Written by Krysta.
A few years ago a friend of ours asked if we wanted to go to Vegas with her and a few friends. Her parents had recently got a time-share condo down there and they were generously letting a group of us use it for a few days. We excitedly jumped online and started to search for flights.
Some background information here: I was a university student at the time, and James had just graduated from university and moved across the world to Canada. So neither of us had a lot of money at all, and the flights to Vegas were more expensive than we anticipated. For those who have never flown in North America, it’s not cheap. There are no budget airlines such as RyanAir and £20 flights don’t exist.
Not wanting to lose out on this great opportunity, we started to get creative. Could we do it cheaper with lay-overs? No. Did an unknown budget airline just happen to pop up that offers super cheap flights from Edmonton to Vegas? Unfortunately not.
After doing a lot of research, we found out that driving from Edmonton to Vegas and back was only a little bit more than the cost of the round-trip flight. I know I said we didn’t have much money, but money can always be extremely well budgeted when there’s an adventure on hand!
Spending three weeks driving down the western coast of Canada and the US and back up through Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana sounded like the perfect way to spend a chunk of our summer. The cost was most definitely worth it, while the slightly cheaper round-trip flights to Vegas for three days weren’t.
So we saved up, got my brother to come along (that didn’t take much convincing), packed up the car, budgeted every penny that we would need, and off we went with 4128 miles of road ahead of us.
Leg 1 – Edmonton to Kamloops
500 miles / 8.5 hours
Now Edmonton probably isn’t a place where many people would start this road trip. Most would probably start from Calgary or Vancouver, but I’m from Edmonton so we started there by default.
It takes a few hours for this journey to get scenic, but when it does, you’re in the Rocky Mountains and it doesn’t get much more scenic than that. We didn’t stay in Jasper because we’ve been many times before and it didn’t fit in our itinerary, but we would highly recommend stopping here if you’ve never been. If you’re driving from Calgary, the Rocky Mountain stopover would be Banff.
Kamloops also isn’t the most exciting place to include in the trip, but a night of sleep was needed before our first official destination of the trip.
Leg 2 – Kamloops to Vancouver
222 miles / 3.5-4 hours
This drive is fairly straightforward and was full of anticipation for our first big stop. We had all been to Vancouver before but it was many years ago and the trips were not very long.
Vancouver is a large, expensive waterfront city that has everything you could want in one place. A busy downtown area, green parks, the ocean, mountains, and more. We stayed in a fairly nice hostel right on the water but outside of downtown; this gave us fantastic views of downtown itself.
We stayed here for two nights which allowed us time to explore what we wanted. This included making friends with a raccoon in Stanley Park, wandering downtown, strolling along the beach, and trying out a few restaurants. More time could easily be spent in Vancouver but, again, we had an itinerary to keep.
Leg 3 – Vancouver to Seattle
143 miles / 2.5 hours
This drive doesn’t take very long, but it’s important to remember that it involves a border crossing. We did this trip back in 2011, so quite a while ago now, so our border experience will more than likely be different than what it would be today.
The most memorable part was watching as most of the border control security guards all ran off at the same time to help arrest someone. It seemed a little over the top considering the guy was already in handcuffs, but I guess it put some excitement into the monotonous task of line-ups and security questions!
After this, it didn’t take too long to get through. They asked a few of the regular questions (where are you from, where are you going, how long are you going for, etc.), stamped our passports, and we were on our way to Seattle.
We spent just the one night here as, once again, we had been before. If you haven’t been, we would recommend having two or three full days here to give yourself enough time to explore. We allowed ourselves to have a relaxing break in the city rather than charging around as we always do, trying to fit as many things in as possible.
We window-shopped, sampled a few different cafes, ate some seafood, and tackled the constant ups and downs of Seattle’s streets. This is a good city to walk around in if you want to keep in shape!
Our evening was spent in a bar because it was my brother’s 21st birthday – he was finally legal in the States! What a great time for a trip to Vegas.
Stay tuned for the next part of our road trip. The mishaps are about to begin!
Have you been to any of these cities? Maybe even road-tripped around them? Let us know your experience below!