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  1. #1

    Default Car Hire for under 25's - Summer 2008

    Hello all,

    Firstly I am pleased that I have found such a great website, with everyone as enthusiastic about the USA (and travelling across it!) as I am. I've spent a while looking at previous threads and found some good tips, but it seems there is a such huge amount of information here it'll take days to get through all of it!

    Anyway, my sister and I are going to the USA this summer from roughly 20 July to 15 August. I wish it were longer but that's the maximum possible time we can do it for this summer unfortunately! We're spending almost all of this time in the west, provisionally our route would be San Francisco-LA-San Diego-Las Vegas, with things along the way. We've been to the west before so we have a fair idea of what we want to see this time round. Originally we wanted to hire a car to get around but having done a bit of research it seems that for most companies the cost for under 25's is outrageous: the base fee plus $25 per day per driver, just for the drivers being under 25 years of age! This is annoying; at the time of rental I would be 22 and my sister 23. There's no way one of us is doing ALL the driving, so it unfortunately means if we hire a car we will be paying $50 a day to do it.

    We really want to hire a car because as far as I can tell it's the best way to get around the USA and also the freedom of being on the open road there is such an attractive prospect. Well, we thought maybe between big cities we could just get amtrak/greyhound, but when we get to Las Vegas and beyond and want to see the national parks/stunning scenery, we thought maybe a hire cire would be the easiest way to do it. I'm told its possible to do these areas using bus/train, but I don't think it'll allow enough freedom, and also we want to hire a car for some duration of the trip, and it makes sense for this to be the portion which will be spent outside cities! Hiring a car for this portion will mean roughly 10 days which we're just about prepared to pay for if it means the freedom of being in our own vehicle.

    This has been a fairly long post, so I will finish. I suppose my questions would be, does anyone know of any car rental companies that are particularly good for rental to under 25's, with regards to money and just generally making it fairly easy to do? Is there any other advice anyone could give? Can anyone give me assurance that hiring the car is indeed the best way to see America? Or do people think that I am too intent on hiring a car and other methods may suit better?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I can't descibe how excited I am about being back in the USA, I've always been heavily interested in the whole American culture and way of life, and seeing how it differs from us in the UK. This will be my third time there, and first time without a parent with me. Less than four months to go!!

    Sam

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

    Default Best, Not Cheapest

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think the Car is clearly the best option for seeing the US, especially if you are talking about the western US. The East has quite a few more options for other transit, but there are many places in the west you simply can't go without your own car.

    I guess I could mention that if you are focusing on only the cities, you could get buy without a car. LA would be a big challenge, but San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco all have reasonable public transportation options. Even if you start/finish in one of these places you could cut down some of your costs by not having a care while you are there.

    The National Parks and other natural wonders are a real challenge to do without a car. Your transit options are pretty limited, unless you find some sort of organized tour.

    Unfortuantly, there's just no easy way around the car rental cost issue. Extra fees for being under 25 are a pretty standard thing, as are extra fees for extra drivers. Your best bet is to shop around, you might be able to find a place that has a fee that is only $10-20, instead of $25, and you might consider just having one driver, even if it isn't an ideal situation.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-10-2008 at 01:31 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3

    Default Camping/lodging reservations in the Southwest USA

    Hello,

    This is my second post on this fantastic website, this time regarding making reservations for camping/lodging in the Southwest USA. I've looked for threads on this already and there are a few, but they don't exactly answer what I need to know. As Part of my trip to the USA in the summer, I am going to be in the Southwest, renting a car for 10 days from Las Vegas and returning it to either Las Vegas or maybe Phoenix. I would like this portion to be of a road trip nature (I will be in cities for the rest of the time) and would like to travel and maybe see some national parks in the bottom half of Utah and top half of Arizona, and maybe further afield.

    Part of my vision in my head of a road trip is the freedom to just drive and decide where to go as you go along. This will mean I will just have to turn up at places and see if there is somewhere available to stay. Now, at the height of summer, lodgings inside national parks will be completely booked up, but I was wondering if anyone has any idea of how crowded the surrounding towns get? Ideally I would stay will a roof over my head somewhere, be it a motel or whatever, but if not then I wouldn't mind camping, in fact it would be a lot cheaper and a bit of an adventure. But, on some websites, it says that there are campsites that will need reservations aswell!

    I don't realy like the idea of booking EVERYTHING up before I go because that is too rigid, I want a bit of spontaneity in my trip. Also, does anyone know if there a lots of places to lodge or camp in these areas, or if I turn up and there's nowhere to stay will I be likely to have to drive hundreds of miles to find somewhere else?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Sam

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default How much risk do you enjoy?

    Quote Originally Posted by samj1986 View Post
    I would like this portion to be of a road trip nature (I will be in cities for the rest of the time) and would like to travel and maybe see some national parks in the bottom half of Utah and top half of Arizona, and maybe further afield.
    Sounds reasonable (by the way, do not make new threads when you have one in use... it drives Mods crazy).
    But, on some websites, it says that there are campsites that will need reservations aswell!
    Some campsites always keep non-reserved sites available -- you will be able to find lodging in most places -- mostly you need to decide how much risk you enjoy. More tips here.

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default

    Apologies for the duplicate post, I thought my browser was playing up and got confused! There's some interesting thoughts on the link you gave, in particular
    What I avoid is making reservations just to "feel safe." It's just too much fun to see what's available on the spot. Sure, we might get a disappointing meal or a lumpy mattress once in a while, but reservations don't prevent that. What they can prevent is unexpected delightful discoveries.
    This does appeal, and hearing it from an experienced road tripper does go some way to confirm my initial plan of not making reservations.
    Some campsites always keep non-reserved sites available -- you will be able to find lodging in most places -- mostly you need to decide how much risk you enjoy.
    With regards to finding lodging in most places- is this specific to the S Utah/N Arizona area? The are many popular national parks here, does this affect things? And as for how much risk I enjoy- I think taking a bit of a risk (however small) kind of adds to the adventure, as long as we don't end up having to travel hours and hours in the middle of the night trying to find somewhere to stay because the distances between places is so vast! What are the chances that this might happen? Obviously I won't take yor word as gospel but it would be good to know from someone who is experienced in these matters. Have you ever found yourself in this sort of situation?

    Michael, thank you for your reply. You mentioned that LA would be a challenge without a car- indeed, I can't quite believe how big and sprawling it is! A couple of thoughts I have on this: firstly, I can imagine it would be quite a horrible place to drive, not least because of congestion, so perhaps trying to do it by public transportation may be a bit less stressful? Bearing in mind that I'm not the most experienced driver there is; driving on the other side of the road in a big urban area in a foreign country does seem slightly daunting! I'd be fine out of the big cities though. This has actually been something I've been thinking about- driving is the best way to get around as you say, but aren't there lots of confusing road systems in America? I don't really know, my Dad drove when we were last there, but he did manage to turn the wrong way down a one way street! Us Brits really aren't used to the grid system! Another random point (I'm probably worrying far too much here) is that what if we accidently drive into a gang area somewhere, surely it'll be really dangerous??


    One more thing- we don't really have enough time to go anywhere else in the US on this trip, but I've always wanted to go to Texas, and also some of the southern states- in your opinions, are these places good enough to seriously consider changing part of our road trip plan to try and get a taste of these areas?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-30-2008 at 06:21 PM. Reason: removed the extra white space

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default And the reason for that is....?

    Quote Originally Posted by samj1986 View Post
    Obviously I won't take your word as gospel
    And the reason that wouldn't think that I would be truthful in my response to you is....?
    Have you ever found yourself in this sort of situation?
    Truthfully, the only time I have EVER experienced that was during one summer's trip in central Montana, about as far from a national park as one can be -- but an entire town was playing host to a regional swim meet and there were no motels available. Seriously, you can almost always find lodging during the summer months.
    firstly, I can imagine it would be quite a horrible place to drive, not least because of congestion, so perhaps trying to do it by public transportation may be a bit less stressful?
    It is much less stressful in a private car than trying to rely on public transportation.
    what if we accidently drive into a gang area somewhere, surely it'll be really dangerous??
    If that happens, you simply drive back out. Not a big deal. You have seen too many movies....

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    And the reason that wouldn't think that I would be truthful in my response to you is....?

    Mark
    hi mark, this is a case of where our "languages" may differ. here in the u.k. saying " i won't take your word for gospel" where a slight risk may be involved,translates into "i won't hold you responsible if it does'nt work out"
    so it's to remove direct responsibility from your shoulders,but still would like to get an idea lol!! regards dave.

  8. Default Comments...

    Quote Originally Posted by samj1986 View Post
    [ ... ] Michael, thank you for your reply. You mentioned that LA would be a challenge without a car- indeed, I can't quite believe how big and sprawling it is! A couple of thoughts I have on this: firstly, I can imagine it would be quite a horrible place to drive, not least because of congestion, so perhaps trying to do it by public transportation may be a bit less stressful? Bearing in mind that I'm not the most experienced driver there is; driving on the other side of the road in a big urban area in a foreign country does seem slightly daunting! I'd be fine out of the big cities though. This has actually been something I've been thinking about- driving is the best way to get around as you say, but aren't there lots of confusing road systems in America? I don't really know, my Dad drove when we were last there, but he did manage to turn the wrong way down a one way street! Us Brits really aren't used to the grid system! Another random point (I'm probably worrying far too much here) is that what if we accidently drive into a gang area somewhere, surely it'll be really dangerous??
    If I may chime in? You can get around LA by public transportation, but since the physical area is so large, it can take quite a while to get somewhere. There are several public transportation systems in LA -- light rail (multiple lines), subway, and the world's largest bus system. The issue is that if a bus stops every intersection along a 60 mile route, it can take 2 hours to travel that distance. Then the scale issue kicks in -- in how long it takes to get from point A to point B, including any transfers between buses or systems. That's pretty much why people drive -- its faster. I used public transportation in LA for about a decade, but I lived and worked off a straight shot bus route -- bus ran every 40 minutes from 6 am until midnight, in both directions. Took me about 40 minutes to go 20 miles, and a block's walk at each end.

    If you're heading for a single point destination, there are multiple transportation options -- just like any city. From the airport, there are buses, vans (max 3 stops to your destination), and hotel shuttle vans, as well as the usual taxis and public transportation. The issue comes in if you want to cross the city to get to somewhere else in a reasonably short period of time -- say from Hollywood to Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific. By the shortest route, that's about 30 miles, almost all on freeway and takes about 30 minutes (except at rush hour..). By public transportation, the estimate is about 90 minutes but costs about $2.50. IF you're interested in using public transportation in LA, the best web site is here You'll need to put in the starting and ending points, but it gives you the buses, subways, light rail system needed to get from point A to point B in LA County.

    As for dangerous areas in LA -- well, its pretty much like any other city in the world I've found. If you stick to main roads, buses, and the like you should be fine. If you go out, get drunk and walk around the wrong neighborhoods at night and are loud and obnoxious -- well same as any other city if you're in the wrong neighborhood.

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for your reply... I've decided that I'm probably going to do it by public transport, and we're going to be staying near disneyland. The orange county buses in this area seem to be alright, and for transportation towards say downtown and hollywood, I used the site you recommended. I've found this route which goes from disneyland to downtown where I can get a connection to hollywood or somewhere. However, I'm sorry to come back to this point, but via google maps I've noticed that this bus looks like it will go near some notorious areas (Compton, south Los Angeles). Will this be ok? I'm such a worrier, I'm sorry. And, at the risk of sounding stupid, how will I know when it's my stop? I wouldn't want to get off in one of these places accidently...
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-10-2008 at 09:46 AM. Reason: preferred URL format herein

  10. Default Interesting bus line...

    If I'm reading that right, what happens is when you're going from Anaheim to downtown LA, you'll get to the 105 freeway at Norwalk, and then be on an accelerated line with minimal stops bus line until you get to Pershing square. There's a transit cooridor up the 105 (the "Century" freeway), and one on the 110 ("Harbor"). In particular, the buses travel the rapid inside lane of the freeway up the 105, with limited places to get on or off.

    I did find another description of the line which says "Line 460 will continue to travel as it does today between Disneyland and the I-605 Norwalk station. From that station the new route will operate westbound via the I-105 and I-110 freeways using carpool lanes to downtown Los Angeles, where the line will operate via Figueroa Street and 6th Street to Maple Avenue." So it sounds like when you get to Norwalk, you'll be on an 'express' line, which has minimal stops until you get into the downtown area.

    It does go through some of the uckier parts of LA -- but if you're on the express line, you won't be making many stops at all. Just be aware that while Pershing Square has been cleaned up over the past decade, the area south of it between it and the I-10 is known as "skid row". If you stay on the bus, you should be fine -- it looks like a espress commuter bus line. It looks like you'll be traveling about 45 miles in an estimated 90 minute or so, so you won't be standing still in any one spot for any long period of time.

    If you're heading for downtown, you might also check out this link, and compare it to the MTA data. Just be aware, that even downtown can be a bit sizable to walk across (like 60-90 minutes from Staples Center to Union Station)

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