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  1. #1

    Default Roadtrip from NY to LA 2 in months

    We are 5 people who lives in Sweden that are planning a roadtrip to the states next summer (2010). We figured that 2 months probably is enough to get satisfied. A very rough route is: New York - Miami - Nashville - Memphis - New Orleans - somewhere i texas - Rocky Mountains - somewhere in southern Utah (monument valley) - Las Vegas - Death Valley - San Francisco - Los Angeles. We have not decided yet and would like some examples on places that we shuld see/stay on the way. Some things we think that might be cool to see is The Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. How far north do we have to go to see the Rocky Mountains. Is it possible to drive "through" the Appalachians, but that leaves a much longer way to Miami if you visit Nashville first. Are there any nice beaches on the east coast that you should visit.

    One very important matter of the trip is the cost, we are 5 persons from 22-28 years old. We will have to rent a car.
    What is an estimated price of that.
    How much does it cost to stay on hotels/motels per person.
    Is it too hot in the summer (june - august) to visit the south?
    How much does it cost to buy food?
    Is it common that you can cook your own food on motels or hotels.
    How much does a sixpack of cheap beer cost at a regular grocery store?

    I have done a calculation on how much i think it would cost, but many of the different costs are just guesses.

    Car rental 4000 total (60 days)
    Fuel 1500 total (6000 miles)
    Food 1500 each (avg. 25$ a day)
    Hotel/motel costs 3000 each (avg. 50$ a night)
    Other costs, such as taxi, national park fees, etc. 1000 each (

    Which adds up to a sum of $6600 each, it sounds a bit cheap so I wouldt be surprised if you think that my calculations are way off what they should be.

    Thanks at advance/ The swedish guys

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

    Default estimates

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd say your cost estimates are fairly reasonable. The biggest variable will be your rental car cost, and you'll just have to shop around there. You'll almost certainly have a one way drop off fee, and if you want anyone under 25 to drive, you'll have to expect to pay a pretty substantial fee there too.

    Cooking at a motel can be a bit difficult. You can get rooms with microwaves or even small kitchens, however, you're going to pay a premium for that. $50 is a fair estimate for cheap motel rooms, but those are going to be bare-bones option. You'll also need to remember that many places only allow 4 people in a room, so you could need to get 2 rooms a night.

    The cheapest watered down beer will run about $3 for a six pack and even a bit less if you are buying in 12, 24, or 30 packs. You'll be looking at about $7 a six pack if you want to get something that you can actually taste and enjoy!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You will have to do research on rental costs. There will be a "one way" dropoff fee if you do not return it to the rental location, there will be a considerable surcharge for drivers under 25, and there will be taxes and miscellaneous fees that need to be considered.

    Hotels don't generally charge by the person, they charge by the room. Generally, rooms have 2 beds, and you are allowed to have up to 4 people in a room. Rates can be anywhere from $40 to $100+ per room. If you do not stay downtown in big cities, and are happy with "budget" chain hotels such as Motel 6 and Super 8, to be safe, figure $75 a night average per room.

    It's not too hot. Almost all rental cars have air conditioning, as do almost all hotels.

    Are you talking about the cost for unprepared food in a grocery store, fast food restaurants, or "sit-down" restaurants? $25 a day per person should allow for some restaurant meals, but nothing fancy. 3 restaurant meals a day will be at least $50.

    No, you are not allowed to cook in your room at a hotel unless it has kitchen facilities (no hot plates allowed, due to fire regulations), but some will have microwave ovens in the lobby that you may use. Some may also have barbecue grills in a common area.

    Domestic mainstream beer is about $5 a six pack of 12oz cans or bottles.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Various Bits of Advice

    Välkomnande! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Two months is loads of time, allowing you to do almost anything (but perhaps not everything) that you'd like. For example you can drive a good bit of the length of the Appalachians on the Blue Ridge Parkway, all thee way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park before returning to the coast to see great southern cities such as Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA and unspoiled beaches such as Cumberland Island National Seashore on your way to Miami. Nashville can easily be included on the drive from Miami to Memphis.Out west, some of the best of the Rockies are in Colorado, so I'd suggest that you go sat least that far north.

    You can probably rent a car for around $250-300/week that will be large enough to carry the five of you and all your luggage. That assumes that none of your group who is younger than 25 does any driving. The per person charge for that would be $25/day or an extra or $1500 for each 'underage' driver for the length of the rental. Also plan on about $300 for the privilege of leaving the car some 3000 miles from where you picked it up. Your budget for motels is quite reasonable. You should plan on getting at least two rooms a night to give you enough bed and shower space and to give you the chance to switch up who's sharing a room each night. It is actually fairly uncommon to find any cooking equipment capable of making a meal in most motel rooms. But there are 'extended stay' or 'executive suite' type establishments that will have workable kitchens. Food costs will be up to you in large measure, but I think I'd count on more like $30-40 a day to eat well and leave some cushion. Actually I have no idea how much a six-pack of beer costs, but my guess is $5-10, depending on where you buy it. Remember that alcohol sales and taxes are controlled by each state. But in general, I think your overall cost estimate should be about right, a little low on some items, a little high on others.

    AZBuck

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for all the answers!

    It fells good that I was'nt too far off on the cost aspect. There was some really good tips on where to travel from AZBuck. I will look closer on those places and try to come up with a route that will work out nice. The beer prices were low as well, quite much cheaper than they are here in sweden. The cost of renting a car is a quite substantial part of the total cost so I guess that we will have to look around on many companies to get the best deal possible.

    I will post more questions as they come up, because they probably will.

    /YellowLemon

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Food is not terribly expensive here - milk is about $3 a gallon, bread is $1 for a loaf of cheap white bread, ground chuck is about $2.50 a pound, lettuce is about $1 a head, for example. A meal at McDonalds is about $5 for sandwich, fries, and drink. Breakfast in a family type restaurant (Denny's) is $5 to $10. Dinner in a decent chain restaurant (Applebees) is $20 or less. Family type buffets are $10 to $15. Any restaurant where you get table service expects 15 to 20% tip, 10% is appropriate at a buffet where people pick up your plates, deliver fresh plates, and refill your drinks.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Food is not terribly expensive here - milk is about $3 a gallon, bread is $1 for a loaf of cheap white bread, ground chuck is about $2.50 a pound, lettuce is about $1 a head, for example. A meal at McDonalds is about $5 for sandwich, fries, and drink. Breakfast in a family type restaurant (Denny's) is $5 to $10. Dinner in a decent chain restaurant (Applebees) is $20 or less. Family type buffets are $10 to $15. Any restaurant where you get table service expects 15 to 20% tip, 10% is appropriate at a buffet where people pick up your plates, deliver fresh plates, and refill your drinks.
    Thanks for the information, it is actually quite difficult to find it on the internet. I have searched quite much, but I didn't find any concrete price examples.

  8. #8

    Default

    Hi again!

    I'm wondering if it is possible to buy a car instead of renting one? Considering the high rental cost for 2months ($4k) it would be worth it, if it isn't to difficult. Does anyone have any experiences from this? I think that the tricky part probably is to get an insurance. Even if it breaks down, it's probably cheaper anyway to buy one instead of renting.

    Thanks at advance/ The Swedish Guys

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default probably not

    The subject of buying a car comes up quite frequently, but the general rule of thumb is you need to be looking at at least 2 and more often 3 months on the road before it starts to break even.

    Insurance is a major hurdle, as is licensing and registering a car when you don't have a US address. Especially if you are just visiting through the visa waiver program, getting those things taken care of is a very complicated task. You also have to factor in the costs of insurance, taxes, and registration, which are done in 6 months or year long intervals with no refund for shorter trips; the time it takes to find a car and go through the red tape, and then the time to find someone to buy the car at the end, and since you'll have a deadline to get rid of the car before you fly back, you'll have no bargaining power and thus likely sell it for less than half of what you paid.

    Here's a good breakdown of the pro and cons of your vehicle options, but I'm guessing when it comes down to everything, buying a car and renting for 2 months would cost about the same, except in a purchased car, you'd be driving an older car, where you'd be responsible for any repairs and you'd spend a lot more of your vacation time working.

  10. #10

    Default

    Thanks for your answer.
    I'm sad to hear that it is that difficult to buy a vehicle just for 2months... So I think that you're right about that we are better off renting a car instead. I was hoping that there was alot of money to be saved, but unfortunately i was wrong....

    /YellowLemon

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