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  1. #1

    Default Cross-country roadtrip

    Good day, fellow travellers!

    Me and three of my closest friends are going to cross America this summer, from the 28th of June to the 29th of July to be exact.
    We'll be starting off in Los Angeles, and travel towards New York.
    An early draft of our route is available here.
    We do also plan on going down to Florida, to visit Orlando and Miami, but the plan so far is to go there by plane, as it would be quite a detour to drive.

    Since this is our first time in America, we got (as you probably can imagine) a ton of questions, which I hope some of you can help us find an answer to.

    First off, we plan to buy a car in Los Angeles, preferrably an SUV (Ford Explorer/Expedition-size).
    Have any of you got an recommandations when it comes to buying a car for a roadtrip? Are there any vehicles you would recommend? Any pitfalls we should avoid?

    Next, we'll be setting up a website for the trip, and we're trying to get hold of some mobile broadband that we can use most of the way. So far I've found a few companies in the US that offer this, but I'm uncertain if this is possible to get, seeing how we don't have a permanent adress in the US, nor will we be using it for a lenghty amount of time.
    Any one who's got any experience with this? Any alternatives we should concider?

    And of course - what's worth seeing over there? We've managed to come up with a lot of stuff that we want to see and experience, but I'm sure we've missed a lot as well. We don't like to stray too much off the drafted route, though.

    We've probably got a ton of others questions as well, but there were the first things off the top of my mind. Thanks for any help you can provide us :)
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 02-15-2007 at 03:06 AM. Reason: Link Format

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Welcome Back

    Welcome Back to the RTA Forum. Is this trip the same as your old one, or is this a new plan?

    I don't use mobile internet, so I can't be of much help there. However, you might find it cheapest and easiest to use the free high speed internet access offered at many hotels.

    As far as the car goes, Have you already looked into the insurance and registration issues that often face foreign visitors who look to buy a car?

    How much have you budgeted for your car purchase? In your situation with a limited amount of time, I imagine your best bet will be to simply find a few different models in your price range that you would be interested in, and then find one that is the best deal.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome Back to the RTA Forum. Is this trip the same as your old one, or is this a new plan?
    Thank you :)
    This is pretty much the same as the one we planned for last year, but due to people starting in new jobs, we had to postpone it.
    We'll be ordering the airline tickets tonight (hopefully), so this time it's no turning back :)

    We'll probably be spending around $4000 for the car, and we haven't gotten so far that we've checked into insurance and registration yet. Seeing how purchasing a car for roadtrips seems to be a rather normal practice, even for people coming from abroad, I assume we wont run into any big troubles.
    We still have to read up on it though, I'd hate to have the trip ruined by lack of preparation.

  4. Default There are lots of wireless access points around..

    Quote Originally Posted by Arve View Post
    Thank you :)
    This is pretty much the same as the one we planned for last year, but due to people starting in new jobs, we had to postpone it.
    We'll be ordering the airline tickets tonight (hopefully), so this time it's no turning back :)

    We'll probably be spending around $4000 for the car, and we haven't gotten so far that we've checked into insurance and registration yet. Seeing how purchasing a car for roadtrips seems to be a rather normal practice, even for people coming from abroad, I assume we wont run into any big troubles.
    We still have to read up on it though, I'd hate to have the trip ruined by lack of preparation.
    Check out some of the internet used car markets and look at prices and years/ mileage on some of the cars in that range. You may need to put in a "zip" (postal) code -- but it will give you an idea of what's available in that price range.

    For mobile broadband, there are some services that allow you mobile broadband, but they'll cost you - up to $80-120 a month, plus the special card for it. As an cheaper alternative, get a wireless card for your laptop (I have one which plugs into a USB port), and then use the wireless that's available in many locations. Just about every starbucks coffee house (and their competitors) has a wireless access point, as do most major truck stops and hotels. I've found that most middle-range and above hotels offer wireless as well -- at least in their lobby area -- and many have a high speed connection point either in the room, or in a "business center" for their guests to use. In many places the local public library also offers free high speed internet access. You may need to pay for this access -- I've seen prices from $5 for all day to $12 an hour, or some price per month. If you're planning on using it for hours and hours, doing it every couple of days to check emails and upload to a blog, you might be better off just using whatever access points are around.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Not minor issues

    I would certainly do a lot of research about purchasing a car. I'm not sure that purchasing a car for a roadtrip, especially if you are from out of the country, is nearly as common as you might think. There are a lot of potential roadblocks as far as registration and insurance go. The topic comes up quite frequently, but unfortuantly, we don't get a lot of feedback from foriegn visitors who have actually tryed (sucessful or unsucessful) to purchase a US car for their roadtrip.

    I will also say that by the time you factor in the costs of insurance, registration, taxes, and the significant depreciation you'll inevitably see from needing to sell a car quickly, renting could very easily be a cheaper and more reliable option for you.

    $4k also might not buy you as much car as you might hope, especially if you have your heart set on a Expedition sized SUV. Just doing a quick search on Autotrader, I couldn't find any of those in the LA area for $4k or under, and even with the smaller explorer, most of them were 10 or more years old with 130+ miles on them, and any vehicle of that age is certainly at a high risk of developing a mechanical problem during a month long roadtrip.

    I imagine there are ways to overcome all of those obsticles, but it is going to require some thinking, and perhaps rethinking, to pull this off as you currently have planned.

  6. #6

    Default Rent

    Hi Arve!

    I think you should rent instead of trying to buy a car. Since your time is very limited, I think you donīt want to spend several days with buying a car, get the registration, buy an insurance and so. And you also donīt want to spend time with selling it again.

    I checked some rental sites, and as an example, to rent a SUV Chevrolet Trailblazer from National, picking it up at Los Angeles Airport, and then drop it 31 days later in Newark Airport outsige New York, will cost you less then $2400. Thats 14000NOK and I canīt figure out any way to buy a car and loose less money.

    I have checked and there is a lot of more or less free WLAN-sites all over US, but 3G hasnīt really come there yet, and the coverage for Internet isnīt too good outside great citys and the interstate highways.

    Bernt Bergkvist
    Stockholm, Sweden

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Use motels!

    Quote Originally Posted by Arve View Post
    Any one who's got any experience with this? Any alternatives we should consider?
    Without doubt the best "deal" on mobile broadband is.... Don't try it! I have been using some form of wireless/mobile broadband since 1994 and while it does work in some places, it is not convenient for updating to the web (unless that is the parameter you wish to promote). By far, the best alternative is to stay overnight from time-to-time a motels that offer and provide "free" broadband internet connections. The chain I like the best is Holiday Inn Express because of the combination of good Internet access, decent breakfasts, great showers and generally comfortable rooms. Access to high-speed Internet access is a daily requirement for me when I am on the road and I do not mess with wireless connections at all anymore....(unless I am preparing an article for a magazine that wants that parameter....)

    Mark

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by berrafromsweden View Post
    I checked some rental sites, and as an example, to rent a SUV Chevrolet Trailblazer from National, picking it up at Los Angeles Airport, and then drop it 31 days later in Newark Airport outsige New York, will cost you less then $2400. Thats 14000NOK and I can´t figure out any way to buy a car and loose less money.
    I just did the same, and I ended up with $5748, or close to 35,000 NOK. Seeing how none of us are 25 at the time of the trip, we have to pay additional fee's for this.

    Thanks for all your feedback so far, we're trying to get some more info about purchasing a car now, I've tried calling the DMV, but all I got was the joy of listening to muzak for 15 minutes before I hung up - I'll try again tomorrow.
    I'll try and see if I can try contacting either the American embassy in Norway or Norway's embassy in America, and see if they can help me come up with an answer.

    And for mobile internet, I was thinking something like this.
    [EDIT: Just read your comment, Mark - if most of the motels provide wireless internet, it will probably do just fine for us. Our ambition was to put two webcams in the car, and broadcast most of the trip (with images though, not streaming video). We did this for a roadtrip we had around Norway in 2005, and it worked like a charm. This was using GPRS on my cellphone, and with my current subscription I pay a maximum of around $3.5 pr day, no matter the amount of data transfered.]

    Anyways, the car issue aside untill I've researched this a bit further - what should we see while we're travelling across this vast country?

  9. Default Check out international student advice as well..

    Another option to check out, even if you call the Norweign Embassy in the US, is what advice they offer international students in the US to buy a car.

    Most of the advice I've seen published was at universities for international students when they wanted to buy a car.

  10. #10

    Default

    Seems like purchasing a car in the US is close to impossible for foreigners travelling through, I've spoken to both Norways embassy in USA, and the American embassy in Norway, as well as a couple of insurance companies.

    Seems like both registering a car, as well as insuring it, will require a permanent residential adress in USA (a postbox will not suffice) is pretty much impossible.
    Another issue would be insurance (if they would've let us use a P.O. box) is the length of their insurance plans, the shortest was six months.

    Seems like we're back to renting, our biggest concern regarding this is the reluctant attitude from both AVIS and Hertz, as they have a tendency of not replying to mails (which seems to go for several other companies over there).

    Anyways, time to start looking for "cheap" rentals ;-)

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