Skip Navigation

Road trip USA in 3 months: too ambitious?

Travel Forums North America Road trip USA in 3 months: too ambitious?

1. Posted by brighteye (Budding Member, 7 posts) 4 Mar '10 06:13

brighteye has indicated that this thread is about USA

My boyfriend and I am planning a road trip through the U.S. this summer. Start and ending point is in Los Angeles. we want to buy a car and travel through the whole country, say roughly from LA to Miami, up to NY and then back to Seattle and back down to LA. I suppose we need one week to buy a car and one week to sell it so there would be 10 weeks left to travel. I heard that Las Vegas is a good place to buy cars so maybe we go there to look for one. we want to visit the cities as well as some National parks.
Are we going to spend our whole vacation in the car? Would it be better to do the east and west coast separately with a rented car and fly say for ex. from LA to Florida?
I fear that we underestimate the distances and travel time needed for the USA so I hope you guys can give some advice.

2. Posted by Jude1019 (Budding Member, 11 posts) 4 Mar '10 06:26

Buying a car in the United States is not that easy. You have to register and insure it while it is here and you need a permanent U.S. address to do that. However if you can manage to work that out then driving through the United States is alot of fun. I have done it twice. Ten weeks is plenty of time to see alot of the country but not all of it (I don't think ten years would do that) What I would suggest is picking a few major sights and just getting in the car and going. California to New York takes about two days if you drive straight through but there are plenty of cities to spend the night in along the way. Take the southern route from La to New York and the Northern route from New York back to LA

If you cant work out the car situation we have Amtrak here. Its not as good as Eurail but takes you to most of the major cities

3. Posted by bazzlevi (Budding Member, 16 posts) 4 Mar '10 10:47

A nice way to estimate driving time is to use Google Maps. For example, to get the distance and driving time for driving from LA to Boston, you would type "from:los angeles, ca to:boston, ma". It will show you the fastest route (though you can change it to show the shortest route, which isn't necessarily the same as the fastest!) and give you an estimated driving time which factors in road conditions and breaks. Once you have the basic route, you can add stops along the way and get the driving time between each stop. Have some fun plotting out different itineraries.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1940 posts) 4 Mar '10 10:52

I think long-term car rental is what you really want. As the other poster said, buying and selling a car in this country is not an easy process for a non-resident. Short-term insurance is required and would cost several hundred dollars. Chances are it would take you much longer than a week to resell that car and you would lose quite a bit of cash. Several of the larger rent-a-car companies offer "long term rentals" now. Check out Budget, Enterprise, Dollar and Thrifty - 4 nationwide agencies, or just search for "car rental long term".

Whatever you do, I strongly suggest you rent or buy that car outside of Southern California. Anyone not used to driving there would soon be in BIG trouble!

5. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member, 414 posts) 5 Mar '10 02:09

I agree with the long term no mileage charge rental or short term leasing( if you can find one,or afford one) as the car will be in good shape and you dont have to go through the trouble of buying or selling it which can be a hassle,i think the cheapest option would be to bus it to the big cities where a car isnt necessary then rent cars at various points along the way to explore local points of interest.Expect to accumulate around 15,000 miles on this journey so avoid any rental agreement that includes mileage charges..

A Europe/USA comparison map for you ,just move the red dot =
http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm

6. Posted by brighteye (Budding Member, 7 posts) 6 Mar '10 07:43

These are all great answers thank you. I will look for a long term car rental. As you said, in the end we will have a lot less hassle (buying a car, doing all the paperwork, and selling it under time pressure at the end) even if we pay a little bit more for renting a car.
The bus/car combination would surely be the cheapest, but it was always a dream of mine to do a U.S. road trip by car.
I know that Europeans tend to underestimate the distances in the United States, so I will definitely check out this comparison map!

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Mar-2010, at 07:44 by brighteye ]

7. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member, 414 posts) 6 Mar '10 09:29

I'm curious as to what your budget is for renting a car for 3 months and also which car company you will be using for the venture as this sounds extremely expensive..

8. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member, 414 posts) 7 Mar '10 10:25

You may want to research some of the discount online sites to get cheaper rates on all things related to travel..one of my favorites is = http://www.priceline.com/

9. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3528 posts) 7 Mar '10 13:09

Liza,
You have plenty of time to get costs on renting a car/van for 3 months. I usually advise TP members to buy if they are here for more than 6 weeks. Your 3 month adventure makes this an easy decision IMO. Buy a van. Sleep in it when between cities or in our National Parks. The savings from not paying motel bills every night can add up quickly. If you sleep in your van 1 night out of every 3, you will save at least $1,500. Motels are at least $50/nite all across the US. Some places will be less, but in many cities you will not find a room at $50, esp. in the peak summer months.

I have helped 4 groups of TP members buy a van/car here in Vegas. I found them a suitable vehicle in 1-2 days. It takes 1 day to buy, insure, register a vehicle here and you are on your way. If you have any questions, send me a PM.

Also on Travellerspoint

Why travellers need good insurance

worldnomads promo code - SAVE7