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    • cherabelle
    • By cherabelle 10th May 18, 10:47 AM
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    cherabelle
    0 WOW
    Pacific Coast Highway advice
    • #1
    • 10th May 18, 10:47 AM
    0 WOW
    Pacific Coast Highway advice 10th May 18 at 10:47 AM
    Hi,

    Looking for some advice if possible please. We are a family of 5 adults looking to do the Pacific Coast Highway next September.
    Have spoken to Travelbag and this is a sample of what we are looking to do.

    Fly to San Fran- Yosemite- Sequoia- West to Carmel & Monteray- Camera- Santa Barbara- LA inc Anaheim (1 day in park)- Hollywood- Universal (1 day at park)- Long Beach inc hopefully a night on the QM- San Diego for the last few days as we understand it's worth spending some time there. Total trip 2-3 weeks.

    We would need 2 cars for the duration and either 3 rooms in most places or a standard and a family room.

    We are trying to work out how much this is going to cost us inc spending money. We planned on saving 2800 each, would this be enough? I know its about 80 ($117 dollars) for Anaheim and 40 $60 for the SDZ but what else would be worth seeing? A tour of Yosemite & Sequoia or could we do this as well ourselves?

    Travelbag had a 2 week sample itinerary for around 1000 but when we asked what we were looking at they said 2000-2500. I was kind of hoping we could do this for about 1200 which would give us about 100 a day spending money for food and trips, baring in mind we wouldn't do a trip everyday.

    What are the must see's/ do's out there.
    Can you give us any advice on whether this would be within budget or we could make it?

    Due to suitcases etc we would probably need 2 SUV's for the cars.

    Thanks in advance.
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Page 1
    • Caz3121
    • By Caz3121 10th May 18, 10:52 AM
    • 11,317 Posts
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    Caz3121
    • #2
    • 10th May 18, 10:52 AM
    • #2
    • 10th May 18, 10:52 AM
    there should be a number of tips in this thread
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3248860&highlight=road+trip
    • cubegame
    • By cubegame 10th May 18, 11:02 AM
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    cubegame
    • #3
    • 10th May 18, 11:02 AM
    • #3
    • 10th May 18, 11:02 AM
    Some random advice.


    Don't mess around with silly travel agents. Book your flights direct with an airline and your first nights hotel. You can them either book ahead on the day with a smartphone or just rock up at a chosen hotel and haggle.

    You definitely want SUVs as they offer good luggage space and also better sightings.

    Your won't need to use tours although National Park danger programmes are generally excellent.

    LA is a hole. Avoid wasting time there and start your holiday in Seattle instead.

    Finally, be aware the Pacific coast highway is hugely over rated. If you're going for the drive alone, don't bother.
    • cherabelle
    • By cherabelle 10th May 18, 11:13 AM
    • 140 Posts
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    cherabelle
    • #4
    • 10th May 18, 11:13 AM
    • #4
    • 10th May 18, 11:13 AM
    Originally posted by Caz3121
    Thanks, I'll have a good read of that and see what info I can find. :-)
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    • heatherw_01
    • By heatherw_01 10th May 18, 12:01 PM
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    heatherw_01
    • #5
    • 10th May 18, 12:01 PM
    • #5
    • 10th May 18, 12:01 PM
    Just book flights, car and hotels for where you want to go, it's what I do on roadtrips over there.
    MUCH cheaper than companies that do it for you.
    I'm the Board Guide on Quick Grabbit, Freebies, Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning and the UK Holidays, Days Out & Entertainments boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.
    • El Torro
    • By El Torro 10th May 18, 12:13 PM
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    El Torro
    • #6
    • 10th May 18, 12:13 PM
    • #6
    • 10th May 18, 12:13 PM
    I did pretty much the same trip as you some years ago, just in reverse (San Diego to San Francisco with a detour to Yosemite).


    Agreed that you don't need to book much in advance. Just the first day or two then see how you go. Going in September (I did the same) is good as it won't be peak holiday season so hotels won't book up.


    Definitely worth spending a day or two in Yosemite. Doing it yourself is fine, you don't need a guided tour.


    Sequoia is great too, again I don't see the advantage of joining a tour for this.


    San Francisco was my favourite city of the trip. I didn't go to Alcatraz but it is recommended if you like that sort of thing. Wise to book ahead.


    The highlight for me was the section between San Francisco and Los Angeles, especially Big Sur. Towns like Carmel, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo are worth spending some time in.


    LA, as mentioned by others, is a dump. I stayed in Santa Monica, which seems to be the only nice part of the city. I actually did a tour of LA, since it's not an easy city to get around and I wanted to see the highlights in as short a time as possible. A day here is enough.


    The LA to San Diego stretch was unimpressive for me. Others might feel otherwise though.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 10th May 18, 12:32 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #7
    • 10th May 18, 12:32 PM
    • #7
    • 10th May 18, 12:32 PM
    If you are "doing" Yosemite, take time to go up to Tuolumne Meadows and then over to Bodie. Yosemite valley can get pretty crowded during the summer months and rather unpleasant.

    Sequoia NP also gets crowded along the main tourist road - Well worth taking the side road out of Three Rivers and going up to Mineral King. A narrow, winding road up in to the mountains, but stunning views and an excellent little cafe in the village up there.

    With both Yosemite and Sequoia, the best thing to do, is park the car up and walk. You don't need to go far to get away from the crush of tourists, as most of them don't want to walk more than 500 yards.

    With five people in the group, I'd also suggest a large SUV rather than two cars. Don't plan out an itinerary in advance - Be flexible so that you can spend extra time in the nice places (the LA area isn't nice, nor is the run from LA to SD).
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    • prenton01
    • By prenton01 10th May 18, 12:37 PM
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    prenton01
    • #8
    • 10th May 18, 12:37 PM
    • #8
    • 10th May 18, 12:37 PM
    If you like the odd glass of wine i would recommend spending a night in Paso Robles and doing a afternoon wine tour well worth it
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    • PeacefulWaters
    • By PeacefulWaters 10th May 18, 12:55 PM
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    PeacefulWaters
    • #9
    • 10th May 18, 12:55 PM
    • #9
    • 10th May 18, 12:55 PM
    Make sure the highway is open.

    Landslides rather spoiled it for some last year.
    • jackieblack
    • By jackieblack 10th May 18, 1:31 PM
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    jackieblack
    I echo those who would encourage you to book independently - adding an unnecessary layer (the travel agent) into the equation just makes things more complicated IMO. You can often book hotels that offer free cancellation up to a few hours before check in which is great if your plans change and you decide to stay in one place a bit longer

    LA is VAST. Check where the various things are that you want to do/see. Universal Studios is about 40 miles NW of Anaheim (which is inland from Long Beach, so if you are travelling south it would make sense to do Universal then move south for Anaheim & Long Beach on your way to SD.

    As PeacefulWaters says, check the PCH is open (http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/highway_conditions.html , https://www.pacific-coast-highway-travel.com/) it appears that a stretch is going to closed until the end of the year and the diversion could be lengthy. Have a contingency plan in case of further closes at short notice (weather happens!)
    Last edited by jackieblack; 10-05-2018 at 1:49 PM.
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    • cherabelle
    • By cherabelle 10th May 18, 3:43 PM
    • 140 Posts
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    cherabelle
    Some random advice.


    Don't mess around with silly travel agents. Book your flights direct with an airline and your first nights hotel. You can them either book ahead on the day with a smartphone or just rock up at a chosen hotel and haggle.

    You definitely want SUVs as they offer good luggage space and also better sightings.

    Your won't need to use tours although National Park danger programmes are generally excellent.

    LA is a hole. Avoid wasting time there and start your holiday in Seattle instead.

    Finally, be aware the Pacific coast highway is hugely over rated. If you're going for the drive alone, don't bother.
    Originally posted by cubegame

    Thank you.

    I assume it's really easy to find decent accommodation at a decent price out there then?
    I know if we got our flights in October when they are released we would get them for a good price so that's not a problem, i've just never done the who no hotel in advance thing.

    Never heard of National Parks danger programmes before, I shall have a look into that.

    Thanks for the tip re LA and Seattle.

    It's more the sights than the drive, hopefully the itinerary we've planned means we'll see some pretty cool places but always open to suggestions.

    Thanks
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    ITV drama premiers 2K 11.01.11, Red Nintendo Wii
    • cherabelle
    • By cherabelle 10th May 18, 3:54 PM
    • 140 Posts
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    cherabelle
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice so far.
    Do you feel the budget I mentioned is sufficient (2800pp) for travel, accomodation, car hire and spending money seems realistic or so do we need to manage expectations a little more?
    I was hoping 1200ish for the trip then around 1600 as spends for 2-3 weeks.

    Thanks for all the brilliant information so far.
    Eleventh Heaven Number 52
    1*2**4*5*6*7*8*9*10*11

    ITV drama premiers 2K 11.01.11, Red Nintendo Wii
    • hollie.weimeraner
    • By hollie.weimeraner 10th May 18, 4:01 PM
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    hollie.weimeraner
    My road trip in September 2016:

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k9891676-Trip_report_Sept_2016-Road_Trips.html

    My advice would be to travel south on the Pacific Highway, that way you have the ocean on your nearside.

    Definitely book your hotels in advance and independently.

    For Monterey Lone Oak Lodge is brilliant and cheap.

    As stated make sure the highway is open as it has been closed for landslides and also September seems to be the season they get wildfires which shut it for some time just before we travelled.

    It was also very misty the day we travelled but didn't spoil the experience.

    Must do's would include a whale watching tour from Monterey.

    Oh and whatever you do do not leave your cars unattended with any items on display. All hire cars in the US have barcodes in the windows so stick out like a sore thumb for thieves.
    Last edited by hollie.weimeraner; 10-05-2018 at 4:19 PM.
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    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 10th May 18, 5:53 PM
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    FreeBear
    Oh and whatever you do do not leave your cars unattended with any items on display.
    Originally posted by hollie.weimeraner
    If you are doing any of the national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, etc), do not leave food, drinks, or toiletries in the car - Bears can and do rip cars open to get to anything with a scent, even toothpaste.



    http://www.killsometime.com/videos/9156/Bear-Mangles-Car-Left-With-Food-In-It

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    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • blindman
    • By blindman 10th May 18, 6:57 PM
    • 5,160 Posts
    • 4,181 Thanks
    blindman
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice so far.
    Do you feel the budget I mentioned is sufficient (2800pp) for travel, accomodation, car hire and spending money seems realistic or so do we need to manage expectations a little more?
    I was hoping 1200ish for the trip then around 1600 as spends for 2-3 weeks.

    Thanks for all the brilliant information so far.
    Originally posted by cherabelle
    Now this trip was 9 years ago but we did it for less than 2k total.

    Gas is now $3 per gallon. US cars do about 40 miles max to the gallon).

    Motels can eb $50 per room and can be 4 bed family rooms.

    Yosemite is expensive and needs to be booked NOW.

    Food
    Fast food for breakfast and lunch can cut down costs.
    Go to Walmart for snacks\ hot chicken and beer for an easy hotel room dinner.

    2nd trip
    3k per couple
    Not west coast but an example of costs for 3 weeks on the road.
    Last edited by blindman; 10-05-2018 at 7:31 PM.
    • bagand96
    • By bagand96 10th May 18, 6:57 PM
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    bagand96
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice so far.
    Do you feel the budget I mentioned is sufficient (2800pp) for travel, accomodation, car hire and spending money seems realistic or so do we need to manage expectations a little more?
    I was hoping 1200ish for the trip then around 1600 as spends for 2-3 weeks.
    Budget question is a difficult one, because it really depends on what you want in terms of accommodation etc. Good thing is that so much accommodation is available in the US, from budget to fantastic. Not sure if its just me but the last couple of years it seems to have got a bit more expensive for hotels over there - especially in big cities. The exchange rate is obviously one reason for this.

    I think you need to be looking to budget 550-700 for flights. From your 1200, that leaves 500-650 left for accomodation. If you go for 18 nights (for example) that's 28-36 each per night. That's not impossible, but you might need to up it a little - especially in the big cities. You still have car hire to go on top of that too.

    Spending - 1600 over 18 days is around 90 a day which I think is reasonable Some days you'll spend more than others obviously, but the US is as cheap or expensive as you want it for eating and drinking. Park tickets will have a little dent in that budget.

    A good thing to do is to make a spreadsheet or similar with a rough idea of an itinerary and price it up for this September - that'll give you an idea. Although the it's a bit late for the cheapest flights for this September - as well as early booking rates on some hotels - but again gives you an idea.

    In terms of tips for the trip:

    - If you want to Stay in Yosemite, you'll need to book early as accommodation there is very limited. It's all controlled by the National Parks Service too - it's not particularly cheap. There are towns just on the edge though which make it more doable.

    - Hearst Castle is definitely worth a visit if you have time. It's not far off PCH about half way between San Fran and LA. Takes a couple of hours.

    - Another poster said they found the LA-San Diego stretch uninspiring. I very much liked it - but that's the joy of travel! The drive itself is pretty mundane, but there's a few nice places along the way. San Clemente was a great lunch spot, Oceanside was lovely - spent a night there.

    -San Diego is fantastic - allow time for Mission Bay, Coronado and Downtown!
    • cubegame
    • By cubegame 11th May 18, 7:45 AM
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    • 729 Thanks
    cubegame
    Thank you.

    I assume it's really easy to find decent accommodation at a decent price out there then?
    I know if we got our flights in October when they are released we would get them for a good price so that's not a problem, i've just never done the who no hotel in advance thing.

    Never heard of National Parks danger programmes before, I shall have a look into that.

    Thanks for the tip re LA and Seattle.

    It's more the sights than the drive, hopefully the itinerary we've planned means we'll see some pretty cool places but always open to suggestions.

    Thanks
    Originally posted by cherabelle
    I can't spell.....the National Park Danger programmes are probably banned due to health and safety.

    Therefore I will re-recommend the ranger programmes.


    We did the Seattle to San Diego trip a few years ago. Can't remember how much it cost but it wasn't mad.

    Further north the sights of Lava Beds National Monument, Lassen Volcanic Park and Crater Lake are amazing.
    • Beenie
    • By Beenie 11th May 18, 9:24 AM
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    Beenie
    Costs in California are much higher than the US average.

    We spent a few days in LA on our way elsewhere, and then stayed again on our way home. We did this in order to see the Griffiths Observatory/Park, the Hollywood sign and Mulholland Drive trips, the Paramount Studios, Melrose Drive and Beverley Hills, and buy some clothes. Nothing was inexpensive.

    Our hotel was $200 a night with breakfast and parking, so good value by LA standards. Meals were the same price as the UK but - and this is the killer - you have to factor in the obligatory 20% tip, so eating out is more expensive than in Europe. The jeans (Levis) were marginally cheaper than the price at Costco, but all the styles were on display so we bought some anyway.

    The rental car business is a bit dodgy, with the salesman saying your preferred car isn't available or would you like an upgrade (at extra cost of course). You also have to pay extra for standard things like sat-nav, and the cost is out of all proportion to the actual car rental. If you are a confident driver, you might not need one; we used to live in the US and thought we'd be OK without one, but opted for it on our second visit three weeks later. (We'd actually been in Baja California -which is part of Mexico, where the driving standards are legendary, but we felt more at risk in LA than anywhere on our Mexican road trip).

    I hope this doesn't sound too negative. Go anyway and enjoy your holiday, just be prepared to spend much more than you think. As for accommodation at $25 per night, even campsites cost more than that.
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