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  1. Default Best route to take for Nature-based Road Trip; Rent or Buy a car?

    Hey I'm planning to take a road trip with my friend from the UK. It's my first one but I'm doing a lot of research and forum lurking trying to figure out just how to go about it. I'm personally into Natural Wonders -- things I can hike in, look at, climb, walk to, admire -- I'm really trying to go for a really "Natural" road trip. Grand Canyon would be incredible to have in the trip, but I'm also not one who really cares about "Seeing certain things" --- like it's not a big deal for me to hit all the "essential" landmarks. I'm really just trying to travel the country and see some incredible natural wonders. Any recommendations for my first path I should take across country?

    My second question is that I'm debating whether or not I want to buy or rent a car. I used to have a car, but no longer. I'm 21, and I've read that renting really spikes up when under 25. I've never been in any accidents or anything like that though, if that matters. Also, when Google searching "rent a car road trip" the first topic that comes up is one which the OP can't seem to find a single place to rent a car for a road trip (which is also how I found this forum).

    I'm nervous that if I just rent a car then go on a massive road trip they'll give me loads of fees or sue me or something crazy.

    The other option is buying a car, but the last thing I want to do is buy a crappy used car that breaks down on me in the middle of Oklahoma.

    Advice in general? I'd appreciate great links to guides. I've been reading a lot of them, but I just would love some more advice and I'm all ears.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default First part is easy

    First, Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Renting a car will cost about 1/4 of what it would to find, purchase, obtain insurance, repairs and re-sell a car. (At least that's been our advice up until this year...) There's one company which we've received a report on that handles purchase agreements for international visitors. RTA has no standing on whether this is a good thing or smart thing to do -- but you can read this member's experience here.

    The huge advantage of renting a car -- is that all maintenance and insurance (if you want to do it that way) is handled by the car rental company.
    I'm personally into Natural Wonders -- things I can hike in, look at, climb, walk to, admire -- I'm really trying to go for a really "Natural" road trip. Grand Canyon would be incredible to have in the trip, but I'm also not one who really cares about "Seeing certain things" --- like it's not a big deal for me to hit all the "essential" landmarks. I'm really just trying to travel the country and see some incredible natural wonders. Any recommendations for my first path I should take across country?
    Where are you starting from? How long will you be in the country? How much $$ do you have to spend?

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default open books and closed cases

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Simply put, as a non-resident you will not be able to purchase a car. The red tape involved simply makes it near-impossibility unless you are visiting on a long term visa. Purchasing also wouldn't make any sense financially anyway unless you are going to be traveling for several month.

    As far as renting, it really shouldn't be that difficult. The thread you referenced seemed to be a rather specific case, of trying to rent from small locations in Montana, and even there it was possible, just expensive because of the distance he wanted to travel.

    Long story short, renting a car shouldn't be hard at all, but it will generally be cheaper/easier if you are starting in a major city. Being under 25, you will be looking at a fee of about $25 per day for each under age driver, and you should expect to pay a significant fee if you want do a one way rental.

    As far as finding nature, you can find the things you've mentioned in every single US State. It is, however, hard to beat the Western US/Rocky Mountains for the sheer amount of wide open spaces. The National Parks system is really a great place to start, but also look at National Forest Lands and State Parks for more great natural spots that might not get as much attention.

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

    Default Rent From Home

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm afraid we can't offer too much in the way of specific advice with nothing more to go on than that one of you is "into Natural Wonders". The country, which is roughly the same size as ALL of Europe, is full of 'natural wonders'. You're going to have to narrow it down a good bit before anyone can do anything but list random lists of places.

    As for the car, it is basically impossible for a foreign national to purchase, license, insure, and resell a car in the United States without a permanent local address. Even with one, it typically does not make financial sense to do so. Your best bet is to try to find a consolidator on your side of the Atlantic who sets up car rentals in the US. For some reason, those guys can often get the 'underage driver' fee waived.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I'm not clear on the status of the original poster - he/she may be a US resident, all I see is "my friend from the UK".

    If you are in fact a US resident, I would not buy a car just for the purpose of taking this road trip. If you buy one, buy it with the intent of keeping it for several years as your daily transportation, and buy something new or late model used with a good warranty.

    Where will you be starting and ending this trip, and how much time are you planning on taking?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    There are many good trips listed on this website that might interest someone who loves nature and natural beauty. Among those:

    1) The Desert Southwest: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands - also known as the Grand Staircase.

    2) The Sierra Mountains: Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon.

    3) The Pacific Northwest: Crater Lake, Mt Rainier, North Cascades NP, the Columbia Gorge

    4) The Rockies: from the Canadian Rockies of Jasper and Banff, to Glacier NP, to Rocky Mt NP (Colorado). In between there is Craters of the Moon NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Tetons NP.

    5) The eastern side of the US is different in what it has to offer: Great Smoky Mountains NP, the Appalachians, Mammoth Cave in KY, Everglades (FL) and more. It also is chock full of early American history, where the western side of the country has a lot of native history.


    Donna

  7. Default

    Just to be clear, I am a US East Coast resident, my friend is flying in from another country to visit. I think we'll have $7,000 in savings just for this trip, combined. I'm going to be working somewhere for about a month and all the money I'm making there I'll be putting into the trip, which should be a couple thousand. He has around four thousand. I'm in Pennsylvania, so that's my starting point, about. The total time of the trip being devoted aside is going to be around a month, at the least three weeks.

    @DonnaR57: Thank you for that list!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Are you prepared to buy a reliable car enough in advance of the trip to get it all checked out and "debugged"? If not, you will need a rental, which will take a big chunk out of that budget.

  9. Default

    I need more information -- how much would a rental cost and where could I get one -- that topic I linked to showed the original poster having a lot of trouble finding one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    You really just need to shop around for rental cars. You can certainly start with any of the major travel sites (Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, etc), and also look at the rental chains sites directly.

    Again, it really should not be hard at all to find a rental, and as has been mentioned, the only problem in the link you keep referencing was finding an affordable rental in a very specific situation. Its very unlikely those problems would apply in your situation.

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