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Travelling Cross-Country USA

Travel Forums North America Travelling Cross-Country USA

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1. Posted by jj001i (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!


This is our first time travelling cross country! We're flying into either San Fran or LA in January, 2013 and want to go to NYC. Few questions for you experts:

1) Is this a bad time to decide to travel cross country? We wanted to go to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon ... but, is the winter a good time? Should we take the "Southern Route"?

2) Should we rent a car? An RV? Try buying a used car? I figured it would be hard to sell the used car afterwards, so we're were thinking of going with a rental. Suggestions?

Thank you so much in advance!!

Jessica & Oded

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Too bad you are not here this January! Many US cities are hitting their all time high for each day. Waaay warmer than normal.

My advice on renting vs buying depends on how long you will be in the US. Less than 6 weeks, rent. It is not worth the hassle of buying, then selling for a 4-6 week trip. If you are going to be here at least 8 weeks, then buying can be a viable option.

In a normal winter, Yellowstone NP would be accessible only via snowmobile. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon will be closed and snow possible at the South Rim. The Southern Route would be your best bet in Jan. IMO.

Good luck with your planning.

3. Posted by jj001i (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!


THANK YOU! This is really helpful. Yep, it sounds like the Southern Route is the most recommended. And, I think we'll have to go with renting.

Anyone have a strong opinion on going for renting a car vs. an RV?

Thanks so much,

4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Well I think it depends on how many people are traveling and whether you are doing a car rental or an RV rental.

Rental costs can be as low as $20-25 or so per day for a compact car (plus usually about a $5 tax surcharge), so for 60 days you are looking at $1,800--so it still might be worth renting. But an RV will run you $5,000 for 30 days and $10,000 for 60 days--so buying for anything over 30 or 40 days makes more sense--particularly if you can get a used RV in decent shape.

Vegasmike is right that for most people--who want at least a mid-sized car--the decision depends upon the timeframe--with a crossover point near 60 days. Also, you could probably sell the car easier in large cities--or heavy tourist towns--so I'd look to sell (if you decide to buy) in a place like New York, or Las Vegas (meaning this is where you should leave from to go back home). Also, I'd avoid selling in California--where you'd have to pay another $100 to have you car smog-control certified before you can sell it.


[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jan-2012, at 05:06 by Calcruzer ]

5. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

January is certainly not the best month to travel due to heavy rain/snow + many tourist attractions will be closed. My suggestion would be to fly into San Francisco - LA is just too congested.

If you rent, you will have a problem finding an agency that will let you travel across country and then drop that car at the opposite coast.

6. Posted by jj001i (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Wow, thanks to all! It's just two of us, and we were thinking maybe a few weeks, but certainly not 60 days or more. We want to rent, but heard it might be difficult as well. Any suggested rental companies or websites to specifically look for San Fran to NYC (so drop off on the other coast)? We will do the Southern Route. January is kind of the time when we'll be able to do this ... but should we wait until we can do it in the Fall? Is that the ideal season?

Thanks again!!!


7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

The US has decent weather in Sept/Oct. Kids are back in school and the cold weather has not arrived yet. I would wait until fall if that is an option. January is just too cold to enjoy bumping across the US IMO.

You have plenty of time to do serious research on rental companies. The main problem will be the drop off fees. Contact as many companies as you can find and get their weekly rates and then find out what they charge to leave your vehicle on the opposite coast. Good luck.

8. Posted by rhislop (Full Member 12 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

The fall is a much better time to visit versus January. Cold weather, snow, ice, etc make traveling difficult even taking the southern route. The fall season is great with the leaves changing, kids are back in school so there are fewer people at the various tourists sites. Plus you don't need to take a southern route which opens up more travel options.

Enjoy your trip.

9. Posted by hey_monkee (Respected Member 430 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I have travelled in the USA in the fall and found it really enjoyable. I've visited 13 States in total, I know thats only a small dent in what there is to explore lol but my interests meant I spent most of my time in Western/South Western States. The weather was beautiful, as I was visiting a lot of desert-type places it was still very warm but not overwhelmingly hot like I'm sure it could be in the height of summer. I do have a friend who's visited in January and they still got to touch on some of the National Parks, but obviously many things would be closed at that time due to the winter weather. Aim for fall for your own enjoyment and comfort, I'd say. Obviously you want to make the most of your trip, and I think this would be the best time of year to do so :)

10. Posted by jj001i (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Thanks, guys ... maybe we'll go to Mexico a few weeks in January instead of going cross country. I think you've convinced us that it might be better to save that coast to coast trip for the fall sometime. Mexico is a good substitute, no??