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  1. #1

    Default Roadtrip Problems!!!

    Hi!

    Myself and girlfriend are planning an east to west trip across the US but on a budget. We are flying into Atlanta (for a counting crows gig!) in september and have till late november to get to San Francisco. Our budget seems alot ($10,000) but this works out at $119 per day and we are a bit worried this might not be enough! Regarding accomodation, we hope to spend about 70% in motels, 30 % camping plus the odd night at family/friends houses and we are not too worried about sourcing cheap food. i really wanted to spend the whole trip with the freedom of a car but after researching prices we have resigned ourselves to a 30 day rail pass to cover the eastern states (to chicago)...we then hope to rent an economy vehicle and travel historic route 66 (budget permitting!) but it just seems so expensive...especially as its a one way hire. We would really appreciate any advice, info or tips at all about cost of trippin' over the pond. we did consider buying a vehicle but this could be more hassle then freedom i think!

    Just wanted to say also this site is sooo helpful when planning a trip!

    Many Thanks
    Last edited by Waratah; 06-18-2006 at 10:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,576

    Default A common problem

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I can say you aren't alone in this problem. Unfortunatly, I don't have any great solutions.

    Is there a way you could make your trip a round trip? That would be one option to bring down your costs. Considering you have a couple of months to work with, that would be one option that would significantly bring down your car rental costs. You could even continue taking the train or get a cheap plane ticket out to SF and then do a big loop around the west.

    Since you do have friends and family here, that would help with one of the major hurrdles of purchasing a car. You could at least have a "home base" to license and insure the car. But there are the high up front costs and the possibility of having to pay for repairs along the way. You'd also get some of that money back when you sell the car at the end of the trip. But yes, purchasing a car is certainly a lot more work than just renting one.

  3. #3

    Default Loop the loop

    Thanks Mike!

    I think a loop around the west is our best option...just one other question...Are the trains in the US very realiable? And do they cover just main routes much like interstates? One thing that worries me is that we might miss out on 'smalltown' america by taking the train...and possibly miss the freedom of the roadtrip experience...

    ...any thoughts?

    Many thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default Well, you'll definitely miss the road trip experience...

    but it does sound like you'll be roadtripping in the American West so you'll still get that experience then.

    If you go on the Amtrak website into the "Routes" section, they have some nice interactive maps and a .pdf file that shows you all the major routes. You can get a good feel for what route you want to take and what areas it will go through. It's certainly not a roadtrip in the traditional sense but it can be a fun way to travel anyway. However, be aware that our train system is quite different than what you're used to in Europe. It's nowhere near as busy, nor does it go to as many places. From the .pdf file of the routes, it looks like they stop in lots of smaller towns/cities. If I were you, I think I'd do the route through Denver and Salt Lake City. But, dang, that northern route through Glacier NP also looks pretty darn cool. It's a tough call, all the cross-country routes will take you past some amazing scenery.

    If this fits into your budget better, you might get a nice balance. I've never travelled much by train here in the US but the few trips I've done have been pretty cool. You see far different things than you do from the road because the routes are quite different....at least in my limited experience.

  5. #5

    Default Many thanks Judy!!!

    Just wanted to say ta for the info and advice...im not completely ruling out buying a car as, like you said, we could miss the road trip experience...but after your post i am much more excited about the idea of rail travel over there..... mmm better get my thinking cap on!

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,258

    Default Alternatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Waratah
    im not completely ruling out buying a car as, like you said, we could miss the road trip experience...
    There is another option, that I am not endorsing, but it might work well for you. Look at this Adventure on Wheels thread.

    Mark

  7. #7

    Default Roadtrip Problems!!!

    Hey all!

    Greetings once again!! Plans are going well for our trip starting in septemeber...i have a question tho and was wondering if anyone could help??

    We are now thinking of ditching the train and buying a car in atlanta with a view to selling it in San fran....would this be reasonably easy or would tax/plates etc affect this? We really have no idea how the car market works over there and dont want to loose too much money so any advice would be much appreciated...

    many thanks


    H

    P.s we have friends in USA where we could put details down for the car so that aint a problem.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,258

    Default It is still borderline

    Quote Originally Posted by Waratah
    We are now thinking of ditching the train and buying a car in atlanta with a view to selling it in San fran....would this be reasonably easy or would tax/plates etc affect this? We really have no idea how the car market works over there and dont want to loose too much money so any advice would be much appreciated...
    Like I have said many times, I think three months is the minimum time frame for breaking even on a purchase and re-sale unless you use one of the brokers discussed earlier in this thread.

    What about borrowing a car from your USA friends?

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,576

    Default Its an option

    Buying a car isn't a bad option, if you've got the money to deal with the large upfront cost.

    Having friends who can provide a "home" address will clear one of the big obsticles you'd face. You will have to pay sales tax and title and registration fees for the car in that location, which will probably run several hundred dollars - depending upon the state. I would try to get information from the DMV from the state that will be your "home" so you'll have a better idea of exactly what you'll need before your departure.

    You'll also have to check into getting insurance, which could be expensive without an US driving record. Again, I'd start researching on the internet to get a ballpark idea of the costs - which will depend on the specific vehicle you end up getting.

    Selling a car shouldn't be too much of a problem. You'll get the best price if you can run an add in a newspaper and wait for a response, but if you are in a hurry, you should be able to find a dealership that will agree to purchase the car from you, albeit at a lower than market value price.

  10. #10

    Default Thanks Michael

    Many thanks Michael...I must look into our funds to make sure this option is feasible! The only problem I amy have is our 'home' address would be in a different state to where we are buying the car...is this a problem? Also regarding insurance, I am looking at an SUV if possible...and have also looked at adventure on wheels dot com who offer buyback options which in thory sounds good but will this also mean getting insurance?

    Apologies for all the questions!

    Thanks again

    H
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-11-2006 at 03:06 PM.

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