Myself and 2 friends are travelling from New York to LA, here is our route so far:
New York - Philadelphia - Chicago - Memphis - New Orleans - Dallas - Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas - San Fransisco - Los Angeles
We are travelling for 30 days in July, we are unsure whether to hire a car or an RV - advice please!!
Also, is there anywhere we should add onto our route - San Diego?
no doubt about it: a car! its the true American road trip experience: sleeping on the side of the road with the emergency brake handle digging into your back, not being able to stretch your legs, your skin all clammy with midnight moisture. and of course you'll save $$ on gas. You can couch surf that way too!! www.couchsurfing.com
but don't sleep in rest stops. you will be murdered just like Michael Jordan's dad and that punk band that was massacred while they were on tour.
instead, sleep in well-lit grocery store parking lots. and wal-mart.
I would definitely go for the RV... my American roadtrips never involved sleeping uncomfortably in parking lots!
Lol you've gotta love how appealing jeffryb makes the car sound I think it depends on your ability to hack "roughing" it when it comes to sleep. I guess if you can afford it, why not go for the RV! You'll probably be glad for the added comfort and (if you get lotsa jeffryb-like comments) safety
Cheers guys...a little worried about rest stops now!! xx
If you get an RV you'll be limited to where you can stop, most RV parks tend to be out of the cities, plus they're not that easy to park in car parks. We hired a car and took a tent. That way we could stay in any of the campsites the RV's used and we weren't limited, when we were in cities we could stay in hostels and experience it properly without having to drive in and out all the time. Also, RV's cost a fortune compared to cars (which are expensive enough!) and you'd become another of those awful people on the road who can't get thru the tunnels in Yosemite and block all the traffic!
So my vote is for a car! Ha ha!
You should rent a car. The bus can be good as well but may not go to every destination. You'd have to check. It may also be a bit slower by bus. I would say a car is a lot more fun, especially if you don't want to take off to smaller towns that you can discover along the way. For example you could go visit some rural areas or Omish regions. Some places are just easier to get to by car. It's probably best to hire a car from outside of the country before you go to the USA. It may be cheaper as well as easier to arrange. Look into renting a Holiday Car.
Also, that's a lot of ground to cover in only 30 days as you will be traveling well over 4000km's. Remember the USA is big. Expect to drive 5-12 hours or longer per day to reach your destinations.
Tourists that come to Canada seem to be driving RV's. I'm not sure if ppl get good rates abroad but it is really pricy for a Canadian. Maybe it is similar in the USA??? You may have a hard time parking a RV once you get into larger metropolitan areas such as NYC. However, an RV would be practical when visiting the Grand Canyon.
We are on a planned 8 month RV trip to circumnavigate the US, into day 86 (so far Seattle to Maine, then down to Virginia).
There are so many different things that can affect your choice and everybody that's replied so far has valid points. Let me just add some from our experience:
1 - 30 days is NOT enough to do a lot of out of the way stuff, you'll have to really stay focused, drive hard and just do the most important things on your list. It will probably take you at least two weeks just to drive the route you've listed - not much time to stop and sightsee. You might have more fun if you cut down the list a little and spend a little more time enjoying the sights. For example, 30 days might be enough to do New England, the West Coast (or just CA), or just a region.
2 - Most of the RV's you can rent only get about 8 miles per gallon. You should be able to rent a car that gets at least 30 miles per gallon. If you're just going to major cities and driving hard between them, stick with a car and use the money you save on gas to stay in something nice. I'm using my own RV of course (a very old beater), but I've heard it costs about $100/day to rent an RV.
3 - If you prefer out of the way stuff, and don't mind living a little rougher, a car/tent option is also a good option. I wouldn't mess with tents in the big cities, but you can find plenty of good campgrounds in a lot of areas (don't forget local, state, and federal parks).
4 - If you prefer a little more comfort and don't want to be tied down as to where you go, an RV can provide a lot of flexibility. I would have to disagree with one poster in that respect, we've rarely had trouble finding a campground or Walmart. If you're taking freeways, Flying J or other truck stops can also be used. And yes, I have stayed in rest stops, there are always some risks with anything you do, I guess you have to decide which one's you're willing to take and which ones you aren't. The risks are probably slightly higher in big cities, where you're probably better off staying in a nice RV campground anyway (& renting a car to get around town). Expect to pay $30 - $35 a night for campgrounds however. With our RV, we can stop for lunch whereever we are, we also can go places we probably wouldn't otherwise since we don't have to worry about a hotel or campground (we have parked on quiet rural streets a couple of times.).
5. Another option you might want to consider is just to fly? The bus is is a possibility, our public transit is generally not as good as other parts of the world, but if you're prudent and travelling in a group (and like a sense of adventure), bus or train might be a fun way to travel. I wouldn't dress too well or carry anything too expensive. I've taken the bus before and got around just fine. The stations are often in run down sections of town, you can do it but be careful.
Sounds like you've already decided to check out the cities, in case you're still trying to decide I've got some nice shots of Glacier National Park, Badlands (in South Dakota), Niagara Falls and plenty of out of the way spots. on my blog
I forgot to mention weather, you list both northern and southern cities. Spring or fall works. If you're coming in the summer, I'd recommend a more northern route. If winter, skip the north (of course, some folks perfer the cold sports).
[ Edit: link fix. ]