business trip, LAX and SFO - car option...?

Discussion in 'Other U.S. Destinations' started by Gaucho, Apr 23, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    OK... so I need to be both San Francisco and Los Angeles for business.... Im thinking that because the distance between both places is below 400 miles, it would be best to fly into one of these cities and do the rest by car.... any thoughts? I will be solo so there is no numbers advantage to amortize car costs amongst more people, but Im guessing that savings on taxi fares and being able to stay at hotels located oustide city centers and saving a little $$$ would make the overall costs more economical if I did my SFO/LAX leg by land and renting a car... any thoughts...?

    Thanks and cheers from EZE,
    Alex / Gaucho
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Downtown parking can be horrendously expensive in certain major US cities, especially during the business day, so don't forget to include that in your calculations if your business activities require you to be downtown. If you stay at airport hotels, be careful as some do charge for parking. OTOH, most suburban locations in the US are very inconvenient for taxi service. Remember that gas is now more than $4 per gallon in California and extremely fuel efficient rental cars, if available, are likely to be expensive.

    However, if you have the time, the coastal drive in California is stunning, although it's much slower than the interstate. There are some charming places to stay along the way. Also, if you do this, check for road closures due to rain and sliding rock damage in area like Big Sur.
     
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  3. KENNECTED
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    KENNECTED Silver Member

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    Personally, In San Francisco, I would take public transportation and in Los Angeles rent a car.
     
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  4. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Expect to pay about $60-80 in gas for the trip assuming you have a 4-cylinder or hybrid, plus $30-40 per night for parking. If you have the time, spend an extra hour and take the scenic route on US 101. Much more enjoyable.
     
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  5. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Very good points... I know that I will not have to be downtown in either city, I will be focusing on suburban locations in both areas. I had forgotten about gas prices...hmmm, maybe after I factor all things in, its going to be a wash between gas+parking+rentals vs. airfares+taxi fares.... will need to crunch some numbers I guess.
     
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  6. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    What about the train... is there some sort of reliable & convenient way to take a train from LA to SFO...??
     
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  7. MSPeconomist
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    If you'll be in the suburbs, it can be a real time-wasting hassle to rely on taxi service. Outside of cities, there aren't a lot of cabs and there can be long waits. With increased gas prices, I would expect taxis in many jurisdictions to impose hefty fuel surcharges, so the gas might be a wash in the end. Also, do not expect good service or clean and reliable vehicles. Many drivers are immigrants and do not know local roads or how to drive in USA-type conditions.

    A further consideration is that if you'll need a car for part of your trip, it can be much more expensive to rent for a few business days than for a "week" (usually must keep it for five full days) or more.
     
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  8. Lighthouse
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    Lighthouse Gold Member

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    Gaucho,
    If you are interested specifically in exploring the two cities and their immediate areas I would simply fly up. I agree with kennected that you will need a car in LA. With regard to SF I would still rent a car for at least a couple of days --there are some extraordinary places that are best to explore by car (e.g. the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the wine country).

    If you are interested in exploring broader parts of the state and want to take a few days traveling up from LA I would drive up. It is a very different experience with smaller communities.

    You will enjoy either. From a financial perspective it may prove a wash after one-way drop off fees, gas, etc. and I would not make the decision on that basis.
     
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  9. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Because you mentioned suburban locations even in the Bay area, a car may be more convenient there too. The combination of BART for the East Bay plus commuter trains for the South Bay can work well, but only if your locations are in easy walking distance from stations, which quite a few are. Numerous times I have used BART for Concord locations, where several major call centers and other companies are within easy walking from the station. I have regularly done the same for Menlo Park and Palo Alto locations. If your locations are not within walking distance of the stations taxis eat up cost quite quickly and suburban taxis are not very plentiful. If you're taking trains San Francisco may be the best place to stay, but otherwise you'll drive and many suburban hotels in the Bay area do not charge for parking but some do.

    In LA no question, you need a car, depending on where you're going. Even there if you're in a very limited area you can get by without one, but it is not easy.

    The big issue in driving is the drop off charges. make certain you do not have a big drop off charge. Depending on season and other factors you can sometimes get a drop off charge free car on one direction but not the other, and sometimes neither.

    I have lived in both area and often travel to both on the same trip so I often make your calculations. I usually drive if I have several suburban locations on both ends, and I often must stop in Santa Barbara and or Ventura county on the way, so that usually clinches the driving decision for me. When I have only one or two locations i almost always rent in each location but fly between the regions.

    As everyone says 101 is beautiful, I5 gets you there more quickly. 101 only works when you've leisure time, but then it is glorious.
     
  10. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    The train is not a real option. I'm not even sure the train goes to SF. It will probably cost as much as a flight, and require about the same amount of time. And taxis are not an option outside city centers in the US unless you are prepared to call and wait for one to arrive, so you will probably need a rental car in SF if you plan on going outside the city limits (public transit is good) and definitely for LA (you need a car for everything).

    The SJ Merc looked at the differences between driving/flying/train a few years ago. I think the car won because it was point to point. The train was most relaxing because it avoided airport security. But if you have status the airport shouldn't be nearly as bad.
     
  11. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    AMTRAK offers connecting bus service from several Bay Area cities. I can get their bus in Benicia, cross the bridge to Martinez, and get a train there. If I lived in Napa I could do the same thing (same bus). They also have bus service from their Oakland and Emeryville stations to San Francisco. I've seen the AMTRAK bus parked in front of the Ferry Terminal where they have a marked stop. Might not be the most convenient way but it works.
     
  12. calwatch
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    calwatch Silver Member

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    The trip down the San Joaquin Valley is not very scenic but it is cheap - regularly $50 or so LA-San Francisco with someone's AAA card number. It is very comfortable but you are looking at a bunch of farms most of the way. The Coast Starlight is beautiful down the coast, but it is long. 12 hours long usually. At least southbound you get the nice sunset this time of the year. During half of the year, northbound is the only way that you can actually see anything when it hugs the coast between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
     

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