California’s Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as California 1, is one of the most beautiful highways in the world and a popular choice for road trippers. Whether you’re a California native, visiting from elsewhere in the States, or traveling to California from overseas, it’s important that you stay safe on your PCH road trip so that you can enjoy the stunning scenery in complete safety.
Get The Right Insurance
Like any other U.S. state, all motorists must have auto insurance to drive in California. Travelers renting a car will probably get insurance through the rental service, whilst California residents who don’t normally drive may want to check that their car insurance is up to date and will cover their trip.
Plan Your Route In Advance
As romantic as hitting the road without a map or a destination may sound, it could lead to stress and, as a result, dangerous driving – especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. If you’re planning a PCH road trip, plan your route in advance and print off an itinerary so you always know where you’re heading next.
Use GPS And A Physical Map
Most of us use our phones to navigate now, and that’s fine for a PCH road trip too. Make sure either your phone or sat nav has a sturdy holder in your car so you can view it with ease while you’re driving. It’s worth getting a physical California map too. Phones die, sat navs break, and cell service drops, so familiarizing yourself with the area you’re driving through and bringing along a laminated map will ensure you can find your way even in an emergency.
The PCH isn’t an especially difficult or stressful drive, but there are portions that less confident drivers may struggle with. At times you’ll hop onto the hectic southern California freeways, such as between Santa Barbara and Oxnard, while other parts of the PCH are single lanes with steep cliffs on one side. While these areas shouldn’t put you off driving the PCH, remember to stay calm and take it slow if you need to. You might also consider letting the most confident driver in the car take over in these areas.
Be Prepared To Stop
While there are plenty of guides to the best PCH stops, be prepared to make some unexpected stops too. The PCH is lined with stunning views, beaches, waterfalls, forests, and wildlife. You can try to plan all your stops, but sometimes you’ll just want to pull over and admire the view for a bit. While we recommend planning your route, give yourself the flexibility to stop every now and then. Not only will this give you a much-needed break from driving, but it’ll also allow you to fully take in the beauty of the PCH.
Don’t Do It Alone
This one is both for safety and the experience. Take a friend or family member on the road with you. That way, they can take over the driving sometimes, keep you company, act as an extra pair of eyes on the road, and, most importantly, enjoy the journey with you. Solo road trips have their benefits, but the PCH is best enjoyed with a friend.