Hey. I am currently a 21 year old student with big dreams of returning to the USA and travelling from the West to the East coast.
I studied in Virginia for a year and I fell in love with the East Coast, but I have never gone any further than West Virginia, and I'd love to see more of the country that I love so much.
I have a planned route, which is all mapped out on Google Maps (here; http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid=211143688827595739696.0004bda2d54ffa694fef5&msa=0&ll=40.647304,-91.494141&spn=35.964344,79.013672)
I basically want to fly in to Seattle, drive down through Portland and Eugene, through to California. I want to hit up San Francisco, LA, then San Diego. From there, I'd go across to Phoenix to see friends, then up to Flagstaff (it may sound sad, but I really want to see the meteor crash site there!) then from there do the 30 odd mile trip to the Grand Canyon.
After that, it'd be over to Vegas, then up to Salt Lake City. Then a drive down through the national park to see the Grand Staircase Escalante and through New Mexico to Roswell. Then Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston in Texas, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, then up through Mississippi to Tennessee where I'd see Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.
From there then I'd cut through to Fredericksburg, Virginia. I am not bothered about going to DC or New York as I've been before when I lived in the States, but I have friends in Fredericksburg since it's where I studied, so it is a must do. Then I'd drive down to Charlotte, North Carolina, through the Atlanta, Georgia, and then into Florida, going down the East coastline of Florida including Daytona Beach, right down to Miami, then back up the other side taking in the sites up to Clearwater, then over to Orlando to spend a week relaxing before heading home.
It's far from a usual route, most people just do California to New York or something, but I know what I want to see so I guess that helps.
It's all in all about a 6500 mile trip according to google maps (and I've followed the roads, not as the bird flies), so I know it would be incredibly expensive. I don't have any problems with saving for as many months as it takes to make this trip happen. If I have to wait till September 2015 then so be it, but I will go.
What I am curious about is what is best; renting a car on a long term rental (which I could get from Budget for about £3000 for the 3 months, but I'm not sure if that includes insurance), or buying one cheap in Seattle and ditching it in Orlando (again, I know there are issues here with having a fixed address in the United States in order to register it. Is it possible to register it on a friends address, and what sort of costs am I looking at for the purchase, registration and insurance)?
What are the average fuel costs? I've worked out that if I can get 20 miles to the gallon then at an average of $4 a gallon, I should be able to do this for under £1000? So if I budget £1500 for fuel then I can't go wrong right?
Also, what sort of time should I spend in each place? I can happily sleep in a tent or in a car/van/truck, I'm not the most girly girl there is and I have no issues with roughing it, so what sort of budget is needed for somewhere to stay? And on that note, what sort of areas should I AVOID sleeping in tents/cars for safety reasons?
What time of year would be best to start my travels weather wise, especially since some of the states I'd be hitting can get pretty brutally hot in the summer time?
I know the things I want to see along my route but does anyone have any suggestions for other things to see or do along the way?
Basically, any advice at all would be helpful, and any tweaks to my route (for example if I've bypassed some totally unmissable thing) are appreciated.
PS. Oh, and if I couldn't go to the whole 3 months, what is realistically the shortest amount of time to do this trip without rushing anything? I don't want to have to sacrifice parts of my trip for driving, even though I love to drive. I know it's cheaper to get buses but I've lived in the US, I know how horrible the public transport is and the car would just be much more free and easy, I don't mind saving up for however much it would cost.
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Apr-2012, at 09:29 by becimarie ]