If you are from a different state going for the R&S lab exam, that means you need hotel, food, and transportation etc, which location (RTP or San Jose) is better?
I have only been to RTP. Stayed at the Hampton Inn by the airport. About 3 miles from Cisco and no traffic on the freeway at 6:30AM. Nearby the hotel are restaurants and fast food. I rented a car but I understand the hotel provides a shuttle to/from the airport - getting to Cisco would be your own responsibility. Hotel was nice and reasonably priced.
I haven't been to San Jose. But RTP is pretty easy in terms of location. It's very close to the airport as well as decent hotels. The facilities were fine. They did recently get some big 25" LCD monitors. So that made things really nice, both in terms of more space in the Windoes desktop as well as your actual desk top surface area. The proctor that I had was pretty helpful as well. The next time that I take a lab, I'll be coming back.
Probably the biggest downside of RTP is that the lab starts early (7:15 eastern time). So if you're from further west, 7:15 becomes 6:15 or 5:15 to your body's internal clock. So if you aren't a morning person, you may want to head over to San Jose.
I live in the central time zone and opted for San Jose b/c of the 2 hour difference and the later start time. But the flight was LONG. I decided if I had to retake I would go to RTP. The time savings I figured I'd make up in not being as tired from the flight. Depending on where you are and how short your flight may be, then jrensink78 has sage advice. Otherwise, San Jose was fine and I'm glad I had the opportunity to head out there, even if it was only for a day and a half.
I'm in the central time zone as well. I was getting up at 5:00AM a few days before I left for the lab to start getting myself used to waking up earlier. It'd be a little rough for someone from Mountain or Pacific timezones. Though my main reason for choosing RTP was the shorter and cheaper flight.
I live in the Central Valley of California, so it was a no-brainer for me - I drove up the day before (about 2.5 hour drive), stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn in Milpitas, checked out of the hotel about 7 AM, found Building C at Cisco, and waited with the others for the Proctor to come out. After the exam I was able to drive home and get dinner on the way.
I had no problem with the lab setup at San Jose on any of my three trips - I was more nervous on my first trip, had a different proctor on the second trip - still a little nervous, and had quite a bit more confidence on the third trip - the same proctor as my first trip was much more cooperative when I presented better thought out questions.