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  1. Default 1st timers - Help needed please! Newbie driver vs Greyhound?

    Hi everyone,

    Myself and other half are planning a road trip consisting of Chicago -> Memphis -> New Orleans -> Houston -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Yosemite Park -> San Francisco -> Los Angeles.
    However we are finding it difficult to decide whether to use the Greyhound (or other public transport) or to drive - of course I'd much prefer to do the latter but I'm the only driver and I've only just passed my driving test here in the UK, would it be too difficult and expensive to hire a car in the USA?
    Has anyone any good advice that they'd be willing to pass on to a couple of roadtripping newbies? I'd be extremely grateful for any help you could give.

    Thanks,
    Lotty

  2. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lottylou View Post
    Hi everyone,

    Myself and other half are planning a road trip consisting of Chicago -> Memphis -> New Orleans -> Houston -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Yosemite Park -> San Francisco -> Los Angeles.
    However we are finding it difficult to decide whether to use the Greyhound (or other public transport) or to drive - of course I'd much prefer to do the latter but I'm the only driver and I've only just passed my driving test here in the UK, would it be too difficult and expensive to hire a car in the USA?
    Has anyone any good advice that they'd be willing to pass on to a couple of roadtripping newbies? I'd be extremely grateful for any help you could give.

    Thanks,
    Lotty
    Well how old are you and how long are you planning on doing this in? As was pointed out in another thread, people under 21 have a really difficult time renting vehicles in the US.

    Also for a trip like that I figure you are going to need a car for a minimum of 2 weeks, which will probably cost you quite a bit. Plus you will probably need to take the rental car company's insurance which is ultra expensive.

    On top of that I have two reservations about your trip.

    First is you are someone with very little driving experience behind you that wants to

    A. Get on the roads in a foriegn nation, with different rules of the road (including driving on the opposite side of the car and driving on the opposite side of the road). As well as being under a different system of measurement. . . Miles per hour as opposed to Kilometers per hour.
    B. Wants to drive in large cities such as Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, Houston, Los Vegas, San Fransisco, and LA.

    Second is that you are driving ALOT of miles on this trip and you are the only driver. Just off the top of my head Chicago to Memphis is probably at least 9 hours of just driving. (Thats just a guess).

    Even someone from the US who's a bit more used to the rules of the roads here and such, if they had just passed their driver's test I would say they are asking a lot of themselves to do something like this.

    Now honestly I don't want to tell you that you can't do it, because I know I'd rather drive in a car then take a bus. You'd be more comfortable, you can stop when you want, and generally you arn't going to be attached to anyone's schedule but your own.

    But at the same time I see a lot to worry about here that concerns me a bit.

    PS. I should note that when you rent a car and return it to a different location from where you rented it, there is also a large fee that is attached to that in and of itself. So the costs of simpily haveing the car and having it insured and returning it are going to be pretty high. Then the costs of gas (petrol) will factor in, I will say that gas in the US is generally a lot cheaper then it is in Europe. However you are going to need to figure out how much traveling you are going to be doing and estimate the cost of gas.

    Right now gas costs roughly $3.15 per galleon which is by my conversions about 1.97 pounds

    A liter is about a quarter of a galleon, so figure about .5 pounds per liter is the cost here.

    All of this points out something else you need to do. Become not only familiar with our system of meaurement especially in terms of liquid measurements (for gas), but also in terms of distance (miles). But also you need to be fairly familiar with the exchange rate in order to estimate the costs of everything.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Not easy.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    As stated above, your age is of great importance to the cost of renting a car and I believe it is possible [but not sure] to face surcharges if you have been driving for under a year. There is no easy answer as it is also not easy nor cheap to see so much of the US as you plan too do without a car.

    I think you need to do a little research into the costs involved by checking out various car rental agencies and work out your budget. Then of course there is your limited driving experience to consider and how relaxed and confident you are about it and your ability. It could be wise to consider postponing the trip for a while or taking a less ambitious trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    Greyhound and Amtrak are good ways to go between cities, but there is a serious lack of public transportation to our national parks. About the only way to get to places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite are bus tours from the nearest large city, which are decidedly unflexible.

  5. Default Thanks for your help!

    Thanks so much for all your help! You've helped me to realise that I was being a tad optimistic to think that with my little driving experience I could do it. I think I've just been so desperate to do it that I hadn't thought things through properly. I'm 26 and passed my test a few months ago and the main reason for learning to drive was so I could roadtrip across America one day but I guess (and hope!) I've got plenty of time in my lifetime to do that :-)

    I think it's going to have to be the Greyhound. They do a pass that we could buy too, has anyone on here used one of these before? I've heard such mixed reviews about the Greyhound though, I've spent most of my life on public transport here in the UK so I shouldn't expect it'd be that different?

    Perhaps we'll save some of those places for when I've got some more driving under my belt, and I agree - I don't fancy driving into the big cities to be honest, it was more for the journeys inbetween the cities that I wanted to do by car just for the freedom to be able to stop at the strange and wonderful pitstops along the way.

    Maybe we are trying to cram a bit too much in for our budget and time, we might just stick to the west (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon) for now, although I think my gent has his heart set on going to Chicago too :-s

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Public Transport in the US is far more limited than on your side of the pond. As was mentioned, there are simply a lot of places that aren't served by Bus or Train service - particularly National Parks and rural areas.

    Transport within cities can be difficult too. While every city has some form of transport system, most are fairly difficult to navigate, run during limited hours, and can take literally hours to go from one part of town to the next. There are places that are exceptions - Chicago and San Francisco are places where a car isn't needed - but others will be a bit of a challenge.

    Even if you use Greyhound for your long distance segments, you might consider renting a car in some places so you have a lot more freedom and options about what you see.

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