I'm about to finish my final year at university in England and I'm planning on travelling across america in July via Amtrak. At the moment its me and a friend who will be doing it but i'm not totally sure if he is so i'm starting to plan it for a solo trip. My plan is to fly to New York in mid July, get a one month amtrak pass then travel along the south and then upto LA, continue north to washington then east through montana etc, then chicago and most of the places in the north east region and finally back to New York where i'll meet up with some family. I'll have a budget of around $3,500 i think. I'm just wondering how safe it is, is $3,500 enough for the month considering i'll be sleeping in motels, hotels, B&B's every other night.
Whats the deal with this pass that lets you travel via train through USA & Canada, where can i get it from?
I'm just looking for tips on how to do this trip and the best places too stop of on the route i've wrote above.
Any help would be really appreciated.
And can someone please clear up the car hire situation? e.g. Age, insurance, licence, cost etc.
You'll have a little less than $117 per day to spend. I'd say it be safe to have a little more money just in case. Motels are typically the cheapest form of accomodation you can stay at besides hostels (There are hostels in the US). For a single person you may be able to get a room for about $40 per night. It depends on where you are though. Cheap motels are usually out of the city centers here in the US and without a car traveling to and fro might be a problem. Make sure you choose one near bus/metro lines. You're gonna have a hard time enjoying your trip if you're doing cross country travel in a month. I wouldn't bother going up to Washington on this trip. There's something you're gonna have to cut out realistically. I believe YHA hostels can be found in all of the major cities so I'd suggest you stay in those as they're probably located in/near city centers.
You can find the pass on Amtrack's website. Greyhound (coach service) also has a similar pass you can use throughout US/Canada but with your time restraints that may not be plausible. Cities that are a must are NYC, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, LA, Miami, Las Vegas & New Orleans. I'm sure I'm missing others. While you're in the northeast it may be worth it to check out Philadelphia/Baltimore. They're pretty fun cities I must say. Nashville is a city I love traveling to. It's perfect for exploring American music and there are literally 10 bars with live country music on every block. It's a rather unique experience being there in 'Countryland" haha.
You'll have to be 25 to rent a car here in the USA @ most rental places. If not and you find a place that will hire to under 25's you'll be paying an exorbitant amount of money, though companies like these are usually untrustworthy. I'm not sure if you'll even find such a service nowadays. As a solo traveller, car rental isn't worth it unless you're travelling with a group of people who can split the cost or you're rich . Insurance is usually included in the rental price and it's relatively cheap. This doesn't mean, you can smash up you car though lol. Your license will do just fine and it's required for you to use a credit card, they don't take any other form of payment. Check out car rental companies such as Hertz or Avis. Every major airport in the US has offices where you can rent a car if need be.
NantesFC, thanks for that reply, it was great. Just one more question though. Whats the best thing to do, do a complete itinerary before i leave which will include places i'll be stopping, motels/hostels i'll be staying in, train times etc or is it best to just look up hostels/motels a day before i'm expected to get there then either ring and reserve or just get there and hope for a room. I'd like to do it by just booking or looking at hostels the day before i get there so i can be flexible with which cities and towns i visit.
Is this sort of journey safe by yourself?