First of all, Iīm from Sweden and English is my second language. I therefor will apologise for the sometimes poor language and misspellings. If something is unclear, please ask.
Me and my wife is planning to do a roadtrip in August/September 2007. We will start in New York, and the initial plan was to cross the country once. But, since the one-way-fee is pretty high (at least $500) and since we wanted to see so many different places, we decided to cross from East to West in the south, then up through California, and cross again from West to East in the north, to see Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, the Swede-state Minnesota and the Niagara Falls.
We calculate something like six weeks, and we know we will only have some kind of "US-express-light-trip", but itīs better then nothing. We have been travelling a lot in Europe by car and know we have no problem with go 600 miles in a day, and then see a great city for a day or two, and then go 600 miles in a day again. The tour is very roughly like this:
San Diego (Very long trips through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona)
San Fransisco (The coastal No 1-way)
But, this is gonna cost a lot, and my budget so far is as follows:
I have from Google maps added 25% extra for all distances we are going to travel. I think that will be enough, since we donīt have time for some spectacular extra trips to somewhere else. First I added only 10%, but I like to be on the safe side. Anyone with an other opinion?
Rent a Car costs $85/day incl taxes and insurances for foreigners.
We prefer a big premium car, since weīre going to run 10,000 miles, and weīre not too small. The difference in price between an intermediate and a premium is not too big. Budget says 60 dollars more expensive in 42 days rental, and I think itīs worth it. Iīve been heard that I need SLI-insurance and LDW-insurance, which cost me $22/day. Do I need any more insurances? (We have swedish insurance for sickness, any accidents and any kind of hospitality need for our self).
Budget gave us a price, un-negotiated on their website, at aprox $67/day incl taxes and incurances. But I know there will be parking fees, there will be fees for using the road, to cross a bridge, to use a tunnel and so on.
A premium car needs more gas. Therefor I have calculated with 25 cents per mile. Unless OPEC, Al Qaida and other painmakers donīt do any very unpleassant, will that be enough? Does any car rentals have deals with gas companies, that will give you a discount when you fill your gas there? Even 5 or 10 cents/gallon will be some money at the end.
We will sleep at motels not to far from the mainroads that we will use. I have checked some of them, and prices seems to be $50-$80/night + taxes for a room for us. I have calculated $110/night, so even if there is more expensive around Mt Rushmore, around Yellowstone and so, I think that will be enough. I have the same question about motels? Does any car rentals have deals with motels, that gives you $5 discount/night? Or, does the different chains often deals like "Sleep 5 nights with us, get the 6:th night for free"? That can be a lot of money to save. Has mostly motels and hotels free or cheap internet access if I bring my laptop computer in the luggage?
Food is next post in our budget. We will try to buy soda, water, fruits and candy in ordinary grocery stores since itīs much cheaper than buying it on gas stations or truck-stops. We also plans to have breakfast that way most of the days. Weīve found out that we loose to much valuable time when start looking for a place to eat in the morning. Lunch will probably be on fastfood restaurants, and then try to eat something real at a restaurant at the evening. The budget is $85/day, will that be enough?
I have an additional question about tipping, since we donīt have that system in Sweden.
15% at restaurants it says in the guidebooks, but they also say I should not tip at McDonalds. OK, but where is the difference between a non-tipable restaurant, and a place where they expect me to tip them? Dennyīs?
It also says I will tip at hotels. Is a Motel the same "tipping-object" as a Hotel? Should I tip the lady that clean the room after me and my wife has sleept for 8 hours and taking a shower? How much will I tip?
Is it anything more I should know about tipping? Gas-stations? Parkings? Grocery stores? Can I tip with credit card? I really donīt have any idea and it makes the budget a little bit to roughly for me.
The last post in our budget is "everything else". Itīs $70/day and will include everything like ice cream, CDīs, newspapers, postcards, souvenirs and doing laundry. Is it hard to find laundromats in US? Can you park a car outside? Is it expensive? Will it take long time? We donīt have laundromats in Sweden, so I have to ask.
I donīt know so much about traffic in US, but I understand that speedlimits on Interstates are usually 65-75mph. I have calculated with an average speed of 45mph on the roads, for accidents ahead, for heavy traffic and for having time to stop and fueling, take a picture, visit a restroom and stuff like that. Will it be OK? (We will try to find motels on the "other side" of towns when stopping just for the night, so we donīt need to pass the city in the mornings rush hours).
Is it easy to buy a cellphone and prepay for calls to Sweden? Will it cost a lot?
How much extra equipment can you have inside a rented car? I mean, we probably will buy some kind of refrigerator for cars, so we always have cold drinks. We also have an GPS-navigator, we have a cell-phone and we have a computer that my wife can use for editing pictures and so during the drive. Will the battery and generator handle that?
Thanks for reading all this. I will be very glad for every answer.