Me and my friend are planning a 49-day roadtrip from San Fransisco - San Diego - Miami starting, late sept to mid-november. We are both 24 years old, from Sweden, and none of us have an american driver's license (though I have a social security number and California ID).
We would like to drive this distance, but the price quotes I have been getting from the big rental agencies are really expensive ($5000-7000). Our age is a major cost driver; most companies charge approx $25/day for an underage surcharge. Ironically, my friend will turn 25 just two weeks after we are scheduled to return home.
As we don't have a U.S. residential address or driver's license we would prefer not to have to buy a car. Also, I've bought a pre-owned car in California before and know how often they break down and we don't wanna risk being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a car that won't start.
What I'm wondering is if there are any options, besides renting a car from e.g. Hertz, Budget or Avis, that I haven't heard about? Are there any programs, any rental agencies targeting younger drivers, any couchsurfing-like communities for cars, any forums etc.? Or are we better off just buying a car off craigslist? Or should we just bite the bullet and accept paying $7000 if we want to drive the distance?