Tips for a roadtrip through the US

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1. Posted by 11apfelsaft11 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

A buddy of mine and I are going to make a roadtrip through the United States, lasting eight weeks and starting out in New York City and leading us through various cities such as Miami and New Orleans to end in California.
We want to finance the trip with our savings.
Since the both of us are still in school right now our budget is not very high. Thus we plan to earn a little bit of money during the trip with product placements which are advertised in blogs and social media like Instagram.
Additionally we had the idea to put advertisements in form of stickers and decals from companies, which are willing to sponsor us, onto our car.

Now we are looking for potential sponsors and additional ideas / tips and ways to save and potentially earn money in the US with regular ESTA visas.

2. Posted by Peter (Admin 6991 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Welcome to the site. What's your question exactly here 11apfelsaft11?

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2201 posts) 1y 1 Star this if you like it!

I have two observations:

The USA is one of the more expensive places to travel, along with being restrictive such as a lot of car hire companies having minimum age limits (you said still in school - how old?) which would reduce your options so would raise the cost. Eight weeks is also a long time to travel in one culture, and while there are undoubtedly some points of interest along the way a lot of what you'll see is boring small towns with the same chain motels and eateries and nothing of interest to a visitor even though it may be a fine place to live.

Second, you need a lot of clicks to make any money. I hope you will have the funding in place before your trip and anything you hope to earn along the way from online is just to boost your budget for more luxury.

Have you put together a daily budget? You can research online the costs of your planned accommodation, car hire, meals, fuel, car insurance, medical insurance, and activities. Multiply that by your number of days to get a total. I suggest you need that amount before you go. And bear in mind that listed prices in the USA don't tend to include tax and tips. The tax can be awful to figure out as they vary by location and product type.

[ Edit: Edited on 27-Nov-2019, 09:25 GMT by AndyF ]

4. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1913 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I have grave doubts also about both your ability to rent a car and also how raising money on route will work out. Also as you probably know, a one way rental is more expensive.

It takes a long time to drive from the east coast or even the gulf coast to California. Some of the driving is pretty boring. If you have to turn a car in on the east coast that will be two journeys across the US which will probably take up most of the 8 weeks. It would be like driving from Finland to Spain and back.

I would advise (if the money works out) to see NY city for a couple of days without a car, then take a train down to Philadelphia, Baltimore or D.C. (where a car is also kind of a nuisance because of lack of parking). Figure out the cheapest place to rent a car in one of those places, and then drive down the coast on US 17 or along the border islands to Miami. From Miami you could drive down to Key West, or it is a nice drive along the Gulf Coast New Orleans. Then drive back by way of Louisville or Nashville to where you rented the car and turn it in.

Then fly to SF California. Rent a car there after you have seen that city,, and drive around the west coast for the rest of your trip - turn in the car and fly back to NY.

5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1721 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

You want to put ads and stickers on your car which means you plan to have a car. Most USA car rental companies will not rent to people under age 25 and those that do charge a premium. The first thing you need to do is see if you can get a car somehow. Then come back here and ask specific questions about the trip. If you drop off in a large, popular city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, the one-way rental may work.

A simple trip from New York City to Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada and ending in San Francisco, California is 4768 miles (nearly 7700 kilometers). That's 596 miles a week or 85 miles a day so easy to do. You will want to stop and sightsee and may want to spend a few days in some places so you will have to budget your time but there is no reason you would have any trouble driving across the country in 8 weeks. We did a similar trip in 6 weeks one year and saw a lot and had a great time. The trick is advance planning.

First sort out your car or transportation. Next get an idea of what you really want to see and share it with us here and we'll help you map it out. You really do need to deal with your budget since if you aren't USA citizens, working here will be illegal so difficult. It would be better if you could do it without trying to make extra money unless you can find a sponsor like a local tv station or set up a blog with advertisers.

Good luck. I hope you make it. Sounds like a great adventure.

6. Posted by cowman (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

How large is your social media following? Have you made money off of social media before?

I find the idea intriguing but I think there are serious practical concerns to this dimension of your plan unless you are already established

7. Posted by latigerlilly (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

if you have zero dollars saved, you may still travel across America, BUT you'd have to hustle a bit;
1. sleep in post offices. After hours, post offices are still open to allow people to get their mail. Go in late at night and sleep, wake up the next morning EARLY before they open and leave before you get discovered.
2. stealth camp in your car, weather permitting. Fold down the rear seat and sleep with your feet in the trunk. Put your head inside a box so that an outsider observing would NOT see you sleeping in your car. They'd see a box of something worthless like toilet paper on the rear seat.
3. Make a fake Costco membership card. Google what they look like. Enter Costco with it. They don't check the card closely. You only need to flash it for 1 second as you enter. Costco serves generous samples of free food. Costco is an American wholesale grocery & department store.
4. Returning grocery carts at Aldi's grocery store to the cart dispenser will get you $0.25 per cart. Return 6 carts and you will be able to buy a hot dog with unlimited soda at Costco. You don't need a membership to buy food from their food court.
5. Strike up a conversation with another Costco customer. Tell him/her that you forgot your Costco membership card & I.D. so ask the other customer to buy bottled water for you at wholesale. Pay the customer back in cash. Get free ice at Costco at the ice dispenser machine in the food court. Get free plastic bags at Costco at the bread department. Fill the bag with ice and dump all the bottle waters in the bag. At any large American parking lot on a hot day, sell these iced bottled waters for $1 to $2 each ( you bought them for $0.50), explaining that you are young and stupid and ran out of money travelling the USA. Most Americans not in New York city nor Chicago will help you out and buy the water from you. Some will even volunteer to pay you $5 to $20 per bottle. Use this money to pay for gas and food.
7. Save money in your home country. You must at least save up enough money to rent a car before your trip. Enterprise rent a car only costs $10 to 20 per day for unlimited mileage. You can worry about gas and food when you get to America.
8. Alternately, you may hitch-hike instead of driving. Only do this if you have good gut instinct for judging character or you may end up dead and/ or raped.

Have fun!
P.S. You mentioned that you will be passing through New Oreleans. I just read 6 guide books about New Orleans, I recommend the following 2 books and 1 of these is even a free download:


[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

8. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1721 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Referring to #7 above, keep in mind that very few, if any, USA car rental companies will rent to anyone under the age of 25; they usually require a credit card and if they do rent to under-25 folks, they usually charge a premium for it.

BTW, our Post Office does not stay open all night. PO Boxes are available to customers with a key. I suspect ours isn't the only Post Office in the country that does this.

9. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1913 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I would have to look at our PO to see what they do - I think the PO boxes are on the side and are cordoned off from the main PO by gates. But the space is quite small and there are windows. People coming to get their mail would be able to see you.

Most of latigerlilly''s ideas are not a good idea.

70 years ago we traveled through the US and camped by the side of the road or slept in the car. We probably couldn't do the same today.

I made a list of expenses for a trip of two weeks we took a couple of years ago. Trip was 2088 miles (down the east coast and back) driving a hybrid car and our total gas cost was $100.00. We stayed in Hampton Inns which are a little more expensive than the absolute cheapest place to stay and the average cost was $160.00/night which included a very substantial free breakfast. Other than breakfast, our average cost for food for two of us was $36.50/day ($18.25 each)

So I think you could get by (food, hotel and gas) on $200/day plus the car rental costs (if you can even rent a car)

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Feb-2020, 05:24 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

10. Posted by latigerlilly (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Sorry, I did not realize that the OP is under age 25. In that case, rent from Rent a Wreck. They rent cars to younger drivers at cheap rates. The cars are older, though, but they work fine. I've rented from them before when I was younger.

All the post offices in my area are open to the public after hours.

I live next to a park. I catch people sleeping in their cars in front of my house all the time. I caught one just tonight. I'll leave them alone if they're sleeping, but if I suspect that they're dealing drugs (other cars are stopping to visit them every 10 mins), I'll call the cops.

Here's a Youtuber who rode across America on a bicycle: -snip-
Most of my suggestions are from his videos. Instead of a car, you may consider a bicycle. If I remember correctly, he only spent $20 for the entire trip across America. His youtube channel is Lunatic Travels.

Have fun on your trip :)

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]