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Rent a car or fly west coast?

Travel Forums North America Rent a car or fly west coast?

1. Posted by Martin-1989 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y

Good evening all!

If anyone can give us some advice (hopefully based on experience) that would be great!

We (me and a mate ) have just booked flights to and from LA, 19th till 5th may.

We had planned to rent a car for the full length, however a lot of people are saying rent the car to drive the coast up to San fran, then get flights from San fran to Vegas.

So what do you guys reckon is best to do?

We know it's a long drive, but we thought it would give us more freedom? Or is it just hassle?

Any advice would be great!


2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1834 posts) 3y

If you pick up a car in LA and drop it off in SF, you are going to get hit with a heavy one way charge.

Why not fly to Vegas first, from LA and back to LA, then with that done you can drive to SF and back again?

I took the coastal route many years ago and came to a sign, 47 miles of sharp bends, and they were not kidding. I got through it just as it was getting dark.

If you see a motorcycle in your rear view mirror in California, check your speed as there is a good chance it's a cop.

Note. Accommodation is expensive, even so-so motels. It is cheaper and better to book beforehand on the internet.

3. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2001 posts) 3y

Certainly you will see more if you drive, and as Cyberia just told you - a very expensive drop charge if you leave the car up north. I suggest you drive east from SF through the Lake Tahoe area to Reno and then on to LV.

Your option would be to drive through Yosemite Park on the Tioga Pass, but since roads are closed due to snow except in summer, that might not be the best route. (the Pass will still be closed for your trip)

4. Posted by Martin-1989 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y

Thanks for the replies :)

We have concluded its best to rent the car for the entire time :)
Now, is it best to drive to the Grand Canyon from las vegas, or have a aeroplane tour?

Its considerably more driving to the grand canyon, but probably we would appreciate it more.

The plan so far: (which seems alot of miles in 16 days! Cutting out the drive to the grand canyon its about 1400 miles)

Los Angeles 12 Noon Land Fri 19th
Los Angeles Sat 20th
Los Angeles Sun 21st
Los Angeles San Jose – San Fran 382 m / 5h30 Mon 22nd
San Fran Tue 23rd
San Fran Wed 24th
San Fran Yosemite 210 /3hr55 Thu 25th
Yosemite Bakersfield 203 / 4hr Fri 26th
Bakersfield Las Vegas 281 / 4hr15 Sat 27th
Vegas Sun 28th
Vegas Mon 29th
Vegas Hoover Dam -Williams 227 /3hr45 Tue 30th
Williams Grand Canyon 60m / 1hr Wed 1st
Grand Canyon Laughlin 200m 3hr 30 Thu 2nd
Laughlin Palm Springs - LA 217m 3hr 40
107m 1hr 43 Fri 3rd
LA Sat 4th
LA Home Sun 5th
Miles: 1887miles

5. Posted by Martin-1989 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y

UPDATE: we are toying with the idea of driving back to LA after bakersfield, then taking the car back and flying to Las vegas. Save car rental, saves time driving, and cuts lots of miles off! Down to about 950miles!

Just means we will have to have a plane tour of the grand canyon instead of the drive!

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2001 posts) 3y

On your trip north to San Francisco, you're forgetting that one of the highlights of that trip is the Pacific Coast. If you drive on Interstate #5, you will not only be bored to death, but will be bypassing some of the most beautiful scenery in this world! A far better choice would be to take Highway #101 and Route #1 to see the coast - the problem here is that it's very slow going - believe me, it's well worth it! (I suggest a minimum of 2 full days for that area)

7. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5597 posts) 3y

Quoting Cyberia

If you pick up a car in LA and drop it off in SF, you are going to get hit with a heavy one way charge.

I told you this before and again now: there usually are no drop-off charges within California and even somtiems between California and states like Nevada or Arizona. This might not always be the case, but most of the times it is. Better give advice that is true, instead of making assumptions or advice based on a gazillion years ago.

anyway: glad the OP chooses to rent the car for the whole time: it would be a shame to fly between the two places. The scenery is superp between SF and Las Vegas although (like daawgon mentioned) unfortunately there is no chance that early that you might travel across the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite as there is still too much snow. Don't forget Death Valley: perfect weather that time of year!

With 16 days, I would spend less in cities and more elsewhere. The USA is a country with great roads and driving, so don't understand why you cut down on miles on the road? Sure: not do too much, but it's part of the fun in the USA!

have fun!

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Mar-2013, at 08:20 by Utrecht ]