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  1. Default Brits looking to road trip east to west

    Hi guys, just a a few brits who are suckers for the romantic idea of the american road trip, (hopefully in a classic american car).

    TO be honest though, we know nothing of what to do an was looking for dome help or some direction in planning the trip.

    Ther will prob be 4 of us but that could rise to 6, would hiring 2 cars be too expensive or would a 7seater do?

    We also don't know ehere to start although we ultimately would like to finish in l.a. New York/Newark/Philadephia seem the most obvious startin points but we're sure though. Also some help on some nice backroad routes would be great aswell, including route 66 and other roads would be good. We would also like to stoop off a couple of big cities aswell if thats possible.

    We haven't set out a budget yet since we don't know the cost of anythin in the states or how long it will take. I assume it will be 3 weeks. We'r not sure of petrol costs, assumin we have a car which does 30/40 mpg. In terms of food we're looking at eating sandwiches most the time and some times eating at resaturants.

    In terms of accomodation, we're lookin at camping for at least half the time, so how much would campsites cost. We're looking to buy of the equipment from the states since the the exchange rate is so nice right now. also how much will motels cost and will we be able to get rooms as we go or shall we pre-book?

    Im looking at a round figure of £600 which is around $1100 at the mo but i'm not entirely sure if this is do able.

    I apologize for the vagueness and length of this post but I have literally no clue on where to start. I'd love some help or a starting point where I could go on and do some more research.

    I think everything is covered......over to experts

    Thanks

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

    Default Start Here!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum, an excellent place to start planning a roadtrip adventure.

    Ther will prob be 4 of us but that could rise to 6, would hiring 2 cars be too expensive or would a 7seater do?
    If you should end up with 6 people, you should be able to find a very large SUV or a minivan with 7 seats that you can use. Just keep in mind the 3rd row of seats usually is where the cargo should go, so you'll have to limit your luggage, and look into things like car top carriers to store your extra stuff.

    We'r not sure of petrol costs, assumin we have a car which does 30/40 mpg.
    You can start with looking at the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator. Just keep in mind, a car that comfortably seats 4 people for a major trip probably will get closer to 20-25 mpg. If you end up with a 7 seat SUV, with a car top carrier, you could see your mpg drop to near 10 mpg.

    We haven't set out a budget yet since we don't know the cost of anythin in the states or how long it will take.
    Your budget will be a function of the time you spend on the road. So the first step will be to decide if you have more time or more money. Take what ever you have the most of and build your trip from there.

    Im looking at a round figure of £600 which is around $1100 at the mo but i'm not entirely sure if this is do able.
    Is this number total or per person? If its total, I think your figures will be way, way too low. If you drive 5,000 miles in an average car, you'll likely be spending at least $700-800 on fuel alone. Campsites usually cost $15-20 per night, with low end motels usually charging about $50 per night. You'll also need to spend around $150-200 to get a tent, sleeping bags, and some other basic camping gear for 4 people at a discount store.

    I apologize for the vagueness and length of this post but I have literally no clue on where to start. I'd love some help or a starting point where I could go on and do some more research.
    Look around here. There are lots of great information on the forum. Start by looking at the "Sticky" threads at the top of each Topic. There are also dozens of great articles in the Roadtrip Planning section of this website.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default Make Sure You Cruise 66

    At some point, get on the venerable Route 66. It will give you a good taste of America and goes through Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Flagstaff, Albuquergue, and LA. Plus, you'll pass the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon.

    You can get lots of information right here at RTA and, of course, there are a lot of internet sites devoted to it.

    Gas/petrol, here in the Midwest is approaching $3 a gallon.

    Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

  4. Default Another opinion...

    Hello Ahmer,

    First of all, 3 weeks is a doable time for a road trip in the US. However, with that period of time you'll need to pick and chose a little bit on where you go. As a rough rule of thumb, if you do nothing but drive, the US is about 2 days drive North-to-South (and I mean like being in the car like 10 hours a day), and about 5 days driving East-to-West. So, you *can* drive across the US in 3 weeks -- but you can't see everything and you may not be spending a lot of time in places.

    Where would you like to go? What type of things would you like to see? are there any places you really would like to visit? That will set up a bit of structure for more detailed planning.

    I'll echo also a bit on the budgeting. The $1100 is way too little for 3 weeks. If its $1100 per person, you should be better. Gas in the US is running around $3-3.50 per gallon, check the RoadTripAmerica fuel cost calculator. Depending upon the vehicle, you'll be spending $20-60 per day on the road. The bigger vehicles will get somewhat lower mileage, and its always useful to have a bit of margin in the planning for budgets. And don't forget to budget for the cost of a rental vehicle.

    Hotels of reasonable quality will run from $50-80 per night in my experience for 2 people, with hotels in major cities costing more up to outrageous amounts for 5 star accommodations. Additional people run from $10-30 per person, depending upon the hotel.

    Campgrounds will be less expensive, running about $15-25 in my experience, but have widely varying amenities. Typically that price will cover one camp site, good for about 6 people and 2 vehicles (sometimes one vehicle). But you typically have to provide your own food and camping equipment, etc. Some places, particularly in the middle of nowhere, may be pretty sparse -- just a fire ring, and access to bathrooms and water (but those can be very inexpensive in the $6-10/ night range).

    I sort of would recommend 2 vehicles for 7 people. This gives you a bit more flexibility in traveling (you can mix and match the people, there's not a need to get consensus/ take a vote any time you want to do something, and you'll have a bit more room for gear). Camping gear for 7 people will be probably in the range of $100-150 per person (sleeping bag, pad, share of a tent, and share of common equipment like a stove, pots& pans, etc). You *can* bring some of this stuff from the UK if you want to, or ship it back. There are lots of places to get this, with costs ranging from very reasonable to quite outrageous for more specialty gear (lighter, warmer, smaller, etc.) and you can put it on your credit card.

    Food costs in the US are pretty reasonable. Fast food places abound, with costs per meal from $5-7 per person. A sit down dinner place will run from $10-30 per person, and of course a fancy restaurant can be more expensive. Buying food in a grocery store/ supermarket is what I typically do on a trip, and that runs typically from $10-15 per day per person for 3 meals (nothing fancy). You can also load up an ice chest ("cooler") to hold non-frozen food, and have sandwiches and picnic lunches on the road which really do stretch your budget.

    I will also note that you should be able to get access to your bank account through ATM (Automated Teller Machines) in the US and the big names for credit cards (VISA, Master Card, etc) also work in the US. Check with your bankcard issuer to see what international networks they belong to (eg, check their web site...)

    You can pre-book reservations for vehicles and hotels and campsites at most places, using a credit card to hold the reservation. But if you're traveling out of the common vacation period (August), you usually can find a place to stay if you're not in a high demand vistor area (*inside* the more popular national parks, a campsite *on* the beach, a hotel *next* to Disneyland, etc.) It's not uncommon for folks to travel and either take pot luck where for accommodations where they end up for the day, or use a cell phone to call ahead mid afternoon after they've picked a stopping spot to find accmodations. I would encourage you getting some guidebooks which list hotels/motels and campground to give you an idea of what's available in the area though. The most common are from the US Automobile Association, although there are many others, including a number reviewed on this website.

    And lastly, as an alternative to driving from Atlantic to Pacific (although that just sounds cool by itself), you might consider flying to somewhere like Orlando or Chicago or Denver or something and starting there. For example, starting at Denver you can go go north through Montana to Yellowstone National Park, then south through Denver and the Rocky Mountains, eventually down into Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and then west via Grand Canyon and Las Vegas into California (LA, Yosemite, San Francisco). That can be a full three weeks in itself, and hits many of the major natural wonders in the US. But that totally misses the east coast of the US and the south, and mid-west.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-17-2007 at 09:10 AM. Reason: added link to the calculator

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Don't forget 1-way drop off charges!

    Larrison's idea for picking an area to circle has merit because the drop-off charges for picking up a car one place and leaving it in another are fairly expensive. You might want to check out the expenses for renting a larger 7+ passenger van, including the drop-off charges. Also also price a car for 4 people including drop-off charges. You might be surprised at how big a bite out of your budget this is.

    If you can swing it, I also agree with taking 2 cars. It's nice to be able to switch-around people from car to car. No matter how much you might enjoy each other's company. Sometimes people get on each other's nerves. This will allow people to take breaks from each other. And if people disagree on where to go, what to do, you can always go different directions and meet up later.

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