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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Christchurch, New Zealand

    Default Miami-DC-NY-Chicago-Route 66-Las Vegas-LA Roadtrip

    Hi everyone!

    Iím in the early stages of planning a roadtrip across the US with a friend. We are two girls from New Zealand, currently aged 20 and 21. Our roadtrip is definitely a distant dream at the moment, as we are under no illusions that it will be a costly endeavour! We will be saving up for a while so that we can afford to do it properly. Our current, and somewhat ambitious, route has us starting in Miami then driving up to New York via Washington DC. From there we plan to go on to Chicago and roughly travel the historic route 66, or what is left of it, before veering off to Las Vegas and finally ending in Los Angeles. We intend to do this during the US summer and definitely want to take it at a leisurely pace, seeing the sights, meeting people and getting lost along the way!

    Estimation has never been my strong suit, and I know that there are people much more knowledgeable than I am on this subject on this site (obviously), so I am wondering: how many days would be appropriate to take this journey? We will probably end up deciding to add in several extra days in some of the cities we want to spend more time in at a later date.

    Another estimation we are interested in is an approximate cost of this road trip. I know that many specifics come in to play with this figure and that these costs may be very different in the future, but Iíd like to have at least some idea of how much to save up, and would rather err on the pricier side, and not be surprised later! At the moment Iím thinking the main costs will be plane tickets, car rental (and everything that includes), petrol, accommodation and food, but I know a few others will sneak up on us along the way. If anyone has any idea of how much we should expect to spend, or costs I havenít yet anticipated, please let me know. :)

    Thank you!

    P.S. Very informative site!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Many Variables

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The 'daydreaming' phase of any RoadTrip is actually one of the best parts. You get to fantasize about everything. But I applaud your hard headed approach to worrying about the logistics as well. As you are ]aware, many things will change or are yet to be determined, but here are a few rules-of-thumb and other considerations to help in your general planning. First: timing. For the rough route you've lain out, I would say that you need a minimum of two weeks to start to make it possible, three to make it enjoyable. More time would let you see and do more, especially activities that take place outside the car. Second: cost. I use a working figure of $150/day for travel for two. That includes lodging, meals and incidentals, but NOT the cost of the car or gas which I calculate separately. And there lies your biggest rub. While gas will seem cheap compared to what you're used to, this country is huge and you will be burning a LOT of it. Rough guess at the moment assuming you get decent mileage and prices don't rise too much is $800-1,000. The other big number is the underage driver fee. At your present ages this will be more ($50/day for the two of you) than the cost of the rental. That fee disappears when you reach 25, but I doubt you want to wait that long. There are ways to reduce the costs, but those numbers should give you a rough idea of how much you should be budgeting.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You should wait till you are both 21 - a 20 year old cannot drive a rental car.

  4. Default

    Wow, that's quite a trip you are thinking of!

    The biggest issue you will face that you might not anticipate, as others has pointed out, is that 25 is what is considered "adult" with renting a car in the U.S., and they won't rent to anyone under age 21. You will probably pay more than the rental itself in young driver fees.

    Back to your very rough itinerary, a quick reference to Google Maps shows your trip, just using your endpoints, is over 4000 miles. That's quite a long road trip! I would budget perhaps a month to do that kind of trip to keep your average daily required mileage at a level to allow several days at destinations and to keep driving at a reasonable rate on days you do drive. You do not want to attempt over 500-600 miles a day on an extended road trip.

    As for costs, I think all-inclusive, you could probably do it, if you are careful and can get good deals, for 10,000USD excluding airfare to the US and back. That would allow about 175/day for lodging/meals and 125/day for rental car/fuel.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Christchurch, New Zealand


    Thank you everyone for your advice!

    We will both definitely be 21 or over at the time of the roadtrip, so that wonít be an issue. I knew about the young driver fee, but didnít realise it would be quite so much! Iíve heard that there are several car rental companies that waive the young driver fee, so weíll have to look in to that to see if thatís a possibility closer to the time. As far as petrol is concerned, I think weíll try to find a rental car that is fuel efficient if we can, as I figure that has the potential to save us a fair amount of money if we can find an appropriate vehicle. Otherwise, I guess weíll just have to save more!

    Thanks again,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I certainly wouldn't say that "several" car rental companies waive the underage fee. Once and a while a company will waive it as part of a special (Hertz did this summer), and if you look at some of the foreign booking agents you can sometimes find a deal where it is reduced or eliminated. However, it really is much more of an exception than a rule, and when you throw in plans to do a one way cross country, you need to expect that you'll be looking at several hundreds of dollars in extra fees because of your situation and consider it a lucky bargain if you can get them reduced.

    Getting an economy/compact car will probably be ok with just the 2 of you, but the fuel savings won't be that much. Between the smallest and largest sedans, you're likely only looking at a difference of 5-10 mpg, so going small will help a little, but it won't be a huge factor in the overall budget.

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