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  1. #1

    Default NY to LA Road Trip, August-Sept 2012. HELP!

    Hi there from a Bewildered Brit,

    Me and my girlfriend Vic are planning a road trip for the summer after we graduate from University, that's August-September 2012. As you can see, we're planning a LONG way in advance but we're both road-trip newbies so I figured the earlier the better!
    We will both be 21 at the time of the road-trip and were planning on renting a car from LA and dropping it off in New Jersey. We plan on taking around a month, starting with a holiday in California, stopping off for a couple of days in Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Washington DC, and then staying three or so days in New York City (we figure we wont need the car for that bit!)

    The questions I've got for you all are these:

    - How long do you think we should take for this coast-to-coast trip? We don't want to rush but equally we think five weeks maximum!

    - Are we going the right way?! All the road trip guides (Insight Guides, Jamie Jensen etc) do this route the other way, from NY to LA rather than LA to NY. Any views on the merits of either direction would be helpful!

    - Any tips for saving on car-rental? I know about the under-25 charge but any tips for general saving would be great!

    - Is it worth having the car for our holiday in California? We can't decide if its worth having it for the mobility or trying to save some on the car hire by making it as short as possible.

    - Finally, we're both English so we'll be flying each way, when do you think it's best to book flights, as soon as possible or are cheaper opportunities available later on? Flights to LA seem very expensive and again any tips would be appreciated.

    So there we are, as you can tell I'm in need of serious help with all this, hopefully all of your joint experience can give me a few pointers!

    Thanks to all,

    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A complete loop ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You can do quite a lot in 5 weeks, but spending a Month in California doesn't leave much time to drive to NY, as it would take 5 days straight driving to cross the country. Hold up, I just re read your post, have you a month in Cali and then 5 weeks to drive across country ?

    I don't think it matters which way around your trip is at the time you travel. It would be a bit cooler in the desert areas to the West in September if you were to start in the East. Most of the 'which direction' debate I believe is about following the path of how America developed from early European settlers hitting the shores of the East coast to the pioneers heading West and seeing America unfold as they might have. [At least that's what I have read]

    To combine your flight and car questions, first of all have you considered doing a complete loop of the US ? You certainly have the time and could take a different route each way. Flying to NY is generally cheaper and you won't have the burden of the dreaded 'One way drop off fee' on top of your young drivers fees for the car rental, if you started and finished from there. Flight prices are all over the place at the moment and I would recommend keep checking out the deals on a regular basis and get to know a good deal when you spot one. I have booked a long way in advance before now and saved a small fortune but at the moment it appears to be the opposite, perhaps due to the uncertainty of rising fuel costs etc [?] If it does affect bookings, airlines will want to fill those empty seats and good deals could become available nearer the time, but it's always going to be a bit of a gamble either way.

    I would definitely have a car while in California, even if it is for only part of your stay.

    Have a look around the forums and road trip planning pages and as and when new questions crop up, just ask !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Doing the loop, as suggested by Dave, would have two advantages. Firstly, it is probably cheaper to fly to the East coast, than it is to the West coast - for you. Secondly, you will not be burdened by the one-way drop off fee. And you have the time to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I don't think it matters which way around your trip is at the time you travel. It would be a bit cooler in the desert areas to the West in September if you were to start in the East. Most of the 'which direction' debate I believe is about following the path of how America developed from early European settlers hitting the shores of the East coast to the pioneers heading West and seeing America unfold as they might have. [At least that's what I have read]
    Dave, to me the big advantage has always been the three hours you gain by going East to West, which you lose on a West to East trip.

    Lifey

  4. #4

    Default

    Dave,

    Thanks a lot for the advice!
    Sorry if I was unclear, we're looking at a week in CA and then four weeks to drive to NY, via all the usual stops.

    I'll keep an eye on the flight and oil prices, since we're planning so far in advance I'll keep fingers crossed for a bargain!

    On a slightly different topic, do you know much about the AAA? It would seem like a good idea to be members but I don't know if non-US residents can join... the discounts on motels and hotels would be useful though.

    Cheers,

    Jim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Knight View Post
    On a slightly different topic, do you know much about the AAA? It would seem like a good idea to be members but I don't know if non-US residents can join... the discounts on motels and hotels would be useful though.
    As a non resident, you will not be able to get AAA membership, which covers roadside service, etc. But then, in a rented vehicle, you will not need it. The rental contract should cover all that. However.....

    If you are a member of your local automobile club, make sure you take that membership with you. British (and many other) automobile clubs have a reciprical arrangement with the AAA, and as such, you will be able to get free tourist information, and maps for the States and urban centres through which you travel. I highly recommend that you make use of this service. There is nothing like having good maps to follow - gps notwithstanding!

    Furthermore, whenever I see a sign which says they give a discount for AAA members, I always explain that I am not a member of AAA, but I am a member of a body recognised by AAA, and to which AAA gives reciprical benefits. And if AAA do, so should they.

    Some do! Some don't! But it is always worth asking.

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