I realise this is bordering on a WANTA question but I'm running out of ideas.

Our travel plan for getting us from LAX to Tijuana (<2 days from now!) has fallen through so I'm now searching for alternatives and I'm not finding anything that will work.

I figured easiest would be getting the Amtrak from LA Union Station to San Diego, but have discovered all trains on March 31 are carry on only, no checked luggage (we have 3 suitcases in addition to all our carry on bags)

Shuttle will cost us close to $600, flights $900 (for comparison the Amtrak would normally be $90). Greyhound doesn't appear to do LA to San Diego.

We figure surely it's a major enough route to have other options, we just can't seem to find anything at short notice.

What other travel options night there be between these two cities (or to Tijuana instead of San Diego) that we may not have considered?

  • 3
    Are you open to renting a car? Mar 30 at 9:38
  • 14
    Usually on short-distance Amtrak trains, "carry on only" just means it is up to you to haul your baggage onto the train and situate it on the baggage racks. There aren't really limits on the number / size / weight of the bags (within reason), or if there are, they are not enforced. So it's more about whether that's okay for your mobility, and how much baggage rack space the train has (someone with recent local experience may be able to confirm the latter). Mar 30 at 14:37
  • Another thing to check is whether you can rebook your flights to go to San Diego instead of LAX (I assume your $900 figure corresponds to booking separate flights LAX-SAN). Two days out, it may be too difficult or expensive, but it could be reasonable. Most airlines have dropped change fees since 2020. Mar 30 at 14:42
  • 2
    The rail track in San Clemente (between whatever is left of the cliff and whatever is left of the beach) is currently closed for heavy maintenance works on weekdays, with a bus service to bridge the gap. Normal services run on the weekends, any chance you could shift travel to the next day?
    – jcaron
    Mar 30 at 15:33
  • 1
    Note that on 3/31 the last device of the (departing 10:10 pm, arriving 1:04 am) is a direct train without bus bridge, but does not have checked baggage service. First train with checked baggage service is at 6:10 on Saturday morning (arriving 9:04).
    – jcaron
    Mar 30 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


The easier by far would be to rent a car.

Looking at the one-way rental prices between LAX (Airport) and San Diego, for March 31st, from Noon to 6PM (you could go shorter, LAX-SAN is a 2h drive)

From airport-to-airport Avis quotes ~$150 for a Camry or similar, and RentalCars.com has an entry for a Ford Focus for $120

From LAX to the Cross Border Xpress, Budget quotes me $97 for a Kia Rio and ~$100 for a Jetta/Camry or similar

By public transport :

Greyhound doesn't appear to do LA to San Diego

They don't from LAX but from Union Station, they do (look on their site)

  • 3
    And if a member of their loyalty club, one-way rentals may be even cheaper than listed.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 30 at 13:43
  • 3
    Car rentals in the US are usually priced by the day (24 hour increments), so the exact number of hours doesn't really matter. For the same price, you could even keep the car to drive around San Diego and return it the next day. Mar 30 at 14:38
  • Does anyone know if presently you can take a rental car to Mexico? the policy changes all the time at budget/etc.
    – Fattie
    Apr 1 at 0:38

Rome2rio pointed me towards CBX aka Cross Border Express advertise a number of shuttle services, including from Los Angeles to Tijuana.

There are 5 trips on March 31st, taking between 3h40 and 6h, with prices between $30 and $35.

Greyhound also operates services from LA Union Station to Tijuana and San Diego.

Flixbus have services from various locations in LA to various locations in San Diego.


When we went from LAX to San Diego last year, we took an Uber. It was reasonably cheap and comfortable. Depending on the size of your group, you should check the size of the ordered car carefully, as a lot of luggage might not fight if all seats are taken by passengers.

Pro-tip: The Uber is much cheaper if you order it not directly from the airport, but take one of the airport busses first to get some distance from the airport.

  • 1
    Given that you have to take a bus anyway to get to the official taxi/TNC pickup area (LAX-it), it makes complete sense to simply take another bus, such as the ones headed for the City Bus Center or the Metro station. I can confirm that the cost is lower from those two locations.
    – gparyani
    May 31 at 16:34

I figured easiest would be getting the Amtrak from LA Union Station to San Diego, but have discovered all trains on March 31 are carry on only, no checked luggage (we have 3 suitcases in addition to all our carry on bags)

That just means "no porters", you'll have to DIY-muscle your bags onto the coach yourselves.

Amtrak doesn't care about baggage (or weight for science reasons*). Plenty of room.

The real winner here is the Tijuana Trolley, which goes directly from the San Diego Amtrak (Santa Fe station) to the border crossing at Tijuana. One seat ride, $2.50 fare, huge asterisk. That is just regular old suburban public transit, obviously no porters. And your party will take a ridiculously outsize amount of space compared to actual commuters, but that happens a lot on that trolley. Just don't do it during the outbound commute (4-7 pm).

Such an elegant solution to that transportation link. San Diego really outdid themselves. Amtrak is actually fairly hard to get to from LAX, but if you can find a more direct way to get to San Diego Amtrak ("Santa Fe station"), feel free to do it.

The huge asterisk: The Trolley uses a "proof of payment" system in which you must obtain some sort of ticket or e-ticket before you board. This is a limited-time typically 2-hour "pass" which entitles you to be on the system. Note that some tickets are sold "not activated" so you can pay now and activate later; these must be activated - don't forget!

Honestly, the app may be the path of least resistance, as otherwise they'll sell you a permanent physical transit card that only works in San Diego. The physical card doesn't require you to set up an account, you can do it "anonymously". However, each person needs their own card or app - one person can hold the cards, but there must be a separate card or app for each person. There is no way to put 2 activated fares on one card or app.

Fare inspectors will randomly check trains and give $300 fines for fare evasion to honest newcomers looking for someone to pay. I'm not kidding. That's real. It's a Federal program subsidized by Ford and Toyota to make sure no new riders ever take public transit, OK I'm kidding about that. But really, it does seem like that.

Wow, this just turned into a warning against the Tijuana Trolley.

* Trains don't have induced drag thanks to Mr. Timken, so weight does not add any significant fuel cost. (actually it takes more fuel to haul an empty coal train than a full one, since the coal acts as a fairing to keep the empty hoppers from scooping air).

  • There's the Flyaway bus from LAX to Union Station. I think it takes less than an hour. Apr 3 at 20:42

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