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  1. Default Advice wanted - Two German girls taking a USA road trip in August/September

    Hi everyone,

    it's still a lot of time until my sister and I want to come "over" in late summer 2009 and explore the US on the road for two whole months, but we are already saving our money and can't wait to plan the first steps. That's why we want to get as much information as possible and so here are some questions, I hope some of you can help with that:

    It's understood that for two months we should buy a car, right? That makes much more sense than renting (and pays off better when we can sell it at the end of our trip...). Any tips you can give me for that? Should we look for a car on the internet beforehand or should we just come to the US and look for a car there? We are planning to fly in to New York and start the trip from there, to be specific.

    We don't really have a "schedule" for those two months, it's basically just driving from eastcost to westcoast. Just one thing we definitely have to do - travel to Beresford, South Dakota, because my sister's guest family is living there (she was an exchange student some years ago).
    Would you say two months is enough time to drive this distance without rushing? We are not really looking for the typical tourist spots but rather to experience bit of the "true USA". I know that sounds corny, but describes it the best... So we just want to start in New York and see where it takes us; maybe plan for the two or three next days but always be spontaneious to hit another road than we had actually planned. We aren't really sure if we have enough time for this approach, but it would be cool not having to plan everything for once. We have that enough in Germany. ;-)

    Also it would be great if you had any idea how much money we should plan to spend. We are not very demanding and don't need fancy hotels at all. I'd say maybe half the time we stay with people from the Hospitality Club or friends of my sister's so we don't have to pay for this accommodation, and the other half a simple motel room will be enough. In case of emergency we also could sleep in the car - or would this be a problem with the local police if two people would sleep in their car on a parking lot? Although I have to say I hope we don't have to fall back on that...

    Ok, last question. As you can see my english is quite ok and my sister's is even better so there are no language issues. But would you say besides that, that it's safe for two girls (we are 26 and 23 then) to travel trough the USA on the road? Or should we be careful when, let's say, driving through whatever suburbs in the night when we are in desperate need of a motel? And would you advise against sleeping in the car if we don't find an adequate accommodation?
    Maybe for better understanding I should explain that we both grew up in Berlin and have backpacking travel-experiences from almost all over Europe and South America (me) and India (my sister), so we are not squeamish at all in this matter and definitely no drama queens. ;-)

    Boy, that's a long post, sorry if I have bored you - but thanks in advance for your answers!

    Best greetings from Berlin
    Jule

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

    Default not really

    Quote Originally Posted by Jule View Post
    It's understood that for two months we should buy a car, right? That makes much more sense than renting (and pays off better when we can sell it at the end of our trip...)
    On paper this might sound appealing, but there are a lot more to deal with than just showing up and paying for a car. Two months would probably put you close to the break-even point once you factor in costs for insurance, license, registration, taxes, maintenance, etc. We've got a lot of threads, like this one, which discuss the pros and cons that you should look at before you assume that purchasing will be the best option.

    If you do decide to buy, I would start your search online so you can get an idea of what is available in your price range. Autotrader is one of many sites that I find is pretty useful for this purpose. However, I would never buy a car without looking at it, driving it, and having a mechanic inspect it. Of course this process takes a little time, which can be another disadvantage of buying.

    Otherwise, I think you should be ok. 2 months will give you a nice chance to see the US. This post has some good general info for your budget. As far as your safety goes, common sense generally reigns supreme, and if you use the same practicies from your other travels and your day to day life, you should be just fine.

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

    Default You're gonna have so much fun!

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jule View Post
    Hi everyone,

    it's still a lot of time until my sister and I want to come "over" in late summer 2009 and explore the US on the road for two whole months, but we are already saving our money and can't wait to plan the first steps. That's why we want to get as much information as possible and so here are some questions, I hope some of you can help with that:
    It's great that you're starting early. America is a big country and spending time learning as much as you can about the various things to see and do, the highlights, etc. will help you plan the best trip you can. We'll help you any way we can.


    It's understood that for two months we should buy a car, right? That makes much more sense than renting (and pays off better when we can sell it at the end of our trip...). Any tips you can give me for that? Should we look for a car on the internet beforehand or should we just come to the US and look for a car there? We are planning to fly in to New York and start the trip from there, to be specific.
    Buying a car in the US can be tough without a US address. This discussion should answer a lot of questions you have on the process and give you an idea of the problems you will need to resolve to make it work. You might also get a lot of useful information on our International Visitors page.


    We don't really have a "schedule" for those two months, it's basically just driving from eastcost to westcoast. Just one thing we definitely have to do - travel to Beresford, South Dakota, because my sister's guest family is living there (she was an exchange student some years ago).
    Would you say two months is enough time to drive this distance without rushing? We are not really looking for the typical tourist spots but rather to experience bit of the "true USA". I know that sounds corny, but describes it the best... So we just want to start in New York and see where it takes us; maybe plan for the two or three next days but always be spontaneious to hit another road than we had actually planned. We aren't really sure if we have enough time for this approach, but it would be cool not having to plan everything for once. We have that enough in Germany. ;-)
    Some of the best trips are like that...when you travel with no firm itinerary and with lots of flexibility, you can explore new discoveries and enjoy the many serendipitous finds along the way. It's not corny at all. I think we all love those types of trips.

    Two months is enough time. Of course, you won't be able to see everythign this country has to offer. You couldn't even do that in two years, much less two months. But you will still be able to see a great deal. You might want to have some checkpoints along the way. Nothing firm but you don't want to be at week 7 of your trip and discover you haven't even made it to the western half of the country yet. So you might plan your trip in blocks, for example. Week 1 being the Northeastern portion of the country, week 2 being the next portion, etc. You could still be flexible with a plan like that but, at the same time, keep moving toward your goal so you don't end up in a time crunch at the end.

    Also it would be great if you had any idea how much money we should plan to spend. We are not very demanding and don't need fancy hotels at all. I'd say maybe half the time we stay with people from the Hospitality Club or friends of my sister's so we don't have to pay for this accommodation, and the other half a simple motel room will be enough. In case of emergency we also could sleep in the car - or would this be a problem with the local police if two people would sleep in their car on a parking lot? Although I have to say I hope we don't have to fall back on that...
    This post will give you a good idea of how to start planning your budget. For camping tips, Post #9 in this discussion should give you some basics. You could pick up some inexpensive camping gear at any big box store that would more than pay for itself since campgrounds are less expensive than even the cheapest hotel. And I think some camping makes the trip more fun, too!

    Some inexpensive hotel chains are Motel 6, Super 8, Days Inn, Econolodge, and Budget Inn. My experience with these are that they are clean and comfortable but don't offer any frills. You might google their websites to get an idea of where they are located. It is rare that you will travel in too many areas without coming across at least a few of these to choose from.

    This discussion has some great resources for budget lodging options. Gen is a true expert at this and her post has lots of links to resources. At the bottom of her post is an explanation of how you might use truck stops as a safe place to sleep in your vehicle with tips of how to do that and links to websites about these truck stops.


    Ok, last question. As you can see my english is quite ok and my sister's is even better so there are no language issues. But would you say besides that, that it's safe for two girls (we are 26 and 23 then) to travel trough the USA on the road? Or should we be careful when, let's say, driving through whatever suburbs in the night when we are in desperate need of a motel? And would you advise against sleeping in the car if we don't find an adequate accommodation?
    Many woman do roadtrips solo safely. So you should be just fine. You just need to use the same common sense you would use traveling in Europe. We have had numerous discussions about safety issues, especially geared toward solo travelers and/or women travelers. You will get plenty of good tips reading these discusions: Here and Here. Following the links in some of those posts will lead you to further helpful information.

    Maybe for better understanding I should explain that we both grew up in Berlin and have backpacking travel-experiences from almost all over Europe and South America (me) and India (my sister), so we are not squeamish at all in this matter and definitely no drama queens. ;-)
    Wow! I envy your trips. If you've done those type of backpacking adventures, your trip in the US should be a "walk in the park". :-)

    Boy, that's a long post, sorry if I have bored you - but thanks in advance for your answers!

    Best greetings from Berlin
    Jule
    Not boring at all. I hope I've been of some help. Please come back with more questions and let us help you plan an awesome adventure in the US!

  4. Default Thanks!

    Hi Judy and Michael,

    thank you so much for your answers, that's so nice of you and unbelievably helpful! I'll have a look at all of your links so my sister and I can start planning a budget and think about how to deal best with the car issue.

    We can't wait to get started (although it's still one and a half years to go...)!

    Thanks and greetings from Berlin,
    Jule

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

    Default Glad we were some help!

    Let us know how we can help you further. Happy planning!

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