Best way to travel across US?!

Travel Forums North America Best way to travel across US?!

  • 1
  • 2
Last Post This thread is marked as being about USA
1. Posted by mike2010 (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!


I am looking to travel across the US for quite a while soon!

I think 6 months is the longest you can stay on a tourist visa?

What does everyone think is the best way to travel?

Rent a car or Amtrak?

I really want to experience real America, and not miss everything in between the main cities. This kind of leads me to think of driving...but doesnt Amtrak have alot of smaller stops in between the major cities that are easily accessible by hopping on and off?

Also, does anyone have any clue on the difference in price between the two modes?

Im just thinking of the smaller details of renting a car, i.e. having to find parking whilst staying at hostels...does it all add up to being ridiculously priced?

Any information would be great! Especially from those who have done either of the 2!

Thanks again!

Mike :)

Post 2 was removed by a moderator
3. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Renting a car would be the way to go as America is designed for the automobile,but it aint gonna be cheap and unless you can find a national rent a car company that will give you unlimited mileage that 25 cents a mile is really going to accumulate Most places will give you any where from 200 to 500 free mileage before the mileage charge kicks in so you may have to be continually be changing cars to avoid that fee.

4. Posted by mike2010 (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

thanks for the info!

is it not a hassle trying to find parking and paying for parking and everything in the major cities though?

im assuming amtrak will work out to cheaper than a car though?

thanks again

5. Posted by Kimee129 (Full Member 37 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Mike. Congrats and Happy Planning on your trip to the States. I am a seasoned cross country traveler. I have completed the cross country trip 4 times. One trip alone was over 10,000 miles. I think renting a car is going to be ridiculously expensive! Another thing you are going to have to do is narrow down your travel plans. Where do you want to go? Start in New York or Boston and travel down I-95 into Florida and then back over west to Ca? Up coast of Ca to Wa and then maybe across the middle part of the country through Colorado and end trip back in NYC or Boston to fly home? What time of year are you going? A lot of the northern states are going to be difficult to travel through in the winter months due to bad weather. Hostel parking can be difficult in some of the bigger cities, but it depends on how many days you want to stay there. You can stay in budget hotels outside of NYC and take train or bus in for what you would pay in one nights parking. Amtrak is comfortable. I highly recommend the San Diego, Ca to Seattle, Washington Train trip. You can see some of the areas that are inaccesible to cars and let someone else do the driving. You could do a combo car rental and Amtrak trip to keep costs down on mileage. Use Amtrak to go between major cities and rent car in areas like Las Vegas to travel to Grand Canyon, San Diego (5 hour drive), Los Angeles (4 hour drive) or Yosemite National Park (6 hour drive). The Amtrak offers 15, 30, 45 day Rail Passes. Considering you said you wanted to travel in the states for 6 months you would have to purchase several of these passes. This also could add up. Some tourists purchase cars, register and insure them and when they are ready to go back home they want to sale them. This may also be an option. I am unsure how this would work out for you. All you would need is to buy the gas an pay the insurance premium. Again good luck and happy travels. You may email me if you want further research done on options I would be happy to help.

6. Posted by mike2010 (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for so much information!

I am wanting to travel across mainly from East to West, stopping off at the major cities, so Im sure Amtrak would be fine.

I am just wondering if I would be missing out on passing through the smaller towns that the rail service like Amtrak would jus fly by, or missing out on the opportunity to stop anywhere, as and when I want.

I am able to get different connecting Amtrak trains which would lead me from East to West right? And I'm sure they have many stops between each of the major cities at small towns, do they not?

Thanks again! :D

7. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2015 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Kimee129 gave you good advice - I think the West Coast Amtrak run is pretty good too. East-West travel is quite limited and not that many stops of interest, my opinion. I do like the Empire Builder run since it lets you stop of in Glacier National Park. Amtrak is much more condensed east of the Mississippi. Regardless of where you go, without a car you are severely limited. To access the most scenic places in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada mountains a car is the only way. The truth of the matter is that many small towns in the center of this country are dying due to the decrease in agriculture and loss of population (all the kids want the big time in NY and LA).

8. Posted by mike2010 (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the info Daawgon!

In terms of the national parks and things like that, I am hoping to just get to places, i.e. california, and then whilst there organise excursions with people/organisations which do like 3 days trips into national parks with a bit of camping and things like that.

So I'm just mainly concerned about getting to places.

At the moment, Amtrak seems to be getting my vote over a car, and I know there are really good routes around the east coast, and also the west coast, but in terms of travelling from one to another, thats do-able right? in order to stop at other cities along the way?

i have read an article by and english reporter over here who travelled by amtrak, and although there may not be LOTS of interesting places along the way from east to west, there are definately some I would like to visit, so i dont think a plane is justifiable in terms of cost. and as i've read, amtrak takes you through so many places of "real" america that arent seen by driving.

thanks for the continued info!

9. Posted by Sylvester1 (Budding Member 22 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi you said in your post that you can travel for 6 months you might want to check this as i believe that without a tourist visa you are allowed to stay in the usa for only 90 days.

10. Posted by mike2010 (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Yes your right sorry. I dont know why I though it was 6 months, it is actually 3.

Thanks for the correction!