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  1. Default Traveling from Washington, DC to San Francisco

    Hello Road trip America!

    Two friends and I are planning a road trip from Washington, DC to San Francisco with a number of stops along the way. Here is the current route we are planning on following (this is preliminary, so is open to change if recommended):

    We are from Canada and planning to fly into Washington and renting a car to complete this trip. We have thought about purchasing a car at one end, and selling it at the end. However, I am assuming the licensing and insurance etc. issues for non-residents would outweigh any benefit to this.

    Additional background: a friend of mine is getting married in San Francisco on the 21st of July, so we need to be there by the 20th at the latest. We are planning to leave near the end of June (29th or 30th), depending on the schedules of my two road trip companions.

    What we are looking for is any advice you can offer. Are there things on our road trip that look unnecessary for the effort of getting to them? Is this trip reasonable time wise? Car rental tips? Are there any rental companies that specialize in this type of rental?

    Any other general advice you can provide would be great!

    Thanks in Advance!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default If it suits you, it's worth it

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    There are many problems associated with non residents purchasing cars, but if you could get around those it just wouldn't make financial sense for the length of your trip. There are many car rental companies out there and it is just a case of searching for the best deal to suit your needs.

    As for your route, only you can decide if where you are going is worth it based on your actual interests. You are doing a lot of Interstate driving from city to city which is fine if that's what you want to do, although I must admit it wouldn't be my cup of tea. [I'm best suited to less congestion and more nature] With little detours your mileage could easily end up being 5500 miles which would equate to 10 reasonable days of driving with short stops, leaving you another 10 days to sight see and a 50/50 split, however you work it, is most reasonable.

    I would read around the forums and check out the planning pages in the tool bars above, the Map centre for example where you can find attractions near to your chosen route that have been chosen by RTA contributors.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Have You Considered...?

    What struck me most about your itinerary map is that it looked tailor-made for a loop trip. You've got a number of stops along roughly the 35th parallel (I-40) and a number of stops along roughly the 30th (I-10), connected by a stretch along the east coast. You could almost as easily do a complete loop from San Francisco to Washington, down the coast and back to San Francisco. It would be a few more miles, but you certainly have the time for it. There are several built-in advantages to a loop trip. 1) You can do it in either direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise, as suits your needs. 2) You can start/end anywhere along it depending on other factors. In your case, you'd have to start somewhere pretty near to San Francisco unless you and your friends could rearrange your schedule to allow for a later arrival in your gateway city and some time after the wedding to get to the gateway. 3) Ending in the same city you start in means that you won't have to pay the one-way drop-off fee on the car rental. 4) The premium on flights from Canada to the US is for crossing the border, there may not be that big a cost difference for flying to a gateway a good bit farther west.

    I'll echo Dave and tell you that buying/selling a car is a No Go for a trip this short. Even if there were no legal hassles (and there are!) you would be buying retail and selling wholesale and pretty much guaranteed to loose more on the transaction than the rental will cost you. Also, California has stricter emission control laws than the rest of the country, so cars from the east coast may require modifications to be legal to sell in San Francisco. Then there's the liability for repairs should you need them. If you buy a car, you're out of pocket for any work that needs to be done. If you rent it's their problem. And most of the big boys will simply supply you with a new vehicle while the car is in the shop. If it's your car, you sit and wait. But all of the major rental car companies should have cars available (for a price) to go cross country and be left on the 'wrong' coast.

    So far, all we know about your itinerary is points on a map. We don't know why you've chosen those points, what you hope to see/do/accomplish. We don't know what your interests are or why you haven't chosen other points to include on your itinerary. So we really can't tell you that Point Z isn't worth while or that you should really see A' instead of A. Let us know what you want, and we'll try to be of more help.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Where are you in Canada? I'm thinking you could do this trip as a "loop trip" in YOUR OWN car. That would save a lot of money.

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