West Coast Trip – By the Numbers

And every single one was something unique! Since I didn’t have a formal plan most days, the days felt even longer as I chose activities on a whim. My longest day was probably Day 15 in Portland. In one day I somehow managed to complete a 46km bike ride, make a full dinner, attend a show, ride the Aerial Tram, and still have the energy to go out for drinks after.

Vancouver (5 nights), Seattle (5 nights), Portland (3 nights), Bend (2 nights), San Francisco (5 nights), Santa Barbara (3 nights), and Los Angeles (2 nights). Each city had its own unique atmosphere and culture and it’s really had to pick a favourite. If I could spend more time in any one of the cities I would choose Portland though – three nights were not enough to experience all of its amazing arts culture, green space, and many microbreweries.

If I had to choose a city to live in, I would definitely go with Vancouver. On a sunny day, it feels like the entire city is outside, and why not? The city is on the ocean, has a beautiful harbour and beaches, and is at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Plus they’ve got an ambitious mayor who wants to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Crossing Cambie St. bridge

While I didn’t bike between the cities I visited, my bike was my main mode of transport within the cities I visited. I biked everything from mountains, to coastlines, to bridges. While I averaged about 27km per day, my longest ride of the trip was 69km, from San Francisco to Paulo Alto. My favourite bike ride, however, was on Day 21 in San Francisco. Along my ride, I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, watched a Memorial Day parade, biked up a mountain, visited the Muir Woods, and then got to zoom down a windy mountain road on my way back to the city.


And they weren’t easy calories! I endured a lot of hills and slopes on my bike. Perhaps the biggest climb was one of my first days in Vancouver, when I scaled up the mountains in North Vancouver to virtually as high as I could get before the road ended.

View of Vancouver from the peak

Over the course of my trip I traveled by plane, car (passenger), taxi, train, bus, LRT, subway, cable car, monorail, gondola, bike, foot, kayak and ferry. The gondola, or Aerial Tram, was perhaps the most unique mode of my trip. I rode it in Portland, OR to get from the lower city to the Oregon Health and Science University’s main campus. I didn’t really need to do the trip, but it made for a great evening view of the city! The tram normally serves as a part of people’s commute, operating on intervals of just a few minutes and carrying up to 79 people per trip.


Another unique mode I experienced was Seattle’s underground bus system. Rather than building expensive subway lines, the city built an underground tunnel system within the downtown that is served by busses! This makes public transportation very competitive to driving downtown, especially with many surface streets running at ridiculous angles!


$3,163 SPENT
While I had budgeted to spend up to $4000 on the trip, I only ended up spending just over $3000, or about $122 per day, all expenses included. Somehow I managed to get by with only $150 cash, as I made almost every purchase with my credit card.

spending breakdownBreaking down where I spent my money, about a quarter of my cost (23%) went just to getting there and back, and another 13% to travel between and within cities. By taking my bike, I saved a lot of money locally, as I avoided costly taxi trips or rental car fees.

These fees come from airline baggage extras and train baggage fees. This trip was eye-opening for me with regards to the challenges of travelling with a bicycle. For almost every trip, I had to pack my bike up in some way, oftentimes disassembling it in the process. My bike was even temporarily “misplaced” for about a day as it was unloaded 8 hours too early on my train trip from Portland to San Francisco. Luckily Amtrak was very responsive and had my bike to me on the next train (the next day).

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