Driving from New York citty to San Francisco in rented car

Travel Forums North America Driving from New York citty to San Francisco in rented car

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1. Posted by ionpositiv (Budding Member 2 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Dear all,

me and a friend are planning to spend around three weeks to do a trip from NY to SF. Since we will spend around 4 days in each on these cities this will leave around 12 days to do the driving.

We have started to draft what could be our trip route adding some places we would like to visit and which includes:
- New York
- Chicago
- Monument Valley
- Grand Canyon
- San Francisco

Since we will come from europe, our initial plan was to do the trip on a rented car.

Could you please help us with the route to follow? Any suggestions about the places to visit would be nice. Do not hesitate to propose other places or route even though this will change our initial draft route.

About the car rental, are there any suggestions on where to do it? Some friends suggested to buy a used car in Ny and sell it in SF but I fear this will be a bit risky.

Thanx in advance


2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3582 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Send me a PM if you need any help on your Vegas plans.

I have written on the rental car/buying a car choice before. With only 3 weeks in the US, stay with the rental car. Buying a car/van and selling at the end only makes sense if you are here more than 5 weeks. Good luck with your planning.

3. Posted by Jude1019 (Budding Member 11 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I agree.. you should definatly rent a car instead of buying one. I think you may have trouble insuring it here anyway. I made a similiar trip about a year ago. I left New York and took three weeks to make it to San Francisco and back again. Im not too familiar with Chicago or Monument Valley however when you go to the Grand Canyon you should definatley stay in the Grand Canyon Hotel as opposed to the Best Western (those are the only two close by) Try to go on priceline and name your price and put a four star hotel down and you should get a good deal. That is how I did it when I went. We only stayed one night, arrived early in the morning took a hike down one of the paths and left early the next day to drive to Vegas. The Grand Canyon does not need much more time then that. From Vegas we went to San Francisco. It is a fun city yet very dirty and hard to find parking so I would suggest you stay in a hotel or hostel that has parking. The Ashbury Height District should not be missed.

As for New York.. if you have any questions on where to stay or what to see you can send me a message about it. I would not know where to begin!

Have a fun and safe trip!

If you are coming soon be prepared to loose a few days due to weather when going from New York to Chicago. We have had a few snow storms already this year.

4. Posted by Rhombus (Travel Guru 64 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Jon. Sounds like a good trip. Looking at your trip, I can make some suggestions. Renting a car is your best bet. I'd get one with enough leg room as it's a lonnnngggg drive.

In Chicago: Get some pizza. Either Girodano's or Gino's East

In Southern Missouri there are a lot of caves and caverns you might want to check out. Blanchard caverns in Northern Arkansas have a wild cavern tour that would be cool.

In Oklahoma, I'd go a little further south and check out the Witchita Mountains National Wildlife Preserve. Cool animals, fun place to hike.

In New Mexico, Eat at Sadie's in Albuquerque for some good mexican food. Further west, stop in at El Morro National monument and check out the Scroll work on the rock. Also hike up to the box canyon, kinda neat.

Monument valley is cool. All of SE Utah is cool. If you have the time, hike down to the bottom of the Grand canyon. It's amazing. From there, I'd go around to the north end of the canyon and drive west through Zion National park before hitting Vegas, but that's just me. Can't go wrong either way.

Have fun. Enjoy it.

Post 5 was removed by a moderator
6. Posted by TravelSoup (Budding Member 33 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

It does sound like a great trip, but is a long drive. Think of the driving distance as going from Spain to the border of Iran.

Invest in some good road maps and try to spend some time traveling on highways other than the Interstate. The older smaller highways allow you to really see rural America as many of the small towns can be bypassed by the Interstate. It is slower going but worthwhile in my opinion.

Sorry I can't recommend a car rental, but keep in mind the cost of renting a car and not returning it to where you picked it up. This fee varies with each agency and is definitely worth investigating.

Best of luck,


7. Posted by Cool Paul (Respected Member 611 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

look for deals when renting a car. some places charge you if you drop the car off in san fran after picking it up in NY. some places charge $1 for every mile!!! that's be over $3000

Check out enterprise. you should get unlimited mileage east of the mississippi river. which will save you heaps of money. but ask about different options at different places.

8. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Cool Paul is right about doing your homework on renting a car as renting from the wrong place could involve substantial extra costs,i would only rent from a company that charges no mileage charges,plan on several different rental companies as i doubt you'll find a company that will let you travel all around N America with out some kind of mileage limit before charges apply...Its unfortunate that the hundreds of posts that ask basically the same question you are asking never re post on how their experience turned out ..

Here is a comparative Eastern Europe/ America map,just move the red dot..http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Jan-2010, at 08:23 by jambo101 ]

9. Posted by ionpositiv (Budding Member 2 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Dear all,

thanx a lot for the info sent so far.

Before staring to plan the trip I calculated that it was the same as driving from Spain to Stockholm and return.

About the renting, it will be the option definetely. Probably we will take it in Chicago and do the trip from NYC to Chicago by train or bus (still have to look). The current status of the trip map is the following.

BTW, I forgot to mention that I was already in NY, SF and LV some years ago.

@Jude1019 thanks for the tip about the hotel fro Grand Canyon.

@vegasmike6: thanx for the offer, I have checked other threads and looked for prices at the Encore and they seem quiet reasonable for this kind of hotel.

@Rhombus. thanx for the tips. We were think about heading Glen Canyon instead of Zion. We have seen the pictures of the first one and it looks amazing. What do you think?

@TravelSoup: taking a look at the map I attach can you think about any small town we shouldn't miss?

Thanx again.


10. Posted by TravelSoup (Budding Member 33 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!


Sorry, I can’t think of any specific small towns to visit, especially west of Chicago. Overall, I just Iike to break up the monotony of Interstate travel with some random alternate routes. It adds to the adventure.

I've never driven south of San Francisco so I can't recommend it... but highway 1 along the coast of California looks spectacular! Great views, slow going I bet. Highway 101 could be exciting as well?


ps From now on, I promise to comment on things that I've actually done.