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  1. #1

    Default 3 months in USA!!

    Me and my wife are planning to travel USA next April (2007) for around 3 months before moving on to OZ for a year's work/travel. We are trying to decide how to plan our trip so we can make the most of our 3 months. There are so many places to see and ways to travel, how do you decide? Some articles say it is better to see the country by coach, some say by car? We both fancy the idea of seeing the country by car but are concerned that it will cost alot.

    We have a certain number of places we want to see such as major cities, Grand Canyon, Memphis and many more.........We are keen to travel the East Coastal Highway then maybe Route 66 from Chicago to LA.

    Has anyone got any advice on how we can make the most of our 3 months? Also, what is the best way to see the country i.e car/coach and how much would it cost roughly?

    Any help would be very much appreciated as we are both unsure on how to plan the trip?
    Last edited by mrhind; 04-27-2006 at 07:45 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Greetings, mrhind...

    And welcome to the RoadTrip America forums!

    If by coach, you mean train or bus, you need to realize that the bus and train systems in this country are more limited than in Europe. Trains have fairly limited routes and, for the most part, only go between major cities. Busses go all over but they are slow and it will be difficult to plan connections to take you where you want to go. I've only done a few short train trips and have no personal experience on our bus systems, so my knowledge here is limited. I would suggest that you scope out the Amtrak website for information about train travel, and Greyhound for busses.

    Out of curiousity, I plugged in a route from Seattle to New York City to see what the fares would be.
    * On Greyhound, it was $198 per person so, for two, that would be $396.00.
    * On Amtrak, it was $184 per person/$368 for two.

    To figure fuel costs, I used a vehicle getting 30mpg and fuel costs of $3.00 per gallon. Fuel for the trip would be about $287. So, just for fuel, the car is cheaper. However, this doesn't include the car rental fees.

    Hertz will rent you an economy car for $621 for 3 months that should get about 30mpg, or maybe even more. However, bear in mind, there might be extra fees for insurance, a fee if you pick it up at one location and drop it off in another, and there might be some limitations on the number of miles you can drive. If these fees aren't too prohibitive, over the course of 3 months, it appears that the car rental and cost of gas would be cheaper than traveling by train or bus. But more thorough research would need to be done to confirm this. You might do a web search for the following car rental companies which are some of the major ones in the US: Hertz, Avis, Nationwide, and Thrifty to get more information on this.

    With the train/bus, you will have limited opportunity to stop and check things out. And, when you do stop, you will need to find alternate transportation to get to what you want to see. Sometimes this will mean finding another bus. Sometimes this will mean renting a taxi. And sometimes this will mean renting a car. It depends on where you want to go. And there will be many times where you will be unable to stop at all and will simply zip past areas you might be interested in seeing. A car gives you far more flexilibility.

    You might want to check out the International Visitors page on this website for some good information to get your started on your research. Near the top of that page is a book called "Drive USA". This was written by a visitor from the UK and should have tons of great information for you. It might be a worthy investment.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Trip by car

    Judy has already given you some excellent advice. I'll just add a few things.

    Amtrak does offer an unlimted ride pass for foreign visitors that is similar to a Eurorail pass. However, Amtrak isn't nearly as nice as the European rail system and your possible destinations are fairly limited.

    I would think a car would be far and away the most pleasant way to see the country. I would recommend renting a car, but try to drop it off at the same place you rent from. You'll find this is much cheaper than trying to drop off a rental at another location, and with 3 months you should have ample time to do a good sized loop of the US, starting an ending from the same place.

    Plus, if you do your trip this way, you can shop around to find the best rates for both Airfare and Rental car costs, as they will vary widely from city to city.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Weeks vs Months

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy
    Hertz will rent you an economy car for $621 for 3 months
    Hertz will be happy to rent you such a car for that price for 3 weeks, for three months, they're going to charge you more like $2400. Also, make sure that you look at the first three or four categories of cars. There usually is not much difference in the rental price between Economy, Compact, and Intermediate, but there can be a whole lot of difference in your comfort level in the different car classes, especially over several months, with a lot of stuff, and if you are bigger than average.

    AZBuck

  5. #5

    Default Travel by car!

    Hi,

    Thanks for your advice, travelling by car seems the best way to see the US. We are thinking of breaking our journey into stages as the car rental for 3 months could get expensive.

    We are thinking of starting at Boston (plan to take a trip to Niagara Falls aswell), travel to New York by coach/train then onto Philadelphia. We can then hire a car to drive down the East Coast Highway to Miami. From Miami we drive up through Atlanta then Memphis then to Chicago. End of car rental, then fly to LA.

    Our next journey will be from LA where we can travel to San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park then make our way back to LA to drop the car off. By breaking our 3 months into chunks we can avoid the cost of a full 3 month rental and rent as and when we need.

    I'm sure we will still have plenty of time left so we will probably catch a bus/train into Western Canada to finish the 3 months.

    Our main concern is the cost of the overall trip. Is there alot of opportunites to camp along our route as staying in hostels/motels every night must get expensive. Also, do you think our plan above is good?

    Any advice is a great help!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Costs

    Your plans for the Northeast U.S. would probably work. There is enough mass transit and rail service between Boston and Washington that you could get by without a car there without much problem.

    However, other than Chicago and a handful of other cities, you'll most US cities outside of the Northeast are lacking in their mass transit options, and getting around without a car can be difficult or expensive (via taxi).

    More imporatantly, I think the drop off penalty from a one-way rental, not to mention the costs of airfare or other transportation between your legs might make this more expensive than just renting a car once. You'll have to shop around though to get some exact prices.

    As far as lodging goes, I've yet to find a place in the US where I can't camp. Its more difficult when you are around major cities, but even on the east coast I've found places within 30-45 miles of the cities like Boston, Philly, and Baltimore. Generally camping will cost you around $20 per night, although you can find it cheaper or even free depending upon where you are. In a lot of places you can find cheap motels for $50 or less, although you will pay more in major cities. Hostels are an option, but they are much more scarce than in europe and their per person costs will probably not make them much cheaper for you and your wife than a cheap hotel.

  7. Default

    I'm planning a trip similar to yours. My girlfriend and I are going to spend three months in the states. After considering all our options we decided the best way to enjoy ourselves will be to rent a sleeper van for the entire journey. The best price I've found is about $6000USD from autoteamusa.com. I'm under 25 and I'm picking up in LA and dropping off in NY, so that has added a bit to the cost.

    This will give us total freedom, and more security I believe. I've heard some bad stories about bus travel in the states. We are budgeting about 15000USD for the total three months, including the rental of the van. It's a lot of money, but we have worked hard to save it up, and I think sometimes budgeting too tightly can restrict the amount of enjoyment you will have on your trip.

    How much USD do you want to budget for the three months?

  8. #8

    Default

    Hi, thanks for the info, I have e-mailed autoteamusa for some prices on different vehicles. Our main concern if we hire a vehicle for 3 months is finding our way around the major cities and also finding places to stay in cities. We want to see the cities aswell as the smaller, more remote towns. Also, not sure how safe it would be for me and my wife in a camper van in US?

    Regarding our budget, we are going on to OZ for a year after our 3 months in USA to work/travel. We need to budget some money for that aswell in case we have problems finding work immediately. If we rent a sleeper van that will save alot on accomodation , we were looking at more like $10,000. We will have to be thrifty but there will days where we travel and won't spend much.

    Not sure if $10k will be enough!?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-28-2006 at 06:58 AM. Reason: format

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default RV Parks in (nearly) every major city in America

    Quote Originally Posted by mrhind
    Our main concern if we hire a vehicle for 3 months is finding our way around the major cities and also finding places to stay in cities.
    I lived in the road for 6.5 years in a custom-built 4-WD motorhome. There are RV parks in every major city or in close proximity. The thing to remember about RVs and cities is that if the roads can accomodate city buses and trucks, RVs are no problem. That being said, it does take some skill to manuever in urban areas -- Personally, the city I enjoy the most for driving over-size vehicles is Manhattan, NY -- it is a little crazy and not for the faint of heart -- but still pretty fun.
    Also, not sure how safe it would be for me and my wife in a camper van in US?
    America is probably the safest place to travel in any kind of vehicle.
    If we rent a sleeper van that will save alot on accomodation , we were looking at more like $10,000.
    Sorry, but I still don't know what kind of vehicle you refer to as a "sleeper van."

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default Sleeper van

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    I lived in the road for 6.5 years in a custom-built 4-WD motorhome. There are RV parks in every major city or in close proximity. The thing to remember about RVs and cities is that if the roads can accomodate city buses and trucks, RVs are no problem. That being said, it does take some skill to manuever in urban areas -- Personally, the city I enjoy the most for driving over-size vehicles is Manhattan, NY -- it is a little crazy and not for the faint of heart -- but still pretty fun.
    America is probably the safest place to travel in any kind of vehicle. Sorry, but I still don't know what kind of vehicle you refer to as a "sleeper van."

    Mark
    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the advice, sounds like we will be fine driving! Please see this website www.autoteamusa.com and select 'vehicles', you will see the sleeper van on there.

    Thanks again!

    Matt

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