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Road Trip to California Day 1: Viewing the St. Louis Arch

Tonya Prater, Owner

The St. Louis Arch When I say that I let my Type-A travel planning tendencies go down the drain, I’m not kidding. When it came to making arrangements for our 10 day cross country road trip, I even ignored many of my own tips that I normally follow to plan a memorable vacation.  Setting out, I worried that my lack of planning had really messed things up. I quickly discovered that for this particular road trip, my anything goes mentality was the perfect state of mind.

My kids were nervous when we loaded up my husband’s truck and headed for the airport to pick up our rental vehicle. I had booked a minivan but they were convinced that by the time we loaded up our luggage for the week there wouldn’t be enough room for them. We hadn’t been on the road an hour and I had already learned a valuable lesson.

When you wait until the very last minute to pack for a trip- you over pack. 

I quietly commented to my husband that if he was offered an upgrade, he should take it and I silently prayed that Budget would have a Suburban waiting for us.

Renting a vehicle at the airport is a little tricky. Not hard, just a bit more time consuming if you’re an outside customer and not one arriving on a flight. If you consider renting from an airport, there are two things you should keep in mind. Not all rental companies rent to outside customers (those not arriving by plane) and though the rates may seem lower, keep in mind that airports often tack on additional fees that you wouldn’t pay at a non-airport location.

Renting the vehicle was one area where I did plan and I knew I’d found the best deal possible when I was able to secure a minivan for an 11 day rental for under $520.  I dropped my husband off at the terminal and the kids and I went to a nearby parking lot to wait for him to show up with our vehicle.

Minutes later, my husband slid out of the driver’s seat of a shiny new Chevy Suburban that had pulled up behind us. We loaded up, parked our truck in one of the long-term parking lots and hit the road to California.

We hadn’t made it two hours when we stopped at Walmart to pick up some muffins for breakfast and snacks for the road. And since the Suburban came with DVD players, my kids wanted movies too. I will say, Redbox was definitely our friend on this trip. I love that you can rent a movie and return it at any Redbox location.   

We drove for the next few hours and arrived in St. Louis in the late afternoon. We could see the Arch as we approached downtown but began to get excited about our first stop as we crossed the Mississippi River.

Our first glimpse of the Arch

We couldn’t wait to get a closer look. We found a parking space along the street near the steps to the Arch.

St. Louis Arch

It wasn’t that busy for a weekend, maybe it was because it was a bit later in the day and we missed the crowds.

the kids at the arch

I snapped a quick photo of the kids standing in front of the Arch before we all headed up the steps for a closer look.

Checking out the construction of the St. Louis Arch

This is what happens when you take a contractor to look at a national monument. He spends several minutes looking at the construction and the materials used before he can truly appreciate it.

The St. Louis Arch up close

Though there is a museum at the base of the St. Louis Arch and you can ride to the top of the arch, we opted to take a quick bathroom break and get back on the road.

I thought we’d spend the night in St. Louis, but my family had other plans so we continued on, visiting the Route 66 State Park and several roadside attractions before finally stopping for the night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Day One Expenses:

Gas/Toll Charges/Parking Fees: $96.04

Food: $39.24

Lodging: $69.73 (coupon rate)

Entertainment: $3.84 (DVD rentals)

Misc.: $620.00 (11 Day Vehicle rental from Budget- we received some of this money back when we returned the vehicle a day early)

Total: $828.85

Total miles traveled: 819 miles

Want to see how the rest of the trip went? Read Day Two: To Texas and Beyond

This post is linked to Travel Photo Discovery for Travel Photo Mondays. Stop by and see where other travelers have visited.

Angela Y

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

I was so bummed to see that you skipped going up in the Arch. That contractor should appreciate the ride up as well as the view. My dad used to be a shop teacher, and would point out something different each time. You've got to stop back on your way home!


Thursday 3rd of April 2014

We didn't make it up in the Arch after all. I am hoping to make another trip to St. Louis though, there is just too much to see that we missed.

Stephanie @ CrayonMarks&TigerStripes

Tuesday 28th of January 2014

If you ever pass through StL again, you should go up the Arch!! I'm from there and I have been up the Arch many times. It has a spectacular view!! It's pretty amazing :)


Wednesday 29th of January 2014

I would love to visit St. Louis again and yes, going up in the Arch is on my list of "must do".


Thursday 28th of November 2013

Redbox is a great idea for a road trip when you have a DVD player. I haven't considered renting a vehicle from a car rental place at the airport -- I have only used the ones here in town.


Monday 2nd of December 2013

Redbox was an awesome sanity saver on our trip! We rented quite a few movies.


Monday 25th of November 2013

Holy cow! 11 *minutes* seems like a long road trip to me. I can't imagine 11 days. A built-in DVD player would definitely make it more manageable, though. :)

budget jan

Monday 25th of November 2013

I like what it is made out of and Redbox sounds great :) Protection Status
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