Travel

California road trip, many options

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  • Aug 26th, 2019 6:10 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 23, 2008
1123 posts
301 upvotes
Montréal

California road trip, many options

Hi !
we already planing our next summer trip (yeah we know...)

After heading in Europe in the last 4 years we have think about California. We have 2 kids (8 and 12 years old) and California should have many great options for them (zoo, theme park, Disney). We have 6 weeks of vacation each summer.

Questions (and options)

1) Is is doable by car from Montreal ? That would allows us to do some camping and give us more flexibility. We would go as fast possible for us (driving 8-9n hours by day would be the max) to Arizona and then begin our travel at a slower pace. We would like to see monument valley, Grand Canyon, Hoover dam then head to California (San diego, National parks, San Francisco.....)

2) If flying where should we go to and from if we want to see same place that are says in number 1 ? Flying would mean to travel less time because of hotel and flight cost.

3) I know renting a car in one country and return in another in Europe meand an hefty fee, is it the same for taking a car in one state and returning it into another ?

Thanks for all ideas and advice !
13 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17052 posts
14436 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
# 1 - Is indeed doable, but it’s going to suck up most of those 6 weeks you have ... as your plan is to drive 8 or so hours a day, camp (set up / take down), and plan time for sightseeing etc. If you truly have the time this would be my choice ... but then we are a family that loves roadtrips in general. Not everyone does

# 2 - if flying, I think I would start this adventure in Denver Colorado, Salt Lake City Utah, Albuquerque NM, Phoenix Arizona or Las Vegas Nevada
Where you start depends on whatever you plan to add to your must see list

Then head to the Grand Canyon and points west ... California. You can fly home from San Fran, or cities further north.

# 3 - in the USA it is usually cheaper than it is in Canada to drop a car at a different spot than where you rented from (due to their bigger population). So crossing state lines is not a big deal. It only really gets complicated if you want to bring a rental car across the international border into Canada ... no need though, cuz even if you wanted to come home via Canada ... there is excellent public transit options between Northern Washington and Southern BC
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 23, 2008
1123 posts
301 upvotes
Montréal
Thanks a lot !

I guess we will pass the road trip from Montreal idea, since it will mean a lot of time in the car just to get really where we want to (western USA).
Deal Addict
Dec 9, 2003
4935 posts
767 upvotes
Calgary
Think about flying to Vegas or Phoenix. Then drive in a loop or one way dropoff to maybe San Diego. That will let you cover much of California; also Grand Canyon. Avoid LAX. As above, dropoff fees will be low.
I apologize for offending sensitivities of alt right, alt left, or anyone in the middle, for humor or perspectives, for my maturity and occasional errors. I apologize for misunderstandings on gender, religion, politics, race or deals.
Deal Addict
Aug 15, 2009
1579 posts
1252 upvotes
Montreal
If this can help.

I rent a car in Vegas an return it to LA Airport. I was charge zero fees.

You just have to look once in a while and you will find the best deal before you leave. I did my booking and found a better deal couple days later. Booked it and cancelled the first one.

I went with Enterprise.
Deal Addict
Jan 19, 2008
1355 posts
966 upvotes
Etobicoke
Make sure you do the coast drive. I just got back from a 10 day trip, LA, San Fran , and Nappa. The best part was the drive up the coast. It can be foggy, so if you can go in September/Oct..
P.S the ocean is cold, and it is usually warmer in Canada than San Fran.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 15, 2006
8910 posts
3419 upvotes
Toronto
There's tons of traffic between LA and Las Vegas, so many companies don't charge one way rental fee. We rented from SFO and dropped off at LA, no charge, last year.

If you want to cover so many places, one way is to rent from LAS, to grand circle and add Monument Valley, four-corners, maybe even Mesa Verde NP, back to LAS, to SFO, and drive the Pacific Coastal Highway to cover Big Sur, and Hearst Castle. That'll take you south to LA. You can go south to San Diego there. If you can also return rental car to San Diego without charge, that'll be best. Or just come back to return at LA.
Newbie
Jun 8, 2019
36 posts
20 upvotes
Mississauga, Ontario
We've flown into SFO and did a one-way car rental to Vegas - i don't think pricing was too bad and flights were easy to find. Have also rented in LA, driven around California and flown back home (to Toronto).

I agree with the suggestions above about not driving all the way from Montreal.

Within California make sure you do Yosemite, Sequoia, King's Canyon NP, and Pacific cost highway drive (preferably southbound so you are ocean-side on the drive).
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 25, 2009
4328 posts
1338 upvotes
Moncton
Frontier had ridiculously cheap flights to Denver out of Burlington, Vermont, this summer. With their kids fly free promotion, you might be tempted to go twice! They also do the summer route out of Syracuse. No guarantee they will to that next summer thought.

It is a super easy road trip, and enables you to go to places you might not otherwise want to visit (Cleaveland, Erie, Chicago, St. Louis, etc...). Rent Vacation (1983) with Cheavy Chase (iTunes). You can go up the St. Louis arc. Quite the experience actually. I highly recommend it.

I really like the Motel 6 motel chain on road trips. Really car dependant locations, but cheap, clean, and the faucets all work the same.
Toronto is a very small part of Canada
Sr. Member
Jan 14, 2010
666 posts
207 upvotes
Central Ontario
I would 2nd suggestions to fly in/out of Vegas, even if only a hotel stop. If you're at all inclined to attempt the drive from Mtl, LV to everywhere will be a walk in the park, plus cheaper flights and rental cars.

6 weeks is luxurious. We did 2: LV > Malibu > Anaheim (Disney) > SD (awesome, one of my faves esp with kids) > Phoenix area > Grand Canyon > LV. Lots to see.

Think about booking Grand Canyon hotels asap

Fun trip!
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 28, 2009
1420 posts
417 upvotes
Ottawa
tostaky wrote: Hi !
we already planing our next summer trip (yeah we know...)



Questions (and options)

1) Is is doable by car from Montreal ? That would allows us to do some camping and give us more flexibility. We would go as fast possible for us (driving 8-9n hours by day would be the max) to Arizona and then begin our travel at a slower pace. We would like to see monument valley, Grand Canyon, Hoover dam then head to California (San diego, National parks, San Francisco.....)


3) I know renting a car in one country and return in another in Europe meand an hefty fee, is it the same for taking a car in one state and returning it into another ?

Thanks for all ideas and advice !

we drove from Ottawa. details here. Your text to link here...

as few have suggested above we also did another trip where we landed in Vegas rented a vehicle (booked through Costco travel) and did a south circle. vegas, grand canyon phoenix san diego (did a one day Viater Tiguana bus tour) , LA and back to vegas.
Deal Addict
Jul 26, 2007
1424 posts
637 upvotes
if you decide to do SF while you're in CA... driving in SF is a total pain. there is a severe lack of parking options in the city proper so you might find you'd have to locate a parking lot/garage like 4-5 blocks away from where you want to be or from where you'll be staying. just a heads up.

highly suggest once you get to SF, ditch the car. the public transit network with MUNI will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go in SF proper (you can buy visitor 1/3/7 day passes on your phone, and the multiday passes cover rides on the trolley cars which normally costs $7 one way, a 3 day pass is $29 which is good value if you plan on zipping around SF for a few days), and if you want to go a bit further (e.g. oakland), the BART isn't terribly expensive either. certainly less than the parking costs.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 23, 2008
1123 posts
301 upvotes
Montréal
Thanks a lot for all those answers ! There's so much to read and think about before making any reservation .

For now we are a bit shocked about the lodging price. We knew SF was expensive but its more than we thought. We were in Venice this summer and lodging was less expensive than what we are seeing now on airbnb for SF.....
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17052 posts
14436 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
tostaky wrote: Thanks a lot for all those answers ! There's so much to read and think about before making any reservation .

For now we are a bit shocked about the lodging price. We knew SF was expensive but its more than we thought. We were in Venice this summer and lodging was less expensive than what we are seeing now on airbnb for SF.....
San Francisco has for decades been one of the most expensive cities to stay in in America.
I went to book a trip back in the late 80s to a convention
And even then it was like well over $ 200 US a night
After adding up all my expenses ... airfare, hotel, etc
I decided it was just too rich for my blood
So did not go

Just took a look now on TripAdvisor
Nothing’s changed on that front ... except the then $ 200+ is now $ 400, $ 500 AND UP US a night for prime locations

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