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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default First time on the road

    I've just started planning my first road trip in America for me and my friends next summer... We are looking at a route approximately like this.

    From San Francisco to NY via the south and the east coast. We don't want to rush too much, not too long days in the car (as it's our first time driving this far) and we want to stop and few days many places to see more than just roads... 5 weeks is the time we have agreed on, in June/July 2009. Does the itinerary look ok for that? Of course I have lots of questions, and this seems like the right place to look for answers;)

    1. Do anyone have any experiences with holidayautos.com? They seem to have the best deals (and they rent through the bigger companies like Hertz and Avis) for people under 25. We are all under 25, and they seem to include those fees plus those for three additional drivers.. Sounds like a great deal to me!!! Almost too good to be true? What kind of insurance needs to be included/purchased?

    2. Is 30$ a night pr person enough for accommodation? We will mainly be staying in hostels/motels as long as possible. Is 40$ more realistic or is that too little too? We will be 4 or 8 people, how many can usually share a room in a motel? And do we need to book in advance most places as it will be in the middle of summer? Some flexibility would be nice, but we are not too keen on sleeping in the car...

    3. What about food budget a day? Say we buy either breakfast or lunch, sometimes both, and eat out for dinner at a cheapish place...

    4. Any idea how i can figure out a gas budget when renting a car? I don't know the mpg...

    5. What size rental car would we need for 4 people in the car + luggage (we are all girls!;)? I've looked at the different cars, but I honestly know nothing about cars (well, of course i know how to drive them...) so any help would be appreciated...

    6. Do we need to take weather cautions in the south at this time? Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires etc..? We are from Norway, where extreme weather does not exist!;)

    7. Any good tips on how we can prepare for the trip? We are all pretty much friends, some know each other more than others, and we want the trip to be fun for everyone and include everyone in the planning and decision-making.

    8. How much money do we need to budget a day for stuff other than car, accommodation and food? And how much would an emergency fund have to be? What is a good way to divide the costs between everyone without dividing everything by 4/8 every time we pay for something...

    9. Last, we want to experience more than just city life (shopping, dining, sightseeing) and beach life... Any activities you recommend, to experience the real america? For example, we would love to visit a ranch for a couple of nights, or go tubing down a river in Texas. Nothing too expencive, just different...

    I hope that wasn't too much, there is just so much to figure out... I need to make a plan and a bugdet so people can decide if they want to/can afford to go... So thank you very much everyone!

    Benedicte, Norway
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-15-2008 at 02:44 PM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Looks like a great trip.

    Velkommen ĺ det Roadtrip USA forums!

    Oslo is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Why would you ever want to leave there? (Just kidding. Travel is always good.)

    I think you've picked a nice route and you will experience a big variety of landscapes and regional cultures.

    From San Francisco to NY via the south and the east coast. We don't want to rush too much, not too long days in the car (as it's our first time driving this far) and we want to stop and few days many places to see more than just roads... 5 weeks is the time we have agreed on, in June/July 2009. Does the itinerary look ok for that? Of course I have lots of questions, and this seems like the right place to look for answers;)
    YOu shouldn't feel rushed. It generall takes about 7 days to drive the route you have planned for. So this really leaves you 4 weeks for playing along the way. If I were you, I'd divide your trip into roughly 5 segments. I wouldn't have a daily agenda with a place to be each night. I would have a goal for the end of each week. This gives you flexibility within the week but also ensures that you're not traveling too fast at the beginning or, alternatively, going too slow at the beginning requiring you to rush at the end.

    1. Do anyone have any experiences with holidayautos.com? They seem to have the best deals (and they rent through the bigger companies like Hertz and Avis) for people under 25. We are all under 25, and they seem to include those fees plus those for three additional drivers.. Sounds like a great deal to me!!! Almost too good to be true? What kind of insurance needs to be included/purchased?
    I'm sorry that I don't know anything about that particular company. They should be able to answer your questions about insurance. You might also talk to your own auto insurance carrier for their recommendations. Double- and triple-check that all fees are included in the rental agreement so you don't get an unpleasant surprise. This discussion should also have some valuable tips for you.

    2. Is 30$ a night pr person enough for accommodation? We will mainly be staying in hostels/motels as long as possible. Is 40$ more realistic or is that too little too? We will be 4 or 8 people, how many can usually share a room in a motel? And do we need to book in advance most places as it will be in the middle of summer? Some flexibility would be nice, but we are not too keen on sleeping in the car...
    Actually, I think you will generally find that motels are going to be cheaper for you than hostels. The only exceptions to this might be in the biggest cities but, even then, motels might offer a better deal sometimes. In fact, I'm pretty confident that you will find cheaper lodging in motels in every city except for New York City and San Francisco. Motels in those two cities are notoriously expensive.

    It's fairly common for a hotel room to have two double-beds, sleeping four. Motels along the highway should usually run you about $60-100 each night. This would be the fee for all four of you.

    I believe most hostels are in the $20-30 night per person range so, you can see, that motels will generally be a bit cheaper. And motels are easier to find as we don't have as many hostels in the US as they do in Europe.

    If you want to stay in hostels, booking in advance might be wise since there are fewer of them. I actually think you might only need to book your hotel room in New York City so you have a place to stay upon your arrival in The States. In the US, it's unusual to drive more than about 10 miles in most parts of the country without coming upon an exit with several motels to choose from. If they're full, it's not far down the road to the next group of motels to choose from. As you head west from Louisiana, the will space out a bit when you are away from cities. So, sometimes, you might have to travel 20 miles to the next exit with motels. Rarely will you drive more than about 50 miles. And this is only in the loneliest parts of the country. Again, this will be rare.

    I feel comfortable telling you to just stop for the night when you're getting tired and ready to end the days traveling. You shouldn't have any problems with motels for the most part. I can't guarantee that you won't have trouble a few nights here and there, like if there is a big, special event going on in that area. But this shouldn't be the norm.

    3. What about food budget a day? Say we buy either breakfast or lunch, sometimes both, and eat out for dinner at a cheapish place...
    The best way to save money and to eat a bit healthier is to eat out of your cooler. You can pick up a cheap cooler for $5-25 and ice is available at virtually any gas station. The link at the top of that post will take you to another post with more tips on how to figure out your food budget.

    For five weeks, eating on the cheap will get kind of old. So I would encourage you to plan for a nice meal in a restaurant serving good, regional specialties every 2-3 days. This might cost you about $20-30 each. Meals at a lower-priced diner or family restaurant will often be in the $10-15 each range. Fast food restaurants are usually about $5 each, give or take a couple of bucks depending on your choices.

    4. Any idea how i can figure out a gas budget when renting a car? I don't know the mpg...

    5. What size rental car would we need for 4 people in the car + luggage (we are all girls!;)? I've looked at the different cars, but I honestly know nothing about cars (well, of course i know how to drive them...) so any help would be appreciated...
    Gas budget will depend on what kind of vehicle you get. You should probably do find with a mid-size sedan. But, of course, this might be a tight squeeze depending on the amount of luggage you're bringing. While it's not very sexy, I think a mini-van might make a great choice. It would give you room to stretch out a bit and provide a fair amount of luggage space. Visit the various websites for the rental car agencies like Hertz, Avis, etc. if HolidayAutos doesn't give you an explanation about the types of cars, how many people and luggage they hold, etc. Usually they have very good descriptions about this information to help you make an informed choice.

    After you have decided on the type of vehicle, you can easily find their estimated fuel consumption on the web. This post has tips on how to figure your fuel costs. You can also use our Fuel Cost Calculator. Once you get a bit closer to your trip, you might want to scout out the cost of gas per gallon here. I have no idea what gas will cost next summer.

    6. Do we need to take weather cautions in the south at this time? Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires etc..? We are from Norway, where extreme weather does not exist!;)
    Possibly. It depends on exactly when you're traveling through these areas. What summer months are you traveling here in? If you give us some exact dates, we can better advise you about this. But, don't worry, for the most part travel is very safe in the US, even with strange weather going on.

    7. Any good tips on how we can prepare for the trip? We are all pretty much friends, some know each other more than others, and we want the trip to be fun for everyone and include everyone in the planning and decision-making.
    Everybody should be involved in the planning so they all get a chance to make decisions. Our Roadtrip Compatability Quiz should give good ideas of things to discuss before you get on the plane.

    8. How much money do we need to budget a day for stuff other than car, accommodation and food? And how much would an emergency fund have to be? What is a good way to divide the costs between everyone without dividing everything by 4/8 every time we pay for something...
    I don't know. Only you can answer this. It really depends on what kind of things you want to do. If you want to go clubbing, partying will increase your budget a lot. If you want to do higher-priced things like amusement parks and other more expensive recreational opportunities, this will also require more money.

    Personally, I think everybody should give equal money to any food bought for the cooler, motel rooms, fuel, and other group expenses. Fun money, admissions, restaurant meals, souveniers, etc. should be something that people pay for individually. Of course, you are free to work out any arrangement seems fair to all of you and you should have this agreed to ahead of time.

    I think as your trip planning progresses, and we understand your plans better, we can do a better job advising you about the amount of funds you'll need. The post with info about fuel costs might also give you some helpful tips.

    9. Last, we want to experience more than just city life (shopping, dining, sightseeing) and beach life... Any activities you recommend, to experience the real america? For example, we would love to visit a ranch for a couple of nights, or go tubing down a river in Texas. Nothing too expencive, just different...
    This is a HUGE question and would take pages. You really need to do some research to see what intrigues you. Of course, we'll be glad to keep answering questions but, for now, I think I've written as much as I can.

    Just keep planning and feel free to keep asking questions as you plan and we'll give you the best advice and ideas we can.

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Benedicte!

    1: Holidayautos works fine. Many people in Sweden use them when going to USA.

    2. $30 is more than enough if you can be 4 people in one room. Outside bigger cities and a bit far from popular attractions a room costs around $50-60 incl taxes. In big citys everything under $100/room is cheap.

    3: Many motels offer a simple breakfast, usually some american coffe, orange juice and some kind of a sweet bread. A lunch in a fastfood restaurant (like McDonalds) is well less than $10. A dinner in a cheaper restaurant is normally around $20 incl tip. If you buy some bread, vegetables, salami and cheese in a store you will probably get a meal for less than $5/person.

    4: Gasprices next year will no human person know about :-) I will go to US in three weeks, and my calculation says NOK6/10km (more like SEK7,50 since I´m swedish). That is $0,22-0,23/mile. If you try to estimate the lenght on your trip, add 20% for beeing sure, you will came close to the reality today.

    A standard car use about 1 gallon/20 - 24 miles. (That is a little bit more than 1 liter/10km). Watch out for higher oilprice, as an norwegian I guess you will hear about them every day. But even if oil reaches $250/barrel it is much cheaper gas in US than Europe.

    5: With 4 people and their luggage I suppose you will need at least a car in the Full size class, or maybe a premium car.

    6: As I understand a look every day on Weather Channel can be fine, and if there is a hurricane warning, don´t go there! There is some possibilities to a hurricane around the Mexican Golf and Florida.

    7: If you are going to be 8 people I suggest you can split some days into two groups, if you are interested in different things. And it doesn't have to be same people in same car or motel room all the time. Try to decide together before you are going what you will see and where to go. Friends can be very unfriendly when they don´t agree to each other...

    8: I guess there will be some shopping? Except shopping, $25-35/day will cover entrance fees to museums, an cold ice cream, a Mojito drink in a bar and even some road tolls.

    9: I´ll leave this question to some american people to answer.

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