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  1. Default Gap Year Road Trip

    Hey there!
    I'm from the UK and I'm really hoping to go on a road trip in two years' time for my Gap Year. I'm not sure whether anyone knows what a gap year is but it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I'm quite young at the moment I'm 16 and hoping to go when I'm 18 and I can drive. I want to go from New York, then South through North Carolina to Florida then to Texas, California, Colorado, Chicago, Pensylvania then back to New York again. It's just a great dream of mine to be able to do this and I just think it'd be a great experience. I know there'd be a LOT of hardships along the way and I'd try to deal with it the best I can. I will be bringing one or two friends, no more than two.

    Does anyone have any idea approximately how long it would take noting that we would stay for a bit in a few destinations, what kind of vehicle I should use and how much money I would need for the entire trip?

    Thank you very much! =)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Wish more kids took Gap Years here in the US!

    Heck, I think us middle-aged folks should get a gap year, too!

    Anyway, I think you should start with finding out more about travel in the US by reading some good books. I would recommend starting with Drive USA, written by an English man for international visitors to the US. It will give you a lot of good tips and ideas for what you'd need to do and plan for.

    Another place with lots of good info is the International page on this website. Check out the links and read through them for lots of good info.

    Now, for some bad news. It's extremely difficult for anyone under age 25 to rent a car in the US. If you can find one, there will be a surcharge. And it can be hard for an international visitor to purchase a car and get insurance. You really need to do some research here to see what you can swing to make it work best for you.

    Your trip will be a minimum of about 6900 miles. That's minimum with no side-trips or other explorations. Figure a good 120 hours to travel this, at minimum. That doesn't include time for stops for food, fuel, sightseeing, traffic congestion or construction, etc.

    Time to travel? 2 weeks to 2 months to 2 years. The minimum time to travel would probably be 2 weeks but you wouldn't get much sightseeing in and you would be pretty darn tired most of your trip as you would be driving long hours each day. The US is huge....even bigger than all of Europe. You need to get some perspective on the size of this undertaking.

    I think you should spend some time exploring the web resources and book I mentioned above. It's good you have a couple of years for planning! And enjoy the can be almost as much fun as the trip itself. (Well, that might be a bit of an exagerration, LOL)

  3. Default

    I do have an idea of how big the US really is, I know that even Texas is bigger than the UK itself.

    Thanks for the book referances! I've been looking for a book to help me for a while now and I'll check that one out in a bookstore.

    I was told once that I would probably need about £/$15,000 for the entire trip which is a little scary but would you say around that price?

    For the vehicle I'm thinking a kind of motorhome or something similar to that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Help with budgeting

    Here's a post I write about budgeting that might help you start getting some ideas about how much you need to save.

    Personally, I'm unsure about how you would go about getting a motorhome for your trip. It's going to be hard enough getting a car at your age. For the long miles you're planning on traveling, I believe a motorhome will end up costing you more than driving in a car and staying in inexpensive motels.

    When you're reading my above-post on budgeting, please remember that the camping fees I'm referring to are for tent camping. If you need hook-ups, you can easily pay a minimum of $20/night on up to about $35/night. You won't be paying all that much less than you would be paying by staying in inexpensive hotels and the slight savings will definitely be spent in the extra gas.

    Consider this:
    A mid-size car averaging 25mpg would cost you roughly $700 for fuel at $2.50 per gallon.
    An RV typically gets closer to 10mpg and would cost you about $1,750 just in fuel.

    You can stay in a lot of hotels for the extra $1,050 you'd spend in fuel alone.

    Yes, there are times you might be able to get away with paying no camping stopping for the night at some Wal-Mart parking lots...but that's not the most pleasant way to spend the night and I don't think you'd do it enough to offset the higher fuel costs.

    Just my 2 cents. I'm sure some will disagree with me and, hopefully, they'll chime in so you can get both points of view.

    To me, it makes far more sense to drive in a car because the driving itself is more enjoyable. And, if you want to camp sometimes, you can purchase very inexpensive camping gear at places like Wal-Mart for about $100 and do some tent-camping. Just donate your camping gear to a Goodwill or Salvation Army store before you head back to the UK.

  5. Default

    Driving in the US is going to be daunting, especially if you will have only recently passed your test... How about looking into a working holiday? organise working holidays for British students, and will help you to sort a Visa, social security number etc. I'm going to Vancouver, Canada on one of their Work Canada programmes this summer, and they definately provide some much-needed help.

    With regards to the car, I have contacted the government office in charge of vehicles in British Columbia and they seem fine about a UK citizen buying and insuring a car. They will ask for a permanent address, however this will be the local SWAP (Student Work Abroad Program - Canada's version of BUNAC) office. Cars seem pretty cheap up there too, so you can expect to get something perfect for the trip for around £750 (CAN$ 1500). You may want to consider starting the trip in Canada and working your way down - Toronto is fairly close (relatively :) ) to NY and Chicago... Anyway, wouldn't it be cooler to say you toured the US AND Canada... ;)

    Hope it all goes well!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Is this your first time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunja
    I'm going to Vancouver, Canada on one of their Work Canada programmes this summer, and they definately provide some much-needed help.
    Lunja, Is this your first time with this organization? We would very much like to learn more about this option.


  7. Default

    It is indeed. If you go over to you can find out more.

    BUNAC organise travel and working holidays for British students to countries including the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa, as well as volunteering trips to some African and South American countries. For a fee they will help an applicant to apply for a Visa allowing them to live and work in that country. My Canadian visa will allow me multiple entries for one year, and also allow me to work and earn roadtrip money :) Their Canadian equivalent is SWAP (Student Work Abroad Program, who may also be in the US) and is open to students and non-students aged 18-30 (I think).

    I may sound like a rep, but I can assure you I'm not :)

    Hope this helps guys. If you would like anymore info just ask!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default What kind of cars?

    Cars seem pretty cheap up there too, so you can expect to get something perfect for the trip for around £750 (CAN$ 1500).
    I'm a little curious what kind of cars you are looking at in this price range. While it is possible to find a suitable car for that much money, you'll probably be looking at something that's at least 10 years old with high milage. I would probably be at least a little worried taking something like that on a long distance trip, especially if I didn't know the history of the car.

    Generally I think you can find get much better value looking at cars in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Seems a little sketchy to us!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunja
    Cars seem pretty cheap up there too, so you can expect to get something perfect for the trip for around £750 (CAN$ 1500).
    I share Midwest Michael's concern about what kind of car this could be. This would convert to about $1,285 (USD) and I wouldn't dream of recommending such a vehicle to anyone who plans to go more than around the block. I would agree that you should not even consider a vehicle for use on an extensive road trip for less than 2,487.98 EUR. (CAN$3,479.64 and USD$2,981.31)

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-23-2006 at 09:24 AM. Reason: added the conversions for CAD and USD

  10. Default

    Ah, OK. I emailed the guys at and they thought CAN$1500 would get us something good. I'll take your advice though- don't want the car to die in the desert :)

    See, in the UK we have standard vehicle tests which a car has to take each year to check its roadworthyness. I've heard of AirCare in BC but as far as I know there is no standard vehicle test. Is there any way, other than being a mechanic, of ensuring a cars' quality?

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