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  1. Default Coast to Coast roadtrip & 4 friends..

    Happy New Year everyone.

    I have been doing some early research on a roadtrip me and 3 friends are planning for the summer, and happened to find this gem.

    We have for a long time have had this talk about how wonderful it would be to drive in an old american car on Route 66 heading for Vegas or California.
    Stop by a motel on the road, leave early next morning and drive towards to the sun.
    Very influenced by the movies:)
    We are from Scandinavia, so the nature is a bit different, and it would be so cool of some of you have a little to share og hints.

    Basically I have been thinking route 66 as the distance we go, but I also think it would be so cool to experience Florida.
    I believe so far the best would be to fly to NY, stay for some days and experience NY, and then start the Road Trip.
    How much time is recommended?we talked about 3 weeks, but looking at threads here, it seems like it might be a little short?
    How long does it usually take to drive if we don't say for several days in each state, but just head for California?

    In California we want to experience Universal Studios, Disneyland and all these things. We also want to experience San Francisco for some days.

    Any suggestions Budget wise?
    We want to either buy or rent a car. Nothing fancy at all, rather and old rusty American car(but ofcouse it might brake down on the road).
    I have also done a little search on mini camper rental, but didn't find anything reasonable in terms of pricing.
    Do you know any?


    Thanks for the help
    Kind Regards

    Dan

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

    Default Big Challenge

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The first thing I need to tell you is that America is not very much like the movies. If what you are looking for is what you see in the movies, you probably aren't going to find it. The quint little roadside motel in the middle of nowhere is a cute image that works well in hollywood, but those actual kind of places are certainly the exception and not the norm.

    Following that right along, despite the image of what is in the movies, classic cars (rusty or not) aren't exactly dime a dozen. Short of a specialty company, its going to be pretty much impossible to rent the kind of car that you are talking about. Buying a car as a foreign resident isn't easy either, and since your trip will only be over a matter of weeks, you'll almost certainly up up paying a pretty high cost to go this route too.

    In terms of getting across the country, you can make the trip in as little as 5 days, if you are only driving and not stopping along the way. That also assumes that you are traveling on freeways, not the 2 lane highways (like the decommissioned route 66) that are always popular in the movies.

    I'm not trying to burst your bubble, and you can have a great time taking a trip across the US, but I think you'll be better off taking a very thoughtful look at what you want to do, and not just try to replicate a fictional image that is often repeated in the movies.

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

    Default Mini-campers aren't cheap to rent

    And you will pay higher prices in campgrounds for overnight stops. Of course, fuel is more but, then again, our fuel prices are so much less than you pay in Scandinavia that this probably won't bother you as much as it does some of us. So, sorry, can't help you with finding a cheap rental. Also, Michael's estimate of 5 days to drive coast-to-coast would need to be bumped up at least 1 day because you will likely be driving at slower speeds, so figure at least 6 days to cross the country.

    I did have to chuckle about "leave early next morning and drive towards to the sun" as the sun would be at your back until afternoon. LOL

    I have to agree with Michael that basing what you expect to see on old movies is probably going to disappoint you a bit. Not that America isn't still a beautiful country, with many scenic vistas and interesting places to explore, but corporations have taken over and there just aren't as many unique "mom and pop" establishments as there used to be. They're still out there but they're harder to find.

    Question...would you mind saying how old you are? I ask because I have a hunch you're on the younger side. If you're under age 25, you will have a very difficult time renting a car without paying rather large, extra fees. If you're under 21, you can forget about that option.

    If you do New York to Florida to California, you're probably looking at closer to 9 days just for the driving portion, and those will be LONG days of driving to do it in that time with little time to stop along the way.

    For budgeting, you might consider reading this. It doesn't cover renting a car but it will give you hints on some of your other expenses and how to begin budgeting for them.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much Michael and Judy for your valuable answers and suggestions - thx for the welcome.

    To start with, I wasn't that serious with the "movie" thing. To me it's picture of freedom, and just driving for a long time. The fresh air, and music on the recorder. I love that idea of momentum - moving forward.
    If it's possible to stay at one of those old motels or diners, please suggests some.

    I have a question. What is you experience with NOT planning much?
    In a way (well this is too much like the movies?), the idea of being "free" and not every single stop is planned, appeals to my spontaneous and risk taking type of person.
    Ofcourse major pit stops should be planned as well as landmarks we want to see.

    Interesting with the "sun" thing Judy. Again, It's more of a metaphor - to me it's about the freedom. What gives the most beautiful experience in your country?
    I have noticed many start in Ca ---> NY. Is that one of the reasons why?

    with a few days in New York, and then on the roads until we reach California and also a week there or so, it seems like 3 weeks are just too.
    And I suppose it's possible to stumble upon something unforeseen, and something that catches our interest on the road and therefore might take some extra days.

    We are all above 25, so renting a car shouldn't be a problem really.

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default well then

    It sounds like you actually are on the right track.

    There is nothing wrong with a minimal planning road trip, in fact, its the kind of trip I prefer. Map out a few places you'd like to see and maybe target, but keep your options open, and stop at interesting things you see along the way. When you are ready to stop for the night, look for a place to stay. It actually is as easy as it sounds!

    The only drawback is that sometimes it can be hard to find a room, especially on weekends in high traffic areas, but having said that, I rarely make reservations in advance, and I've always found something.

    As far as direction of travel, it is really just a matter of choice and convienence. I personally like traveling east to west because you gain hours as you cross time zones, and you also get the historical viewpoint of seeing how the US changed as people moved west.

  6. Default

    Thanks for your reply Michael.

    Do you go by yourself?
    Any specific precautions you would suggest to a 4 scandinavians, going on their first road trip?
    In terms of budget, we have talked about $3K each. But this also includes stay in Cali(visits to Universal and Disneyland)( and a visit to Vegas.

    I kindda want to avoid the exact "3 days in AZ, 2 in OK, 3 in TX.." but rather go for a 3 in NYC, and a week in Cali..and the days between are for the roadtrip.
    That way it is open towards whatever comes our way, and we aren't forced to stay eg. 2 days in OK, if we getting bored.

    In general the roadtrip is instead of talking the plane really. And getting some unforgettable experiences on the way.
    And if we are so lucky to have the sun to guide is, well that would be even better:)

    Looking so much forward to experience this "phenomenon" !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Coast2CoastTrip View Post
    Thank you so much Michael and Judy for your valuable answers and suggestions - thx for the welcome.

    To start with, I wasn't that serious with the "movie" thing. To me it's picture of freedom, and just driving for a long time. The fresh air, and music on the recorder. I love that idea of momentum - moving forward.
    If it's possible to stay at one of those old motels or diners, please suggests some.
    Cool...you were being poetic and we blew right over it. I guess we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. There is some good information about diners at this link. And this page has links to some great information on quirky architecture including diners and hotels. It will take you some time to pour over them but I know you'll find a lot of information to give you ideas.

    The Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, NM, is a classic motel that has retained it's flavor from the glory days of Route 66. There are still a few Wigwam Village Motels in Cave City, Kentucky; Holbrook, Arizona; and Rialto, California.

    I have a question. What is you experience with NOT planning much?
    In a way (well this is too much like the movies?), the idea of being "free" and not every single stop is planned, appeals to my spontaneous and risk taking type of person.
    Ofcourse major pit stops should be planned as well as landmarks we want to see.
    This is the best way to travel! You might want to have some general idea of where you need to be on every-other night or so in order to allow for your week in California. That way, if you're getting behind schedule, you'll know you need to either make up some time or lose some days in California. Which would be fine, too, if you are enjoying yourself. Go for it.

    Interesting with the "sun" thing Judy. Again, It's more of a metaphor - to me it's about the freedom. What gives the most beautiful experience in your country?
    I have noticed many start in Ca ---> NY. Is that one of the reasons why?
    I missed your poetic means of expression again, didn't I? :) I think people travel different ways for different reasons. I don't think driving into the sun has anything to do with it. I agree with Micheal that driving east-to-west gives you a taste of America's westward expansion and the routes the settlers would have taken. Plus, no offense to the east, but the vistas in the west are more open, more grand, and more unique. I really think you should save this for towards the end of your trip.

    with a few days in New York, and then on the roads until we reach California and also a week there or so, it seems like 3 weeks are just too.
    And I suppose it's possible to stumble upon something unforeseen, and something that catches our interest on the road and therefore might take some extra days.
    Just know that you can drive across the US in 5 days on a speed run. This should give you an idea of how many days you have for exploration along the way.


    We are all above 25, so renting a car shouldn't be a problem really.
    I'm glad to hear it! We've had a lot of younger Europeans lately wanting to rent or buy cars below age 25, even below age 21. I'm glad you won't be dealing with the same limitations they have facing them.

    I can't think of any specific precautions you'll need to take. Regardless of what you might hear in the news, America is generally a fairly safe place. Remember, any town is someone's home and most of us feel safe in our hometowns. Just use the same common-sense you would use anywhere else. However, there are a few exceptions to this. Some cities have inner-city areas that have increased gang activity, for example. Follow your intuition. If things don't feel safe, heed that feeling and go someplace else. Don't go down dark alleys. Don't take off someplace with strangers. You now, just good general common-sense stuff like that. There are women who travel the US solo and they're fine. You will be, too.

    How else can we help you?
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 01-02-2008 at 08:04 PM. Reason: more information

  8. Default

    Thanks a lot judy, excellent reply.
    I totally appreciate where you are coming from, and that you've probably experienced a bunch of youngsters being unrealistic about all this.
    So I really appreciate some serious and realistic perspectives and experiences on this.
    Poetic or not, but exactly as you all say, the roads and the freedom is something one has to experience..
    I feel like driving without wearing a watch. Somehow it seems like time doesn't matter, sooner or I will reach my destination anyway.
    I live a very stressed life as an IT entrepreneur, so it's unbelievable how relaxing and stress-relieving it can be to visualize "following the sun" sort so speak.
    Can you share with me the state you are in when you drive for so long?
    What do you feel?
    How is it to go alone?
    I can imagine that some of the vistas can be so emotional or "wow" that one wants to share them with someone.
    Thx for talking the time to reply, and sharing the links with me.

    Kind regards Dan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Default Losing track of time

    Yeah, roadtrips where you have time to meander, explore, and not worry about time are the best. And there is definitely a feeling of freedom when you're on an open road. Especially if you're on a new road. Nothing finer.

    Driving for a long time is great the first day or so. After that, I think most of us would agree that you start needing either a day off from driving or at least a short day. While it can still be thrilling and you can still enjoy the wondrous vistas, it can take on a bit of monotony. I find that I know I've been driving too long when I get into a mindset of just following the car in front of me...meaning, I'm just focused on the road itself and not the views surrounding it. I start missing things that I wish I hadn't. So, really, a long drive of numerous days can be great but it's best when you mix it up with time out of the car.

    For some reason this thread reminds me of something. In my early 20's, I lived in Hawaii for awhile. I loved it but I also got island-fever and decided to move back to the mainland. One of the first things I did was make plans to visit a friend across the state. Once you get to the east side of Washington state, the interstates are fairly straight. After driving around Oahu a few times...which is just going in a circle...it was absolutely the most wonderful feeling to just drive straight with a road that kept going into the horizon. Wow! I'm thinking that's similar to the type of rush you're going to get on this trip. Especially once you get out west a bit more and have longer straight stretches and areas where there's not a town or house in sight.

    Enjoy!

    Let us know how we can help you more, OK?

  10. Default My Desert Southwest Suggestions

    Scandinavian Dan

    I would like to suggest something a little off the beaten path, which seems like it might appeal to your sensibilities. It's not a huge gamble at all, but many people I know have never done it.

    One of my favorite places to do some serious driving is in southern Utah/southern Colorado/northern Arizona/northern Nevada. There are some great natural places out there like Zion, Bryce Canyon (Utah), Colorado National Monument, and Monument Valley (Utah-Arizona). Try to work some of those in to your trip. Then, of course, there is the Grand Canyon.

    The Grand Canyon basically runs east-west, and therefore has two "rims" as they are called: the north rim, and the south rim. The one that gets the most traffic (open all year, closer to Southern California) is the southern rim. But I think the north rim is by far the prettier driving, and viewing of the canyon. It is only open in the summer and fall, but that shouldn't be a problem for you? The road to the north rim from St. George Utah passes through a large National Forest (Kaibab) and is beautiful. There is a very cool stone lodge built in the 1930s that is literally right on the edge of the rim that you can stay in, and some smaller cabins nearby. Camping is available too, hiking around the top and in the canyon, all the normal stuff. In my opinion, the north rim and the drive to it is worth seeing.

    You can get to it from Interstate 15 where the highway leaves Nevada and crosses Arizona on its way to Utah. Major cities are St. George and Kanab. Google the Grand Canyon National Park and navigate to the north rim section.

    Just a thought! Hope you enjoy your trip.
    Ron

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