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  1. Default Down the WEST Coast and to the East - Vancouver to Phoenix


    I'm a Brit so I need some major advice. Myself and the other half want to do a trip, lasting a month, from Vancouver down to San Francisco and on to Pheonix. We're planning to do this from the 1st of August to the 31st. We may take camping equipment so that we can stop at sites along the route, but we are mostly planning to stay in cheap hotels/motels etc.

    We want to try and experience as much as we can, but we'll be flying home from our final destination, so if Phoenix is impractical we'll end up in Los Angelese. This is why we need some advice really. I have read a few places that a month should be more than enough time to see and do a fair amount along the way.

    We would like to see both cities and enjoy nature. I heard Route 101 is better than I-5, but I might be talking poo.

    Chheers in advance, anything would be helpful at this stage as we only made the choice yesterday.
    Last edited by o.horsfall; 06-01-2013 at 02:35 AM. Reason: Title

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

    Default Research.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    A month is certainly a nice amount of time but what with the US being so large you will still have to pick and choose.

    Now the first problem you may have is that you will not be able to drop your vehicle off in a different country to where you collected it, or if so it would be very expensive ! Of course I am presuming you mean Vancouver BC as you are coming in on an International flight.

    As for taking camping equipment with you, it might work out easier and cheaper to buy basic camping gear in the US and then perhaps donate it to a charity at the end of your trip. If you are mostly thinking of using cheap Motels then I doubt either would be worth it. In some National Parks like Yosemite you can hire tent cabins.

    You will obviously see more by getting off Interstate, but it's slower going and the coastal 101/CA1 is a fine example of this. As you progress with your planning these are the details you can fine tune to match your pace and interests.

    At this early stage in your planning it's difficult to give meaningful advice as there are thousands of options open to you on a journey of this size. What I would suggest you do is study a good map and use all the tools available to you here at RTA. As well as all the info you can search on the forums there are endless amount of tips and planning tools in the tool bars above.

    Phoenix will most likely be a more expensive place to fly out from but Vegas and LA would be options, or you could have time to continue to Denver through the Four Corners region depending on your other plans. The other option to keep costs down is to do a loop trip and start and end in the same City that offers best value in flights, you won't have one way drop off fees on your car rental and you won't have to travel back over the same ground twice with this option either !

    That should give you a little help to get started in your research and once you have got going in your planning just keep asking questions as and when. Planning your own unique trip with a little help from others is very special, so enjoy the planning !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Dave is absolutely correct; renting a car in one country and dropping it in another one may be either prohibited or very, very expensive. You could fly into Seattle, rent a car there and (if okay with the rental company) drive up to Vancouver (about a 2-1/2 hour drive).

    As for the coastal routes -- I-5 will be the fastest, and has its pretty spots. US-101 is quite pretty, but is not always along the coast. It will take you more time, but there are pretty views along the way. If you want true coastal views, you'll have to stick with the state highways that go along the coast -- in CA, that's the PCH or CA-1. Because these are mostly 2-lane highways, they will be the slowest.

    Camping vs. cheap motels....we used to alternate, doing 3-4 nights in a campsite and then a nite in a cheap motel. Dave's idea of picking up some inexpensive stuff and then donating it, is a good one. Eating will be a bit more challenging if you don't want to invest in a campstove, but it wouldn't be a deal-breaker. The only problem with the camping and cheap motel idea is that, along the California coast, the word "cheap" is not always combined with "camping" or "motel". You will have to choose carefully. State Parks in California are no longer "cheap" -- often, you'd be better off in a cheaper motel. (Use coupons or the motel finder on this site to help find less expensive motels. Coupon booklets can be found at visitor centers for the state, and yes, they include motels that are not on an interstate highway.)

    Have fun with the planning!


  4. Default

    Checking with car rental agency would be essential. I would expect that many Seattle based locations would allow car to go into Vancouver area (city and island and return to Seattle. My recollection from researching trip last summer was that car rentals were less expensive in Seattle than Vancouver . (We ended up flying to Vancouver due to a good airfare and not enough time to drive from Seattle.) Even if you rent further south (Oregon, California, Nevada, or Arizona) you should still check about taking car into Canada. Similarly if you rent a car in Vancouver check to see if you can take it into Washington state.

    If a loop trip and/ or driving in two countries is not feasible, then the next least expensive option might be two driving loops with two car rentals. Generally rentals of at least a week are less expensive per day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would rent a car for local use in Vancouver, then turn it in and ride public transportation down to Seattle to get a car for the US portion of your trip. There are shuttle buses that run between the 2 airports.

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