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  1. Default First time tripper, potentially LA to Vancouver

    Hello everyone,

    Just stumbled upon this brilliant website and I've been reading posts for about 2 hours now! I'm at the very early stages of planning a roadtrip with my other half, although the idea has been in our minds for well over a year...
    I have done a lot of backpacking (RTW and round Europe) but never a road trip style adventure so just looking for a bit of advice. I know this a very general post but any tips would be welcome.

    We are thinking (Ok I say we, I am booking this as a surprise) of flying into LA late May in 2015. We have about 3 weeks and want to see as many amazing places as possible. I think our original plan was to make our way up as far an Vancouver so I guess that's probably my first question, is 3 weeks sufficient enough to drive to Vancouver from LA, without driving all day every day, and having time to take in lots of exciting places?

    Secondly, I cannot seem to work out where to stop off in between, I've read so many posts now I just want to visit everywhere but clearly that's not possible. I think LA would be a short stop, I've been there once before and it didn't really interest me much, but it would be the cheapest place to fly into/ out of.
    I think Vegas/ the grand canyon are must sees, however I am not sure if this would be worth saving for another trip? (Hell who knows, maybe he will surprise me with a trip there for my 30th in a few years time!). apart from that, I am literally clueless. I've got a few books on my kindle to get through for inspiration!

    So I guess my questions are does 3 weeks sound feasible, and has anyone done a similar trip and can suggest what to do/ where to avoid? Again sorry for the vagueness, but like I said, very open plan at the moment!!!

    Thanks in advance

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

    Default Spoilt for choice.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It would be entirely possible to have an adventure bewteen LA and Vancouver with 3 weeks, would it be enough time to see everything in between? Heck no ! Now if you are planning a one way trip you won't be able to drop your car rental off in a different country, presuming you mean Vancouver BC. It might be that you want to do a loop trip and finish back in LA, which is also possible and would equate to about 5 full days on the road by the quickest, most direct route, still leaving time to sight see. If this were the case you could look at an inland route heading north and perhaps see some of the coast highlights heading south. Whether or not you go to the Grand canyon and Las Vegas is something you can decide the further you research into your trip. Again possible, but it'll mean something else will have to give, or you might end up travelling at a brisker pace than you want.

    The vaguness is no surprise early on in the planning, but as you decide what your 'must see's' are for this trip and mark them out on the map, the rest will take shape, slowly but surely. Some great places to consider would include Sequoia and Yosemite NP's, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic park, Crater Lake, Columbia river Gorge and Mt Ranier while keeping more inland on route to Vancouver. Coming back, Olympic NP, Oregon and Californian coast including Redwoods NP, Humboltd State park, Point Reyes, San Francisco and the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Big Sur, Hearst castle and much much more ! And to add more confusion [sorry] if Vegas and the GC was more of a priority and Vancouver is 'just a thought' at the moment, you could look into some of the wonderful scenery of Colorado, Southern Utah and California parks as an alternative.

    Keep researching and mapping out your options and when you have taken the first steps to making decisions we can answer any further questions and help fill in the blanks. Don't forget, although overwhelming to begin with, planning becomes a fun part of the trip. Enjoy !

  3. Default

    Thanks Southwest Dave! Already been looking for further inspiration, so many choices to make!!! I think I'll be back in a week or so with some more tailored questions!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default More Choices - And Logistics

    You may not want even more things to consider, but then again you may. Following up on Dave's suggestion that you take an inland route north and a coastal route south (a good idea for many reasons), I'll offer you one possible Grand Tour of the American West. You'd leave L.A. and go to the Grand Canyon, then continue around into southern Utah and see Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks before continuing north through the Great Salt Lake area and into southern Idaho and the Snake River Valley. Cross the Cascades into the Seattle area and head finish up in Vancouver. The southern leg would simply hug the coast as closely as possible following the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, US-101/CA-1) with its beaches, forests, interesting towns, and occasional major cities. And pretty much everywhere along both legs, you will have access to great hiking opportunities, scenic venues, and interesting people.

    Now for the logistics. Such a trip would require the equivalent of roughly seven days of driving. You could spend any given seven days essentially driving thus leaving fourteen days of 'freedom', or drive a few hours every day of your trip, or drive every third day, or any combination thereof. While 3500 miles or so may seem like a lot when you look at it all at once, spread over three weeks it's not so bad. But it will require some planning so that you have a schedule that you can keep to (more or less) that will get you back to L.A. in time for your flight home without being rushed at the end. Since you are booking this as a surprise, I'm also thinking you might want a romantic venue or two thrown into the mix rather than staying at low-cost motels every night. That will also take some pre-planning and making reservations. Cute bed and breakfasts will not be hard to find although as you get closer to your travel dates those with vacancies may become scarcer.

    Again, at this point you should be trying to come up with a basic framework that lets you get to maybe a handful of sites that you consider to be the heart and soul of your trip. Once you have those, the details will follow. And rest assured that you can take pretty much any routes north and south between Los Angeles and Vancouver and there will be plenty of things to see, experience, enjoy, and make memories from.


  5. Default

    So I've only gone and booked flights! Flying into and out of la and have 3 weeks in between... A rough idea is Grand Canyon/ Vegas/ San Fran/ big sur and back to la. Now just to join the dots and book the rest. Does anyone have any recommendations for the most interest part of la to stay in?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Interesting depends a lot on what YOU call interesting. To me, there are three main areas (but there are probably more; these are just the ones I'm familiar and comfortable with).

    1) The area right around LAX. This is probably the easiest when flying in/out, and because of that, the most expensive.

    2) Burbank, particularly the Burbank Marriott. It's fairly decent, not too expensive, and they'll validate your parking (which not all hotels in the area will). It's close to all the sites around Hollywood, if that's interesting to you.

    3) Anaheim, around Disneyland. It's a good hour from the Airport and Burbank, though, so it's only an option if you are planning to go to Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm. There are lots of hotels in the area, but a friend recommended Candy Cane Inn to us last summer, saying she'd been staying there for years. We liked it too, though the parking gets rather "tight".


  7. Default


    It's been a while but I was hoping someone could help me again. So my boyfriend now knows about our adventure, I surprised him with the tickets for his birthday, which means naming can fully commence! We have exactly 3 weeks to travel from la to la, and want to hit Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Fran, big sur and back to la. That's our skeleton route and over time we hope to join the dots with ideas!

    Our major point we want to sort is car hire. I was hoping someone could help me with the different options. Having looked at the hire sites it would appear cheapest to hire a car and use it for the whole trip, however this worries me about having to drive and park in the cities. Do you think this would be a problem? The next option would be to hire cars for shorter periods so we don't hire it whilst in la and San Fran but this appears to be a much more pricey way of doing things.

    The third plan would be to buy a car, seems a bit extreme to me but I guess keeping my options open would be good if anyone has any advice on what they think is the most appropriate or if they can advise from experience?
    Thanks in advance!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The first plan - renting a car for the entire trip is going to really be - by far - your best option. It means you'll get the best rates, for a longer term rental, and you'll avoid the dreaded one-way drop fees. I'll also say that LA is a car city, and while driving around can be challenging, it simply is not a city where I'd ever want to get around via public transportation. San Francisco is a city where having a car isn't needed, and parking can be a little expensive, but it wouldn't be worth the extra cost and hassle of dropping off and picking up a new car, at least not for me.

    Buying a car is really not an option at all - it would be astronomically expensive and time consuming for a trip this short.

  9. Default

    Very helpful thank you Michael. Good to know la is good for the car. Will have to plan ahead for San Fran and see if we can find a good place to park the car for a few days!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    There are some hotels in SF that include parking charges although rare. We found a few in the Lombard/Gough street area and stayed at the Buens Vista Motor Inn, it was nice but it was also a few years ago so you should check out current reviews. From there it was quite an easy walk to Fishermans Wharf and transport into the city centre.

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