According to the Las Vegas Convention and Vistitor's Authority, 25 percent of travelers to Las Vegas in 2015 were from Southern California—that's more than 10,578,000 a year! Make the most of your road trip with these tips—they make traversing the open road a breeze.
Create a Plan of Attack
The trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is about 300 miles—that's about four hours for a trip without any major delays or long stops. Are you going to drive straight through, make one main stop to refuel the car—and your body—or make multiple stops at various points of interest? Pick a plan before you go and stick to it; it'll help keep your trip on track.
Road Trip (©Getty Images)
Avoid Peak Travel Times
The average daily auto traffic on I-15 at the California/Nevada border, says the LVCVA, is more than 44,000 vehicles—that means a lot of your neighbors are traveling as well—but knowing the peak times will help you avoid seemingly unbearable gridlock and will be less trying on your patience.
Most people are pulling into Vegas early evening on Friday; with an approximate four-hour trip from Los Angeles (and no delays), that means most are leaving between 2-4 pm on Friday—and the ride only gets longer if you are leaving L.A. directly after work. Take the day off and try leaving Friday morning instead, or better yet, on Thursday—you'll get the benefit of a less-expensive room night on Thursday as well (barring any special events/conventions).
On the return trip, if you must go back on Sunday, do it as early in the morning as possible—lest you endure the slow crawl back to L.A. that happens when you leave at noon or later.
Road Trip Sunset (©Gilberto Parada)
A Word About Outlet Malls
One thing that makes a road trip even greater is the proliferation of outlet shopping. You'll certainly find that on this trip, in the Outlets at Barstow and the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm. If you're so inclined, both are worth the stop—we suggesting a stop in Primm on the way to Vegas and one at Barstow on the way back—if you try to do them both in the same drive, there are so many great deals, you'll never get to your destination!
Know Where to Stop Along the Way
Did you know that the cheapest gas along the way can be found in Barstow? That the best place for a sit-down meal along the way is in Victorville? And that Baker offers kitschy fun, such as the world's largest thermometer? These are tips we've learned from making the drive ourselves, and you're sure to rack up your own favorites along the way. Some stats for reference: Victorville is about 1/3 of the way, Barstow is roughly 1/2 the way, and when you reach Primm, you're about 45 minutes from Las Vegas.
Road Trip Stops (©Jamie Street)
Watch Your Speed
More than ever before, highway patrols have been monitoring speeds between L.A. and Vegas, so it's in your best interest not to speed, especially around the larger towns mentioned in the previous tip. We recommend maintaining a speed of 70-75 mph, but stay consistent with the speed of traffic and, even though it can be tempting, don't follow too closely.
When you cross the border into Nevada, keep the lead foot at bay for the 26-mile corridor between Primm and St. Rose Parkway; a zero-tolerance program, aimed at reducing accidents, is targeting this area—so stay at 70 mph or below there.
Have Your Car Road-Ready
There's nothing worse than getting into your road-trip zen zone when the change oil or low fuel light comes in—something that could have easily been avoided.
So, as simple as it sounds, change your oil, check your tire pressure and fluid levels before you leave, make sure the driver's manual is in the glove box and fill up on gas—you should never have less than 1/3 of a tank in your car at all times. And it's helpful if someone in the vehicle knows how to change a tire.
Those with older, off-warranty vehicles might want to think about buying a roadside assistance package. Sure, unexpected things happen, but you'll have the peace of mind knowing you've done everything you possibly could to prevent a break-down before you leave.
Exploring the Desert Landscape (©Jayson Hinrichsen)
Odds are you'll want to do some dressing to impress at least once during your stay in Vegas, but the time to do it is not on the trip here. Unmanageable or uncomfortable fabrics or shoes will take your attention off the road, and since there isn't much variety in scenery once you hit the desert, attention is more crucial than ever. Plus, should an aforementioned breakdown happen, do you want to be out on the hot pavement in an uncomfortable dress, or worse yet, heels should you need to walk somewhere? A T-shirt, jeans (or shorts), tennis shoes and a light jacket is the way to go when you're on the road. And don't forget the sunglasses—they're crucial!
Southern Nevada averages 310 sunny days a year, so it's important to stay hydrated—this is true on the road as well. The rule of thumb is to carry one gallon of water per passenger with you, as well as a gallon for the car.
You've made it, Vegas is no longer a blip on the horizon! While you're here, don't forget to obey all traffic signals and have fun! We look forward to your return.
The back side of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign (©Las Vegas News Bureau)