Advise needed for getting started from uk!
Am hoping to get some advise on the preliminary stages of planning a east to west coast roadtrip for summer 2008 lasting about a month......
My boyfriend and i have saved up some money and want to start planning our trip, we are both English, living in London and at the moment i'm finding it hard to find info on basic stuff so that we can start making some fundamental decisions and then get on to planning the fun stuff!
I guess our first decision is to hire/buy a car. Does anyone know of potential problems and how much hassle there would be for a non american to buy a car in New York? (and sell it afterwards) This was originally our plan but am now envisaging lots of paperwork and hidden costs - anyones experiences of this would be really useful. Would be great to hear from someone who has actually done this - the idea of having no time constraints is the most appealing factor of this idea.
In terms of a hire car does anyone know a rough estimate for hiring a car for around a month - one way, east to west? The car doesnt have to be anything flash! Again would be great to hear of your experiences of this. I have read it is difficult to hire a one way journey but an idea of a month hire cost would help us with our budget!
Any ideas or comments for first timers just starting to plan their trip will be gratefully recieved! thanks!
never all that easy
Welcome to the RTA forum!
The subject of buying a car is one that comes up fairly frequently, although its pretty rare when we get someone who has actually done it an reported back.
This thread is one of the more helpful ones I found on the topic, but you can find even more threads by using the search function. However, as a rule of thumb, you usually need to be on the road for at least 2-3 months before buying a car is a better deal than renting.
As far as renting a car, you'll have to shop around because prices can change frequently. You'll also expect to see drop off fees if your rent one way, and an extra charge if you are between 21-24 years old.
Carly, I'm also looking for advice and have just posted, good luck. However, on the hire car front, you can get some reasonable deals even for one way hires, but you'll need to decide on your arrival airport and destination airport soon. Go onto all the websites as they can really vary, Avis, Hertz, National/Alamo, Dollar - they all have good links. Most as well can be cancelled up to arrival, should you find a better deal later on.
The other point is satellite navigation, absolute godsend, but can be a bit expensive and not that user friendly with some that I have had from the rental companies - and not guaranteed to be available. The North American maps come as standard on some of the UK sat navs, or can be purchased as an upgrade if you or someone in your family already has one. I bought mine a couple of years ago, and now on it's third USA trip. Takes the pressure of inside the car!!
use our tool
If you click on the "Travel Reservations" on the top of this page, you can quickly see the range of prices offered by the various rental companies.
Personally, I don't recommend paying for the navigation option in rental cars -- being able to read a map is a good skill to develop and has the huge advantage of enabling the user to discover attractions and places that electronic doo-dads can not yet match in North America. Here are our recommendations for atlases in North America.
Couldn't agree more about shopping around for rental cars - the price differences are ridiculous. Personally I tend to start with Travel Supermarket as it compares 25+ companies at once. I'll then go to the top two or three priced companies and see what deal I get going direct. Last three or four times I have ended up using Airline Network - cars supplied by Dollar but have every insurance you could every imagine included in the price. Beware when comparing prices that you are getting like for like - ie if you book on .co.uk instead of .com you will usally end up with basic insurance cover (not needed by most US residents as their own car cover will suffice)
Agree too about the Satnav -I'm a fully paid up member of the 'paper map' brigade but I won't go anywhere in the US without my TomTom Go 910 which you can now pick up reasonably cheaply - worth every penny! The last thing you need to be worrying about when getting used to driving an auto on the opposite side of the road and getting used to unfamiliar signs and road layouts is which way you are going.
Editor, thanks for your quick response and replies. I agree get the paper maps, and whatever guides you can pick up, but we Brits do need our electronic version. Some of your maps have never been too clear as they are different to the ones we are used to - and I could never have survived Los Angeles without the sat nav - point and go as they say. Especially for anyone who may be an relatively inexperienced driver. And then when you find somewhere interesting, a zip code is all you need to get there.
Thanks so much for all your replies - i have really found that the car hire price does differ enormously company to company so need to take some time to hunt out the best deal.
The idea of sat nav also seems very useful. I agree the idea of just having a paper map is very romantic but on the practical side i am going to start looking at Tom Tom prices now! Any other tips for a first time US driver?
Advice? Don't panic at 4-Way Stops. They are very very odd but you eventually get used to em! Oh, if you do get pulled by plod don't get out the car. A friend of mine did this in Florida a few years ago and ended up with guns pointing at him! lol
Other than it's all good. Very very easy - the roads are generally wide, straight and, outside of the main urban areas, pretty well signed. If you've ever driven on the continent you'll be absolutely fine. If you haven't then you'll soon pick it up without problem.
"pulled by plod"
Oh, sorry, it's that cultural difference again! *embarassed*
Plod = PC Plod. Feds, politzei, fuzz, coppers, etc. The Police :)