Maybe you can help me with planning a trip to the USA in July-August this summer for 3-4 weeks. So far my idea is to:
- Fly to the states from anywhere in western Europe (I'm looking for cheap plane tickets).
- Stop for 3-6 days somewhere on the east coast that's not New York. To get used to speaking English again and to get rid of the jet lag. It would be nice to stay somewhere off the beaten path for most tourists.
- Fly to San Francisco and stay there for a week, travel around and visit friends. Maybe to rent a car for a few days.
- Somehow get to (hitchhiking?) LA, stay there for a week with friends. (I can probably borrow a car from there, or also rent..)
- An extra week to go somewhere else, whatever. Or 2 more weeks in Mexico.
- Fly back to Europe from LA, Las Vegas, or thereabouts ... cheaper plane ticket is better.
- I really want to visit San Francisco and LA, otherwise I'm completely open to suggestions regarding places to visit and things to see. Especially where to stop on the east coast (it doesn't even have to be literally on the coast, but in general..)
- I'm turning 21 in a month and I'll get my drivers licence in 3 months. How costly it would be to rent a car in California for someone like me?
- How much money would I need for 3 weeks in the US to survive on, given that I would have to sleep in a hotel/motel/hostel for 15 nights out of ~22 days, I'd like to eat out once-twice a day and make my own meals for the rest of the time, + going out and drinking a bit? Not counting renting the car.
I'm sure I forgot some questions but it's enough to get started.
Happy new (travelling)year!
You do have many options. Perhaps you can fly into Boston and stay in Ogunquit, Me (we liked the Meadowmere Resort) or Stowe, Vt (we liked the Golden Eagle Resort) for a few days. Then fly to California. I'd start in LA and then drive to SF. From there you can drive up the coast and go to Redwood National Park, southern Oregon, Portland, Or, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Rainier National Park, and drive east to Glacier National Park, and south to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park.
If you're planning to fly to the east coast from western europe than your cheapest bet is going to be either Boston or NY (flying into Maine, as the previous poster suggested, could prove pricey, particularly in the summer.) If you'd like to spend some time away from the actual "city" to sharpen your english a bit you could always stay in one of Boston's "boroughs" for a couple days. Cambridge is less expensive than Boston and much more pleasant, overall. Also, depending on what you're into, you could have a mixture of relaxation and a really great music and art scene there. Plus, there would be no need for a car as Boston's public transport is highly efficient (by American standards. It's a disgrace in comparison to those in Europe.)
If you decide to fly into Boston you could also take a bus to NYC just because you really shouldn't miss it. The Fung Wah bus goes from Chinatown in Boston to Chinatown in NYC for about $15 (though I'd advise taking one of the other cheap buses to NYC as the Fung Wah can be sketchy.) You can try getting a deal on Peter Pan buses or a greyhound ticket. Plus, there's always the train, which is much more comfy.
From there you could easily fly to SF. I believe, since you're under 25, you'll have to pay an extra insurance on a rental car, should you choose to rent one and drive south to L.A. My old roommate was Dutch and I believe she had to show an international drivers license and pay extra (due to her young age) to rent a car here.
Or, if you didn't want to rent a car in CA, you could take a bus (it would be an experience, for sure) or train. As I'm not as familiar with CA I don't know how easily this is done, though I'm assuming it wouldn't give you a problem, and would certainly be cheaper.
Since the places you want to see are SF, LA and somewhere on the east coast, your price tag for the trip will not be small. That being said, you can do it on a budget, like you can anywhere. In Boston or NYC you could stay in a hostel for maybe 20 dollars a night (I don't know how much privacy/comfort you're looking for) or a B&B or small motel for maybe 100 a night. Food in both cities can be expensive, as is going out (cheap meals can be found for $8 around town and expect to spend $3-5 for a beer.) A rough estimate per day, including accommodation (hotel or motel, not a hostel), eating, going out a bit and sightseeing would be $150 a day. That would be a fairly cheap estimate, too.
I would guess it would be roughly the same in CA, except of course when you're staying with friends.
Hope this helps. If you want really cheap suggestions for things to do in Boston/Cambridge, let me know.
Check out travelitineraries.com website. It's new but is supposed to have free listing of attractions for road trips all across US. I've only used it for the midwest, but maybe by time of your trip more stuff will be there.