Me and my boyfriend are going to do a 3 month road trip around N.America like many of you on here. We've looked through some topics and have seen some decent places we should visit but are very much in the mindset of "don't plan, just see what we want to do when we are there".
We are looking to fly from Manchester, UK to Florida, maybe like Miami or Fort Lauderdale, stay in a hotel for a couple of nights, get a car then drive around Florida, down the south border to Texas around to California, up to north north / central eventually ending up in New York for 5 nights at the end of the 3 months.
We will be leaving the beginning of October time.
We have read some topics about car options as this is what we want to do. I'm 24 and have a clean license for 7 years and my boyfriend is 25 with a clean license for 8 years. We heard renting would be expensive, we are looking for like an Eco SUV so we have comfort at least but aren't too sure whether we should maybe just buy a car for $1500-$4000 if the rental price would be massive. The only problem is if we bought a car and it broke down in the desert we'd worry, and is it not safer to spend that extra £££ to have the security of if you rental breaks down they at least replace / fix it. We would want to hire in Florida and drop off in or outside NYC. Is it expensive to insure? Has anyone ever done this and has estimates for prices?? How about fuel? We estimated around £1000 for fuel but are we anywhere near how much it would actually cost.
We are going to couch surf / stay in hostels and eat as little as possible but want to see as much as we can. We have extended family in Texas so would stay with them.
We aimed for a budget of around max £5-10k including flights to and from UK, car, fuel, but would do our best to spend as little as possible. We are happy to spend extra £££ though for trips like a helicopter ride around the Gran Canyon etc.
Is it generally safe to road trip America? Are there certain places that are a big no no to go? I heard Detroit was rough but that could just be a stigma, we are not entirely sure. Also, we are both gay but not in your face, but are there any anti-gay states we should be aware of? We don't prance around and aren't really affectionate in public, but forewarned is always the best option I believe :-))
Thanks for future replies and if anyone is doing the same around the same time let me know!
Well, being gay is not as big a problem in traveling across the US as it used to be, but I still wouldn't advertise your choice of lifestyle in certain parts of the country. For example, in Mississippi and rural Alabama, the western part of Virginia and in the far western parts of Texas, I'd kind of keep this to myself.
Also, there are some parts of the country (and certain cities) where it just isn't that safe--regardless of your sexual preferences. Detroit is one of these, and this is also true for the south side of Chicago, south-central Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the city of Newark in New Jersey. Even the east-central part of Salinas, just 30 miles from my home here in the Santa Cruz area (a well-known gay friendly town) has a big gang presence where gays would be targets (along with rival gangs).
Generally, just good old common sense and staying out of run-down areas will serve you best. The vast majority of people will leave you alone, and even the US top court (what we call the "Supreme Court") has just recently ruled in the favor of gays and gay rights on some very major legal cases
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Aug-2013, at 00:17 by Calcruzer ]
Keith & Mike,
Gary gave his usual great advice in post #2. Most of the US is gay friendly, Las Vegas included. Many gay clubs and events should make Vegas a 'must see' while touring the US. I agree with Gary on some of our southern states. Stay low key and you should be fine.
Rent or Buy?
If you have followed any of my posts, I usually advise members to rent if they are here 6 weeks or less. It is just not worth the effort to find, buy, insure, register & resell a vehicle if you are here less than 6 weeks. Since you are here 12 weeks, I suggest you consider buying. Do your research on best price for a 3 month rental, dropping off in NYC. Ask about insurance as well. Fuel will be roughly the same regardless if you rent or buy. Having done this 20 times for TP members, I think buying will be your best option. I suggest you buy something like this. Big enough to sleep in when in our National Parks or when you just don't want to find a motel. Easy to drive, easy to sell. Figure between $3-4K USD for a decent vehicle. I would buy a roadside assistance program as well. For price and services, I think this one is best. Has a generous towing allowance if needed. Compare and pick one if you decide to buy.
I would start checking 'craigslist miami' and see what is out there at what price. Click on 'cars & trucks', put in $4000 then choose make, model. I would stick with a Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, etc. Or if you are thinking a car would be a better option, I would look at Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, etc. Florida is one of the states that will allow you to register with your DL, NV is another.
Good luck with your planning.
Thanks for the feedback guys!
We did a lot of research and found that we could rent a car for 90 days, with decent insurance for £2k (so like $3.5k). Neither of us are techy with cars and after talking about it loads we were happy to pay that for a 4x4 that comes with some security if you break down etc! Plus it includes all our insurance etc so the price we thought was great!
We have been talking about whether 3 months would be enough. We have kind of looked through the map and planned a route:
1: Start in Orlando on 1st Oct then go South border, across West then up to North Florida
2) Go West to Texas (stay in San Antonio with fam) then California.
3) Northish to Nevada then up more North to Seattle
4) meander through state to state heading East to get to NYC on 24th Dec
Does this seem like enough time to fit all of this in? I did e-mail the American Embassy in London to see if our Esta 90 day visas could be extended but just waiting to hear a reply. What are your thoughts Gary and Mike?
Keith & Mike,
I just read this on the US website. No, you cannot extend your 90 day Esta unless it is an emergency. I had 2 guys from Denmark here and they stayed for 5 months, so it is possible to get a longer visa before coming to the US. Check if you want to be here longer than 90 days. Good luck with your planning.
I wouldn't advise buying a car as anything that cost that much might not get you far in some areas. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and even California have large spaces between cities and walking because your car dies could take you hours and cost you a lot. Also driving through TX is pretty boring, so you might try to avoid driving all the way across that state.
Generally speaking, the liberal coastal states will be considerably more gay-friendly than some of the more conservative interior states (I would avoid Wyoming and Utah).
I don't think you appreciate just how BIG the USA is (esp if you're British) - renting a car in Florida and dropping it in NY after doing a loop around California would cost more than you could count!
I advise you just to come and go as the wind blows you - maybe do a loop around the eastern coastal states and the same on the west coast (flying from one to the other). That way you could return the rental car to the same renting location and avoid the extremely high drop charges. We now have some rather good LCC air carriers such as Virgin America, Jetblue and Southwest Airlines - book ahead online for the best fare.
If you're coming from the UK or Europe, I suggest an open jaw air ticket (say into Miami, and depart from San Francisco).
[ Edit: Edited on 31-Aug-2013, at 11:37 by Daawgon ]
Hi all just want to update you on our trip (I'm Mike btw )
We started off in Orlando which was amazing with the theme parks are amazing especially the Halloween horror night we walked around from 8am until gone midnight but it was that much fun it was a must ( we upgraded all our tickets to fast track everything other wise would not be possible to go on everything at least once ) we found a shopping mall the first full day there to buy a SIM card from t-mobile unlimited 4g internet it cost $70 for 30 days but was worth it considering we used our phones for the gps and to FaceTime our family back home . We found a nice little bar which was called the Tilted Kilt food was amazing but the size of the meals were huge haha. Staff are amazing and you may see the girls spinning hoopla hoops outside but seeing as we are gay it was more funny than being interested lol. From Florida we went to South beach and had a meal over looking the beach at a little beach bar was cute and a happy place. We then made our way to fort launder dale and stayed at the cabanas resort (male gay resort clothing optional which we where shocked to find out but it was an experience and we got to have a romantic swim with no one there. We left the day after to hit Miami and stayed at hotel Nash, good location but I felt the hotel was lacking something but it was retro. Went on the beach ECt and the bars are nice along the front for a cute meal ).
We went in to Atlanta which had the head office of coke o cola amazing experience and also went to the aquarium and a few other places a nice play to visit but be aware to stay away from the cheap hotels savannah suites it was horrific. We went on to New Orleans arriving at midnight and went straight out for a walk around and came across bourbon street WOW what a massive street party at the weekend this place was amazing , in the day went for a walk around the squat which was so much like France it was a mind blowing experience I loved it and we got to go on a horse carriage ride to lean about the place A MUST SEE!!!! , we went to San Antonio Texas to stay with my family for a week and had a fun time it felt like home and the river walk and caverns , Alamo are amazing things to see. Next on to Roswell all thing Alina's which was for Keith but I went along and got involved in parts where interesting but still took a look and a national park there where he crashed the car :-p good thing we had protection lol. You can not go to the crash site as the farmer is now longer not allowing it. We then went to sandiego wow they go crazy over Halloween everyone all ages dressed up we felt stupid for not doing so. We met some nice people there they bought us loads of drinks we where happy lol stayed at a hostel and hated it same price to get a budget hotel if not cheaper as car parking is expensive. We then went to Hollywood stayed at the Roosevelt amazing hotel as it was a treat done the sight seeing tour I found it was a bit rush rush and they don't stop to show all the houses. Drove the car around the hills to get close to the Hollywood sight to take a picture it did not seem real seeing it. Hollywood in parts is very scruffy then on rodeo drive it was so posh and lovely where I was treated to eat at VILLA BLANCA Lisa Vanderpumps restaurant just off rodeo drive I was so happy to go it was unreal. Walk of fame and hand prints at theatre where good to see a swell .
We then went Vegas met my mum and dad as they flew out to see us. I was so happy to see them it both have some alone time from each other and became a romantic couple. Done some gambling walked to pawn stars shop and went up stratosphere walked round the hotels and really wanted to go on a gondola but he did not want to a little shy because of all the singing lol!!! We went on a hello copter over the Grand Canyon and landed for a champagne breakfast it was so romantic the feeling if anyone looks in to it and worth the little extra money. Took my parents to Hollywood to show them what we seen then made our way up to San Francisco seen Alcatraz just make sure you book in advance stayed there walked around fisherman W best place to stay. Mum and dad left as there two weeks where up and I felt so upset but tried to keep it inside so it does not effect the trip. Me and Keith then went to Yosemite to stay in a log cabin which I have always wanted to do :-D was called Tanya lodge amazing place to go just outside the park and close to the town. It it such a romantic place to be. No phone signal but it never mattered as they have wifi in the cabin. Then we decided to cut the trip short because the roads got so bad and things in made our massive drive on the highways thick with snow over to Washington stayed at rock springs as a stop over. Washing and the White House good to see a lot smaller than what you expect and went to the Black Friday sales at midnight . We then went on to NYC such an amazing place paid for a tour around the twin towers site emotional place. And the freedom tower was up and proud. Went to see Statue of Liberty went in the island such a cute place to go. The ice skating was closed at the roca fella Center when we went to go as they got set up to turn the Christmas lights on the day we left. Went up the Empire State Building I loved it but the height made me step back so Keith could enjoy taking pictures we landed on the 5th in Manchester connected from London. my mum picked us up and then went home
All in all a fantastic amazing experience. Only down side is that
try not to go with someone you love as this is a massive strain on the relation ship and a day after we got back Keith called it quits with our relationship as he was no longer in love with me
In a way as amazing as the trip was I wish I could turn back time and never had gone but I guess you can never tell if someone is just going to give up on you that easy.
P.S sorry for the poor writing and spelling I'm not the best at it
Any questions just reply and I will let you know
Xxxxxx Mike xxxxxxx
Glad to hear that you had a great time in the US. You got to see much of the US in the short time you were here. I could have got you some free shows if you had given me shout while in Vegas. Perhaps next time.
Sorry to hear that Keith called it quits and broke off the relationship. Being together every minute of everyday for a few months will certainly strain any relationship. Hopefully you will meet someone new that sparks a connection. Stay positive and it will happen when you are ready for a commitment. Vegasmike
Thanks for the trip report, nice to hear that renting the vehicle worked out.
Don't blame the trip for ending the relationship though, you two obviously weren't meant to be and you should be happy that the trip hastened the inevitable.