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Ashely & Sam went to...the United States!

Hello! Tell us a little bit about you and where you traveled to?


Hii there!

 

We're Ashley & Sam from the Netherlands, a Dutch travel couple. We live together for two years now and we love to travel the world. We make a lot of city trips, we travel through Europe, but we also travel in different continents outside Europe. We are the owners of TravelCanyon. We published our very own travel blog website today!


We're very proud of it. We're still starters, but we would love to share our routes, stories, recommendations, tips and more! We will write our blogs in English & Dutch. Later on, the blogs will also be in Spanish. Ashley speaks Spanish as a foreign language and we want to make it possible that the blogs are readable for a lot of people from all over the world!

 

Last summer, 2022, we went on our first roadtrip in West-USA. We will tell you more about our experience, give some tips & recommendations and share some of our photos!

How great was the trip?


We went on a 17-day roadtrip starting and ending in Los Angeles. We visited Death Valley National Park (the desert), Valley of Fire State Park, Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs and Anaheim (Disneyland California). We mapped out this route ourselves, since it was much less expensive than booking it via a travel agency.

 

 

The trip itself was not so stressful at all. However, we did had to drive a lot of hours to the next place, but we were jamming in the car with our favorite music on. Furthermore, the landscapes were beautiful and we made a few nice stops.

The day we drove to the next place, we stayed on the hotel in the evening and relaxed a bit. The day after, we had the whole day to go sightseeing and discover everything. The last day staying in that place, we would see or do something in the morning and drive to the next place where we will go to our next accommodation to check-in and have a good rest again.

In short, we had enough time to drive to the next place and we had enough time to enjoy en see (almost) everything we wanted. We saw all the popular highlights.

 

Sam back then did not have his driver's license yet, so Ashley was the only one to drive during this whole trip. In 17 days we drove more than 3500 km!!! This was challenging, very exhausting, but it was worth it.

 

We did have some stress on our first two days, but we'll tell more about that later! :D


What did you do while you were there?


As said before, we visited a lot of different places. We'll tell you a bit about what we've done and seen.

 

Starting in Los Angeles, we visited the Hollywood sign. We made a hike to the top of the mountain to be very close to those very famous letters. We hiked early in the morning, but it was very hot already. We, as Dutch people, are not used to the hot weather.

In the evening we went to a match of the Dodgers! This was an unforgettable experience. We booked tickets beforehand. There was a promotion, because the first 50,000 visitors got a jersey from the Dodgers! We were very happy, because we also received one. For Ashley it was a sort of dress, because normally she had size S, but they only had XXL Hahaha.

The day after we went to the popular walk of fame. We took a lot of pictures and really enjoyed this city.

 

We had to drive to the next place, namely the desert. It was a 5-6 hours drive and we still needed some gas for our car. Our car said that we could only drive 70 miles or so and we knew there were no possibilities to fill up in the desert. Our parents warned us for that beforehand, so we really wanted to have it full before leaving Los Angeles. We had troubles with refueling, because we had never done this before and we didn't know how to. It was a bit different than in the Netherlands and we did not know which one we needed. Ashley walked inside to ask the worker of the gass station and it took us HALF AN HOUR. We tried to refuel for a few times, going inside with our credit card, trying to fill up with gas and again. The car refused. It seemed full the worker said... well, but the car didn't. We showed him and it still said that we could still only drive for 70 miles. In the end, we just went and afterwards it turned out that the meter was just broken, because after driving for an hour or so, it said we could drive 300 miles and it kept changing. However, we were lucky to know that the car was full with gas.

We had some delay and we wanted to leave Hollywood, but ALL the roads were closed. Sam and I got a bit frustrated and he said: we'll not going to make it to Death Valley Ashley.

Ashley said: No, I know, but then we need to come up with a plan what to do. We laughed a lot about this afterwards, because we still got to Death Valley that day.


We arrived at 9 PM. It was terrible because at 7 PM the sun had set and we had to drive fully in the dark in the desert. We did no service on our telephone so we couldn't call anyone or check our route. This was terrible. Luckily there was only one long road and our car was filled up with gas. We didn't have any problems and everything went well. Our accommodation was located ABOVE death valley, so it was a long drive.

 

The day after we went to the hotspots of Death Valley. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Artists Drive and more. We even went to Dante's view. This was a 15% increased road, very steep, but we made it to the top and we enjoyed a VERY beautiful view (definitely recommend it).

 

On our way to Las Vegas, we went to the Red Rock Canyon National Park. It was too hot to walk, so we drove through the park. It was beautiful. Las Vegas was a nice once in a lifetime experience, but it was very very busy. Especially when coming from the very quiet desert without seeing anyone or anybody, it was overwhelming with a lot of lights, people and music. We visited all the popular hotels, for example the Flamingo hotel with real flamingos, the New York, New York hotel with a real rollercoaster and more! To escape from the busy city, we went to Valley of Fire Statepark. This was the best decision ever made. This park was Ashley's favorite park. All the wonderful different colours (See photos). We also saw wild big horn sheep. This was pretty cool.

After Vegas, we went to Grand Canyon West & Grand Canyon South. This was a breathtaking view and we loved it! Our accommodation was in Seligman, a town with a lot of Route 66 memories. There were a lot of cars etc. so we definitely recommend going there too (Or staying there).

 

We went to Joshua Tree National Park with the beautiful Joshua Trees. We hiked a bit, but it was very hot that day, so we also drove a lot in our car.

 

After that, we went to Palm Springs. We had a huge luxurious resort with a lot of swimming pools. It was the end of August and there we not much tourists. We had the whole pool for ourselves. We swam a lot and relaxed. We drove to the windmill park with more than 4000 windmills, we took some pictures, but it was not worth it to be there very long. We also went to the city, to some gift shops, but we would rather be laying in the swimming pool, because that day it was 45 degrees of Celsius. With the cable car we went to the top of the San Jacinto mountain. We enjoyed the beautiful view, we ate there (which was awful), and we hiked a lot there. There were a lot of chipmunks and squirrels, and we even thought we had seen a raccoon. We took a lot of pictures. However, later on, we looked at the photos and it turned out to be a squirrel with a big thick tail (see picture) hahaha :(

We went to Anaheim and went on a boat to go whale watching. We didn't see any whales, but we enjoyed the experience and we saw a sea lion and hundreds of dolphins. This was amazing!! See pictures to check it out.

The day after we went to Disneyland California and the adventure park next to it. We had a ticket for both and it was possible to hop between the two parks. It was a great experience meeting our Disney friends and going on rides. We had one of the best times of our lives. In the evening we enjoyed the light parade, the fireworks and the fountain show with lights and music (Definitely go there in the evening!). see pictures :)

 

The last day we went back to Los Angeles and visited the things we did not have time for at the beginning of our trip. We went to Santa Monica Pier, visited Griffith Observatorium and we went to a shopping mall.

 

In short, we've seen a LOT. Which made it a long, exhausting, but wonderful and unforgettable experience.


How did you learn and prepare for this trip?


To prepare for this trip, as we said before, we mapped out the route ourselves.

We knew we wanted to make a roadtrip in West-USA, since you have a few popular cities there and beautiful National Parks. We did have to make choices, because of the budget. It was very expensive, so we decided to go for 17 days and choose between which national parks to go and which not. There were a lot of fires in Yosemite back then, so we didn't visit Yosemite unfortunately. We would love to go back to visit Yosemite, Sequoia national park, but also Bryce Canyon, Zion national park etc. We had to decide where to go, since Ashley was the only one who could drive back then and we did not want to sit in the car for days long. We were lucky to make this roadtrip already, we still saw a lot, drove a lot of kilometers/miles, but we would love to go back.

 

We used Ashley's phone, bought a sim card and used her phone to navigate. We booked all the accommodations on forehand via booking.com.

 

We made a travel guide ourselves with the addresses of the accommodations and with what to see, do and discover at all the places we were going to visit. This was nice and smart, we did some research before going, so thats why we knew we could go to the Hoover Dam when driving from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and for example visit Valley of Fire State Park when staying / having an accommodation in Vegas. It was only one hour driving, but you just have to know those things exist.

 

This all worked out pretty well!!


How did you get there?


We had a flight from Amsterdam (Schiphol) to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) via London (Heathrow Airport). We only had 1 hour and 25 minutes for our transfer. We flew the first part with British Airways and the second part with American Airlines. Both nice airline companies.

 

However, there was a lot of chaos back then on both Schiphol and London Heathrow Airport. We already read on the news that because of the staff shortage, a lot of travellers missed their flights because of long rows at check-in and security etc.

We were very stressed and concerned about this.

 

We went to the airport 6 hours before our flight would depart. However, in our terminal there was almost nobody..... in other terminals it was busy though.


We wanted to have our boarding pass already so that the check-in would go easy, but the system did not work. We called with british airways the day before and they said we had to fix our boarding pass in London at the airport. We knew we only had one hour and 25 minutes for our transfer, so we really hoped to catch our flight on time. We did not need any delay, because then we would miss our next flight.

 

We were happy that our flight took off on time and landed on time. However............ the taxi-ing took way to long. The pilot told us that there was no gate to park at, so we had to wait for a bit. This was terrible, since we did not have a lot of time to catch our next flight from London to Los Angeles. After 20 MINUTES!!! we could get out of the airplane. We had our seats very far back in the airplane, so at one of the last rows so we had to wait for a long time before getting out of the airplane.


London Heathrow Airport was HUGE. Even bigger than expected, so we had to go with a BUS from terminal 3 to terminal 5. We knew we still need to fix a boarding pass....we got there and asked a worker if we were going to miss our flight or still be able to get on time.


He asked people in our line if we could go first and he told us that we will be fine, since there was only a 5-minute during row at security.

 

Once at the desk from American Airlines, we wanted to get our boarding pass. 40 minutes before our flight would took off.


The person at the desk told us: "Ma'am, you can't get a boarding pass anymore".


"Why not?!"


"Well, because you can only get a boarding pass 45 minutes before a flight takes off." Thus, we were 5 minutes late. They already took our luggage out...


The next flight of American Airlines would take off 5 hours later. We could go to the desk of British Airways and fix a flight 4 hours later, since it was their fault we were late.


We did that and he fixed a new flight for us. We did not want this to ruin our trip, so we were going to eat a burger and fries with the voucher for free food (£20) we received, yay!

 

Ashley did ask the man if our luggage was already going to Los Angeles. He said "no." Ashley very clearly asked him if our luggage would really go on the next flight and he promised us.

 

The flight went well (10 hour during flight). However, Ashley got a bit nauseous, but she always has that on flights.

 

We hoped our luggage would come. We had put our clothes in both suitcases, a bit from Sam in Ashley's suitcase and vice versa. So that if one of the suitcases wouldn't be there, we would still both have our clothing.


Guess what? We were waiting for our luggage, we waited and waited. And one of the workers was getting the one last suitcases off the belt. Ashley asked her: is there still luggage coming?


"No", she said.


"What? What do you mean? Our suitcases aren't there yet."


We had to go to another person and she had a message for us. She told us that they haven't been able to get our luggage on time on the right flight. So we needed to fill out a form and the suitcases would come within 48 hours or so... We had NOTHING, only both a small backpack.

 

We picked up our rental car, this went well, luckily. We drove to the hotel. At first, we would arrive in the afternoon in Los Angeles, but because of the 4 hour delay, we arrived in the evening and weren't able to go sightseeing that day. Luckily we still had the day after and the last day of our roadtrip in Los Angeles.


we went to sleep and the day after we saw that our suitcases were on a flight!! They would come to us. We immediately drove to the airport to pick them up. However, they told us that the suitcases still needed to be checked. We had to wait for 3 more hours. We did that and finally after those hours we were reunited with our luggage. Thank god.

 

In short, yes, this was stressful and terrible haha. But afterwards it's a nice story and everything turned out great at the end.


Where did you stay?


All of our stays we good. We booked via booking.com and read a lot of reviews beforehand.

we stayed in hotels & motels. Some of them had a swimming pool, but most of them were just easy, but nice sleeping places. We weren't that much on our rooms anyway. In Palm Springs we had a very nice resort. We will write a blog about all our recommendations soon enough on our travel blog website.

Where and what did you eat?


We ate a lot, really a lot of burgers. Denny's was our favorite restaurant. It wasn't expensive, it had an american vibe and we loved the food. It was possible to compose your own burger by choosing toppings etc. This was great.


By the way, we also loved the free refills !! (in the Netherlands we love free stuff, we are used to pay for literally everything. Even for going to a toilet in a restaurant or store.)

 

We also ate in a nice steakhouse restaurant and in Taco Bell.

 

I've written a lot about our experience already, so we will tell you more about it soon on our blog website.


We have so much more to tell and recommend!


How much did it cost?


The travel itself was expensive. About 2000 euros per person for rental car, accommodations, food and flight.


Would you go back and do it again?


We would definitely go back and do this again. We wanted to go back this summer already haha.


We will go back in the future and make a bigger roadtrip. We would go back to some of the national parks and definitely to Los Angeles. But we would still want to discover the other national parks and places such as San Francisco and San Diego!


Advice for people planning to do something similar?


For people planning to make this roadtrip, we advice taking your time for driving from one place to the other.


We also recommend reading about what to see & discover so that you can make a plan. This is how you can see A LOT (almost everything you want) by just planning and looking at what is close to what and map it out, just like we did.


And to be sure you have an accommodation etc, we recommend booking everything already.


Where can we go to connect with you?

 

Have a travel story you want to share?


Hey readers, thanks for reading about this great trip. We interview travelers from all over the world creating a community to collect travel tips and inspiration.

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Catch you next time. Happy travels!

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