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 ]