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How to Get to LAX From San Diego on the Cheap

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Wondering how to get to LAX from San Diego? Traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego? It’s only 124 miles, about 2 hours and 19 miles to drive from San Diego to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport).

But those two hours can easily become four hours or more if you hit traffic. And LA traffic is a pain.

Sitting stuck in traffic when you have a flight to catch is not only nerve-wracking but it’s not how you want to spend your vacation or start a business trip.

Thankfully, there are ways to avoid that nightmare.

Here’s how to get to LAX from San Diego from the cheapest ways to the easiest ways and all the ways in between. These same ways can get you from San Diego to LAX.

Keep reading the ultimate guide on how to get to LAX from San Diego. These are the best ways to get from Los Angeles to San Diego.

How to Get to LAX From San Diego on the Cheap

All the ways to get from LAX to San Diego. Photo courtesy: JadeLux on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0

1.  Have a Friend Give You a Ride

The cheapest way to get to LAX from San Diego is to have a friend give you a ride. But keep in mind, this will either make or break the friendship.

So you’ll want to ask a close friend. Or someone who owes you a favor. You can even ask your partner. Yeah, right. 🙂

There’s no way Jeff is going to drive me up to LAX and then drive home again. It’s not going to happen. But that’s okay, I get it. Because I wouldn’t do it for him either.

Cost: $0 

Pro-tip: Take your friend to dinner, buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer when you get back as a thank you.

2.  Go by Bus

Take the public bus from San Diego to LAX. Traveling Well For Less.

Got more time than money? Take the bus from LAX to San Diego. Photo courtesy: Matthew Jude Brown on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you have a lot of time and are skint, cheap, or want an adventure, you can go by bus to LAX from San Diego.

Let me clarify. You can take a lot of buses to LAX from San Diego and from Los Angeles back to San Diego. Keep in mind that the bus routes are affected by traffic.

If you have a lot of luggage or a are checking a big bag, you should avoid taking the bus. But if you really want to, here’s the route:

  • San Diego to Oceanside Transit Center: takes 53 minutes and costs $6.50
  • Oceanside to San Clemente via Amtrak – (bus service has stopped so you have to take Amtrak from Oceanside to San Clemente): takes 21 minutes and costs $11.95 for coach and $21.95 for Business Class
  • San Clemente to Long Beach: takes 2 hours 12 to 21 minutes and costs $2
  • Long Beach to LAX: takes 1 hour 18 to 24 minutes and costs $2

Cost: $22.45 or $32.45

Pro-tip: This trip takes about 5 1/2 hours. 

You’ll save almost 2 hours by skipping the San Clemente and Long Beach buses if you take Amtrak from Oceanside to LAX Union Station (see #4 below). You avoid having to get to the bus stations and skips the hassle of changing buses.

3.  Take Metrolink

You can ride the Metrolink to LAX from San Diego for $10 on the weekend. Traveling Well For Less

For $10 on the weekend you can ride Metrolink all day. Photo courtesy: Justin N on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you live in North County or can get to North County easily, you can take Metrolink from Oceanside to LAX Union Station.

From Union Station, you can take the Flyaway Bus for $9.75 each way. Or you can Uber. Sign up for Uber using my Uber referral link and get free rides. 🙂

Pro-tip: If you don’t live in North County, you can take the Coaster from San Diego to Oceanside for $6.

Metrolink is a business commuter train. So it’s pretty bare bones and doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.

Cost: $26.50 including Flyaway Bus

Pro-tip: You buy a weekend day pass for $10.

If you’re flying on the weekend, Metrolink is the second cheapest option if you’re want to travel between Los Angeles and San Diego.

4.  Use Amtrak

Get to LAX from San Diego on Amtrak via the Pacific Surfliner. Traveling Well For Less

Skip the traffic and take Amtrak from LAX to San Diego. Photo courtesy: Steve Wilson on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you can’t find a buddy who’s willing to schlep you to LAX and then endure the drive back home, you can use Amtrak to get to LAX from San Diego. Plus it reduces your carbon footprint.

You’ll take the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to LAX Union Station.

Pro-tip: Once you get to Union Station, you have to get to LAX. From Union Station take the Fly-Away Bus to LAX for $9.75.

From Union Station, you can take the Flyaway Bus for $9.75 each way. This is the least expensive way.

Amtrak has several stations throughout San Diego County:

It’s easy, convenient, you can read or work, there’s free Wi-Fi, and you avoid traffic. Plus if you sit on the right side you can enjoy beach views and check the surf. I usually take the train to get to LAX from San Diego. And then when I fly into LAX, I take the train back from LAX to San Diego.

Unless I have an early morning flight, one that leaves before 7 am. Then I do a one-way car rental (see #5).

The price of your ticket depends on what station you board the train. Longer journeys cost more than shorter trips.

If you start in San Diego at the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) you’ll pay $37. But if you catch the train in Oceanside, you only pay $28 for a coach ticket.

Cost: unreserved coach seat including Flyaway Bus $38 to $47 
Cost: Business Class reserved seat including Flyaway Bus $52 to $66

Pro-tip: Save money by taking the Coaster from San Diego to Oceanside for $6 then book your Amtrak ticket to Union Station.

Or you can Uber. Sign up for Uber using my Uber referral link and get free rides. 🙂

5.  Book a One-Way Car Rental

You can score a deal on rental cars for less than $5 a day. TravelingWellForLess.com

You can pay as little as $52 for a one-way car rental from San Diego Airport to Los Angeles Airport

For early morning flights that depart before 8 am, Metrolink and Amtrak aren’t an option so you should book a one-way car rental to get to LAX from San Diego.

You can rent a car from companies like Avis and Hertz and drop it off at LAX. This is called a one-way car rental.

Unlike a round-trip rental where you can save hundreds of dollars by renting from off-site, non-airport locationsa one-way rental is cheaper at the airport than non-airport locations. Remember to fill the tank before you return the rental car.

Cost: $25 to 65 

Pro-tip: Make sure you read the fine print. Some companies charge a drop-off fee on one-way rentals.

6.  Take Uber or Lyft

Request an Uber or Lyft to get to LAX from San Diego. Traveling Well For Less

Photo courtesy: Dllu on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 4.0

You take Uber or Lyft to get to LAX from San Diego. Yep, you can rideshare from San Diego to LAX.

There are a couple of downsides. First, there may not be an Uber or Lyft available in your area. You should request a ride at least 30 minutes before you want to leave.

Your Uber rate will vary depending on where you’re picked up in San Diego. Like Amtrak, the closer you are to LAX, the cheaper the price.

So North County residents will pay less than if you’re coming from the South Bay, East County or downtown San Diego.

The second downside of using rideshare to get to LAX is traffic. 

Cost: UberX $103 to $202

Pro-tip: Get $20 off your ride when you sign-up for Uber using my Uber referral link.

7.  Fly

Fly from San Diego to LAX on American Eagle. Traveling Well For Less

Photo courtesy: Alan Wilson on Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 2.0

The fastest way to get from Lax to San Diego and San Diego to LAX is to fly.

You’ll avoid traffic, rental car hassle, public transportation, and having to beg your friends for a ride.

Try to book a ticket on the same airline as the one you’re flying out of LAX on. This way you won’t have to change terminals and will only have to go through security once.

If you are flying on a different airline, you may have to change terminals, go through security, and recheck any checked bags.

American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines all offer flights from San Diego to Los Angeles. You can search these websites for cheap flights. Skyscanner is one of my favorite sites for cheap airline tickets.

Allow for extra time if you have to change terminals. Because if you have to change terminals, you will have to go through security again.

Cost: $115 and up

Pro-tip: If you check a bag, you’ll have to go back through security. And you will also have to recheck your bag at LAX.

8.  Reserve a Shuttle

Book a private or shared shuttle like Super Shuttle to get to LAX from San Diego. Traveling Well For Less

Photo courtesy of Super Shuttle

There are private shuttle companies that you can take to LAX from San Diego but you have to reserve a shuttle in advance.

Prices vary depending on the company so you should call around. Gratuity is not included and most drivers will expect a tip.

Cost: $179 to $335 

Pro-tip: Book a private shuttle vs a shared shuttle. With a shared ride, the shuttle will make several stops on the way to the airport.

When you book a private shuttle to get you to LAX from San Diego and vice versa, the driver picks you up at your home or hotel and takes you straight to the airport. Think of it as a private driver airport service.

Conclusion

Looking for the best ways to get to or from LAX to San Diego? Did you find a cheap flight out of LAX and aren’t sure how to get to LAX from San Diego? Want to know to travel between Los Angeles and San Diego?

Traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego can be easy when you know all your options. There are 8 different ways you can get from LAX to San Diego and vice versa:

1. Call a friend to give you a ride to LAX
2. If you have a lot of time you can go by bus 
3. Take Metrolink to LAX from North County San Diego
4. You can use Amtrak to get to LAX and reduce your carbon footprint
5. If you have an early flight you can book a one-way car rental from San Diego to LAX
6. Avoid the hassle of a one-way rental and take Uber or Lyft
7. The fastest way to get to LAX from San Diego is to fly
8. Reserve a shuttle and enjoy the ride 
 

Some of the ways are more convenient, while others can take an entire day. From asking a friend for a ride to flying, how you’ll get to LAX from San Diego depends on how much time and money you’re willing to spend.

Remember to pay with a credit card that gives you bonus travel rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

What’s your favorite way to get to LAX from San Diego? Or from San Diego to LAX?

Pin this to your travel, vacation or California board:

8 ways to get to LAX from San Diego | how to get to LAX from San Diego | how to get to San Diego from LAX | image courtesy of JadeLux via wiki, CC BY-SA 3.0 | https://www.travelingWellForLess.com #lax #sandiego #california #laxfromsandiego

8 ways to get to LAX from San Diego | how to get to LAX from San Diego | how to get to San Diego from LAX | image courtesy of monkeytime via wiki, CC BY-SA 2.0 | TravelingWellForLess.com

Wondering how to get to LAX from San Diego? It's only 124 miles, about 2 hours and 19 miles to drive. Here’s the Ultimate Guide on the best ways on how to get to LAX from San Diego. https://www.travelingWellForLess.com #lax #sandiego #california #laxfromsandiego
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Keerthana

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Thank you so much we are planning to visit this year and I am going to bookmark this post

Debra Schroeder

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Keerthana,

Glad the post helped. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Lois

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Lot's of ways to go 124 miles. All very good. I lived in San Diego for years. Getting into LA can be very difficult due to the traffic.

Debra Schroeder

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Lois,

Exactly, LA traffic adds so much more time getting to and from places.

Catalina

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Great tips! They are so precious when you need to catch a plane! Thanks for sharing!

Debra Schroeder

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Catalina,

Thanks, glad you liked the post.

Marysa

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

I was actually wondering about this on our last trip out west. I have family in Seattle, and if we flew to LAX or San Diego, I wanted to be able to go between the two.

Debra Schroeder

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Marysa,

Now you know. 👍 Hope you can use these tips the next time you visit your family.

Kathy

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

It's great to know more about this. I would love to go to San Diego someday, so this will be helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Debra Schroeder

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Kathy,

Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope you get a chance to visit San Diego.

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