Author Topic: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?  (Read 3131 times)

gorion83

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Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« on: April 30, 2019, 03:01:39 PM »
Hi fellow mustachians, I can't decide if I need a facepunch or not.

Me and my wife are deciding on our summer vacation.
We want to do one last big trip before trying to have a baby (and stay a bit close for a few years), and we are currently considering a couple destinations.

Our first choice is a tour between LA-LV-Grand Canyon - Bryce Canyon - Yosemite - SF.
Unfortunately we waited a bit too much (bye bye cheap flights) and we can go on holiday only in August, so the price comes up at around 6k plus food and gasoline, which looks like 7.5k for 14 days (mostly due to flight and car rental, so hardly shrinkable)

We both got a raise recently so we definitely could afford this expense, but coupled with furnishing our house this is leaving below target savings rate of about 28% for me and 20% for DW.
We could opt for a cheaper Japan trip (we've been there last year) which should come up at about 5k, all inclusive.
What would you suggest?

elliha

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 03:17:52 PM »
If you think you may not make as many trips once you have kids I don't really see any problems with picking the more expensive one. It really sounds like you prefer this option too. If you have already been to Japan so resently I see that as a further reason to pick the other option.

ixtap

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 03:29:07 PM »
The Grand Canyon is going to be miserable in August. Could you try later in the year? Although, if your other choice is Japan, perhaps you don't mind being shoulder to shoulder.

Find something that does not compromise your savings goals. Perhaps a road trip that does not require flights.

JLee

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 03:31:06 PM »
The Grand Canyon is going to be miserable in August. Could you try later in the year? Although, if your other choice is Japan, perhaps you don't mind being shoulder to shoulder.

Find something that does not compromise your savings goals. Perhaps a road trip that does not require flights.

Why do you say that?

I was there in December one year and it was a white-out snowstorm, so don't go too late...

ixtap

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 03:41:49 PM »
The Grand Canyon is going to be miserable in August. Could you try later in the year? Although, if your other choice is Japan, perhaps you don't mind being shoulder to shoulder.

Find something that does not compromise your savings goals. Perhaps a road trip that does not require flights.

Why do you say that?

I was there in December one year and it was a white-out snowstorm, so don't go too late...

August is high season and it is very crowded; it may also be hot, depending on how far in you plan to go. September and October would be better choices by all measures except your own availability.

Freedomin5

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 04:36:57 PM »
LA and LV will also be disgustingly hot in August. Like, possibly over 100F hot. I remember feeling like I was walking into an oven every time I opened the door in July and August while living in LA.

OtherJen

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 07:32:18 PM »
Japan is also miserable in August: 90F and higher temps every day, and humidity levels above 90%. When we went a few years ago for my work conference and sightseeing, Kobe and Hiroshima were in the low 90s because of proximity to the ocean, while Kyoto and Tokyo were closer to 100F.

skeptic

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 08:17:28 PM »
Nothing you're suggesting seems unreasonable. If the choices are the trip you really want for 6k or the less exciting trip for 5k, that seems obvious. Of course, depending on your tastes it doesn't seem super hard to plan a 2-week trip for 2k-3k, or even less if you're not in hotels, but it would be a different kind of trip and, I assume, maybe not the kind you are looking for, and maybe one you would regret cheaping out on.

I think it makes sense to do a little extra travel before becoming parents... that said, you can still do some serious travel when you only have one and they are small. It's not the same as being kid-free obviously, but between 3 months and 15 months or so they are a lot easier to travel with than when older, in my opinion. (Can fall asleep anywhere including just on your lap, sleep relatively lots, don't need/want to be talking to you constantly.)

And YMMV. I did Grand Canyon in late July early August and it was incredibly hot, and also one of the best experiences of my life.

Have fun!

Zamboni

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 08:40:36 PM »
LA and LV will also be disgustingly hot in August. Like, possibly over 100F hot. I remember feeling like I was walking into an oven every time I opened the door in July and August while living in LA.

Last time I was in LV in July, it was 117 degrees F. Seriously. I now understand why they find people dead 200 yards from their car when they break down in the desert and try to walk for help.

I've hiked the canyon twice (5 days of backpacking each time in the late spring). . .I would not try it in August. If you are just going to gaze out over its majesty from the rim, though, then it probably doesn't matter when you go.

I think you should go wherever you want to go. I'm not sure why these are the only two destination choices with the whole wide world that is out there, but travel is something I think is often worth the money. *Shrugs*

seemsright

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2019, 09:04:34 PM »
Traveling is important to us. I highly suggest you travel with your kid and teach them 'how' to travel.  We did this and our 8 year old was a dream during a red eye from SEA to LHR.

This year we have a bunch of trips planned most localish. But NM in June and Mexico in Dec.

calimom

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2019, 09:45:26 PM »
Travel is great, but your proposed trip is Too Many Things. National Parks are very busy in the summer. Any chance you could go in the fall? Temperatures will be lower and the crowds fewer. And adding Los Angeles and Las Vegas is a bit much. Slower travel is usually better. Pick what's most important and narrow it down.


JoJo

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2019, 10:08:59 PM »
You mention Japan so are you in Asia?  If you like natural places, look at visiting Mongolia.  One of my most favorite places ever (and I've been to nearly 100 countries). 

deborah

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 10:12:47 PM »
In all the years I worked, I had three vacations.

Surely, somewhere more northerly (cooler in August), and close to home, could give you a great vacation. Everywhere has places nearby that people the world over come to see, and that residents have never visited. Have a competition with one another to list all the local (and not so local) hidden gems. I would be surprised if you dont find something more inviting than either of your current options.

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2019, 05:24:48 AM »
Thanks everyone for the inputs so far. to answer the various questions:
1) We are from Italy
2) We will also travel with babies (we aim for 2).. however we will think we'll stay closer. Italy and Europe have many nice places we can reach with a car and I think that car+airbnb+beach could be much more pratical in the first years than travelling overseas.
3) Unfortunately August is the only month in which our employers are more willing to give us long holidays (2-3 weeks). In other periods it's much more difficult to take holidays.
4) hot isn't really that big of a concern to us. Keep in mind we live in northern Italy and in July-August it's quite common to reach 95F and above. Japan was a bit harder, mainly because it's much more humid with similar temperatures. As long the weather is dry we should be able to bear it (well, unless its 117 obviously).
We will avoid hiking in Grand Canyon or going to Death Valley at 1 p.m. obviously.
5) Other destinations.. I think we are a bit late to plan other trips and I wanted to visit LA and SF since I was a boy.. Tokyo instead is the dream city of my wife. This is why we narrowed to the two (leaving NYC-Boston for future trips with babies)


In Japan we also loved the people and the culture (stayed 20 days).. we would like to get a glympse of local culture, what would be the best options?

@calimom why do you think we put too much in our trip? We realize that we are running a bit (14 days) but we are open to add a couple days if needed

@skeptic the difference is more around 2.5k though


chemistk

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2019, 06:19:10 AM »
Your trip presents an interesting and conflicting series of 'wants'.

You want to get a taste of the local culture, and yet you want to see some of the great sights of the western US.

I really think you should reconsider your trip, and re-prioritize. Maybe you're aware and are okay with it but you're about to saddle up for a heck of a lot of driving. Through the doldrums. Though the mountains are beautiful, there's not a lot to see.

You're not actually going in either - in that your visits to the national parks are just to take in the sights? It's going to be hard just driving by knowing that you're not going to have an opportunity to explore again for quite some time.

Honestly (assuming you don't get talked out of this), I'd choose one route to take -> National Parks, with plans to explore them or LA, SF, and other areas in California. Maybe drive the coast and end up in Washington!

(skip Las Vegas)

Hula Hoop

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2019, 07:14:20 AM »
Hello - fellow Italian mustachians.  I'm an American living in Italy.  Anyway, I completely understand your August problem as my employer is the same.  Very annoying as everything is expensive and packed in August both here in Europe and elsewhere.

As a mother of 2 I think it's great that you're doing this trip now pre-kids.  I've been to those parts of the US and it is truly beautiful.  I'm very jealous of your trip.  It's true that it'll be hot but if you're stuck with August that kind of goes with the territory.

It is rather a lot of fit in during a relatively short time but if you don't plan to do much camping or hiking in the national parks it's probably do-able. I would cut some things out if possible as, as others have said, you'll end up very rushed trying to cover all these things.  I personally didn't care for LV and loved Yosemite and Bryce Canyon.  But that's just me.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 07:17:13 AM by Hula Hoop »

wenchsenior

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2019, 07:54:35 AM »
Agree that two weeks is not really sufficient to spend any quality time if you try to see ALL those U.S. locations, and your butts will be planted in the car driving for most of it b/c the U.S. is so big.

I would cut out some of this (personally, I'd certainly skip LV and LA, though San Fran is cool) and plan fewer things, so you an enjoy them more and do much less driving.  I would focus on either California only (tons to see there) or Utah/northern Arizona (both states are packed with beautiful parks).

Adding a flag about the heat if you are hiking any distance in August.  I LOVE heat and used to do hard, physical, outdoor work in the remote desert during summer (daily heat in the 100-110F range) and lived for years in southern AZ.  Living in a very hot city doesn't compare with doing physical labor in that kind of heat; hiking any distance takes a lot of planning and gallons of water/gatorade that you have to carry.  I assume you aren't planning something like hiking all the way into the Grand Canyon and camping b/c that's requires most of the day each direction and (unless you are SUPER fit, a recovery day at the bottom). I hiked the Grand Canyon during March (when there was still snow at the rim), and it was around 90-95F midday at the campsite at the bottom.  It was hot enough that we decided to get up at 3 a.m. for the hike out (which was fantastic under the moon).

Anyway, you should be fine for shorter day hikes (with water) at any of these parks. They are spectacular.  If you just want to drive through and see unreal scenery, Zion in UT is a showstopper.

Have fun!


mm1970

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2019, 11:12:02 AM »
I've done both Grand Canyon and LV in August.  It's hot.  But if you aren't hiking except for along the rim, it's doable.  It will be busy, yes.  Bryce is AMAZING.  You might want to try Canyonlands too. I've never been but I've heard that it's less crowded.

Anyway, that's a really packed itinerary.  I'd cut it back a little (personally I'd skip SF and LA, but that's because I live close to LA and hate driving through LA!)  If you swapped the order you could cut down the driving:
SF-Yosemite-LA-Vegas-Grand Canyon-Bryce (then fly out of Vegas maybe?)

In any event, if you even wanted to spend 2 full days at each place, you'd need 3 weeks, because figure a day driving between each one.   You end up with 19 days.

To save money consider AirBNB instead of hotels.  We went to Utah and picked kind of a central town (Kanab) where we could take day trips to Zion and Bryce.

Beriberi

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2019, 05:07:42 PM »
Use Google Flights to look for a 3 week August trip from your home airport.  There is no reason to spend $5k for two tickets at that time.

If I look Rome to the US for Aug 5-26, I can do the following:
NYC $700
Miami $900
LA $800
Vancouver $1k.

The flight seems to be clouding the issue. There are all kinds of places to travel that are good baby-free vacations and won't break the bank.

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2019, 05:39:58 AM »

I really think you should reconsider your trip, and re-prioritize. Maybe you're aware and are okay with it but you're about to saddle up for a heck of a lot of driving. Through the doldrums. Though the mountains are beautiful, there's not a lot to see
This is actually one of the things which is worrying me. I like driving. But I'm am afraid that driving every day in the middle of nowhere can get a bit boring
I had a similar experience in Sardinia when i crossed 60 miles of nothing but shrubs and desert hills and it was quite strange, even if the landscape wasn't nearly as beautiful.

Quote
You're not actually going in either - in that your visits to the national parks are just to take in the sights? It's going to be hard just driving by knowing that you're not going to have an opportunity to explore again for quite some time.

Honestly (assuming you don't get talked out of this), I'd choose one route to take -> National Parks, with plans to explore them or LA, SF, and other areas in California. Maybe drive the coast and end up in Washington!

(skip Las Vegas)

We are not great hikers. We actually look for simple trails and we may hike a bit, but we'll decide also based on weather. We don't want to risk as unprepared hikers in too hot trails.

So yes, basically we will have mostly sights and simple trails. The only exception could be Yosemite which looks a bit less hot.

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2019, 05:44:09 AM »


I would cut out some of this (personally, I'd certainly skip LV and LA, though San Fran is cool) and plan fewer things, so you an enjoy them more and do much less driving.  I would focus on either California only (tons to see there)

Thanks wenchsenior.
What would you suggest in California?

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2019, 05:48:19 AM »
I've done both Grand Canyon and LV in August.  It's hot.  But if you aren't hiking except for along the rim, it's doable.  It will be busy, yes.  Bryce is AMAZING.  You might want to try Canyonlands too. I've never been but I've heard that it's less crowded.

Anyway, that's a really packed itinerary.  I'd cut it back a little (personally I'd skip SF and LA, but that's because I live close to LA and hate driving through LA!)  If you swapped the order you could cut down the driving:
SF-Yosemite-LA-Vegas-Grand Canyon-Bryce (then fly out of Vegas maybe?)

In any event, if you even wanted to spend 2 full days at each place, you'd need 3 weeks, because figure a day driving between each one.   You end up with 19 days.

To save money consider AirBNB instead of hotels.  We went to Utah and picked kind of a central town (Kanab) where we could take day trips to Zion and Bryce.

I thought about skipping SF and LA, but I don't think I would come just for those 2, so it seemed a good idea to add.

We will stay mostly 1 night everywhere, so it will be very rushed..
We now are thinking of starting with LA, then move over to Kingman seeing a couple of ghost towns on the road, then Grand Canyon Village - Flagstaff, Monument Valley, Page, LV (just because I can't find any other place to sleep between Page and Yosemite) and then Yosemite and SF.

I could try fitting your tip and see if we cut back on miles :)

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2019, 05:57:46 AM »
Use Google Flights to look for a 3 week August trip from your home airport.  There is no reason to spend $5k for two tickets at that time.

If I look Rome to the US for Aug 5-26, I can do the following:
NYC $700
Miami $900
LA $800
Vancouver $1k.

The flight seems to be clouding the issue. There are all kinds of places to travel that are good baby-free vacations and won't break the bank.

From our home airport there are 200 for each person between the cheapest US destination (NYC) and LA or SF.
With hotels far cheaper in California.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2019, 06:05:42 AM »
Your latest itinerary sounds a lot more manageable.  I went to Monument Valley a million years ago and absolutely loved it.  If you're not big hikers your new itinerary sounds good.  I liked LA, despite the sprawl, it was interesting.  I had a local to show me around though.  Others who know LA better than me (I'm a New Yorker) can probably chime in but one of the high lights of the trip was seeing a movie at the silent movie theater.  Not sure if that still exists.  I also ate some great Japanese and Korean food in LA.  Mexican food is also to-die-for.

wenchsenior

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2019, 12:56:20 PM »
So I was discussing your plans with my husband this morning over breakfast.

If doing northern California, I would fly into Reno or San Fran.  Let's say San Fran b/c you want to see a city. Drive north on the coastline...it's all beautiful and that way you can see the redwoods, which are a must-see (IMO).  If you want to go all the way up to or near coastal Oregon (even MORE beautiful IMO), then my particular favorite spot is Prairie Creek Redwood State Park/Gold Bluffs Beach/Fern Canyon, just north of Eureka, CA.  Easy short trails through the redwoods, spectacular but easy hike through Fern Canyon, elk herds, tremendous beach, usually not as packed with people as some of the parks.

https://www.visitredwoods.com/listing/fern-canyon-in-prairie-creek-redwoods-sp/464/

If I were hitting southern OR, it's fun to shoot up to see Crater Lake and Ashland (lovely downtown, theater community, huge Shakespeare Festival, some nice vineyards in the area if you are into that).  Then back south through the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, stopping off at Lassen Volcano NP, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite NP, and then back across to San Fran. If you want to go a little further south, you'll be close to King's Canyon/Sequoia NP and Death Valley NM, which I've never been to but am dying to see. 

****

If I were doing a Southwestern/Western trip, now that DH and I discussed it, I'd probably skip New Mexico.  Personally, I'd fly into Salt Lake City, Utah, and wander down to Bryce and Zion.  Zion is spectacular, though very crowded, but can be enjoyed just driving through; and Cedar City is a nice town to stay, with an active theater community so you might take in a play while you are there.  I have not yet seen Grand Staircase/Escalante but you can do GS/E on the way south. Contine down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon (much less crowded than the south rim). I think going as far south as Petrified Forest/Painted Desert in AZ might be pushing it, unfortunately, so I'd instead drive east through Monument Valley, then into the Four Corners area (Mesa Verde NP in Colorado is amazing, and if you want to get a feel for great mountain scenery, Durango CO to the Telluride/Silverton area is a beautiful drive).  Then start looping back up, hitting Canyonlands NP on the way.   


It's ALL SO GREAT.  By the time DH and finished thinking of recs for you, we realized it's been 15 years since we have road tripped in either one of these regions.  Guess what we'll be doing this fall?  Damn, it's making me want to pack right now.

gorion83

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2019, 04:00:50 PM »
Thanks everyone for the tips so far.. great ones, will surely save them for future trips :)

We decided to narrow a bit our itinerary to make it more manageable, and we decided to stay mostly in AZ. I really don't know if this makes sense, but we liked Phoenix as a 3 days break from the parks but we are still undecided if end the trip in LA or staying in AZ.
Skipped San Francisco because it's a bit off our itinerary and Yosemite as it's the most similar to our Italian Alps


Choice 1
1 - Italy - LV
2 - LV - Death Valley - LV
3 - LV - Page - Horseshoe bend - Lake Powell
4 - Page - Antelope Canyon (or Canyon X) - Monument Valley
5 - Monument Valley - Flagstaff
6 - day trip to Meteor Crater/Wupatki national park
7 - day trip to Oatman/route 66
8 - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon
9 - Grand Canyon - Phoenix
10 - Phoenix
11 - Phoenix - Tucson
12 - day trip to Tombstone
13 - Tucson - Phoenix
14 - Phoenix
15 - Phoenix - Italy

Choice 2:
1-10 same
11 Phoenix
12 Phoenix - LA (maybe stop to Palm Springs?)
13-15 LA

What do you guys think?
Will it be manageable?
How is Phoenix for tourism? It will be very hot I think, but what about safety and activities?
Tucson would be nice mainly for the trip to Tombstone (maybe a bit too touristic for you but hey, it's Far West :)) and the airplane museum.
LA is LA :)
We are not really interested in Bryce-Zion-Arches so far. Still unsure if we love so many wild things so we want to mix cities and wilderness

wenchsenior

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2019, 04:23:31 PM »
Either of those look manageable at first glance.  I personally would choose to spend far more time in Tucson than Phoenix, but I lived in Tucson for a decade and liked it far more than Phoenix, which you had to twist my arm to make me go to. However, that's coming from someone who is not into big-city activities usually.  I'm sure Phoenix has Tucson beat on that score, and Tucson has followed Phoenix's horrible urban sprawl example in the past couple of decades, unfortunately.  The mountain/desert activities of far southern AZ are superior, IMO; but if you aren't into that, don't bother to go to Tucson just for Tombstone unless you are really into Old West history.  (I've worked out of Tombstone also, and there's nothing much to it, though the mountains around it are great).

That whole itinerary is very hot weather, esp mid/southern AZ. Daytime temps in Phoenix and Tucson during late May to late Sep run 100-110F and temps do NOT drop much at night until the very early morning. It will likely still be 100F after midnight in those two cities. So make sure you plan for that.

But it's a lot of cool stuff to see. Have fun!

Laserjet3051

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Re: Summer vacation - Facepunch needed?
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2019, 04:57:06 PM »
I'm very familiar with every one of your destinations. Seriously, the desert is absolutely miserable in August. Areas right ON the coast will be tolerable in August, but go even 5 miles in inland and it can be an oven. For the Sierra Nevada mountains, staying at higher elevation will be critical. Of course, in LV if you absolutely never leave the indoor environment youll be ok.

And this is coming from someone who has a high tolerance for scorching temperature. I've mountain biked in the desert in July, toured Death Valley in June, etc. etc.. It's bad, real bad.