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  1. Default Coast to coast, what, where, how?

    Greetings to all fellow travellers!
    Been lurking on the forum for a while and have gathered lots
    of usefull information, thanks to all posters!!

    Me and a friend have finally decided to visit the United States (males, 33yrs., Norwegians).
    We are doing the old " coast to coast in a month" thing, arriving in NY the 14th of june, leaving from LA a month later.
    The plane tickets are bought but regarding planning we have a lot of work to do.
    We do know that we want to see Chicago, we are both architects and visiting the roots of modern steel architecture is a must.

    What:
    What we really want to do is to experience as much as possible of
    the diversity in modern America, from the big cities to the endless agricultural grid of the midwest, from small picket fence towns to the glittering neon lights of Las Vegas, from the lone deserts to the lush forrests and so on...

    Where:
    The route we have in mind is NY-Chicago-Denver-Vegas-SanFran-LA.
    Anyone know if this route will give us a little glimpse of what we are looking for or if it is even possible in a month? To be honest I have no idea about what to look for between NY and Chicago or between Chicago and Las Vegas. After reading this forum though it seems that the triangle of Las Vegas, SanFran and LA have a lot to offer so it is probably wise to spend enough time there? (We are not afraid of 15 hour driving sessions if that is what it takes to get us across this huge land)

    How
    After browsing through the usuall suspects ( Alamo,Hertz,Budget,Avis etc.)
    we realized that renting a car would be a lot more expensive than we first thought, 26 days, one way fee, around 3000$ ( the one way fee alone is usually 1000$!!). Then my friend got a tip about Holiday autos, they would charge us 1800$ for the same trip, with a better car. Sounds to good to be true so I would love it if anyone has some experience with Holiday Autos to share.
    Another thing regarding renting a car is the insurance jungle, if someone have information on what you actually need as an european driver in US it would be very helpfull, if that information is easier to grasp than the stuff the renting companys have on their web sites it would be even more helpfull.

    Thanks to everyone bothering to read all this and to everyone
    posting comments, hopefully I will be able to write a few lines after the trip as well.

    best regards
    Tezza

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Pittsburgh!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tezza
    Me and a friend have finally decided to visit the United States
    We are doing the old " coast to coast in a month" thing,
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! One of the cities you have to go to is Pittsburgh -- the re-birth of this city and the modern skyline is something to behold. Plus the Alcoa building is a triumph of design. A month will give you time for a fast overview.
    What we really want to do is to experience as much as possible of the diversity in modern America,
    I would suggest that you look at the map routing that the guys from Quest-4 did -- they had similar goals, from a different philosophical perspective. You can't do their entire route in your time period -- but it will shed some light on possible alternatives.
    After browsing through the usuall suspects ( Alamo,Hertz,Budget,Avis etc.) we realized that renting a car would be a lot more expensive than we first thought, 26 days, one way fee, around 3000$ ( the one way fee alone is usually 1000$!!). Then my friend got a tip about Holiday autos, they would charge us 1800$ for the same trip, with a better car. Sounds to good to be true so I would love it if anyone has some experience with Holiday Autos to share.
    We have never heard of them. Such deals probably exist, but I would be leery of them. Your relatively short time in America is too valuable to waste, broken down in a small town awaiting a repair job someplace.
    Another thing regarding renting a car is the insurance jungle, if someone have information on what you actually need as an european driver in US it would be very helpfull, if that information is easier to grasp than the stuff the renting companys have on their web sites it would be even more helpfull.
    Some basic info is pulled together here, read the entire thread...

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. Default

    Thanks a lot Mark!

    Very usefull information in the insurance thread.
    Will check out Pittsburgh for sure. (it is always good to end up in places you never thought you would go to)

    Best regards
    Tezza

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Greetings!

    You have enough time to see some of the highlights of the US. However, truly exploring this large country could take years.

    I would suggest that you go to some of the links listed on the "Routes, Itineraries, and Advice" page on this website. It should give you lots of great ideas. Of course, reading through these forums can also be quite helpful.

    Most of us here have the philosophy that there are no boring roads. The topography of this country is very diverse. Not all forests look the same. Not all deserts look the same. Not all fields, mountains, or meadows look the same. Not all farmlands look the same. And so on. If you're open to the pleasures the road brings you, you will enjoy each stage of your trip.

    I think your basic route is a good one. But don't be so hurried to get to the Great Southwest portion of the US that you rush through the amazing sights in the other areas.

    If you have some specific questions, please ask. We're here to help.

  5. #5

    Default Don't rush it

    Hi Tezza,
    As a European who did some of what you're planning this summer (Chicago westwards to Seattle), the best tip I can offer is to take in what Judy says above and enjoy the actual journey. Now, that might sound like bland encouragement but it's serious advice. Don't rush across those spaces that look empty on the map just to get to your next 'big destination' - the whole point of a road trip is the experience ... otherwise it would simply be a multi-site holiday with bits of driving in between.

    I promise you - the huge skies, wide open landscapes and empty roads will stick in your memory just as long as Manhattan and all the rest. So don't rush it. There are an awful lot of kms from one coast to the other so there's a real temptation to keep ticking them off and missing out on real life America.

    As far as Chicago's concerned, the Sears Tower's fine and all that but the Hancock Center is so much more impressive for some reason - and has breathtaking views. At the Sears you can wander around and read display boards explaining the history of the city and its most famous sons and daughters (but, bizarrely, absolutely no mention of Al Capone!); at the Hancock you can sit and have a beer next to floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows.

    Finally, if you do decide that a bigger name car hire company is the safer option, you could do a lot worse than booking through Trailfinders (don't know if they're in Norway but you can find them online). They only represent Alamo but they do offer the real advantage of one-price booking, i.e. no hidden extras, plus I'm sure insurance was included.

  6. Default

    Thanks for the tips and thoughts Judy.
    I share your view that very few roads are boring, in fact I often find roads labelled as " boring" extremely interesting.

    In my local travelbook store they have the Rand Mcnally road atlas USA 2006. Will it be enough for us to find our way across and are all the
    back roads in there as well?

    Best regards
    Tezza

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Unsolicited Testimonial

    I use Rand McNally for most of my trip planning, in fact, I've got two of them within arms reach of the computer. Around here you can pick them up for about $5 at any Wal-Mart type store, so I generally pick up a new one each year (that and after a year or two of service, tend to loose the cover and any state before Delaware). Personally, I also like rand mcnally's website better than mapquest or a lot of the other online mapping sites.

    RM has the "main" back roads covered, but it can't and doesn't include every back road. If you want to get farther off the beaten path, then an individual state map will have more detail, or for serious backroading, there are Gazateers that break each state down into a 50-or so page book and include pretty much every highway, road, or dirt path in the state.

  8. Default

    vambo25:
    You talk a lot of sense in your post, i will try to follow your advice and be sure not to rush things as we go along, thanks!

    Midwest Michael:
    Good to hear that Rand McNally is quality, will pick it up tomorrow and start
    some serious planning ( for some reason I find it easier with maps on paper versus maps on the net).

    Best regards
    Tezza

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Paper

    You're not alone in prefering paper maps. When it comes to plotting out a trip, I've got my head in an atlas. A computer program is great for calculating distance and giving suggestions once you've already got an idea of where you are going, but it can't compare when it comes to planning where those destinations might be.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Free state maps are easy to get

    Once you have decided which states you want to go through, contact the tourism offices of those states. A google search like "Missouri state tourism", for example, should take you to the state tourism office. Not only will you find a wealth of information on their websites, but they will always have contact info where you can request a copy of their free travel guides. These are usually excellent with lots of great information. And, quite often, they also send you a free roadmap of their state.

    Unless you're going to do some serious exploring down forest service roads and other less traveled areas, you probably won't have need for a Gazzetter. I rarely use mine unless I'm going on forest service roads to hiking areas.

    I would get the Rand-McNally for overall planning but the individual state maps are more detailed with more smaller roads shown. If you are sticking closer to main highways, the Rand-McNally atlas may really be all you need. But, if you get detailed state maps for free with your guidebook, even better!

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