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  1. Default Help! Driving from Vancouver BC to Anaheim and back

    I'm driving from vancouver to anaheim at the end of february with my boyfriend and my 18 month old daughter. I have no idea what highway to take where to stop where to stay and i can't seem to find any info. We've heard all kinds of stories of people being mugged or not to stay in or around portland because there's been lot's of violence. If anyone has any advice or tips we have roughly 3 days to travel each way. If anyone knows of any hotels gas stations exits or stops that should be avoided it would be great to know. We have never driven in the US before and because of the stories i'm worried. Roadtrips are supposed to be fun. We have to go and would like to make it fun.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-11-2006 at 08:22 PM. Reason: removed e-mail link

  2. #2
    travel_monkeys Guest


    Take Interstate 5. The whole way from the US border to Anaheim. If what you want is the most direct route, that's all you need. If you want to get off the main road and go sightsee then let me know what kind of stuff you like and I'll throw some suggestions out there.
    As for safety issues, I don't think Portland is more or less safe than any other city. In fact, it's probably more safe overall. But if you're worried about safety I'd stress 2 points:
    1. Most places are pretty safe, and the odds of you being victim to violence is extremely low.
    2. There are never any guarantees.

    If you're still concerned, here are some tips to even further reduce the risk:
    1. Stay in chain motels as opposed to mom-and-pops.
    2. Stay at a place that's right next to the interstate. Don't drive a few miles to find a cheaper one.
    3. Arrive before 10 PM.
    4. Don't stay near a city center. Go to the outskirts, or better yet, to a smaller town or city. For instance, instead of staying in Portland drive another 90 minutes to Eugene.
    But seriously, I wouldn't worry. Unless you're hanging out in a truckstop parking lot at midnight there's really very minimal risk. And really, even that would probably be fine.

  3. #3
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default PNW to So-Cal

    Greetings JESA and welcome to the forum!

    As Travel_monkeys stated, I-5 is your best route all the way into Anaheim. I've traveled this route from Seattle many times and it is very safe. Having lived in Washington for 12 years, and traveled I-5 at least 6 times, I cannot think of any exits that should be avoided at all costs. The reality is that 99% of the people out there are good, hardworking folks just like yourself, and getting mugged or some other act, although it does happen, it is a rarity. Since you are coming from BC, you actually have 2 options to enter the US. Depending on what part of the Vancouver area and what time you leave, the Blaine/Surrey crossing may have a long wait time. Even with that, depending on how long you wish to drive each day, how many stops you make, and how early you leave your home, you could expect to stop for the evening anywhere between Eugene/Springfield and Medford, Oregon.

    The only warning I have for you about Portland is that it can be a confusing maze of bridges and onramps for those who are unfamiliar with the city, and if you're just passing through, it might be best to stick to I-5 so you don't get lost. I've stopped at gas-stations just south of Portland in the town of Albany, and even Salem, the states capital, and fount it much easier to navigate back to the freeway than downtown. That is just my personal preference whenever I have gone through Portland. There are also some nice places to stop just north of Porland in Vancover, Woodland, or Longview, WA.

    If you are taking 3 days to make the trip, I would suspect day two to end for you somewhere between Stockton and the I-5/CA 99 split near Bakersfield. Depending on your preference, you also have 2 route options. I-5 goes through farmland, and lodging and services are availble, but with large gaps in between, where CA-99, which goes along the East side of the valley, is more urban, and therefore more services are availble. I have taken both routes, and both are fine (there is more traffic on CA-99 though). Mind you, the only stops I made along CA-99 were at rest-stops and a couple of eateries.

    Rest assured, coming from someone who's put down his fair share of miles on the Pan-Am highway between the Canadian Border and Southern California, the stories you here are just that, stories, and do not reflect the true experiences of most travelers. Just play it smart, and if things smell fishy, head on down the highway. The US is a very safe place to travel if you use your head. The best thing to do is drive with the doors locked and stick to your route as much as possible. The other thing you can do before you settle down for the night, is judge your lodging visually. If it just doesn't look kosher, find another place. If you listen to your insticts, you wont have any problems.

    The following places I can personally recommend, after staying there before:
    Motel 6- Yreka, CA
    Sixpense Motel- in either Buttonwillow or Lost Hills, CA, (very rural areas, so it will apear as a 'service island' with a gas station/truckstop and a Denny's.

    And one last thing... before you leave, make sure you have all the documents you'll need to cross into and out of the USA. A certified copy (must have a raised seal) of a Birth Certificate along with a photo ID is required. Your daughter's birth certificate will suffice.

    If you have a CAA membership, it will work anywhere in the US, so be sure to keep that with you as well.

    If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!


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

    Default I'll be safe and fine!

    Brad's suggestions for stops for the night are probably about right. However, if you have the energy to high-tail it down to Anaheim in 2 days, and it can easily be done, then you might want to take 4 days to return home and do part of it going along the coastal highway. LA to San Francisco is a fantastic drive. Then, if you still have some extra days, you might want to continue on the coastal highway north of San Francisco to, at least, Crescent City, where you can go back to I-5 via 199 to Grant's Pass.

    I'm going to broach a delicate subject, just in case. If your boyfriend is not the father of the child, you will need some kind of documentation from the father for your child to cross the border. I don't know what Canadian rules are so you might want to check it out. In the US, a notarized letter from the parent who is not in attendance is required. I took my daughter into Canada when she was little. My husband, the father, was not with us. I had a notarized letter from him saying it was OK to take her out of the country. They don't always ask for this but you don't want to get caught without it, just in case.

    There are more than 2 options for crossing into the US. This website shows you video-cams of the four options you have. You might check them out to get an idea of which one tends to be the least busy at the time you plan to travel over the border. More info on more border crossings are here.

    And this website gives a bit more information about how to cross over, what you need, etc.

    Have a great trip!

  5. Default Info on Portland, I live here.

    Portland is really fairly safe. There are a few areas that being an obvious traveler would make you more of a target, but I would estimate you would still be 90% safe if not more. If you plan to stay in Portland, I would avoid the first few exits after you cross over, though Jantzen Beach the first exit is not to bad. Personally for the best service and the safest spot, I would head through Portland, and stay in Tigard or Wilsonville, or as suggested before head on down to Eugene. Portland is really safe, but the service in most areas easily accessable to the freeway is pretty crappy, and once you are off the I-5 it can be a pain to get back on.

    Sorry about the spelling, it is still readable though. Hope that helps.

  6. Default Doable in 2 days, but longggg days

    Hello JESA

    I drive about this same route every year or two, and have for quite a few years. I live about 10 miles from Disneyland in Anaheim (as the crow flies), and have friends & family in the Bellingham area (just south of the US/Canada border) -- so I end up driving this route every year or so.

    My standard drive on this trip would be to head south on I-5 to somewhere just south of the California/ Oregon border. That's about the half way point time wise. Places to stay include the towns of Yreka, Weed, Shasta or Redding (on the south) in California. All have several hotels and the usual restaurants, gas stations, etc. Redding is the biggest town of the group and has the most options, but is the farthest south.

    Ashland Oregon could also be a good stopping point -- its north of the California border, but is a nice smaller town and has a selection of hotels and restaurants. It does leave a slightly longer day for the 2nd day, but takes you up into the Siskiyou mountains in the morning, rather than the evening. (The road through the mountains is very good -- a 4 lane highway at a mininum -- but I know some people don't like driving through the mountains at dusk.)

    So this is very doable in 2 days -- but you will in the car 10+ hours each day. If you're going to do this, I'd recommend stopping every couple of hours to stretch your legs and use the bathroom and let the 18 month old out to run around a bit. With 2 drivers you can spell each other off so no one gets stuck driving all the time.

    If you want to do this as a 3 day trip I'd split it with a mid Oregon stop (somewhere between Eugene and Ashland) the first night, and then a second night somewhere in mid-California (Sacramento to Los Banos or thereabouts).

    Depending upon the days you're driving, I'd guess your worst traffic will be a) at the Border, b) through Seattle or Portland at Rush Hour, c) through LA at Rush Hour. If you hit traffic, sit back and relax -- you'll be through it soon enough. And unless you're a native, it will probably take longer and be more dangerous to try to dart off the freeway and find an alternative path via surface streets.

    In general, this is a very safe route -- well patrolled, with lots of services along the way, and with cell phone coverage 99.9% of the distance. In the urban areas, you will also usually find there are emergency call boxes about every 1/2 mile along the freeways which connect you directly to the state police.

    If you're concerned about things -- just watch the neighborhoods you stop in the bigger cities along the way. I've not heard anything about Portland being dangerous, although I expect like any big city there are neighborhoods you might want to be careful in. I tend to stop about every 3 hours or so, at the least to get out and stretch my legs -- and since that's always a good time to get gas I usually can pick and choose where I want to get gas. Typically I'll stop in the suburban areas outside the bigger cities since there's more competition for gas there -- more options to chose from, and a somewhat lower price.

    Of all the driving, the one area I would be most concerned about is LA and its traffic. If you hit it at rush hour it can be nasty, and LA is a big enough geographical area it can take a while to grind through rush hour. If you're concerned about this, one thing to do is pull over in the Santa Clarita area (near Magic Mountain) and have a leisurely dinner and relax before hitting the city after rush hour (usually after 7 pm). Without rush hour traffic it's about an hour from here to Anahaim -- with rush hour traffic it could easily be two hours -- so why not just have dinner? Also, if you dodge around the city center, you can avoid some of the more congested freeways -- the route for that would be to take the 210 freeway east (it junctions with the I-5 just south of Santa Clarita) to the 57 freeway south, directly into the east side Anaheim. That's about 10 miles longer I'd estimate, but avoids the congestion of downtown LA.

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