Tips for planning an Epic California PCH Roadtrip
Summer is here which means there’s no better time than now to start planning your next adventure. And why not make it a road trip?? The California PCH has been repeatedly named as one of the top road trips in the world. While I’ve not been all around the world (yet), I can tell you its pretty spectacular and definitely something you will want to check off your bucket list.
Planning a PCH or Pacific Coast Highway trip sounds complicated and can be overwhelming but hopefully these tips can help you start planning your journey. Unless you’re from California or are familiar with the areas you will be visiting, I recommend doing your research on specific places before choosing your travel dates. Certain things you might want to see will require an advanced booking, be limited in the days and hours of operation and some beaches and sea caves will not be accessible during high tide.
Decide how much time you have
This is probably the biggest factor to consider when planning this trip and I would suggest this be the first thing you decide upon. California is a BIG state and thus has a very long coastline. If you only have 3 days vs. 2 weeks, that’s going to make a big difference in your itinerary. We don’t recommend any less than 3 days.
Decide on a budget
Once you’ve decided how much time you have, set a budget for yourself. G and I recently did a 2 week coast trip and with some research were able to have a pretty budget friendly trip. Its definitely possible, but its also entirely possible to blow your life savings on this trip. It can go both ways so its best to decide early on what you want to spend.
Decide what you want to see
This ties into the first step. On this trip, the journey really is the destination….but there’s also a lot of destinations along the way. That being said, there’s so much to see and do that even 2 weeks wasn’t really enough to see everything we wanted to. Decide what it is exactly that you want to see and build the trip around that. If you mostly just want to drive the coast, 3 days would most likely be sufficient. If you’re wanting to explore any big cities, state parks or small seaside towns, then you’ll want to allow more time. I’m a big Pinterest junkie so I just pinned for months leading up to the trip and narrowed it down as the trip got closer. Whatever works!
Be flexible….but realistic
When I say “be flexible”, I am mostly referring to your hotel reservations. And when I say “be realistic”, I am referring to any of your extra activities that need to be booked in advance. Depending on the time of year, some tours, say like Hearst Castle or Alcatraz, need to be booked in advance or you risk missing them altogether. This can be inconvenient, but its important to plan accordingly. Conversely, its important to allow yourself some wiggle room when it comes to your lodging accommodations so that you are not tied down to being at a specific place at a specific time if you decide you’d like a little more freedom.
Should you drive this alone or with someone?
That depends! This is a great solo trip because since there is so much to see, it is easiest to choose exactly what you want to see and budget your time accordingly. G and I drove from Point Reyes down to Los Angeles by ourselves and it was lovely. That being said, there were times I was left wishing I wasn’t the only adult and driver on this trip. Just keep in mind, whoever you are travelling Highway 1 with will be in the car with you until the trip is over. So make sure you like him or her. Like a lot.
Now that you have the basics figured out, its time to start planning!
Check out our upcoming posts over the next few weeks for tips for driving the PCH, destinations we loved and follow our adventures to give you some road trip inspiration!