Skip Navigation

Spontaneous road trip across America

Travel Forums North America Spontaneous road trip across America

1. Posted by Liam_CS (First Time Poster 1 posts) 41w

Hello all,

This is my first post on here, so apologies if it doesn’t really fit with the general theme of the forum.

My name is Liam, and I’m 18-year-old student from Surrey. Despite traveling never really being a thing that appealed to me growing up, a few months ago I started to develop a longing to explore the world. I holidayed in America last summer – a country I’ve always been fascinated with – and I’ve been desperate to go back ever since. My family and drove across about half of California, stopping off at San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Monica, San Diego and back up to LA, but now I want to see more.

I’m about to take my A-Levels for the final few months of my college education, and I will be spending my gap year working on a personal start-up project. However, in the not too distant future I want to start thinking about raising some money, getting a group of like-minded people together (preferably 18-20ish) and drive across the USA. I want to see more than just America in my life, obviously, but this is how I want to start.

It’s ambitious and at the moment nothing more than a pipe dream, but if anyone has any advice for me or fancies coming along for the ride, it would be great to hear from you, even if it’s so I can start to get a better idea of how to go about doing this.

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1769 posts) 41w

I've done California a few times long ago and it is not quite the same as driving everywhere else.

You can get hit by steep one way charges picking up a car in one place and dropping it off hundreds of miles away.

There are jobs delivering cars in America where you get so much time to deliver a new car from A to B. You just pay for the fuel.

America is a BIG place and another way of seeing the country might be to fly big distances, pick up a car at the airport for a few days and travel around, then drop it off and fly elsewhere, and another car hire.

3. Posted by Americaespana (Budding Member 7 posts) 41w

Perhaps experienced travelers bring up the "drop off fee" for taking a car from point A and leaving it in point B because in the past it was more of a sure thing. I have done a few road trips in the past couple years using major national car rental chains and have never paid the fee - but I have certainly seen it in some quotes. What I'm trying to say is, that may or may not be an issue for you.

4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3543 posts) 41w

Liam,
Get some quotes from car rental companies for the time period you want to be in the US. 1,2,3 months. Figure out your route and if you are returning the vehicle to where you rented it. As stated, some companies will charge a drop off fee if you do not return the vehicle to your departure city. Tell them your age. Most companies add a surcharge for drivers under 25. It can really add up. Now you will have an idea of the cost of transport if you rent a vehicle.

The other option is to buy something and sell it when finished. I have helped over 20 TP members do this. It only makes sense if you are here for more than 6 weeks. Good luck with your planning.

Post 5 was removed by a moderator
6. Posted by RobbyBB (First Time Poster 1 posts) 41w

I agree there most certainly could be drop off fees to places other than the pickup point. Unknown to most, there could be a fee for dropping off early. The company may have limited parking and reassigns scheduled turn ins accordingly. By you turning the vehicle in too soon, the company didn't allow for that and will "fine" you for messing them up.

Make sure all drivers are listed and insured.

I concur that buying a vehicle can be economical, especially if the sale includes a buy-back gaurentee. Either way, make certain insurance covers all drivers. Make sure to have full coverage, not just liability. Lawsuits and the medical care for the injured is rather expensive.

I see where you posted your location, but is that BC or Great Britain?

I can suggest several trip strategies, but need to know how long you wish to visit... Two weeks?... Two months?... Time of year? Do you fly in an out of one airport?... Would you accept flying into Portland or Seattle and out from Salt Lake or Vegas?

Do you hike?... Like to camp out? ... Have you lived out of a car before?

I suggest, if sight seeing with another, allow no more than one... Learn their sleep habits... Their allergies... Eating habits... Their experiences?

How learned are you of the areas you wish to visit? Is history or museums important? OR... are you simply wanting to drive and see what there is along the way? How far you wander off the route makes for doubled or tripled mileage. For example: A 2 week driving and rough camping trip could cover Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, Mt Baker, Seattle, Mt Rainier, Mt Saint Helen and some of the Columbia River Gorge and Portland. (fly into Seattle and out of Portland). You could extend that by two weeks by flying into Salt Lake to include Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier Nat. Park and part of Idaho and hundreds of miles of wheatfields of Washington state.

Feel free to pick my brain.