Road trip California

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Dec 17th, 2017, 06:14 PM
  #1
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Road trip California

Hey guys,

I'm a Belgian student (18), and I'm planning to travel alone in California in January. I've already booked the cheapest flights I found: I'm getting to San Fransico on Jan. 16th and flying back from LA on Jan 25th.

As a student, my budget is very tight. I love adventure, nature, and going off the beaten tracks.

I have a few questions:

1) Is it safe and legal to hitch-hike in California ? If not, how discouraged is it ? I really love hitch-hiking (it's the cheapest way to get around and it allows to meet people).

2) What would you advise me as to the itinerary, given the short time (9 days), the season (january), and my likes (nature, authenticity), and dislikes (overcrowded touristic attractions). Is going to LV and Grand Canyon NP worth it ?

3) Is wild camping authorized /legal / tolerated ? Is it a wise way to sleep ? Again I can't afford to pay a hostel every day.

Thank you so much for answering one or some of these questions.

Have a very good one !
DiegoBE is offline  
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Dec 17th, 2017, 06:32 PM
  #2
 
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>>1) Is it safe and legal to hitch-hike in California ? If not, how discouraged is it ? I really love hitch-hiking (it's the cheapest way to get around and it allows to meet people).<<

In California one almost never sees hitch hikers. Years ago it was very common but I can't remember the last hitch hiker I've seen. Even if you did, almost no one would pick you up. It is definitely not a reliable mode of transport. You should look into long distance buses - but they really mainly serve cities -- not mountains/camping areas. There is very good public transport in San Francisco and semi-decent public transport in Los Angeles.

>>2) What would you advise me as to the itinerary, . . . Is going to LV and Grand Canyon NP worth it ?<<

Forget it -- not nearly enough time.

>>3) Is wild camping authorized /legal / tolerated ? Is it a wise way to sleep ? Again I can't afford to pay a hostel every day.<<

Camping is not very realistic since you won't have a car to get into the rural areas. If you can't afford a basic hostel -- you won't be able to afford much dashing around to Vegas and the Grand Canyon (curious how you got a visa with no funds for travel)

9 days is no time really - and especially since you won't have a car. What I'd suggest is you fly into SF - stay in a hostel or couch surf there. Take a bus to LA and stay in a hostel or couch surf there. Fly home. (Actually there are cheap flights between SF and LA so that wouldn't cost much more than the looooong bus ride)
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Dec 17th, 2017, 06:39 PM
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Do not hitchhike. Not reliable, and too many weirdos out there to harm you. Janis gives good advice. Plus, it is winter, and camping would be too difficult if we start getting in rain storms.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 06:51 PM
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The Fort Mason hostel in San Francisco is supposed to be lovely, the one in point reyes also. Hitchhiking in California worked fine in my late youth --late 70s-- not now. Couch surfing a good idea also. NV and Grand Canyon are indeed to far and out of the question.

Buses are relatively cheap in the U.S. Trains are not. Congratulations on traveling off season. If the lack of rain keeps up, you may find the weather downright springlike.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 07:00 PM
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You might consider taking the Amtrak train from SF to LA..price is $60+. Do not hitchhike! Just not safe anymore!

You can use public transport in SF and to some degree in LA. Without a car you just won't get to spend any time in the outdoors to do any camping. California is a beautiful state. I have lived here my whole life. There is so much to see and do but without a car you limit yourself drastically.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 07:03 PM
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I often travel alone and have had some great experiences staying with people in their homes, primarily for conversation & companionship but a free place to sleep can certainly help, too. And often those same kind people help me in other ways including taking me to a bus or train and occasionally all the way to where I'm going next. Everyone has a profile and you can choose people who sound interesting to you of all ages.

My favorite website to connect with people is a couchsurfing-type site called Hospitality Club. hospitalityclub.org/
If you think it might be useful to you, save you from sleeping on the wet ground, sign up immediately as it can sometime take a while to get confirmed to use the site.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 07:53 PM
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There is public transportation to the Marin Headlands which would allow you to hike in non-crowded areas:

https://moovitapp.com/?from=Mission%...=22&lang=en-gb

There is also a hostel in the Headlands.

http://www.norcalhostels.org/marin/rates

For hiking information:

https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/c...ecreation-area
Michael is offline  
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Dec 17th, 2017, 08:41 PM
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Take the Amtrak bus over to Oakland from San Francisco. Take a San Joaquin train to Merced. Take the YARTS bus from tjhe Amtrak station in Merced to Midpines.
The Midpines bus stop is at the foot of the driveway to the BUG hostel. http://www.yosemitebug.com/lodging.html
A dorm room will cost about $35/night.
The next day take the YARTS bus into Yosemite. Take the last bus out of Yosemite back to Merced.
The San Joaquin train runs all the way to Bakersfield with a connecting bus into Los Angeles.
Sacramento also has a great HI hostel at 10th & H St. if you can afford a dorm bed.
tomfuller is offline  
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Dec 17th, 2017, 09:10 PM
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there is not enough time to go to Sacramento

>>A dorm room will cost about $35/night. <<

That is before taxes and fees. The Bug's cheapest beds (in a six person room) is about $40 including room tax.

The hostel in Sacramento charges about the same for a dormitory room.
janisj is offline  
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Dec 17th, 2017, 09:17 PM
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>>Take the last bus out of Yosemite back to Merced. <<

How can he do that - unless he takes his luggage with him to Yosemite?
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Dec 17th, 2017, 09:36 PM
  #11
 
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Bolt Bus has $25 overnight bus from SF to Hollywood.
Banana Bungalow in Hollywood is $35 per night tax included. Melrose Hostel is even better.
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Dec 17th, 2017, 11:04 PM
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We had a discussion on hitchhiking CA back in March.

Do a search for the thread. Some good info there too.
bear900 is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2017, 10:35 AM
  #13
 
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I've stayed in the Marin headlands hostel suggested by Michael and did some hiking there~it's a nice place. The hostel itself was an old Army hospital.

Hitch hiking in California is legal EXCEPT on the freeway.
tenthumbs is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2017, 11:06 AM
  #14
 
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Jan. 16th and flying back from LA on Jan 25th.

9 days. Subtract one day off those dates for arriving/departing activity.
Now down to 7 days. If flying to SF, subtract at least another day. Now down to 6 days - actually 5.

Best bet is to tour SF which is cold and foggy in Jan (we will be there for Christmas visiting relatives - the only reason). LA always has good weather. Public transportation is meager at best. Thus, very time consuming.

Summary of above:
> Fly into SF using their public transportation.
> Fly from SF to LA - Actually, you need a car - hitching is not an option as it is illegal on freeways. With limited time, Venice Beach is the fun place that is close to the airport with an excellent beach. Disneyland to Universal Studios is about 75 km or a one hour drive. By bus -- 2 hours ?

You have not allotted enough time for this adventure. Because of weather, I'd change reservations to 100% Los Angeles and add another week or t>>> miserable <<<< in that city.

Vaga
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Dec 18th, 2017, 11:45 AM
  #15
 
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Wild camping is normally only allowed in certain areas of National Forests and Bureau of Land Management, which is off of your route and nearly impossible to reach via public transport.
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Dec 18th, 2017, 11:47 AM
  #16
 
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>>Fly from SF to LA - Actually, you need a car -<<

Not any more. There is decent public transport with the subway and light rail lines. 10 years ago I'd say skip LA if ones doesn't have a car. But the main tourist areas are pretty well served now.

>>Hitch hiking in California is legal EXCEPT on the freeway.<<

No one said it was illegal. But it is very rare and one could go hours w/o being picked up. Just not a safe or reliable option.

>> . . . SF which is cold and foggy in Jan <<

Not universally. I know it is only Dec now -- but this week it is in the high 50's low 60's (F) and sunny.
janisj is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2017, 12:38 PM
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The OP specifically asked if hitch hiking was safe and legal in California. The popular opinion here is that no, it's really not safe; the California vehicle code states it is illegal on freeways.
tenthumbs is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2017, 10:11 PM
  #18
 
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Correction
I wrote:
Best bet is to tour SF which is cold and foggy in Jan
IT should read
Best bet is NOT to tour SF which is cold and foggy in Jan

You wrote:
"I love adventure, nature, and going off the beaten tracks."

If true, why are you visiting the two largest cities in California?

Los Angeles county (not counting Riverside, Orange, etc.) is about 1/2 size of Belgium with the same quantity of people.

We enjoyed our visit to your country. Because of the excellent English spoken there, we stayed only at Bed and Breakfast lodgings. And, never forget Belgium beer.

Vaga
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Dec 18th, 2017, 10:22 PM
  #19
 
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Correction
I wrote:
Best bet is to tour SF which is cold and foggy in Jan
IT should read
Best bet is NOT to tour SF which is cold and foggy in Jan

This web site has SF weather - It actually feels colder due to the cold pacific ocean breeze. Unfortunately I could not find a celcius reference.
https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/sa...weather/347629

This is LA weather in Jan. Their low temperatures are the high temperatures in SF.
https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/lo...018&view=table

You wrote:
"I love adventure, nature, and going off the beaten tracks."

If true, why are you visitin two large cities in California?

Los Angeles county (not counting Riverside, Orange, etc.) is about 1/2 size of Belgium with the same quantity of people.

We enjoyed our visit to your country. Because of the excellent English spoken there, we stayed only at Bed and Breakfast lodgings. And, never forget Belgium beer.

Vaga
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