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  1. Default European planning trip from seattle to san francisco

    Hi, Iīm from Europe and staying in Seattle for a while. One thing I would like to do is drive from Seattle to San Francisco (around end of sept.)

    Iīll have about 8 days time to get there and back.

    Is it possible to drive and enjoy in that timeframe, how much cost should I calculate for reasonable food and motels, is it possible and save to sleep in the car for a few hours and what tips and advice can you give me on the way ?

    Itīd be nice to hear some opinions, as I am totally new to this area and still not 100 % sure about whether to do the trip or not...



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Feasable

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I think you should be able to make this trip in 8 days.

    Personally, I would drive straight down to San Francisco via I-5. You should be able to do that in 2 days. I'd spend a day in SF, then I would take my time driving back up the coast. The 4 remaining days should give you ample time to explore, but if you get to Northern Oregon and realize your running out of time, you can cut over to Portland and shoot back up the I-5.

    You can sleep in a car, but I've always used that as a last resort. If you plan on staying in budget hotels, I'd plan for at least $50 per night. Food is much harder to calculate, as it depends entirely on if you plan to eat out of a cooler or eat three meals a day at restaurants.

  3. Default

    thanx a lot for your answer.

    Okay, I was thinking of driving down quickly and sleeping in the car for a few hours in case I get tired. As far as my way back is concerned I had the same idea as you. Sounds good to me.

    Any idea on okay situated hotels in san francisco that are affordable ?

    Is it a trip worth taking in general ? Or are there other (maybe even better) trips to take from seattle ? I only have these 8 days as longer off-work period, so I can only make one trip (might still go up to Vancouver for a weekend a bit later).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 8 days from Seattle....LOTS of options

    I think San Francisco and the coast is a terrific idea. SF is a gorgeous city and the CA-OR coasts are breath-taking. If the ocean is something you really enjoy, than this is a great choice.

    However, I would plan for 5 days to drive down, then that day in SF to explore, then 2 days to come back up via I-5. I just prefer the drive going south. You have a more unobstructed view as you are driving on the same side as the ocean. And pulling off for scenic viewpoints is easier since you don't have to cross the road. But, if the heights and sheer drop-offs in some areas might bother you, you might be more comfortable with another lane to separate you from the edge.

    You really could do SF to Seattle in one day. It's about 12 hours. It would be a LONG day but it's an easy drive. I've done it several times (I'm out on the Washington coast, about the same distance from SF as you are from Seattle.)

    However, if you decide to do that, I would spend at least 2 days in SF and NOT drive during that time. Take the cable-cars, bus, walk, just rest from being in the car as much as possible while you're sight-seeing so that you have the oomph for such a long drive at the end of your trip.

    Other possibilities from Seattle that you might want to consider are: Glacier NP, Yellowstone-Grand Tetons NP-Cody, WY; Crater Lake-John Day Fossil Beds-Columbia River Gorge area, Crater Lake-Mt. Shasta-Lake Tahoe, San Juan Islands-Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver Island-Victoria-Vancouver BC-Whistler, for just a few options.

    If budget is a real concern, eat most of your meals out of a cooler but budget some funds for some special meals every couple of days. Save most of it for the fantastic eating choices you'll find in SF. You could camp while on the coast and save your hotel dollars for SF. If you do sleep in your car, choose a safe place like a 24-hour truck stop.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-17-2006 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Add link to RTA article about cooler cuisine choices

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default My reasons for heading North

    There are some advantages that Judy mentioned about driving the Coastal Route in the southern direction. However, in cases of trips like this, where there's lots of possibility to explore, but I have a strict deadline for when I need to be back, I like doing a quick trip out and then slowly making my way back. That way if I wander for longer than I anticipate I won't have to stress about making it back home on time.

    And yes, this trip is well worth taking. However, its one of many choices. As Judy has already mentioned, The coast is one of several great trips you could make from Seattle in 8 days. The tough part will be picking which one would be your favorite.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Usually, I would agree with Michael

    I also usually like to zip to my destination first and then meander back so that time limits don't mess me up. However, I really think that driving south on the coastal road makes the trip so much better that, in this case, it's worth it. Most any other destinations you might choose, this wouldn't matter so much. It's just harder to enjoy the beautiful coastal views, especially some of the very pristine, undeveloped areas, when you have to look across other vehicles. Especially larger ones that block your views. I like to keep my views as unobstructed as possible.

    Getting from Seattle to San Francisco in 5 days is really a nice pace. It's only 939 via the coastal route so you only need to average 200 miles per day, so you shouldn't be too rushed to make it. But, yes, you will want to keep your eye on the map and make sure you know where you should get to each night in order to make the trip within those 5 days. You will especially want to allot the time to do the tremendous stretch from Eureka to SF via the coastal roads. They are really incredible and, for the most part, at least when I last did it a few years back, quite undeveloped and rugged.

    I think these would make good places to stop for the night: Cannon Beach, OR; Reedsport, OR; Klamath, CA; and Westport, CA. Then it's just a few hours drive into San Francisco. This breaks up the trip nicely. I believe the only place where lodging might be a challenge will be in Westport. Everyplace else, you should have lots of options.

  7. Default

    thank you so much for your answers. So I'm fairly sure I'll make this trip now. How much would you say do I have to calculate for the trip ? I probably won't stay in too many Hotels on my way down (sleep in car or on camping site).

    Can you suggest any affordable Hotels in San Francisco that are located nicely (or central) ? No luxory needed, though it should be clean and maybe have an option for breakfast.

    Thank you.

  8. Default

    Does anybody know anything about this Hotel ?

    Abigail Hotel
    246 McAllister Street
    94102 San Francisco

    It only has 1 *. But it's really affordable. Is it bad ? Anybody know it ?

    EDIT :
    Okay, forget about that, I checked some online reviews... sounds like its the last dump.

  9. Default I've stayed at..

    My stays in downtown SF haven't been much over the past decade.

    Last time I went through was about 2 years ago, and I stayed in the Chancellor Hotel on Union Square. Not bad.. not amazingly expensive, but not low end cheap either.

    It's an older hotel, but in pretty good shape. No air conditioning I noted, so I opened the window. But the cable car runs right past the hotel. Smallish rooms by today's standards, but definitely fine for a night or two.

    For breakfast, there are a lot of storefronts around -- coffee shop/ donuts/ starbuck places around, and a restaurant in the hotel. For dinner I took the cable car (bought the daily pass) down to Fisherman's Wharf, since I was also going to Chinatown.

    I should also note, parking in this part of town is an issue. I used the valet parking at the Chancellor, but that was an added cost over the room.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default TripAdvisor

    This site is full of great information but I find that the TripAdvisor website is one of the best for finding low-budget hotels, especially in cities. My son went to NYC last winter and I found a great hotel, right near the Broadway theater district where he wanted to be, that was very inexpensive and clean. Not fancy. But he said it was just fine and they felt safe. I also found a Wash DC hotel there for me and my husband that was clean, well-located, and had wonderful charm for less than $100/night....pretty tough to find in DC.

    When I did a search in SF for hotels under $100/night, quite a few popped up. Some with 4 star ratings from readers. Check it out. You might find something worthwhile there.

    As for your costs:
    *Camping: while you will likely find single tent sites for about $20/night, I would budget $25. I tend to budget high so I have a buffer.

    * Food: if you plan it right, eating out of a cooler will cost you next-to-nothing while on the road. I tend to stock up at some place like Costco before I go. If you're not a member, than just shop carefully at local stores. I will load up on water, cheese, cheese sticks, pepperoni, protein bars, crackers, cut-up veggies, peanut butter, etc. to make simple meals on the road. I'll also usually start from home with some hard-boiled eggs and some home-made fried chicken. I can often travel for a week before I need to start replenishing my supplies. When you do need to buy more, just stop at a full-size grocery store and avoid mini-marts to save money. I usually spend about $50-100 on the items needed to start out. I don't typically tend to budget that money in because I figure I would spend that same amount of money eating at do have to eat wherever you are, right?

    * Restaurants: Since I usually only eat out every 2-3 days and, when I do, I tend to splurge on either someplace very gourmet, well-known, or that just looks/smells so terrific that I can't pass it up, I tend to budget about $40 every 2 days to eat out. Of course, it doesn't always cost that much but some very nice places are expensive and I want to be able to enjoy them so I pad my budget to allow for these types of splurges. If you plan on sticking to lower-cost restaurants for those times you do eat out, you may not want to budget so much. However, you are going to San Francisco...the land of amazing restaurants. So, if I were you, I'd scrimp other places in order to have extra to indulge on some of the great places you'll find in SF.

    * Gas: What kind of gas mileage does your car get? You need to have at least a rough idea of this to budget fairly accurately. If you get 25mpg on average, you will need roughly 80 gallons of gas for this trip. I would round that up to 100 gallons to account for side-trips. That's probably more than you will need but, then again, I just like that buffer. You can find out gas prices in different areas at the GasBuddy website. It looks like it's averaging a low of about $2.50/gallon to a high of about $3.30/gallon across WA-OR-CA. So I would figure gas costs at the high end. More buffer. Using this site's Fuel Cost Calculator, this means that you will be spending about $264 in fuel. Remember, that's on the high side with a couple of buffers so your actual price will probably be less.

    * Fun: Don't forget money for fun! This varies so much, only you can decide what you want to spend and can afford. I have, however, been known to give up some of my restaurant budget for a fun adventure like white-water rafting or something like that.

    Hope this helps! Enjoy.

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