NYC, Ann Arbor, then westwards
This is my first post on this wonderful message bord.
We are four friends from Italy. One of us has landed a one year scholarship in Ann Arbor (beginning on september). That has become an excuse for a 3 week trip across the USA, in August.
Being unable to afford a month, I would have opted for a two week stay, with a relaxed schedule, focusing on the Eastern States, but the others remained adamant that it would have to be more or less "coast to coast".
We'll rent a vehicle at the JFK airport.
On the third day, a quick stop in Ann Arbor for bureaucratic fulfillments will be required. We'll then proceed westwards.
The "closing" destination is still to be decided. It should be a city on the west coast or possibly Las Vegas.
I understand we'll have to drive a lot, but we can take turns if needed.
(A couple of two-days stops is not ruled out)
We'd be grateful for any suggestion about the route and especially a *list* of locations not to be missed.
Is "standard" insurance coverage provided by most car rental services enough?
Unfortunately it seems that our Dept. of Transportation only issues a "1968 Vienna Convention" intl. driving license while in the USA, a "1948 Geneva Convention" license would be requested (if at all) by police officers.
Is there any hope for our untranslated italian licenses to be enough?
Any practical piece of advice is welcome.
Thanks in advance.
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
For starters, I would not generally consider the 'standard' insurance (if any) that comes with a rental car to be adequate. But you should check with your own insurance provider, your credit card company, and any auto club that you may belong to what coverage they might provide before paying the very high prices that the rental company will charge for short term (day-by-day) coverage. Be sure to read through this post to get an understanding of what your being sold. Since you're planning to enroll in college, I'm assuming that you and your friends are younger than 25. There will be a very hefty premium for this, around $25/day for each person who will drive during your trip. If you are under 21, finding a rental car will be even more expensive and perhaps impossible.
I can almost guarantee that just showing your Italian license to any policeman who has had cause to ask for it will only get you into more trouble. Get whatever international license you can. This is just a translation of your license into English, and is in essence a courtesy. It's your actual license which says you know how to drive, but if the policeman can't read it, it does you no good. The same goes for your friends, all should have an English version of their licenses.
Two days between New York and Ann Arbor allows for a fairly leisurely pace with some time to see a few things. Along the most direct route (I-80) are Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Now for the rest of your three weeks. That's plenty of time to cross to the west coast if you're planning on flying back, but barely enough time if you're going to drive both ways. Leaving the car on the west coast and flying would be considerably more expensive, both for the plane tickets and the one-way drop-off fee for the car. But you asked for a list of 'must see' venues between Ann Arbor and Las Vegas or the Pacific Coast... so:
Amana Colonies, Iowa
Oregon Trail and landmarks, Nebraska
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Arches National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon and/or Zion National Parks, Utah
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, will take you a couple of days from Las Vegas
Hoover Dam can be visited on the way to the Grand Canyon
If you want to see the Pacific Coast, then I'd recommend that you first head south from Las Vegas on I-15 but then turn west on CA-58 from Barstow to Atascadero, and finally use CA-41 to Morro Bay. CA-1 to the north will then show you some of the unspoiled coast, or to the south will, with US-101, take you into Los Angeles. If you are going to see more than a few of our national parks, a National Parks Pass, available at the first park you come to, will save you a few dollars.
Luckily we're all above 25 years of age
We will drop the car on the west coast and fly back to JFK on the last day.