Hi there my name is Shaun Duerden and i currently live in the Uk, I am thinking of taking
a trip around the Usa early next year (2004) - I have some places i would like to visit
such as New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and many others hopefully.
I was wondering if ne1 had been on a trip around the states and if they could give me ne
advice, also if any Americans were planning on driving around the states if they needed
sum1 to join the cost of fuel!
Any information would be gr8ly appreciated
[ Edit: sorry, no email addresses. ]
ive been to tha places that you mentioned and live by san francisco in california. Let me know if you want advice.
I've driven cross-country twice - once i even got paid - took a job as a travelling cook (made about 200/wk and had to drive a u-haul behind a tour bus - check out Rein Teen Tours if you want to take up a job as a travelling cook) It wasn't too bad - I didn't make much but got to see the US in perfect style and didn't spend any money whatsoever - as it was a cross country tour, I got to see all the major sites. I also did it w/ another friend the summer before. Depending on how much time you plan on taking, I totally recommend renting a car (you could probably get one for about 30/day depending on where you rent from - so if you fly in NY, pick up the car in NJ) and they generally have unlimited mileage - so get an int'l drivers license and go. I did a round the country trip in a month and a half but that wasn't enough time - we did the majority of it in tents/sleeping in the car, but we were able to have a sufficiently good time for $3K US each - which is more than what you really need if you do it truly budget style. I'm in DC, by the way.
I think you're gonna have to buy a car when you get here. Even if its only for a month. You should be able to get a decent junker for about a 1,000$ (then sell it when youre done to get some of that back) About registering the car, etc... check the department of motor vehicles for different states to see what would be the easiest/cheapest for you. I live in NYS, for you to buy a car, get it registered, insurance, etc... i think that would be pretty difficult considering the expense/time. If my memory serves me right, i think the only state where you DONT need car insurance (without it you cant register) is Kentucky. If not Kentucky, one of its bordering states...do a search.
Without a car... hmm... goodluck :-p Hardly any hostels in the US (well, except the big cities which you'd be going to) so finding other people to travel with might be hard. USA is all about sprawl...it's hard to get from your house to the store without a car, let alone another city.
Trains/busses are too expensive...and take too long. probably 4 days on a bus from NY to LA.
Not knowing your $ situation, my advice would be to buy a car and go exploring. Be sure not to miss Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, or Toronto, ON. Great cities!!
Good luck. If youre around Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY and need a place to crash... i could probably help you out.
:james (Europe March -June 04)
If you mainly want to visit the cities, you might check the major US airlines to see if you can buy an open-ended ticket for a month or so. Waterboy is right about sprawl ... the country is huge and the drive from cities like New York to Chicago is long and often boring. Plus, if you drive you will be faced with the challenge of big-city traffic AND getting used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road!
I organized a bus tour up the East Coast to promote a client a couple years ago. There were stops for appearances and various activities and we stayed in hotels, but as far as timing/schedule, we planned it over 12 days. We left New Orleans, long drive to Atlanta, not so long to Charlotte, North Carolina, long drive to Washington DC, short hop to Philadelphia, short hop to NYC then on to Boston.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
I visited the US this past summer for four months travelling cross country. The whole experience was fantastic and totally recomended.
I started out renting a car for the first two weeks which gives you the freedom to go where you want and stop when you want, it also gives you the option of staying at cheaper motels etc on the outskirts of cities instead of paying for downtown accomodation. Gas is also very cheap compared with the UK, I think we (me and two friends) filled our Dodge Neon up for about $20 which against the strong pound is really cheap.
one thing to consider when renting a car is you'll have to pay an additional daily fee if you are under the age of 25, which is usually about $25 per day, when you add this on to the cost the price can be pretty steep. The rest of the trip we opted for a greyhound bus pass. You can gat a 40 day pass for about $400 with a student card. Bus terminals are found in every city you could want to visit and you can get overnight journeys which save on accomodation. Be warned though, journey times can be very long, but in my opinion make the trip more memorable when you think about all the jouneys you took at the end.
If there is any more help I can give just give me a shout.
Did you look into any kind of campervan / motorhome rental while you were there?? A thought occurred to me that this would be a nice way to travel for a couple of weeks and may save on accommodation expenses.
Also, has anyone driven from Phoenix to San Francisco?? How long would this take to catch sites along the way?
Here's my take on road trips. As much as possible, try to avoid getting a used car for driving cross country. Even if you are an expert at cars, you can never tell when it will break down (you can guess who that happened to!!). There's nothing more disheartening on a trip than to get stranded on an Interstate highway with nothing in sight at well below freezing temperatures. If you rent, the rental agency takes that burden and they will replace the car if something happens.
That said, you also need to consider something called 'Loss Damage Waiver' - which is a kind of insurance you are required to have before you hit the streets. Every driver on US roads is liable to pay damages to the other party in case that person is responsible for an accident. LDW can cost around $10 per day on top of the base rental price. Very often, your credit card company will cover the LDW or you may be able to use a corporate association, i.e., figure out whether you work for a company which has a tie up with one of the rental agencies. You can call the rental agency directly to check that too.
About RV rentals, I've never done it but I can surely tell you that they are pretty expensive. If you don't have enough people, it doesn't make sense. You will also need to plan ahead on how you will move around a city since it will be almost impossible to find suitable parking for that big a vehicle. Of course, you will travel in great comfort and countrysides will be a charm since there are a million RV Parks spread all over - you will find signs on the highway telling you exactly where they are located.
Another tip for buying fuel. The closer you are to a big city, the cheaper the gas price will be locally. If you buy fuel far out on a highway or in the middle of a big city though, expect to pay higher prices. Big city suburbs are typically the best bet.
A considerable expense when doing a road trip could be food. Dining at restaurants can quickly become very expensive. I would suggest stopping frequently at national chain grocery stores - names you should remember are Krogers, Cub Foods, Safeway, Walmart Supercenter, etc. You can easily buy a week worth of sandwich supplies for around $10-$15 per person. Milk and cereal would also be pretty cheap.
I think I should stop now. This post started off as a couple of hints and has already grown pretty big. If anyone has specific questions, I'll be very willing to answer.