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3 Months Travelling Across America - British Citizens

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1. Posted by aaronsamc (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y

Hi Travellerspoint!

As the title suggests, me and a friend are coming to America for 3 months and are getting a bit stuck for what to do for travel, so any advice would be really appreciated.

Ideally, we'd prefer to travel by car as obviously this allows a lot more freedom of what to do, but we're getting stuck with all the legal stuff. We're two 22 year old guys from England, and have been looking at all the options but it's all very confusing!

We're trying to make the travel as cheap as possible, so were wondering if anyone knew what the best option would be for us;
- Buy a car
- Rent a car
- Train
- Bus

We've looked at renting, but this is getting quite pricey, as we want a car for 3 months, and we're flying into New York, and flying back out at San Francisco. Buying seems like it could be cheaper, but unsure how feasible it is because of the need for a permanent address/insurance etc.

As for buses, we've found this Greyhound bus pass thing which is something like $550 for unlimited travel for 60 days, which is pretty cheap but the idea of the buses isn't appealing too much - what are they actually like? I've heard some horror stories!

The trains again, I've tried to have a look but am unsure at ticket prices?

Our trip is going to be roughly the following:

Fly into NYC in mid May (15th ish I think)
Work our way down the East Coast to Florida, then across the south to see for example New Orleans,
Then across to Texas, California, ideally go to Vegas and the Grand Canyon somewhere around here
Then we fly from San Francisco in mid August.

We were also thinking of heading into Mexico whilst in California, to go to Tijuana etc. Is there anything we need to do, paperwork etc, or can you just turn up at the border and go?

I think that's pretty much everything I can think of.. If there is anything more info I've left out, feel free to ask! Any help would be really appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Aaron

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 4y

If you want to do it RIGHT, you need a car in the USA. We simply do not have the public transportation that you're used to in the UK. Here, the average American either drives or flies to their destination. The problem with your itinerary is that New York (especially NYC) is a terribly expensive place to either rent or buy a car. Mike in LV helps foreigners buy cars - you might consider starting that trip in Vegas?

Going to Tijuana - just be sure to wear your bullet-proof vests and head gear! (very easy, all you need is your passport, and maybe a body bag)

Young adults on a limited budget would be wise to investigate the Green Tortoise bus tours

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Feb-2012, at 11:00 by Daawgon ]

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 4y

Aaron,
If you price a rental car for 3 months at your age you will quickly dismiss this option. Most companies add a surcharge for those under 25. I feel if visitors are in the US for more than 2 months, it makes sense to buy a $3-4K vehicle and sell it when you leave. I usually recommend buying a van as you can sleep in it while on the road. Each night you sleep in the van will save you around $50-60. Spend 30 nights in the van and you save at least $1,500. That can really help if you are on a budget. Vans really come in handy when you are visiting our national parks. Accommodation in the parks can be very pricey. It is very rare to find a room under $150/nite in our large parks. You have to drive out of the park to find something under $150. Camping is usually $20/nite and having a van makes this feasible. Something to consider.

I have helped 12 TP members buy vehicles here in Vegas. It is easy here for foreigners buy and license vehicles. You will have to get out of New York to buy. New Jersey will let you buy a vehicle with your UK driving license, NY will not. Good luck with your planning and send me a PM if you have questions.

4. Posted by aaronsamc (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y

Thank you so much guys for the speedy responses, I really appreciate it!

Buying vehicles in Vegas, we didn't know about this but unfortunately our flights are already booked. We have a friend in NYC so can stay with her whilst we're there, and we did pretty much expect to have to get out of the city before we started contemplating cars, so would do the first journey by.. bus or train or something,.. just to get to somewhere a bit more car friendly

Mike you say for example New Jersey would sell us a car? But presumably we still would need to sort out all the insurance and whathaveyou? You seem to know a bit about this, do you know how people get around the needing an address thing? I've seen on other forums some people have put their hotel address or something but that sounds quite dodgy to me... A van definitely sounds like a good idea though, we're not too fussy about sleeping arrangements and are basically looking to do this as cheaply as possible

..and thank you Daawgon for making Tijuana sound so lovely haha

Once again thanks for all the help

5. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

I wouldn't get a van, I'd look at station wagons. More comfortable, better on gas, easier resale. Depending how good a friend you have in NY you could always get her to buy the car in her name, then have you as a named driver on the insurance. Just be aware if things go wrong, she might not be a friend when you leave!

6. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 4y

Aaron,
You will need an address for registration & insurance. A hostel in New jersey would work, or rent a mailbox where the address looks like an apt. number. We have them here, NJ must as well. Once you are in NYC, hop over to NJ and chat with some car dealers. They may let you use their address if you buy from them. You do have to trust them to mail you the title so you can sell the vehicle when your holiday is over.

Look on craigslist for used vehicles. You will quickly see that there are heaps of minivans like Ford Windstar, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chevy Astro, not many station wagons around anymore.

Good luck with your planning.

7. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

Quoting vegasmike6

not many station wagons around anymore.

LOL Mike, you are living in the 70's still mate. I'm not talking about station wagons like National Lampoons Vacation kind wagons, but ones like this Ford Wagon that are everywhere on Craigslist.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Feb-2012, at 17:15 by Dodger ]

8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 4y

I wouldn't trust anyone on Craigslist (better known as scammer heaven)! I used to live in New Jersey, and remember it well for having extremely high registration fees. Remember that you must have that registration in the car at all times - that also means waiting around for the mail to arrive. NJ is also one of the states that is very picky about emission testing - you will not be able to register that car or van until you pass this test (it is also not exactly free). If you fail to pass the test, you will be paying the maintenance bills to correct the problem and then will have to retest. Wherever you buy a car, you would be wise to first check the registration requirements of that state (we have 50 of them, and no two are the same). I didn't even mention insurance! NJ registration rules for transferring title here.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Feb-2012, at 20:52 by Daawgon ]

9. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

Quoting Daawgon

I wouldn't trust anyone on Craigslist (better known as scammer heaven)! I used to live in New Jersey, and remember it well for having extremely high registration fees. Remember that you must have that registration in the car at all times - that also means waiting around for the mail to arrive. NJ is also one of the states that is very picky about emission testing - you will not be able to register that car or van until you pass this test (it is also not exactly free). If you fail to pass the test, you will be paying the maintenance bills to correct the problem and then will have to retest. Wherever you buy a car, you would be wise to first check the registration requirements of that state (we have 50 of them, and no two are the same). I didn't even mention insurance! NJ registration rules for transferring title here.

As always the eternal pessimist!

I've sold vehicles on Craigslist and bought them too. Certainly I wouldn't recommend buying a used vehicle if you know nothing about mechanics, but that goes for any used vehicle bought through any means, including a dealer that offers a so called "warranty."

They also aren't tied to having to register the vehicle in the state they buy it in. Most states have at least a 15 day period in which you have to register. So you can buy it in NJ and drive to Maine to register it. In some states you can also get a temporary tag which you can drive on for up to 30 days. You do have to have insurance though, but you don't need registration to get insurance.

10. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 4y

Quoting Dodger

Quoting vegasmike6

not many station wagons around anymore.

LOL Mike, you are living in the 70's still mate. I'm not talking about station wagons like National Lampoons Vacation kind wagons, but ones like this Ford Wagon that are everywhere on Craigslist.

It is decent looking car, but which one would you like to sleep in? The Taurus or a minivan? I will vote for something like this Dodge over the Taurus.