Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Turning 30 - Road Trip!

Hi Jamie,

A few friends and I are planning a West Coast USA road trip for a few combined 30th birthday's next Summer (August 2011). It will be an all-boys trip with about 6 or 7 of us, some will be single, some have girlfriends. So we will be looking for places to have a good time, but also we're very keen to see all the amazing sights and make the most of the experience.

The main idea is a 2-week tour from start to mid-August, flying in and out of Las Vegas. So into Vegas (probably do a day trip to Grand Canyon from there), pick up a car (Mustang?), down to Palm Springs, over to San Diego & LA, LA to Santa Barbara, across to either Monterey or Santa Cruz, over to San Francisco, up to Yosemite NP, back to Las Vegas!

Looking at 2 nights in the main places- San Diego, LA, San Fran and Vegas and 1 in the rest. Obviously don't want to spend all the time driving but also want to pick up a cool car and do the scenic routes, big sur, death valley, etc. Just looking at all the possible advice you could give us really?! What things we have to do, things to avoid, places we have to go, routes we must take etc. Even what you think the best car to pick up is and how much you might suggest the trip might cost?

Thanks in advance,



Hi Andy --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- sounds like you've got a great adventure planned for next summer. Your outline sounds pretty good -- my main concern is that all half-dozen of you boys (plus a few females..) may not want to cram into the same car.

Unless you can lay your hands on some huge old Elvis-worthy Cadillac convertible...


Car rental rates for such a trip would probably run around $250 a week (per vehicle!), so even if you have to get 2 cars for some of the trip, splitting the costs 6 ways shouldn't be too painful. Be warned, though, that "classic cars" like a nice Mustang can cost $100 or more per day, so maybe you'll want to consider getting an extra "special" car for cruising around Las Vegas or Los Angeles, then all cramming back into a more economical rental car for getting around between cities.

Also, as you probably know August in Palm Springs and Death Valley will be HOT -- at least in the low 100s, maybe as hot as 115 degree F. So carry LOTS OF DRINKING WATER and use lots of sunscreen, too. Do your exploring early in the mornings, and don't tempt fate by wandering off into the desert on your own (especially not if you've had a few beers, which I suspect is part of the plan for this road trip!). If you need to cool down in Palm Springs, consider hopping onto the gondola-tram which climbs up to the top of 10,000 foot Mt. San Jacinto -- the alpine forests are an amazing contrast to the desert below.

This all sounds like a fantastic trip, and I'm sure you'l have a grand time. I cover quite a lot of your routes in Road Trip USA, so I hope you'll get to check that out. Yosemite is fabulous, and in August you can do the drive over Tioga Pass down to Mono Lake, which is another other-worldly place to see (there's also a cool old Wild West ghost town near Mono Lake, called Bodie, which you might like to check out, and teh drive down US-395 along the eastern Sierra Nevada is amazing, too.)

You've got a great trip planned -- hope you all have very Happy Birthdays!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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