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  1. Default NYC to LA. First time in USA, need help.

    Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster. =)

    Me (23 years old) and and a friend (21) (both drivers) are planning a roadtrip across USA this summer.
    We have a rough route and it looks something like this: link
    We'd like to experience some of the major cities as well as the scenery and small towns. We haven't decided 100% on the route above and might make some changes. We're considering dipping down to New Orleans for example.

    It's the first time either of us are planning a trip like this, so we could really use some help.
    According to Google Maps the route above is 3200 miles, but we expect it to be around 3500. Would it be reasonable to expect an average driving speed of 55mph? (3500/55=64 driving hours?) So 3 weeks should be more than enough?
    We don't have a car yet, but we estimated our fuel costs to $518.00 (3500 miles, 25 Miles per Gallon, $3.7 per Gallon). Does that sound remotely accurate?

    I know there are some experienced people here, we'd appreciate tips on stuff to see and do around our planned route. We're interested in everything from amusement parks and restaurants to national parks and caves. Which are the best places to go hiking? Anything we should not miss?

    I read someone saying food and motel costs for two people is around $150/day, does that seem right?

    We're planning on renting a car in NY and dropping it off in LA. Is being a foreigner a problem when renting? Do all car rental places require an additional charge if you're under 25 years old?

    Apparently if you're visiting US you need to show your return ticket. Is it possible to avoid that somehow? It'd be hard to estimate exactly when we'll reach our destination, so we'd prefer getting the ticket a few days before it's time to return..

    Would we have to make hotel reservations ahead of time for places like Vegas and Lake Powell? Again, not quite sure when we'd get there..

    Any other advice you got to first time roadtrippers/US-visitors?

    Thanks in advance
    / Kenan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenan View Post
    Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster. =)
    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    According to Google Maps the route above is 3200 miles, but we expect it to be around 3500. Would it be reasonable to expect an average driving speed of 55mph? (3500/55=64 driving hours?) So 3 weeks should be more than enough?
    It looks like you've been doing your homework!
    That is a reasonable estimate of your average speed, if sticking with the Interstates. If you are planning on doing some two-lane driving, that average will undoubtedly move lower.

    It takes five days on average to go from coast to coast. So, with 21 days, you do have time to experience a good amount of the country, even if some things would need to be abbreviated.

    We don't have a car yet, but we estimated our fuel costs to $518.00 (3500 miles, 25 Miles per Gallon, $3.7 per Gallon). Does that sound remotely accurate?
    I think that might be a bit optimistic, depending on the vehicle you are driving. I would stick the average MPG at 20 to be on the safe side. The fuel costs in the future are anyone's guess, but I think you've picked a reasonable estimate, seeing as the average gallon of fuel is $3.29 per at the moment.

    Which are the best places to go hiking? Anything we should not miss?
    For me, the National Parks generally have well-manicured trails for hiking, with good maps to boot.

    Do all car rental places require an additional charge if you're under 25 years old?
    In general, yes. This is largely due to the higher insurance costs associated with inexperienced drivers.

    Would we have to make hotel reservations ahead of time for places like Vegas and Lake Powell?
    I would think that Las Vegas would be able to accommodate you without reserving ahead.

    Is there anything in particular, aside from thinking about New Orleans, that led you to choose the Southern route over, say, a more central route?

  3. Default

    Hi,

    I am in the same situation as you at the moment, i.e. planning a road trip not having done one before.
    Here's what I have discovered/suggest for a few of your points:

    Renting a car under 25,
    yes I too have found you have to pay higher insurance. Make sure you get a car with unlimited mileage, but the big problem we have discovered is the drop off charge. We have been quoted anything from 500dollars to 1,500dollars as a 'drop off charge' just because we want to drop the car off in a different state! This is on top of the daily charge and insurance etc. So make sure you read all the small print and find out exactly what is included and if there's any additional charges. Also car rental and foreign drivers, it is not a problem but you must have your full license with you.

    Flights,
    It is true you have to have a return flight in order to enter the states, the same is true for quite a few countries. All I can suggest is look carefully at the terms and conditions on a ticket before you purchase it. Some companies will let you change the return date, free of charge, some will charge (for example mine is £50 to change the dates), and if you book through an agency they may charge you on top of the airline's charge.

    Can I ask what country you are from? I read in my UK guide book that if your a member of the RAC or AA then it is somehow linked to the AAA and they will offer you road side assistance and free maps, I don't know if this extends to other companies from other companies. I haven't looked into this properly yet but may be worth looking into?

    I hope some of what I've mentioned is useful.

  4. Default

    Thanks to both of you for your replies, you've been very helpful.

    Mass Tim:
    Would you suggest a more central route for the best experience? If so, we'd appreciate if you could name some places to visit along a central route. Like I said, we're still deciding on what the best option is and could use some inspiration. =)

    Btw, speaking about hiking, are you allowed to set up tents and camp in national parks, outside of camping grounds?

    nic&sas:
    Yeah, I know about the drop off charge. If you select "I'm returning this vehicle to a different location." on Hertz.com it automatically adds the charge. Though I didn't check if they got unlimited mileage, got to do that.
    I'm from Sweden. However I don't have a car (so no car insurance either) but I'll check with my friend and see if his insurance company has any deal with AAA.

  5. Default

    Sorry for bumping, but if anyone got any more advice/tips it would be very appreciated.

    I'm a little worried about there not being enough fun stuff to see/do between Arkansas and New Mexico. Hope we don't just drive, eat and sleep on that stretch of road.. Anyone got suggestions on what to do/see on that part of the route, or an alternative, more interesting route?

    Also, what is the best way to experience Grand Canyon? I've looked at some alternatives, but can't decide. And seems like a lot of people are let down and feel ripped off by the Skywalk, which I had looked forward to..

  6. Default

    Kenan,

    I'm taking a trip like yours and have similar questions. Right now I have my trip mapped out and put together an excel spreadsheet. I went to all the state websites and got free travel guides. But, there are some details I still have to work out. Good luck with the planning. See ya on the road :)

  7. Default Coast to coast roadtrip

    Hi again. I've posted earlier about the roadtrip I've been planning.

    The idea is that me and a friend will stay in NY July 8-13. Then we're renting a car from Philadelphia and arriving in LA August 7 where we'll stay for 5 days.

    Here's a roughly planned route.

    We've made some calculations of our expenses: link

    Do the calculations look reasonable? The car rental, flight and NY hotel are pretty much accurate (unless the prices change before we book them, which we plan on doing in two days).
    I'm not so sure if the prices for gas, food, hotels on road and so on are correct. Does the distance seem accurate? (I used Robert's spreadsheet, not sure how correct it calculates the distances)
    the spreadsheet doesn't take any admission prices or anything in account, just flights, car, hotels, food, gas..
    Anything else we need to think about?

    Help is very appreciated

    Kenan
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-20-2008 at 10:35 AM. Reason: Merged with Original Thread

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