Travelling across America in 4 weeks!! Need help and advice!

Travel Forums North America Travelling across America in 4 weeks!! Need help and advice!

1. Posted by joeyb10 (Budding Member 4 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi, Myself and 3 friends are planing a trip to america for the whole of September this year. We have boked flights into New York and out of San Fransisco. At the moment were a bit stuck on our mode of transport, as were all aged between 21-24 we realise its going to be expensive to rent a car. Also people have said the Greyhound services can be a bit of a drag. We'v just been told about Amtrak and iv had a look at their website and they look like they have some great routes and not bad prices. Any advice on Amtrak??? Also it would be great to get ideas on how much money roughly were going to need. Places we must see!? Things we should do etc etc

Any advice and help would be brilliant!!

2. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Renting a car may sound expensive, but 4 of you - one hire rate + the fuel, is a lot cheaper than 4 tickets on a train or coach - and much more fun too.
Rent-a-car doesn't have to be that expensive. I've done it on the cheap many times in The USA and Canada, avoiding the big name companies. It saves a fortune.

3. Posted by tazzaa (Budding Member 22 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I'm travelling across Canada and the States this year too, I looked extensively into car hire and while this would be cheap if you were picking it up in New York & returning to New York the one way drop off fee to pick up in NY and drop off in San Fran would be astronomical so probably not worth it, even with 4 of you.

We're going to buy a car and drive that across because of the extra freedom you get, so you could consider that, although will take extra time at either end to buy/sell.

I haven't really looked into the train because it didn't go where we wanted to but I'm sure that a combo of that and the Greyhound wouldn't be that bad if it comes to it. I've taken the Greyhound a few times, it can be unreliable at busy stops in that even if you've booked a ticket they will over book seats and you may end up having to wait for the next bus, and they often stop in dodgy parts of town, but other than that it's just your standard bus ride.

Hope that helps.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2015 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I also think that renting a car would be impractical. Not only would you have a huge drop fee, but very few (if any) agencies would let you take a car that distance on a one-way trip. I think your best bet is train or a combination of train and air. The most scenic route in summer would be the northern one on the Amtrak Empire Builder (Chicago - St. Paul - Portland/Seattle). This route takes you through Glacier National Park in Montana and should be very beautiful. Getting from New York to Chicago is easy enough, and also from Portland/Seattle to San Francisco. You will need to get busy and book reservations on Amtrak now - these routes do book solid this time of year, and service is just once a day on the Empire Builder. The Northwestern part of the US is probably one of the most colorful areas, and not at all crowded. I live in Portland myself, and Oregon is full of cold rivers, waterfalls and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun (whitewater rafting, camping, beachcombing, mountain climbing and such). How much $ - bring plenty, the US is expensive. My guess would be $75.+ a day for food, lodging and incidentals. (similar to W. Europe or Australia)

For air travel, your best bet would be Southwest Airlines because they have an extensive system in the States, and prices quite good for short one-way segments (suggest you check out their website - it's excellent)

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Jun-2009, at 23:51 by Daawgon ]

5. Posted by s96024 (Full Member 106 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Just got a quick quote from nationalcar. For a basic car hire on a bigger car, capable of taking 4 people and luggage. Basic rental is £1200. Drop of charge is only $250, split 4 ways only £40 each, not the huge cost people are saying. This cost, plus taxes is an extra £220. So we are at £1420. The problem is being under 25, that adds $750 to the cost, another £460. So total is £1880, or £470 each. Note this is only for a single driver adding, adding extra drivers is $290 each and also fuel on top, which will add a bit more. This was the cheapest rental company for me, but it might be worth getting other quotes, because they might be better for you.

6. Posted by joeyb10 (Budding Member 4 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for all your help regarding transport.

Now could anyone give me advice on places and things we really should do! And maybe a bit of advice on a couple of nights camping on the west coast, yosemite? colorado springs etc?


7. Posted by Derestanne (Budding Member 36 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I lived in Denver, Colorado for nearly 12 years. Colorado Springs is OK but I highly recommend Rocky Mountain National Park, Nederland, Boulder, Lookout Mountain West of Golden on Interstate 70 and perhaps Eldorado Canyon between Denver and Boulder.

If any of you like to rock climb, Eldorado Canyon is great for that activity. You will also find some great spring water there, hiking and picnic areas.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Jun-2009, at 13:45 by Derestanne ]

8. Posted by PsptJunkie (Budding Member 26 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!


One more suggestion for transport - probably a mix and match between Greyhound, Amtrak, and airlines would work best as you travel across the country...for long journeys Amtrak rail traffic is sometimes given lower priority than freight traffic, making a long journey even longer. And long routes via Greyhound might be tough to handle.

have fun - you'll be in my hometown (SF) at a great time of year (best weather).

REDACTED (Just noticed Daawgon has already pointed you to this): An airline that many US visitors don't hear much about is called Southwest Airlines - they fly shorter routes but still cover most of the country, and besides being cheap, they are a bit more flexible than most US airlines. - no change fees charged if you change your date of flight and no extra baggage fees.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Jun-2009, at 14:09 by PsptJunkie ]