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Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

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Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

First post, so be nice to me, please. :)

3 of my friends and I currently reside in Vancouver (UBC Campus). We're planning a road trip down to Los Angeles at the end of August.

Before answering the questions, please be advised that most of us have never done a long distance road trip like this before. Well, at least I haven't and I think I'm one of the principle drivers, haha.

An additional bit of info: I think we only have 7 or 8 days to spare at maximum.


1. Is it more advisable to drive down to Los Angeles and fly back to Vancouver or should we fly down to LA and then drive back to Vancouver? Or neither (i.e. drive both ways)? Take a train to Seattle or something?

2. Knowing that we might only have a maximum of 7 or 8 days, is that enough time to sightsee and have a bit of fun, as opposed to driving for most of the time? That is, is it possible to drive down from Vancouver to LA (or from LA to Vancouver) and have a respectable time?

Answer the following only if your answer to #2 is 'yes':

3. Are there Canadian/American car rental companies that allow you to rent a car in one country and drop it off in the other country (particularly California State and British Columbia)? Worse comes to worst, I assume we can pick up a car in Washington State and drop it off in California, or vice versa.

4. What sites do you do you suggest we see on the trip? Honestly, I have no clue about the Pacific coast or even the Pacific American states. Any 'can't miss' things we should see or places we'll regret not seeing? I've heard something about red forest or some redwood thing.

5. Is it advisable to book hotels/motels ahead of time or is it possible to find places along the way? Any you recommend personally that's fairly cheap (three of us are students and one of us is a recent graduate who recently got a job)?

6. How much gas money should be budgeted?

7. Should we buy a GPS device or is that unnecessary?

8. Anything else I should think about before a trip is planned?

I greatly greatly appreciate any help you can provide. You don't know how much of a blessing it is to have a message board like this. Thank you so very much for your hospitality!

Kamloops, Canada
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1. Re: Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

You have a passport I assume already.

Straight driving from Vancouver to LA is about 21 hours (~2100km's depending on where you go).

West Grey, Ontario
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for Toronto
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2. Re: Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

Hi ccL1;

There are some car rental companies that will not permit their cars across the border, or have different pricing if the rental car goes out of the province or out of the country. Most of the larger rental companies will allow cross border rentals.

The cost of one-way rentals is much higher than a regular rental due to the drop fees charged, as the vehicle must somehow be returned to the point of origin, towed if necessary.

Ensure that the rental company notes on the rental agreement that they authorize you to take the car into the US. You may be asked by Customs when entering the US for this documentation.

Best Regards

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
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3. Re: Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

1. no preference either way.. I would fly to LA ( but I would actually fly to Orange County-Anaheim cheaper and easier airport-airport code is SNA check www.kayak.com for best flights)) and drive back unless your start date is the Labor Day weekend.. this would be bad weekend to fly... both cost and crowd wise.

2. yes definitely time to have fun as well as drive

3. NO.. or at least to the best of my knowledge..I spent considerable time looking for a vehicle to rent in canada and drop in CA a year ago...you can rent in Seattle and drop in LA or vice versa. I would fly to LA, rent, do drive, drop in Seattle (you will have a drop charge but may be minimal.. check various agencies)then take AMTRAK across the border from Seattle to Vancouver..if you leave on the 29th you will be returning on Labor Day weekend.. again horrendous borderlineups if you are driving. The train is cheap and scenic.

www.amtrak.com ( second train mayb be running by then.. otherwise train leaves at about 8 am arrives at 11:30 am.

4. What are your interests?


Universal studios?

California missions like San Juan de Capistrano?

Wine country as in movie "Sideways"?

Drive coast highway to Carmel.

drive coast hwy and stop at Big Sur

visit San Francisco

go to wine country in Napa valley

stay on 101 and visit California Redwoods and Sequoias biggest trees on earth..

visit Oregon coast for small towns, big sand dunes

really need to know what you want to see.

1 day LA area

1 day coast drive to SF

2 days SF

1 day drive to Oregon coast (redwoods along the way)

1 day Oregon Coast

1 day drive to Seattle

1 day return to Vancouver

it won't take a "day" to drive from spot to spot and you can stop along the way. We've driven Vancouver to SF in 14 hours.

5. Find places along the way.. the recession has really cut into travel so should be no problem.. look at chain like Motel 6 or Super 8 clean and cheap

6. Depends on what you rent simply multiply cost of gas X miles estimated and find gas milage online for potential vehicles

7. no gps required spend the money on a good meal.. get a few good maps.. or just follow highway signs.. have driven across France with no map..

8. One of you should invest in joining BCAA ( about $70.. this will help with maps and travel books ( you'll get them free) they can also do a trip planning map for you.. or look at their website or my perosnal fav is www.viamichelin.com for planning a trip.. input places you want to see, type of route etc.

Are all of you Canadian? if not you may require visas to enter US

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4. Re: Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

1. Drive both ways as you will have a difficult time renting a one way rental for that distance. Plus Canadians cannot drive American cars across the border.

2. Yes - I know people who have done it in less time, they drive 21-24hrs straight to get there and then same back. If you have 3 people this is an easy rotation. Plus you have a couple of days in between so you could stop after 10hrs which still leaves plenty of time. I would leave at night and drive all night 7pm - 12noon the next day is already 17hrs.

3. Not American ones

4. The coastal highway is not worth it unless you have the time. You will regret skipping San Francisco if you do. Also go to Hollywood and the Santa Monica Pier.

5. I would look for a 2 night in LA and one in San Fran on priceline and then just leave the rest for when you are tired of driving.

6. Typically a car goes 500-600km on a tank and a tank cost $40 to $70 depending on the size of the car.

7. GPS would be helpful, but a map book is cheaper and works just as well.

8. Possibly taking the train straight to LA and renting a car there. Or looking at flights from seattle or bellingham to see if they are in your budget range, then renting a car in LA. Plus as mentioned there are LAX, Orange County, San Diego and Long Beach airports that are all possibilities for cheaper flights.

5. Re: Road Trip: Vancouver, BC, Canada to LA, California

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