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America - East to West Coast

Travel Forums North America America - East to West Coast

1. Posted by woolm110 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hey Everyone,

Me and a friend are planning on traveling America next year for three months between September and December. We want to start on the east coast in New York and end up in the west coast in Las Vegas. What i'm looking for is some advice really.. neither of us has done any kinda of traveling like this before and we wanted some advice.

Firstly, how is the best way to get around? we were thinking about buying a cheap car, doing our travelling and then selling it at the end. Would people recommend this or would you suggest some sort of car rental?

The other thing is we're really not sure just how much we need to budget.. we'll be flying from London to New York and then from Las Vegas back to London at the end. Here's a list of places we want to stop at on the trip.

1. fly to New York
2. Washington
3. Atlanta
4. New Orleans
5. Dallas/Austin
6. Sante Fe
7. Phoenix
8. L.A
9. San Francisco
10. Vegas

We're happy staying anywhere really as it's the experience we want, how much can we expect from a cheap hostel per night? Average spend on food and drink and a rough idea of fuel perhaps?

I know I'm asking a lot but I really have no clue, sorry!

There was something else I wanted to ask but I really can't remember just now.. I'll edit this post if it comes back to me!

EDIT: I remember the final thing now.. aside from all the usual stuff in New York, does anyone have any places the recommend visiting on the other stops?

Thanks in advance :)

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Sep-2011, at 03:04 by woolm110 ]

2. Posted by vickim (Full Member 125 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Getting around the US is not the easiest thing to do if you don't have your own transportation. If you already had a car then that would be a cheaper option but if you buy a car you will need to get it insured and I think you would have a tough time with that if you don't have permanent residency. You absolutely cannot drive with an uninsured car in North America, especially in the U.S. If you had an accident you could get sued for millions. Car rentals might work but the costs add up. You have to add insurance to that and gas is not cheap. Since most of the spots you want to see are major cities you will probably be able to catch buses. I would just google for bus companies by state. Once you are in a city you might want to rent a car for a day so you can see the spots outside that particular city, but long term rentals are going to be costly. As far as the cities that you have listed I think you got most of the hot spots. I am not sure if you are planning on seeing anything particular in these places or just picking some of the bigger places. A few places I don't see on your list are Miami, Boston and Philadelphia. Miami is an AWESOME city. I know it is quite a ways south but you might want to consider going there between Atlanta and New Orleans. You can see Boston as a side trip from New York and Philadelphia is enroute from NY to Washington DC. I am not sure about Atlanta, Dallas and Santa Fe. There might be something in particular you want to see in those places but I think some of the other places you chose offer more. Especially, if you chose not to drive and to take discount airlines. If you flew from one of the Northeastern cities (DC, NY, Boston, Phillie) down to Miami and then flew over to New Orleans I don't think you would really miss too much by by-passing Atlanta. You would for sure have more to see in Miami, the Everglades and the Florida Keys. Santa Fe and Phoenix are both desert cities, as well as the environs outside of Las Vegas. Dallas is also a big sports city but you might find it a bit urban to just hang out there, but Austin and San Antonio might be worth your while.

3. Posted by vickim (Full Member 125 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

You can get hostels in most of these places but look at discount hotels as well. Chains like Super8, Motel6, Days Inn, Venture Inn etc are all very cheap. Not the best standards but they are okay. I would budget $30-40/day each (base on two people) and food will vary. You can go into a Walmart and buy tons of cheap food for snacking and breakfast. The average meal costs if you dine out are:
Breakfast - $5-10
Lunch - $5-15
Dinner - $8-20
Not including alcohol

4. Posted by Kali_ (Budding Member 17 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hey there:)

My friend Kat and I are planning on doing a very similar trip, however unlike you we are going from west coast to east coast.

So in regards to getting around, you can’t go past the greyhound bus. We’ve had a look into it and asked around and have gotten some real good stuff back. The benefits of this is, you don’t have to do the driving yourself, you don’t have to pay for fuel, it gives you a good opportunity to have a sleep between places so you’re not wasting time in the actual city and the buses come equipped with Wi-Fi so you can use your time on the bus to get online and catch up with the ppl back home and of course update your travellerspoint blog :P

Budgetwise for our trip, we’re looking at about $12 grand. That’s including flights and everything, and in total our trip is almost 7 weeks. We’re also planning on having a backup of about $3000 in case of emergency(or an overindulgence). But depending on how long your trip is you could definitely do it for less I think. And if you’re looking at going September – December next year, like us, you have got plenty of time to save. Our budget might change as we get closer to the date as at this early point it’s hard to get exact pricing of flights and accom, but $12 is a fairly good estimate we think.

This is our basic itinerary:
14 June Departure flight from Australia to LA- greyhound bus to San Francisco – greyhound bus to Las Vegas – greyhound bus to Santa Fe, New Mexico – greyhound bus to Dallas, Texas – greyhound bus to New Orleans – greyhound bus to Miami – flight to Cancun, Mexico – flight to Washington DC – greyhound to Toronto, Canada – greyhound to Boston – greyhound to New York – departure flight to Australia 1 August.

We’re the same too with accommodation – we don’t really care where we’re staying, as long as it’s nice, fairly clean and cheap. The only places we care about where we’re staying is in Vegas and mexico – in regards to Vegas, I was honestly surprised at how cheap some of the hotels are, so you can easily afford to stay someone a little bit crazy and fancy. Circus Circus is fairly cheap, but from what I’ve heard and seen online it looks amazing. We’re in Vegas for 3 nights and we’re looking to stay in a different hotel each night, so we can experience as much as we can in the time we’re there.

As for average spend on food and drink and all that, I have no idea :P

I really hope that helps!


5. Posted by sofiasvard (Budding Member 9 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I really have no advice on how to get around since my only experience on travelling in the US is with Sun Trek, a company that sells trips.
I travelled with them from Los Angeles to New York last summer and that trip is viewable on my profile if you would wish to see where we went.

Because of this trip, I have some thing I would like to recomend for you to do. I have no real knowledge about the cost of any of this but if you would like to, I'd imagine that it's easy to check up on.
1. We went riverrafting in Wytheville, Virginia. Very OK. Wytheville is probably not the best place to do this but it is where we experienced it. '
2. Carlsbad, New Mexico, is a small town with some amazing caves full of bats and a drive-in cinema. Also very OK.
3. Monumet Valley, Arizona, is a very beautiful place.

I have two more things I'd like to write about. First is a hostel in New Orleans. A mintgreen house with wires hanging infront of it.
In Houston there is a restaurant with some amazing guacamole. Well worth a visit.


6. Posted by woolm110 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Cheers for all your help guys, been very useful hearing what you all have to say and it's definitely made me rethink our trip. Now off to try and plan it in more detail, i'll let you know how we get one

Thanks again! :D

7. Posted by jando (First Time Poster 1 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

@ Kali

The 3 hotel thing in vegas isnt really a good idea.

Check out might be 10am and check in is 3pm with long lines. Dont do it...

I was there for 3 nights and honestly, you are hardly ever in your room. only to sleep. it doesnt matter where you stay!

Me and 2 of my mates have a similar idea for next year.

March we fly Aus - Miami for spring break. Then working our way up to New york. Then across from East to West until we reach California. We have 3 months there. We just havent decided how to get around yet. Can you buy a car and have travel insurance cover you for it? or not...

8. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 873 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Quoting jando

Can you buy a car and have travel insurance cover you for it? or not...

Absolutely not. Totally different policy's and have nothing to do with each other.