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Travelling the USA for 3 months this summer. Help!

Travel Forums North America Travelling the USA for 3 months this summer. Help!

1. Posted by ljones15 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hi there! :)

Me and 2 friends have been thinking about it or a while now and we've decided we want to hit the states in the summer to celebrate graduating from university. We're gonna try and squeeze as much in as possible in 90 days ( no need to apply for visa, my right?). I have been reading through a few topics about travelling america and one questions always stands above the rest........

Do i fly? Do i drive? Do i buy? Do i rent?

Initially we liked the sound of renting a car from one part of the country to another HOWEVER this seems to be extremely expensive considering the price/insurance/fuel etc. Soooo we've come to a conclusion that we're gonna pursue the so called American Dream (In a van of course). We've been looking at prices of vans and we are pretty confident that we'll be able to pick a van up for around $2500 whether this is through ebay, craigslist etc is yet to be decided. We've also heard it can be best to fly out and basically do the wheeling and dealing once we're there. We are obviously looking at the van as possible accommodation as I've read ''if you sleep in you van say 30 nights out of the 90 you can save up to $1000''. Does anyone recommend any vans/cars that are good miles to the gallon? I've also read there are problems getting insured as you'll need a home address but I've read you can put down a hostel name, this right? What is a ballpark figure for insurance for a 22 year old, or does it really depend of the vehicle?

Anyways moving on, Our itinerary will be flying into New York in June and flying home from San Fran in September. Firstly we may do a couple of weeks in the Big apple but i am very wary that it is extremely expensive. We haven't made up an exact route yet so any suggestions on routes/cities/hidden gems/ would be really appreciated. Once we finish up in New York. These are the main points we want to visit.

New York*
Niagra falls?
New jersey
Florida/ Miami*
New Orleans
Vegas (Very brief)
San Francisco*

Main stops*

We would also like to fit in a few of the national parks ( grand canyon) especially if we have some sort of overnight vehicle. Here are a few questions i kindly need answering?

90 days, how much spending money? $5000? $2500 for the van?
As us students love to party (of course) just wondering is there any specific states that are hots spots for young people like myself?
Is Fuel expensive?
Recommended theme parks?
I hear alcohol is expensive. Is this just within main cities? pint of beer?
Once the vehicle is insured, are we ready to hit the road? eg any such thing as road tax over there?

Any suggestions will be extremely appreciated


2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

You were quoting from one of my older posts. I always advise renting if in the US for 6 weeks or less. It makes sense to buy in your case. You will have to buy something outside of New York. NY will not let you register a vehicle w/o a NY DL. You don't have one. Easiest state to buy back East is Florida. New Hampshire as well. You will need an address for DMV & insurance purposes. Members have used a hostel address. Or a mailbox service that will forward your mail. You need one that uses apt. or suite instead of PO box. DMV will not send a title to a PO box.

I usually suggest buying a van. 2 can sleep in it to save on motel costs. This won't work with 3. The Dodge Grand Caravans, Ford Windstars, Honda Odyssey are great for couples, not 3. I suggest you buy something like a Toyota Camry. Good gas mileage, reliable, hold their value, many out there for sale. With 3 splitting the costs, motels, hostel make sense. Figure $50-70/night.

I would figure $3K for a decent vehicle. The ones we found in the $2.5K range all needed tires, battery, something. You will get most of it back if the vehicle is still in decent shape.

Insurance has been roughly $150/month for the couples under 25. Varies on value of the vehicle and zip code. NYC would be expensive, rural New Hampshire less. We have used Progressive online many times. Usually cheaper than local agents.

Figure between $3.50- $4/gallon for fuel. Figure 6K miles for your trip. Vans get appox. 20 mpg, Camry 30 mpg. Do the math for an estimate.

The steps for buying in Vegas are. Find something worth buying. Bill of sale, make sure it has a valid smog certificate, insure it, take paperwork to local DMV. It has been appox. $150 to register, plates, new title. Title will be sent to the address you provide. Takes 3-4 weeks for new title. You will need that to sell. There is sales tax if you buy from a dealer in NV. No sales tax buying from private party. Saves $250 in Vegas. Probably similar in other states.

Good luck with your planning.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

You asked about hot spots for young adults. Besides Las Vegas, which is a real mecca for those 21 to 30, other states with well-known summer events for the 21-30 crowd are:

Lake Havasu (border of California and Arizona) or Parker, Arizona--over Memorial Day, which is the last weekend of May

Lake Washington boat races--just east of Seattle, Washington--middle of August

Ozark Lakes region (southwestern Missouri)--boats on the lake that's like a floating party--every weekend from June to August--but the big blowout is on the July 4th holiday week.

Austin, Texas--both down on 6th street and out on Lake Travis--during warm summer months.

Gila River outside of Phoenix, Arizona--they go "tubing" down this River starting in May and continuing into June (sometimes later, though it does get really a bit too hot once the temperatures get into the 100s)

South Padre Island--in Texas near Corpus Christi--all summer long.

Delaware River--tubing is done (by all ages, not just 21-30 year olds) on the Delaware River, which is the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some people go out and doing canoeing also. Mostly this is done in the region south of Easton, PA and north of Trenton, NJ. Haven't done this myself, so I'm not an expert on this.

Other places that parties go on all the time are Nascar races, music festivals, and well-known beaches--like Daytona Beach and South Beach (Miami Beach) in Florida, and Mission Bay (San Diego), Malibu, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz in California, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and Ocean City in Maryland.

Certain national parks/national monuments are also known as party places, though sometimes you need to rent a boat or houseboat to participate in the fun. One example of this is Lake Powell in southern Utah (near Paige, Arizona) where renting houseboats for a week and partying on the lake is popular.

Popular cities for young adults (besides Vegas) are Athens, Georgia; Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Boston, Massachusetts--although these are busier when the colleges are all still in session. The Lake Tahoe area (south part of the Lake, which is on the California/Nevada state line is similar to Vegas, but on a much, much smaller scale. Great place to go in the summertime, though, since it stays cooler than Vegas--but still has the shows. You can also go to Vegas-type shows in Reno/Sparks nearby.

4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Some of the popular music festivals are:

Coachella (Indio, CA--near Palm Springs)--two weekends--April 12th weekend and April 19th weekend

Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas)--October 12-15rh

Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee--which is halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga)--June 6-9

Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)--August 2-4

Electric Zoo--(New York City, New York)-August 31-Sept 2

Sasquatch-(George, Washington)-May 24-27

Bumbershoot--(Seattle, Washington)-Sept 1-3

Outside Lands (San Francisco, California)-Aug 10-12

Summerfest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin--June 26 to July 7

Keep in mind that prices for these can be quite high, however--like anywhere from $40 to $300. Same for the so-called "Burning Man" festival in northern Nevada. What used to be free now costs about $1000 for a ticket for this week-long event. (Aug 27=Sept 3). This is an event unlike any other, and kind of hard to explain. Basically a bunch of people form their own city with a limited set of rules for a week, then all disappear a week later.

Keep in mind I've only listed some of the major music festivals here--there are over 100 others all over the US throughout the year--most of which have much cheaper ticket costs. The ones I've listed will have major, well-known artists appearing. Think of groups like Jay-Z, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Jane's Addiction, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, even possibly The Eagles or Usher--though these last two usually have their own tours.


[ Edit: . ]

5. Posted by Packbacker26 (Budding Member 49 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

We like to party in New Orleans. Drinking is what we do best. And cooking. Santa Barbara has an awesome college scene, great house parties. Hard to go wrong in California though. Arizona/Utah/California have the best national parks in my opinion, so knock em all out there. NEW ORLEANS!!

6. Posted by ljones15 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Really appreciate all the feedback. We'll have to make a decision then whether to buy a van ( camping reasons) or an economical ride such as the Camry which will help on the money sides of things. I like the sound of most places mentioned especially California/ Boston/santa barbara mainly because i like the sound of the college scene. I also like the sound of all the festivals mentioned above especially electric zoo and coachella, however we'll probably swerve the festivals as they would make a huge dent in our budget. I'd probabaly do a festival as something spontaneous, heat of the moment kinda thing sooo im all for it if we have the money.

Can anyone recommend a route coming down from Chicago to Florida?

Any other routes from past experiences will be extremely helpful (East to west)

Gonna start writing up my itinerary ASAP. Excited


Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Route to take is I-80 east towards Gary, Indiana, then
I-65 south through Indianapolis, through Louisville and on to Nashville
At Nashville, get on I-24 and take this to Chattanooga.
At Chattanooga, get on I-75 and stay on this through Atlanta and on south all the way to Tampa, Florida.

For east to west (or west to east routes) just take the Interstates--I-80 is one of the main ones, at Chicago, you can get on I-90 for the northern route to Seattle, or stay on I-80 to get to Utah and to San Francisco.

I-40 or I-10 also work, but if you take I-70, be aware that it ends in Utah (heading west), so you either have to get on US 6 and then US 50 (the loneliness road in the US when crossing Nevada to Reno) or else go south on I-15 and connect to I-10 into Los Angeles. (Also, I-20 exists in the east, but merges into I-10 in western Texas).

P.S. . The way the interstate works is that even numbers go east to west (west to east), while odd numbers go north to south (south to north). Generally, the major Interstates east to west end in zeros (I-10, I-80, etc.), while those ending in 5 go north to south (I-5, I-35, I-75, I-95). By major, I mean these go all the way across the country (or almost all the way across). But some major numbers don't follow the pattern (I-30 is an exceptions to the rule), and some don't exist (there is no I-50 or I-60).

I-4 would be the farthest south, I-94 the farthest north. I-5 the farthest west, I-95 the farthest east. (except for those interstates in Hawaii--which are H1, H2, and H3). Any numbers in the one or two digits actually connect major cities. Any numbers above three digits (for example, I-405 or I-580) means these interstates are limited to starting and ending in the greater metropolitan area of the particular city you are in. They also connect to the interstate that ends with the same two digits--(so for example, I-580 connects to I-80 at some point -either starting or ending, I-405 connects to I-5).

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Feb-2013, at 22:00 by Calcruzer ]

Post 9 was removed by a moderator