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  1. #1

    Default US & Canada Solo Road Trip

    Hi there

    I have literally just joined this site after finding it on Google! Having read a lot of the posts, it seems this is a great way of talking to people who are similar to me and have similar 'dreams!'

    I am 25, from England and just about to set off on a round the world trip, starting in Canada in April. I will be travelling down to Philadelphia to see a friend but then I am on my own for however long and fly out of LA in weeks/months time! I have been looking at guided tours with companies to get across the US and they're very sociable and handy for someone on their own. BUT, they're very regimented and seem to do the tours very quickly, so had an idea of 'road tripping' it!

    My idea is to buy a second/third/nth hand car from somewhere and drive it acorss to my finishing destination and sell it on. Does this happen in the US? Is it easy for me to do this or does anyone know of an ydifiiculties I may face. I just want something cheap and cheerful, that'll work reliably and is pretty economic. I just don't think I could do the whole trip on a Greyhound bus!

    My rough plan would be Boston, New York, Washington, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Orleans, Texas, El Paso & New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Park, up into Canada, Banff, Jasper, back down to Vancouver, Seattle and then the West Coast road down to LA.

    Now, does this sound realistic to anyone?! More to the point, how unrealistic do you think this is?! I am looking about two months for this trip, taking in the sights as I go, maybe taking a tent in the boot, or trunk as you guys over there say! Also staying in hostels and motels, maybe with people I meet along the way.

    Also, I will be making this trip on my own, so there are some saftey concerns and loneliness issues, so if anyone thinks this sounds good and wants to join me on part of the trip, that'd be great! I have done a trip from Miami to Tennessee before in just one day, 900 miles, was a bit of an effort but saw some great sights and 5 states!

    Any advice/guidance/comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Nick

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default fast and fun

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    2 months should be enough time to do the kind of trip you are talking about, although I bet the time ends up flying by faster than you think. Anyway, I imagine it will be a great time.

    For transportation, it is quite challenging to buy a car and get insurance without being a US resident. Try searching the forum for more info, as the subject comes up quite often, but for 2 months, its probably not going to be worth the time and expense to go that route. While renting a car is expensive, in the long run it probably wouldn't cost much if any more than buying for this period.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Michael, I had not a clue about how easy/difficult it was! I did briefly think about hiring a car but dismissed it without research as being too expenisve. Maybe I will have a look now to see how much it may cost for 2 months.

  4. #4

    Default Good luck seeing America!

    Sounds like a great trip, but unfortunately to purchase a car would probably not work out. I believe in every state you would need an address and license in order to register a car. Do you have any friends or family that live here? You could perhaps register and title the car in their name.
    However, it would be a lot easier and more liberating to take the trip in a vehicle that you "owned" without having to worry about mileage limits and rental insurance concerns, etc.
    I will be doing a similar trip this summer (hopefully, if I can work out the logistics), and I wish you best of luck. I, too, just joined the site, and I am hoping to find planning assistance for my own trip. If you'd like, I can help you work out some places to see; some routes to take. I have been planning a four month long USA circumnavigation for many years now, and although I haven't completed it, I do have quite a few books and websites amassed for information.
    I'll keep checking for your posts. Isn't the internet a wonderful place to meet like-minded people?

    Best of luck,
    -Chris S.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The 'Other' Problem

    This is sometimes difficult for visitors from other nations to understand but technically the United States is a Federal Republic. That means that each of the 50 States are just that: semi-autonomous states. Each sets its own laws and regulations. So, buying and selling a car, for example, is not governed by some "US" law, but by the laws of the state where the transaction is being carried out. There is a particular problem with this in your case, because California has stricter vehicle emission regulations than most of the other 49 states, so that a car that may be legal to purchase in Massachusetts would not be legal to sell in California. Just one more headache in an already burdensome plan to buy/sell a vehicle. As Michael pointed out, such a plan almost never makes sense for a trip as short as yours, but I'm sure it doesn't seem short to you!

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nickyboywade View Post
    Maybe I will have a look now to see how much it may cost for 2 months.
    You might like to check out the services of Adventures on Wheels. I checked them out ones, but when my son loaned me a car, did not use them. I have read reports of those who have, and have been most satisfied with the service.

  7. #7

    Default Thanks!

    Right, I think buying and selling a car sounds too complex, so renting one it would have to be. Just looking at a few rental companies, including Adventure on Wheels, I think it may be too expensive on my own, I'd have to get someone to share the cost with!

    It sounds like my trip will be best done with a company like Trek America or Intrepid Travel, who do organised routes across the States. It is a lot less freedom but may well be the way to go for a solo traveller, on somewhat of a budget.

    Thanks for all your help though guys, much appreciated. It's good to know there is somewhere to go for help and guidance, keep up the good work!

    Nick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Driveaway

    Hi Nick,

    Just before you give up on your adventure, you might like to check out my post in this thread. I did this for 13 weeks in 2001 and for 19 weeks in 2004.

    These were my first two visits to the US and I ended up seeing just soooooo much. Nothing was preplanned, I just went with the wind, and ended up in places of which I had never heard, seeing gems which will never make it into the tourist brochures, and creating livelong memories and friends.

    If you would like to know more about it, other than what I have posted, feel free to ask.

    Lifey who found them great journeys of discovery

  9. #9

    Default Auto Driveaway

    Thanks Lifey, I have seen this already and it does sound a good idea. I have contacted Auto Driveaway recently to check how it all works. I would consider doing this but how easy is it to get a car in the city you are in? Looking at the available list, some cities have no cars available, is it just a case of emailing/phoning/going to their office, telling them you want a car and then wait for one to come along?

    The only problem I can forsee is time as I am on a budget time-wise. I want to soo as many sights as possible in this 6 weeks or so but this way I don't have full control of where I visit, it's pot luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Maybe my outlook on travel is very different. But looking at your photo / your age, this will not be your only trip... it may be the first, but you will be inspired to save for another. I know I was, and my first trip was as a senior!

    Quote Originally Posted by nickyboywade View Post
    Thanks Lifey, I have seen this already and it does sound a good idea. I have contacted Auto Driveaway recently to check how it all works. I would consider doing this but how easy is it to get a car in the city you are in? Looking at the available list, some cities have no cars available, is it just a case of emailing/phoning/going to their office, telling them you want a car and then wait for one to come along?
    I agree that at the moment there seems to be a dirth of cars. Maybe that has something to do with the economic conditions. Still, I would get onto that list every couple of days and just check. Keep in mind that if you are in Philadelphia and there is a car in Baltimor or DC or NJ, they are only a short Greyhound bus ride away.

    Be flexible!

    Same with your destination. The two young lasses who drove the car from Seattle to Dallas had wanted to go to SF. When I asked why, they said that their itenary was SF, LV, GC, LA, etc. I suggested they take this car to Dallas, and when there, look for one going back to the west coast ... which would then put them within striking distance of SF & LA.

    Ye just have to think outside the square!


    Quote Originally Posted by nickyboywade View Post
    The only problem I can forsee is time as I am on a budget time-wise. I want to see as many sights as possible in this 6 weeks or so but this way I don't have full control of where I visit, it's pot luck!
    Nick, the fact that you don't have complete control, is to me, the great attraction. The unknown! The unexpected!

    Granted that there are many well publicised sights you want to see, everybody wants to see. And you will, one day. On my first visit I did not get to the Grand Canyon, nor Zion and Bryce, and there are many sites I have not yet seen, which I hope to get to this year.

    But on the other hand, how many have seen that magnificent court house in Cottonwood KS - the oldest continuously working courthouse in KS? And to get to Tucson (which I had never heard of) and discover that Biosphere II was nearby... as well as all those other great sights around Tuscon. And to end up on Coronada Trail in eastern Arizona... what a drive! There is no way you will see it ALL.

    Enjoy where you are, when you are there.

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