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  1. #1

    Default Seattle to LA... rookie roadtrippers with a West Coast plan, help needed!

    Hello !

    this awesome website is well needed right now, i have spent time reading threads looking for similar roadtrips and plans but i thought i'd post this and see if anyone can help me.

    Myself and two friends are coming to America on the 1st of April, we fly into Seattle and are hoping to rent a car... so far i have been quoted around £1000 for a 32 day car rental, as i am under 25 the price is quite high. I have tried shopping around but can't seem to find anything cheaper, we will also have to pay a $250 one way-drop off fee as we leave the car in LA...i'm worried incase we have to pay any extra money as we won't be able to afford it, and a car is definitely the best option for us i think (we were going to greyhound the whole journey but feel like we might miss out on things) some people mentioned buying a car, but i'm not sure how insurance works?plus we are all unlucky, it would probably breakdown on us!

    No motels/hostels have been booked yet as we are still looking around for the best possible deal, but our plan so far is...

    Seattle 1st April - 6th
    Olympia 6th - 9th
    Portland 9th - 15th
    Salem 15th - 16th
    Eugene 16th - 18th
    Eureka 19th - 20th
    San Francisco 21st - 28th (we will be visiting Santa Cruz and Oakland around this time too)
    LA - 29th - 2nd

    We fly back to the UK from LAX on the 2nd.

    We are incredibly excited to visit America and finally roadtrip the West Coast, but we are also nervous as we have a tiny budget, i've not looked into routes for the trip yet but i was just wondering if our plan sounds like a good route to take? it's only me driving and i'm not used to driving long distance but i think i'll be ok as we have a lot of breaks inbetween the places we are going to be visiting.

    Any help/advice would be MUCH appriciated and taken into account, we are definitely in need of some tips for this trip.


  2. #2


    Seattle to LA in 32 days gives you ample time with which to work.

    A rental car, especially in most parts of the area you are visiting, is nearly essential to get about with any degree of flexibility.

    See music is one of your interests – so have a look HERE.

    I am sure one of the excellent advisors will be along soon with more detail and advice. Have a great trip.

  3. #3


    Thanks Eris!

    renting a car but is a sure thing now, especially as you have said it's essential... we want to drive around surrounding areas.

    Awesome link too, we are going to check it out and book some shows!

    Cheers for your help.

  4. #4

    Default Not long now...

    Glad you liked the music info – also check closer the time as the site is continually updated. Here are some more bits I hope you find useful.

    Internet. When away for 32 days it is handy to be able to have access to the internet. If you take a laptop you will find plenty of free wifi areas at coffee shops, motels etc. along the way. However, a source I find most helpful is the local library in most of the communities you pass through. Call in, you will be made welcome, and usually they let you have 30 minutes or so free on a PC. Good for emails, booking ahead or just catching up with news.

    ESTA. Don’t forget to register online before you go otherwise the authorities won’t let you on the plane. There is a thread on this site covering the subject.

    Car Rental. Always a significant expense and it pays to do you research. Most travellers find that booking in the UK before travel has merit – look around because there are often deals to be had and if you go, for example with a firm like, etc it gives an inclusive package / cost covering all insurance you need. So the price you pay is all you pay - show your voucher at the airport and off you go. Obviously you need separate travel insurance. See you are in SF for a week where it is possible to get around without a car – good transport system – so you could split your car rental to save money.

    Lodgings. At the time of year you are travelling generally speaking you won’t find any trouble finding good/cheap lodgings even turning up on the day. Check this site as info on the subject.

    Food. Eating out can be costly but there are many ways where you can economise. For the period you are away I would advise, early in your trip, calling at a Walmart etc and purchase a cheap cooler box. You will find it invaluable along the way – most supermarkets have a deli – so as you pass through a community fill it up and it will save you many dollars. Motels etc have ice machines which you can use for your cooler.

    GPS. When you are new to an area a GPS can be invaluable. I use one especially for the built up areas and it certainly helps to take the strain – enter addresses, locations etc and it shows the way. To get one with the rental car is an expensive method – if you can take one with you with US maps included. Maybe you have a helpful friend /relative from whom you can loan one.

    Places Visited. Looking at your itinerary you have laid out a sensible plan which shows you have well researched what you are going to do. Most trips are personal - may not suit others – so the bottom line is research well but do what interests you as a traveller.

    Any specific issue please come back.

  5. #5


    Thanks Eris! We have a few shows to book now which is going to be fun.

    Non of us have a laptop so it's great that you mentioned libaries, we will definitely call in and check emails etc.

    I spent some time looking for car rentals and think i have finally found one with a good young persons deal, came a close second so thanks for that! we haven't booked it yet though, but will do this week.

    Good advice about the cooler box, we will do that for sure as we are definitely going to be living off supermarket stuff, our food budget is really low for the trip.

    I asked the car rental firm i'm booking with about GPS and am still unsure, we don't know anyone with one but if it makes the drives easier then will see if we have the money to maybe buy/rent one. I'm bad at directions even in the UK so slightly worried about the US... do you think i should pay to rent one? If it makes things a lot less stressful then i don't mind paying.

    Over-whelmed with places to visit! I think we are going to explore the music scenes as most of our favourite bands are from the west-coast.

    Thanks so much for your advice, you have been really helpful... and i now have 'cooler box' on my to-buy list!

  6. #6

    Default scenic/small town routes across the west coast


    I have already posted a thread but thought i'd post another as i'm worried about something. Me and two friends are coming to America on the 1st of April to drive across the West Coast, places we will be stopping at are...

    Seattle 1st April - 6th
    Olympia 6th - 9th
    Portland 9th - 15th
    Salem 15th - 16th
    Eugene 16th - 18th
    Eureka 19th - 20th
    San Francisco 21st - 28th (we will be visiting Santa Cruz and Oakland around this time too)
    LA - 29th - 2nd May

    We are renting a car andwould prefer to travel scenic routes, we aren't really in a rush and i hope i have left enough time in between places to take more interesting roads... only i'm not sure which ones to take! I have been looking around the site but i just wondered if anyone could suggest routes to take, or heads up on cool places/things to see along the way.

    I'd love to do some photography along the way too so i was just looking for a little advice on routes! any help would be much appriciated.

    Also we are all music lovers and hope we aren't missing out any towns with music history, or any smaller towns along our route that are worth seeing... we have a few days here and there to visit other places so suggestions are welcomed.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-03-2009 at 12:48 PM. Reason: Please do not start new threads for the same trip

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would leave SF a day or 2 earlier so you have time to take the coast highway to LA.

    You can buy a barebones, but serviceable, GPS for about $100.

  8. #8


    Thanks! that sounds awesome, i'll try find a cheap GPS when i'm in seattle too.

  9. #9

    Default Scenic route......

    If for any reason you don’t end up with a GPS have a back up plan with maps – however even with a GPS you need a map. Nominate one of your companions as a navigator to understand the maps and to keep you informed as you drive along. It would be a great help.

    If for any reason you take a wrong turn, just accept it and go with the flow and correct the mistake when you best can. Incidentally many travellers still rely solely on maps for their directions and manage very well.

    About scenic routes……..

    Around Seattle you have lots of gorgeous scenery – Cascades, Olympia and the water / ferries which offer a number of good trips.

    On the way to Portland you have Mt Rainer and Mt St Helens – if the weather is favourable both a top visit.

    From Portland there is a very scenic side trip along The Columbia River Gorge with Mt Hood nearby.

    See you are planning to visit Salem and Eugene along Route 5. You may have reasons for these visits but a much more scenic journey from Portland would be to cut off towards the coast and travel the 101. It is a very scenic route with the ocean on your right as you go south passing through a host of interesting communities. In fact you could follow this road all the way down to Eureka.

    If you did go this way, at Crescent City, you come across coastal redwoods – a sight for sore eyes – trees 1000+ years old and up to 300 feet tall. Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP has some of the finest examples in my opinion. Fantastic.

    Just after Eureka, along the 101, you pass through the Avenue of Giants – another fine example of redwoods.

    After San Francisco, as suggested above, take Route 1 south. And rather than a day trip from SF you could visit Santa Cruz on the way south. The Big Sur is a journey not to be missed if given the opportunity.

    On the way to LA along route 1 then 101 take your time and stop off to enjoy the scenery and places along the way. Santa Barbara and Santa Monica can be on the livelier side for young folk.

    Be flexible- so if need be you can stay longer, leave earlier or change plans - because lodging vacancies should not be a problem in early April.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you come down CA-1 and decide to take a tour at the Hearst Castle, there is a decent Motel 6 in San Simeon - the rates are pretty decent for a "resort" area - about 65 bucks a night.

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