I hope I can help with your quest for musical road trips. As far as I know, SxSW is in March, and Coachella is mid-April -- so you start in Austin and end up on the edge of Hollywood -- sounds like an All-American Dream.


I'm sure you'd need to book accommodations in advance for either/both festivals, but for the time and places in between you should have a lot more freedom. I'm not anything like an expert on the festivals themselves, but I do know you could do a great big road trip in between them -- visiting the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Las Vegas, or the Wild West areas of Arizona (which are gorgeous in March/April wildflower season!)

It all sounds like great fun.

I could see you wanting a convertible / soft top car for swanning around Palm Springs, but to be honest they are not ideal for long drives -- they are noisier, and a lots less secure than a "normal" car. (Not to mention much more expensive.) You could get one for a day or two in Southern California and/or Las Vegas, and get a "real" (bigger?) car for the 4 of you to haul yourselves around in.

About routes, Route 66 is definitely a good way to go -- at least for the Grand Canyon part, and to the "real" London Bridge, which has been moved from the Thames and re-constructed out in the middle of the Arizona desert, at Lake Havasu (which is itself a real "Spring Break" party place, if that appeals to any of your 20-something personalities).

Besides Route 66, there are lots of other great roads to drive, like the Pacific Coast Highway -- at sunset, in a that dreamt-of convertible. I also really like the US-80 route -- what I call the "Southern Pacific" route in my books. This goes through some lovely landscapes -- and thru Wild West landmarks like Tombstone Arizona.

Your plans sound all very manageable -- hope these random thoughts, and my books, help you have a great time!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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