Hi guys, I'm Rav from the UK. I am looking to travel to the USA end of Aug this year and I want to start in New York and finish in San Francisco. I have so many questions and with the date getting closer, I'm getting more worried! I have never travelled by myself before. I've been to India a few times with family but never done anything like this. And it has been my dream for the last 7 years or so to travel across America. I was meant to do this 3 years ago but was let down by my friend and so I held back. The same happened to me this year where my friend pulled out but this time I do not want to hold back and miss out just because other people have let me down. I really want to do this by myself otherwise I will regret it.
I'm really looking for a bit of advise about where to go and what route to take across this huge country. As said, I want to start in New York and finish in San Francisco. My plan is to travel for about 8-10 weeks (8 weeks being a bit more realistic) and with a budget of about £5,000.
The things that I wanna see and do...where do I start? I wanna do a lot of sightseeing, learn about history, museums, wildlife, national parks, space, shops, list goes on and on. I'd be up for most things to be honest.
I also want to do a road trip but I don't know how this would fair in my budget? I don't want to get a car straight away as I see no need for a car in New York but was thinking of maybe getting a car half way into the journey heading west. Would like to do some of Route 66 and also the Pacific Highway and any other fascinating roads you recommend?
Accommodation - Cheap as possible really but would like my own room and facilities. Where in New York would you recommend I can stay? From the prices I have seen, it's not cheap. Not even the B&Bs! I was thinking of staying in New York for 10 nights?
Questions I have:
Can this all be done with £5,000 for 8-10 weeks?
Which is the best route to take?
Where can I stay where it is cheap to put my head down for the night? As said, would like my own room and don't want to be sharing so I think Hostels are probably out of the question. And must be safe.
What things to do and see?
Car hire - How to go about booking it and prices? It will be one way as well as I'll be heading West.
Luggage - One suitcase and one hand luggage sufficient?
What essentials to take with me?
I'm sure I'll have many more questions to ask but right now my mind has gone blank.
Would really appreciate your advise.
Here are somethings I recommend packing: camera, copy of your visa/passports/identification, August will be hot in many parts of the US but make sure to be prepared and still bring a pair of pants and jacket, maps/guides.
Will the 5000 euros include your airplane ticket to and from the US?
If you are driving across the country I recommend taking I-80. The drive will be pretty long, it will take about 47-50 hours altogether but if you are here 8-10 weeks you will have time to stop. When taking I-80 you can stop at places in Pennsylvania, Cleveland Ohio, Chicago, (I have driven through Nebraska and Iowa many times but don't usually stop and visit there), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and then California where you can stop in Tahoe and Sacramento as well.
Another idea is that you could visit the Eastern US (New York, Massachusetts, Washington DC or wherever else you would like to go) and then fly into the West (Colorado, Las Vegas, or Utah - depending where you want to go or see) and then spend the other half of the trip visiting the west. Again it depends what states/places you want to see.
As for staying in hotels, New York and some of the Eastern states will be more expensive. There is a DoubleTree (by Hilton) that is around $119 in New York, but I usually will stay in a Best Western hotel somewhere.
Good luck and be safe
You've had 7 years to plan this out and these are still the questions you are asking!?
The thing about travel is it broadens your horizons (or it's supposed to if you are open to letting it). You are going to have to think and act a little out of your comfort zone if you want to have the best experiences. Don't already be thinking a shared backpacker room is out for you. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.
- Meet fellow travelers and make new friends.
- Cheap accommodation.
- Often meet people or find notice boards with opportunities to share travel expenses in a car.
- Do a few hours work in exchange for free accommodation.
I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons, but I don't have the time to make this too detailed at the moment.
As for the route question. It's your trip mate, go do some research into the things you want to see and make your route accordingly. You'll need to make your own decisions based on your budget and time. There are lots of ways to travel east coast to west and non of them need to be in a straight line.
NYC for 10 nights will break the bank if you stay in a hotel, and the hostels are pretty miserable too. Last fall I used the Airbnb website to find a shared apartment in Brooklyn (about 15 minutes by subway from Manhattan). It was very comfortable and very affordable.
This looks like a very hot/dry summer for the States - I suggest you avoid the southern states and Texas.
Thanks for the advise chaps.
The £5,000 will possibly include my plane tickets but I'm trying to sort something out so I can maybe not include it in this figure.
I'm willing to go out my comfort zone and try things and do something different. I am a bit of a loner but would like to change this and meeting new people sounds good.
I've thought a bit more about it and got mor of a picture now about where I want to visit.
For accommodation, I have learned of a website, Priceline. Anyone familiar with this? It's where you can bid for hotel rooms up for auction and have heard there are some bargains to be had so I will be looking at this closely.
Car hire - does it have to be paid on a credit card? I'm having troubles getting my credit card limit increased so my concern is my current credit card limit will not be adequate to pay the fee.
I'm not backpacking as such but will have one hand luggage with me and a medium size suitcase. During the day if I'm travelling, is there anywhere safe I can leave my belongings? Especially if I'm travelling between towns rather then big cities.
Much appreciated. Ravinder.
If you are worried about car hire rates, then use the car to just get from large city to large city--and then use local transportation in these large cities--or else use the car hire option for only a day or two within the large city--and find a place where you want to spend some time and ditch the car. Then rehire the car when you are ready to move on.
For example, get a car to get from NY to Chicago, then use the local metro/buses for about a week to look around, then get the car to go to Las Vegas--then spend a week or so, then get a bus to Los Angeles, spend 4 days there or in San Diego, then go on to San Francisco. Ditch the car and spend a week looking around using local metro/buses, then onto Seattle, and same thing.
I wouldn't spend a lot of time in the midwest except when travelling through Colorado, Utah and Arizona. The places to spend the most time are in NY, Washington DC, national parks in Utah/Arizona, Las Vegas (but only 3 days or so), San Diego, San Francisco, Oregon (Portland and/or Bend) and Seattle. Those are the highlights--at least in the summer. Nashville, San Antonio Miami and Boston are great too (Chicago somewhat so) but not so much in the summer--when your time is better spent in the places I mentioned.
Enjoy your trip.
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Jul-2012, at 21:03 by Calcruzer ]
Thanks for your advise Calcruzer. I have made a note of some of those places that you have recommended.
Is bus and train a good way of getting from place to place? Is the transport between major cities quite frequent? Ie. NYC to Chicago, Chicago to Detroit etc. And are prices reasonable? I think the car hire I will do for the 2nd half of the journey when I start to head west. I would like to do a lot of the Eastern side and up to Chicago, Detroit etc and then maybe head south from there and then across West. Thanks.
Rates can be fairly cheap in the East since the distances are not as far.
Buses to use are Megabus, Greyhound or Trailways. Cheapest is Megabus, although the service is sometimes good, sometimes not so much:
Also, it is possible to get an Amtrak pass for just a short period--or else for just a regional area. The discounts come and go, though, so I don't know what's available now--and will be available later.
Best of luck with your trip.
[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jul-2012, at 10:01 by Calcruzer ]