From the land down under to the star spangled banner
Myself and my wife are planning on going to the US/Canada (specifically the west side) for approximately 6 weeks.
I have a few questions:-
We're planning on flying into Dallas, renting a car from there, and vacating the car some six weeks later at Vancouver. Do you think some rental companies will allow this?
Basically, we want to complete the western fringe of the US.
The areas that interest us are:- Texas, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Los Angeles (yes I know it's not really a road trip but yes we'd like to see the bright lights, and the walk of fame, and hollywood, and all that jazz), San Francisco (we'd like to see the contrasting cultures - the Castro for example is well recognised down under for whom it homes), The Rockies, Yellowstone, and some of the parks of south west Canada. Have you guys got any 'must sees' or suggested iteniaries to accomodate this sort of trip? We'd like to see southern traditions, the differing music of the differing areas, the different landscapes, the different people, and generally just experience what it is that makes the Western side of North America special. A lot of contrasts from what you read, what you see even just looking on in awe on the internet, and we want to experience that within our limitations.
Another question is, is that sort of trip possible in six weeks?
Thanks for any help you can provide us. We are newbies at this, it's all hanging on a whim and a dream at the moment, but I'm prepared to work hard to make it a reality so any help you can give would be awesome!
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
I think 6 weeks should give you a very nice amount of time to get what you are looking for out of your trip.
However, you may have difficulty with the car rental. Finding a rental car company that will let you take the car into Canada will require some looking around. You'll probably be able to find it, but not everyone is going to allow it.
However, I would be very surprised if any of the companies will allow you to rent the car in the US and drop it off in Canada. Instead of Vancouver, You'll most likely have to drop it off in Seattle, and in any case, the fee for a one way drop off will be fairly significant.
Good luck and have fun!
A test shows no 'alerts', BUT...
I just did a test with the Hertz Online rental system, specifying a pickup of Dallas Fort Worth Airport and drop off of the vehicle a random number of days later (16) at Vancouver, BC. Got all the way to the sign up page with no "NO, you can't do this!" alerts.
However, poking around their site, I did eventually find rules and regulations. They're somewhat confusing. You can take the car into Canada, but you can't drop it off if its a US registered car, but they can't have Canadian registered cars dropped off in the US.
My suggestion is if you have to drop the car off in the US, get as close to Vancouver as possible (Bellingham, WA) and take Amtrak from Bellingham to Vancouver, BC (its under $20 usually) then either a taxi or shuttle transfer to the Airport. OR... just depart from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after visiting BC.
Last edited by RoadTripper Brad; 08-30-2006 at 12:33 AM.
Reason: fixed some typos
Thanks guys. Thanks for the welcome too. I look forward to seeing your amazing part of the world.
This will seem a stupid question; but how far back from Vancouver is to say Los Angeles?
The reason I ask is because would it be possible to hire a car from say Dallas, and then drop the car off in L.A.? I know I'd be hit with a fairly large hit from the rental company for the one way fee but if its a doable trip (IE's not going to take me a whole week to get back) perhaps thats the most effective way of doing it?
What's the reason?
Vancouver to Los Angeles is about 1300 miles. If you were just going to take the freeway, that could be done in 3 comfortable days. You could try to push it to 2 days, but that would set you up for some very long driving days.
However, I don't see how this would be effective. You are going to see a drop off fee no matter where you drop the car off, so I don't know why you'd want to go all the way back down to LA. I really don't see how this would be an advantage as opposed to dropping it off in the Seattle area.
A couple of comments..
Regarding dropping off a car short of Vancouver BC
-- Drop it off at the Bellingham Airport. It has all the major car rental companies there, and there is a shuttle service to Vancouver available. If you call ahead its a reasonable price to get driven to Vancouver (I did this some years ago, when I was taking an Alaska Cruise out of Vancouver.)
-- Given a 6 week trip, tristram might still be playing with specific routes and end destinations. He might consider a start in Dallas, then up through Colorado etc, to somewhere like Jasper/ Banff, and then back down to LA. Depends upon what they want to see, and what routes look good for them.
Thank you so much for your assistance.
I had another brain wave last night; is this possible...
Dallas>New Mexico>Las Vegas>Los Angeles>San Francisco>Seattle>Vancouver>Banff>Yellowstone>back along the Rockies>Denver>Dallas. This would alleviate the one way fee. Looking at it, even if I take it back to LA I'd be looking at $600 one way fee US, which is a fair hike Australian. Is doing this over six weeks too much to expect, is that unrealistic?
I'm just throwing together some alternative ideas really.
The other thing I was going to ask is this; if you plan on staying mainly overnight in major cities, would it be unrealistic to just go on a whim, and by that I mean, make no bookings until say a day in advance and just roll. The whole romance of the trip for us is almost book the flights, the car, and nothing else - just roll.
Thanks for all your help guys, and definitely, I am taking into consideration your suggestions!! Even though I may appear to be going off in different tangents it is more through excitement and dreaming the dream more than anything.
Going without advanced bookings is reasonable
This is a trip that's definitely doable in 6 weeks -- it'd be impossible in a week and probably difficult in 2 weeks, but in 6 weeks you could have a wonderful time. As a rough rule of thumb, its around 25-30 hours drive time San Diego to Vancouver (not including gas stops, sightseeing, hotel stays, biological necessity breaks etc.). And then another equivalant of that south, and another 2x that east and west. So for 6 weeks its very doable.
I would sort of also recommend you consider some stays in smaller hotels or even some camping in campgrounds along the way --- you'll be going through some of the most scenic country in the US and Canada, and just staying in largish cities every night may be take you away from all that, before you can fully enjoy it.
Depending upon where you go, and when -- heading out each day without a hotel reservation is a reasonable option. It'll be harder to do in the high tourist season in August, and perhaps hard to find a room in a ski resort in the midst of the ski season or the like -- but for just heading out its not unreasonable at all. You might want to pick out a rough desintation in early afternoon, say after lunch, and call head to make sure you don't do another 100-200 miles to somewhere and not have a room, but that's more my personal preference.
The loop trip you roughly laid out would get you to the vicinity of a lot of the major sights and destinations in the western US and Canada, and give you enough time you wouldn't feel rushed to hurry through or to them.
What time of year are you thinking of doing this trip? The one thing I might be concerned with would be doing this loop in mid-winter, since you'll be spending a fair amount of time where you get snow storms, which can snarl traffic over state-wide regions.
Yay! A plan that might go okay!
We're planning to come over about June 20 or so and depart end of July. What are the temperatures like then? We don't work in farenheit here, but at times in the summer we can whip it up to about 45 degrees celcius, even near the sea in Sydney it can get up to 40 degrees so we're used to excessive heat.
Thanks for your help!
Without getting into exact numbers for each location, you're going to be traveling in a wide range of temperatures. The southern states, depending on a lot of factors, will be nearing midsummer as you arrive. Places like Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada may (and in the case of Arizona) be a bit toasty. A common misconception, though, is that going north only drops the temperature. While this is the case, some areas up into Idaho and parts of Eastern Washington frequently reach upper 80's/26.6+C, 90's/32.2+C, and even into the 100*F/37.7C mark. Arizona tends to be above 100/37.7 much of the summer during the day, sometimes nearing 120F/48.8C durring exeptionally hot days of summer.
Night time temps will vary greatly from location to location. Places like Phoenix act as a "heat island" and actually make the night air warmer than out in the desert. 90* at night (it's nearing 3 AM and still 87F) is very very common. However, further north or away from cities, for example, you may experience 80F or 90F durring the day, but it generally will cool to 60F or 70F overnight.
The area you're traveling in will require the use at some point or another: Shorts and Light T-Shirts, Pants and Light Long-Sleved shirts, and a light to moderate jacket for evening/night. And a good hat, pair of sunglasses, and ample Sunblock are advised. It is our summer after all!
If you want specific climate info, a good source I found is a site called weatherbase. It will give you city-specific climate info (no pretty graphs, sorry to say).
Last edited by RoadTripper Brad; 08-31-2006 at 03:14 AM.
Reason: added something to clarify