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  1. Default 2 guys need general advice!

    Hi there,

    We are 2 guys from UK, both aged 19, looking to spend 2 months (more or less) in USA this summer. The main aim of the holiday is to relax on the beach, learn to surf, socialize and party. We also want to get in some sites etc... obviously depending on where we go.

    I guess the first thing to address is our age. Although we are both 19, we both would like to be able to drink in America. We both look older than we are, have realistic fake id's and have no problems getting into 21+ clubs in UK, but is this more of an issue in the US? Also... what are the laws on getting caught with a fake id. It would be aweful to ruin our trip due to that.

    That aside, our main question was wondering where to go. I know most of the guys on this forum know exactly where they are going and ask for advice but we genuinely dont know. We were originally set on travelling west coast (mainly california), but have come to realise that florida (particularly Miami) might be a better option for the kind of holiday we are looking for. What are the pros/cons of each and are there other places we shoudl be considering?

    Another big issue for us is travel. Being 19 makes it hard (but not impossible) to rent a car in the USA. I've looked into it and found we can rent one but a) it will be pretty expensive and b) we have to obtain our own liability insurance in the US. I have no idea how to go about obtaining such insurance... can any1 guide me?
    People mention the idea of buying a car and selling it on. Considering we'll be there for 2 months, this seems a very attractive solution. Particularly if we can buy an old RV and cut accomodation costs. I gather the distances in the US are just so vast compared to anything in england and the public transport is next to useless. Given this, is it still possible to get around and move from place to place, assuming we dont mind travelling in discomfort.

    Accomodation wouldnt be an issue if we had an RV (or would it?) but we'd still have to pay for camp site places etc...
    Our other alternative is to stay in hostels. Something we quite enjoy due to the student-like atmosphere and sociality of it all! Are hostels seen as a cheap but suitable place to stay in USA, like they are in europe?

    It begins to sound like we are on a tight budget, i know. But our budget isnt particularly limited. Any feedback would be great, based on any of the points i raised. If you think we're nutty and should be doing something else, say so!

    thanks,

    Ed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default general advice

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    As far as drinking, Its just generally not very smart to come to another country and plan to break the law. There are certainly plenty of americans who drink at age 19, and there are some who have fake ids, however, I would strongly discourage you from using one in the US. While in many situations, an American would be given a ticket and a fine for a underage drinking or having a fake id, since you are not a US citizen/resident and don't have any ties to the US, there would be a pretty high likelihood that if you got caught, you'd be spending the night in jail.

    Different states have different laws and penalties, but remember, you are coming to the US as a visitor to our country. If you choose not to respect the laws, then there is always a chance that you could be kicked out of the US, and told not to return.

    The car situation is the other really tough thing. There are very few places that will rent to anyone under 21, but if you found one, I assume it would have to be with an independent company that would not allow you to drop it off in another location. I also would expect a surcharge of at least $25 per day because of your age. Insurance also isn't going to be cheap, although in that case, I'd start checking with whoever your insurance provider is in the UK and see if they offer coverage in the US or partner with someone who does.

    Buying a car would be another option, although it can be a headache because you still have to deal with buying the car, finding a way to pay taxes and getting the license, and then you need insurance too. For a 2 month trip this might be an option though.

    An RV is rarely a good way to save money, and considering your situation, I doubt that would be a good fit for you. Hostels should be a good option, however. Hostels in the US are similar to those in Europe, there just tends to be far fewer of them, since its not nearly as popular of an option for Americans.

  3. Default

    Michael,

    Thanks very much for the advice, it's helped elighten me to the situation greatly. The way you addressed the drinking issue leaves me with no doubt that it would be a foolish idea to attempt to drink whilst in america. In terms of buying a car - the license shouldnt be an issue since i can easily apply for an international drivers license. Does the new car need to be registered under my name though? this could be an issue if i'm not a US citizen?

    Can you possibly give me any idea as to where would be a better location for our trip? The water is warmer in florida, and one of our friends is at UMiami who we could visit. But is there much to do and see in terms of sights? The west coast is full of things!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default its not the license

    All an international drivers license does is provide a translation of your home drivers license, your UK license will be what allows you to drive in the US regardless.

    The purchasing a car is a much bigger hassle, since you aren't a US resident. Generally speaking you need to have an address to pay taxes and get license plates for the car and insurance. If you've got a friend in Miami with an address you can use, that might be feasable, although I would strongly advise that everything is done under your own name. You'd also have to start your trip in Florida if you went with this route.

    There are lots of good things to do in both Florida and Calfornia, so it is a tough choice. Of course, with 2 months to make this trip, you wouldn't have to make it an either or. You could always spend some time in each location.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    10

    Default

    If you want to surf, you can pretty much forget Florida. Yes, people surf here, but it's either pretty pathetic or right before or after storms and hence pretty dangerous.

    I live in Florida (and love it) and have spent a fair amount of time in California. I personally would much prefer California to Florida for a trip such as you describe.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gannet View Post
    If you want to surf, you can pretty much forget Florida. Yes, people surf here, but it's either pretty pathetic or right before or after storms and hence pretty dangerous.

    I live in Florida (and love it) and have spent a fair amount of time in California. I personally would much prefer California to Florida for a trip such as you describe.
    thanks for the advice guys... perhaps starting in florida would be a good idea then. whilst you say the surf is pretty tame, we're both complete beginners so it might be a good thing!

  7. Default Warmer water for sure, dude...

    Quote Originally Posted by EdfromUK View Post
    thanks for the advice guys... perhaps starting in florida would be a good idea then. whilst you say the surf is pretty tame, we're both complete beginners so it might be a good thing!
    I do have to note that the water in Florida is much warmer than that in California. Last time I was swimming in the ocean (near Titusville) the water was 86 F... Here in SoCal, you almost never see the water above 70, even in the height of summer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It takes waves to surf!

    Quote Originally Posted by EdfromUK View Post
    whilst you say the surf is pretty tame, we're both complete beginners so it might be a good thing!
    Tidal flows in Florida rarely (except during storms) create waves that large enough for beginners to learn to surf on. The waves need to have some energy or, as a beginner, you will never get the hang of it.

    Mark

  9. #9

    Default

    I just got back from a real good trip to Florida - the sun was a welcome tonic for the weather in the UK - and I'd suggest that it meets with your plans for the trip. Sun, beaches, some cool people - especially in the Keys, good nightlife in Miami and it's small enough that you don't necessarily need to rent a car. Just convince your friend to take you to the places you can't reach by bus.

    Personally though I would struggle to fill 2 months in Florida. Though perhaps my pace is somewhat faster than others. I would probably look to spend two or maybe three weeks in Florida then head somewhere else - maybe NYC could be an option as it possibly the only city in the US where no one has a car and the public transport is excellent. However NYC is an expensive place so you'll want to spend no longer than a week max there.

    My preferred option would be the west. I absolutely love the scenery out there -- there's just so much of it. Fantastic exploration to be had. And then you have the nightlife in the cities - San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, to name a few. But you really need a car in the west. It's a big place and they just haven't heard of public transport ;)

  10. Default New York to Miami

    Hi again,

    firstly wanted to say thanks so much for the keen responses i had the first time i posted on this forum. You guys are really helpful. That aside, my friend and I will be travelling around the US in June and July 08. Our flights are to/from NY because its just so much cheaper than flying out anywhere else. We'll be staying with my uncle in NY for 5 days or so either at the beginning or end of the trip but our main plan is to see the coasts.

    The idea was to travel via Bus or Train down the east coast from NY to Maimi, where we will stay for a week or so then fly over to LA and rent a car. There were just a few things that we are really clueless about, however, given our nonexistent knowledge of the US.

    Basically, it seems as though there is plenty to see when we leave NY heading south. Washington DC etc... But the countryside (is it countryside?) seems to thin out pretty quick so the majority of our travelling is through North/south carolina, georgia and Northern florida. We've picked out a massive map and had a look down the coast but we simply don't know anything about any of the towns/cities on the way down. What's worth seeing, what's worth skipping and would we be better going via bus or train?

    One idea would be to just weight our 2 weeks or so (its pretty flexible) which we will spend travelling south very heavily towards the northern part. Then we could just grit our teeth and do 10 hours a day through the rest.

    Any suggestions/tips very welcome, thanks very much ;)

    p.s. one other question if you don't mind: We can fly from Miami to LAX for about £150 which seems pretty cheap to us. Is this cheap? and will we still be able to get the same kind of prices if we book it a week in advance rather than 3 months in advance?

    Ed
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-21-2008 at 09:54 AM. Reason: Good Neighbor Policy

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