How do I get from Vancouver, BC, to San Francisco, CA, without flying?
May 21, 2011 1:52 PM   Subscribe

How do I get from Vancouver, BC, to San Francisco, CA, without flying?

How do I get from Vancouver, BC, to San Francisco, CA, without flying?Efficiency, expediency and affordability are stressed. Anybody have any good ideas?
posted by Cpt. The Mango to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Looks like it's 28 hours and $150 to take Greyhound. Amtrak is 27 hours and $163 (it's a bus from Vancouver to Seattle and then train to Emeryville). Driving looks like 16 hours nonstop.
posted by The Michael The at 1:58 PM on May 21, 2011


Amtrak with connecting buses goes Vancouver - SF for ~$160 in around 30 hours depending on where in SF you want to go.
posted by Mitheral at 2:03 PM on May 21, 2011


The train from Seattle to Oakland is very nice, if a bit slowwwww.

In terms of cost and efficiency, biking + camping is your best bet. Downside: you need to pay for more "fuel," in the form of food, to power the bicycle. Upside: you'll arrive in terrific shape and you'll have had a blast! But that fails the expediency test.

With that in mind, you could ride-share. It's the west coast, tons of people are posting on the Internet for driving partners. Benefits: cheap, quick, and on a more convenient schedule. Downsides: hell is other people.

But to meet all three criteria, and only if this is the reason at hand of course, you could devote 10 of those 30 hours to a fear of flying course, 2.5 hours to flying, and get there in half the time. (I finally chose that one!)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:12 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The driving option looks roughly like this: It's about 950 miles, so if you're getting 24 miles to the gallon (a random guess; adjust accordingly for your vehicle) at US$4.02/gallon (current average for regular, non-premium gas among WA, OR, and CA), fuel would cost around US$160. If you want to get an oil change before you go, factor in that cost, too.

So if you drive straight through, you save about 10 hours over the other options, and the cost is about the same as the bus or the train (again, depending on your fuel efficiency). But if you want to spend the night somewhere, the time spent will be similar but you'll have to factor in the additional cost of accommodations.

This is also assuming you drive your own car; if that's not the case, obviously you'd have to factor in the additional cost of a rental as well.
posted by scody at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2011


Having done this trip through multiple modes let me recommend the train. It's pretty, and comfortable, and if you bring a laptop you can work or watch movies. The Cascade route from Vancouver to Portland has free wifi now, though you'd have to switch to the Starlight to get to California and I don't think that one does. The scenery is much better than busing or driving on the interstate.

If however you can swing an extra day or two and a bit more cash, consider driving a bit slower and seeing the Pacific coast and the redwoods. It's some of the continent's prettiest scenery.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:32 PM on May 21, 2011


Is hitchhiking an option?
posted by matlock expressway at 2:49 PM on May 21, 2011


"But to meet all three criteria, and only if this is the reason at hand of course, you could devote 10 of those 30 hours to a fear of flying course, 2.5 hours to flying, and get there in half the time. (I finally chose that one!)".

This is sounding attractive.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 3:28 PM on May 21, 2011


I've taken Amtrak (the Coast Starlight) from Seattle and Portland to SF, and while it is a lovely trip, it's not one I'd do where I had to be in SF by a particular time (or even the same day as the scheduled arrival). If you can afford it, I recommend the sleeper car. Much more room to chat, work, snooze, and plug your electronics in.
posted by zippy at 5:15 PM on May 21, 2011


I can't find a route from Seattle to SF, however for the Vancouver to Seattle leg there's a Chinatown bus for $41.

Vancouver to Seattle for $41
posted by zippy at 5:30 PM on May 21, 2011


This is sounding attractive.

It should. The bonus is that after the initial investment, you get to go other fun places that are even more far away too! I'd check out some of the various fear of flying threads here for more tips.
posted by zachlipton at 6:11 PM on May 21, 2011


I took the train from ~SF (Oakland) to Vancouver. It was about 6 hours behind schedule when it got to Oakland (hit a suicide and a cabbage truck and needed a new driver) but we made up most of that time before Vancouver. The last stretch of the trip from Washington State (beyond Seattle, I think) to Vancouver, we did by bus so that when we crossed the border we had to get out and go through customs. It was pretty fun but I love travelling by train.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:20 PM on May 21, 2011


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