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Touring holiday to Nevada, California & Arizona

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Murphy_The_CatMurphy_The_Cat Forumite
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I'm currently at the preliminary stages of planning a 3 week holiday to the West Coast of America that could involve touring all three States of Califonia, Nevada & Arizona (or maybe just 2 of them). I've got no problem with booking an open jaw ticket, I've tracked down a car rental firm that doesn't charge a premium for one way rentals within those 3 States, & I'm now trying to pin things down a little bit more.

I'll be travelling with Mrs Cat, a 15 month old and a four year old. For the middle week, I fancy hiring a villa in San Diego for seven days, but other than that, its a blankish piece of paper (I fancy finishing at Phoenix, Arizona).

Has anyone else done a touring trip in that part of the world (not the Big Sur/San Fran -LA part) that could offer me any pointers, or perhaps read any decent guide/reference books that could help me on my way.

As usual, any help would be gratefully received.

HissyClaw.gif

p.s. after looking into the insurance cost for a Mexico visit, that'll be a 'no', them ;)


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  • Bean_CounterBean_Counter Forumite
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    Has anyone else done a touring trip in that part of the world

    A couple of years ago, we went touring in Arizona / Utah / Nevada. We did leave the kids behind, though.

    We started in Phoenix, drove to the Grand Canyon, then to Lake Powell, then Monument Valley, then Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas and back to Phoenix. (Flew to Memphis after that but you will not be interested in that.)

    We went at the start of May because some areas can be unbearably hot in the summer (been before.) Also Grand Canyon / Bryce Canyon can be freezing at that time of year, so factor in timing depending on where you go.

    I suppose it depends what you are interested in. The difficulty will be keeping the young ones amused. We enjoyed driving around and looking at the scenery because it is so different to here. We really enjoyed Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley & Bryce Canyon, although only stayed a day or so at each place. We did the guided jeep tour at Monument Valley for $35 each (I think) which we thought was excellent. If you go there remember that the Indian reservation has no alcohol, which was a shock to the liver for a couple of days.

    Whatever you decide, have a great time.
    Today is the first day of the rest of your life
  • gmac9igmac9i Forumite
    103 posts
    We are looking to do a similar thing late next year.Can you post any info you already have and the car hire company that you mention.

    Gary
  • Murphy_The_CatMurphy_The_Cat Forumite
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    gmac9i wrote: »
    We are looking to do a similar thing late next year.Can you post any info you already have and the car hire company that you mention.

    Gary

    Hi Gary

    quite a few airlines do 'open-jaw' tickets, & one on the most user friendly sites is American Airlines. Using Opodo can really open your horizons as well.

    Car Hire wise, nearly all charge a one-way rental charge supplement (from $150 up to a :eek::eek:), but Dollar, via Airline Network, don't do.
    From the Airline Network website T&C's " Please Note - There is no fee for one way rentals within the states of Florida and California, or for one way rentals between the states of California, Arizona and Nevada."
    Which saves a few £££££, but I'll look around for any other UK brokers who use Dollar to see if I can trim it down a bit further.

    Mr Counter, that sounds like a brilliant trip.
    For me, the children really add another dimension !!! I've got all sorts of 'priorities' that have diffreent weightings. I want so see as much variety as I can, but I don't want to leave my son bored out of his mind (but in fairness, if he's with his Mum & dad, he tends to be happy any way). Mrs Cat doesn't want to be on the move every day and is quite happy to have a couple (or even 3 days) as intermediate bases, my baby daughter (toddler by then) will go with the flow, but obviously theme parks and the likes will do nothing for her.
    Climate-wise, May looks bang on the money. Busy-wise, it looks bang on the money. Flight-wise, the start of May is still economy time with AA. Moneywise -- it'll be the last chance for a while to have a 3 week break to my favourite destination (America) without breaking into school holidays and having the School getting all huffy (& the cost going through the roof), so that fits the criteria as well.

    I just need to start firming things up a bit !

    HissyClaw.gif


  • I did a road trip a few years ago starting and ending in Las Vegas (cheap flights and very central for all the locations you are looking for even if you don't fancy it with the kids).

    I wasn't a big fan of Phoenix myself - but a little bit further south in Arizona is Sedona - which is red rock country and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. http://www.visitsedona.com/

    It's a cute little town with not a whole load going on other than relaxing and pink jeep tours (look them up - they're fab). We stayed there for a week and it is one of those places that you can see yourself retiring to because even the drive in is relaxing and exhilarating at the same time!

    The only other thing I would say is that things can be a LONG lonely way apart in this part of America (have just come back from New England which is completely different) so make sure you have loads of snacks, drinks and stuff for the kids to do before you set out anywhere.

    Hope this helps!
    r.mac wrote: »
    please listen to MFD - she is a wise woman :D
    Proud Mummy to the gorgeous Benjamin John born 14 March 2009, 8lbs 14oz
    A new little seedling on the way, due 30 September 2012
  • blindmanblindman Forumite
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    Hi Gary

    quite a few airlines do 'open-jaw' tickets, & one on the most user friendly sites is American Airlines. Using Opodo can really open your horizons as well.

    Car Hire wise, nearly all charge a one-way rental charge supplement (from $150 up to a :eek::eek:), but Dollar, via Airline Network, don't do.
    From the Airline Network website T&C's " Please Note - There is no fee for one way rentals within the states of Florida and California, or for one way rentals between the states of California, Arizona and Nevada."
    Which saves a few £££££, but I'll look around for any other UK brokers who use Dollar to see if I can trim it down a bit further.

    Mr Counter, that sounds like a brilliant trip.
    For me, the children really add another dimension !!! I've got all sorts of 'priorities' that have diffreent weightings. I want so see as much variety as I can, but I don't want to leave my son bored out of his mind (but in fairness, if he's with his Mum & dad, he tends to be happy any way). Mrs Cat doesn't want to be on the move every day and is quite happy to have a couple (or even 3 days) as intermediate bases, my baby daughter (toddler by then) will go with the flow, but obviously theme parks and the likes will do nothing for her.
    Climate-wise, May looks bang on the money. Busy-wise, it looks bang on the money. Flight-wise, the start of May is still economy time with AA. Moneywise -- it'll be the last chance for a while to have a 3 week break to my favourite destination (America) without breaking into school holidays and having the School getting all huffy (& the cost going through the roof), so that fits the criteria as well.

    I just need to start firming things up a bit !

    HissyClaw.gif

    Did this trip over 2004/5 New Years.

    Arrived in Phoenix, toured around Tucson, flew to San Fran drove down the Big sur stayed at LA then on to Phoenix.

    Did not have kids in tow...

    Guides:
    I use Fodors forums to search for itineraries (register to ask a question)
    Usually a good source of local knowledge.

    There's the usual Tripadvisor forums as another local knowledge source.

    There's Igougo as well.

    Books: I always use Lonely Planet. They have a Southwest USA book.
    MSE tip Get it from the library ;)

    Hire car:
    You've found the free one way rental, I've used Airline network several times, no problems.

    MSE Tip
    Book the smallest car that you all (+ luggage) can fit into. Refuse the hard sell for the upgrade. You may get an upgrade anyway.
    Works for me with the smallest economy cars.

    American Airlines.
    Not sure if you want to try this.
    AA regularly oversell their flights.
    They ask for volunteers to be bumped to the next flight or upgrade passengers to the next cabin if they're overbooked.
    You (as a family) will NOT get an upgrade to the next cabin.
    However if you can factor in an extra day on your return (International) flight you may want to volunteer to be bumped. They have paid my wife and I a $700 travel voucher (each) twice.
    Domestic flight bumping is poory paid ($200 I think)
    Doesn't always happen if yours is a connecting International flight.
    (Your inbound flight is from where?).

    Hotels:
    My favourite topic.
    Use either Hotwire (probably better for the family) or Priceline (Only guarantees 2 adults in a room-though can have 2+2 in most hotels).

    Do this at least for your first hotel on arrival (?) and maybe the last.

    I think you've seen this handy guide

    Where to go:
    Well each to his own and my kids have grown up:

    Southern UTAH

    Monument Valley
    Dead Horse State Point

    SouthWest Map

    Saguaro NP Huge Cacti

    Titan Missile base Cold war missile bunker

    Pima Air museum Loads of aircraft in the dessert


    Tombstone Re-enactments of the gunfight

    HUGE wind Farm at Palm Springs Weird.
  • Murphy_The_CatMurphy_The_Cat Forumite
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    I did a road trip a few years ago starting and ending in Las Vegas (cheap flights and very central for all the locations you are looking for even if you don't fancy it with the kids).

    I wasn't a big fan of Phoenix myself - but a little bit further south in Arizona is Sedona - which is red rock country and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. http://www.visitsedona.com/

    It's a cute little town with not a whole load going on other than relaxing and pink jeep tours (look them up - they're fab). We stayed there for a week and it is one of those places that you can see yourself retiring to because even the drive in is relaxing and exhilarating at the same time!

    The only other thing I would say is that things can be a LONG lonely way apart in this part of America (have just come back from New England which is completely different) so make sure you have loads of snacks, drinks and stuff for the kids to do before you set out anywhere.

    Hope this helps!

    That helps loads. Thank you very, very much.

    A further (happy) complication is that my In-Laws live in Mesa / Phoenix, own a huge RV and want to take us touring for a proportion or the holiday. Whilst it is there idea of good fun, 6 people in one (bloody huge) vehicle for more than 2 or 3 nights would send me totally Bertie Bassat !

    I appreciate what you say about the mileages, and thats going to be one thing that is quite challenging to organise to everyones satisfaction (but boy o boy, am I going to enjoy doing it :j:j). I've done several road trip tours to America before (& loved it) - but advice like you have made about Sedona is priceless. :beer:

    HissyClaw.gif

    p.s. blindman, thanks for your thoughts. I'm off for my lunch now and I'll catch you later.


  • Bean_CounterBean_Counter Forumite
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    A further (happy) complication is that my In-Laws live in Mesa / Phoenix

    I agree with My Fathers Daughter that there is not too much to do in Phoenix itself. No point going downtown as it is all just businesses, although we did enjoy Alice Coopers restaurant. We stayed in Tempe (between Phoenix & Mesa, although they all run together) and enjoyed walking round the town there the odd night. It is where the university is and is quite lively with good bars. If looking for a Mexican restaurant, we liked Los Dos Molinos (or something like that) on Baseline.

    If you are heading from Mesa and heading for Sedona area, avoid the I17 and take the scenic route. We found the drive along route 87 through Payson etc fantastic. Try a town called Jerome, just south west of Sedona. It is an old mining town, high up an twisty old road. Should just about make it in a RV, but the views are fantastic.
    Today is the first day of the rest of your life
  • Completely agree with taking ther sceneic route down into Sedona - although I think that goes for just about anywhere if you have the time - the interstates tend to be a little monotonous and are often lined with trees so you can't see much.

    This is where we stayed in Sedona - timeshare villas that you can book when they are free. They were lovely! http://www.vrivacations.com/resorts/vpd/index.html


    The only other thing I can think of is - when you see a sign saying Scenic View make sure you stop - they are usually breathtaking and a good opportunity to stretch your legs.


    It may be worth investing in a portable dvd player as a last resort for the kids if you have a long way to drive?
    r.mac wrote: »
    please listen to MFD - she is a wise woman :D
    Proud Mummy to the gorgeous Benjamin John born 14 March 2009, 8lbs 14oz
    A new little seedling on the way, due 30 September 2012
  • Murphy_The_CatMurphy_The_Cat Forumite
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    blindman wrote: »
    Did this trip over 2004/5 New Years.

    Arrived in Phoenix, toured around Tucson, flew to San Fran drove down the Big sur stayed at LA then on to Phoenix.
    that sounds like a great road trip

    Did not have kids in tow...
    which makes it more fun, but in a different way !

    Guides:
    I use Fodors forums to search for itineraries (register to ask a question)
    Usually a good source of local knowledge.
    Great idea, I'll get myself registered

    There's the usual Tripadvisor forums as another local knowledge source.
    I've used them in the past and really appreciated them

    There's Igougo as well.
    Thats a new one for me, cheers :beer:

    Books: I always use Lonely Planet. They have a Southwest USA book.
    MSE tip Get it from the library ;)
    That is EXACTLY the book that I was looking for. I've been online and my local library is getting it for me :j:j

    Hire car:
    You've found the free one way rental, I've used Airline network several times, no problems.
    Yep, AN do a good job, usually at a fair price

    MSE Tip
    Book the smallest car that you all (+ luggage) can fit into. Refuse the hard sell for the upgrade. You may get an upgrade anyway.
    Works for me with the smallest economy cars.
    Thats where we'll have to differ. Part of the joy for an American trip for me is the luxury car. I want the biggest, most comfortable, most luxurious car (preferably with a V8) that I can get, and I'm not prepared to compromise my choice on the (very good) chance of getting an upgrade. I like something like a Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum Hemi, or at a pinch a Chrysler Pacifica.

    American Airlines.
    Not sure if you want to try this.
    AA regularly oversell their flights.
    They ask for volunteers to be bumped to the next flight or upgrade passengers to the next cabin if they're overbooked.
    You (as a family) will NOT get an upgrade to the next cabin.
    However if you can factor in an extra day on your return (International) flight you may want to volunteer to be bumped. They have paid my wife and I a $700 travel voucher (each) twice.
    Domestic flight bumping is poory paid ($200 I think)
    Doesn't always happen if yours is a connecting International flight.
    I'd be prepared to give it a go if there was just the two of us, but not so keen with us having a family.
    (Your inbound flight is from where?).
    From sunny (:rotfl::rotfl:) Manchester. So if we go the AA route, we'll be flying into either Chicago (or if it has decent connections) Boston. I like AA, I can self select my seats and there are still one or two rows that have extra legroom (;)) - plus, I may be on for a free transatlantic flight with my AAmiles (but maybe not as they've changed to quals :mad:). But if its not AA, I've got a choice of (IIRC) Continental, BA (please, no), BMI, United or a couple of others.

    Hotels:
    My favourite topic.
    Use either Hotwire (probably better for the family) or Priceline (Only guarantees 2 adults in a room-though can have 2+2 in most hotels).
    Hmm, not sure on the hotel front, as I prefer a bit more independant holidaying -- I've used these people in the past before and stayed at some really nice places. But needing two rooms may make it a bit pricey this time.


    Do this at least for your first hotel on arrival (?) and maybe the last.
    definitely - and I'll be prepared for the kiddywinks getting up at 03.30 local time as well :eek:


    I think you've seen this handy guide.
    I have & while its not my usual way of doing things, it doesn't do any harm to keep mentioning it :beer:

    Where to go:
    Well each to his own and my kids have grown up:

    Southern UTAH

    Monument Valley
    Dead Horse State Point

    SouthWest Map

    Saguaro NP Huge Cacti

    Titan Missile base Cold war missile bunker

    Pima Air museum Loads of aircraft in the dessert


    Tombstone Re-enactments of the gunfight

    HUGE wind Farm at Palm Springs Weird.

    & my inlaws had mentioned going panning for gold as well !!

    Cheers Blindman, you've given me quite a bit of food for thought :beer:

    HissyClaw.gif


  • blindmanblindman Forumite
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    Manchester is your outbound flight :confused:

    You talked about 'open jaw' so I assume you're returning from a different airport back to MAN.

    You do seem to have got it sorted.

    I agree with MFD get a portable DVD player for the car.
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