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  1. Default First Solo Roadtrip

    I am still in the very early stages of planning, but thought it would be wise to get all your input from the get go.

    I am a male, aged 18 who is currently living in Scotland and I have done countless UK family roadtrips and a family roadtrip through most of Western Europe, so I am no stranger to the concept, although I have never done a solo trip before, so to do what I plan (which will more than likely change drastically as all you veterans help me out) will be a massive task to undertake.

    Before I begin explaining my basic plans so far, I will let you know that I will be updating this thread regularly, so if you do help me out, please re-visit the thread often for updates and further help, thank you. Also, please treat me as a complete novice, I will take no offense.


    I'll start with the basics, the places that are a must to stop in, in order of beginning to end of the trip:

    Key West, Florida > Miami, Florida > Indianapolis, Indiana > Gardiner, Montana > Vancouver, BC, Canada (I have extended family living there, and would potentially be staying with them) > Santa Monica, California.

    6 main destinations.

    Scotland: Leave for Key West on the 1st day.

    Key West: Arrive on the 1st day, spend the rest of the day relaxing; Spend the next day sight-seeing; Leave for Miami on the 3rd day.

    Miami: Arrive on the 3rd day, spend the rest of the day relaxing; Spend the next day sight-seeing; Leave for Indianapolis on the 5th day.

    *Three overnight stops, destinations not yet decided*

    Indianapolis: Arrive on the 8th day, spend the rest of the day relaxing; Spend the next day sight-seeing; Leave for Gardiner on the 10th day.

    *Four overnight stops, destinations not yet decided*

    Gardiner: Arrive on the 14th day, spend the rest of the day relaxing; Spend the next 5 days exploring Yellowstone; Leave for Vancouver on the 20th day.

    *Two overnight stops, destinations not yet decided*

    Vancouver (staying with family most likely): Arrive on the 22nd day, spend the rest of the day relaxing; Spend the next day sight-seeing and visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge; Spend the next day sight-seeing; Leave for Santa Monica on the 25th day.

    *Four overnight stops, destinations not yet decided*

    Santa Monica: Arrive on the 29th day, spend the rest if the day relaxing; Spend the next 7 days sight-seeing/relaxing; Leave for Scotland on the 36th day.

    Scotland: Arrive on the 36th day.

    So my first two official questions (there will be many more) are:

    How long do you reckon it should take/Am I being realistic?

    What are your opinions on this trip in general?

    If you need more information to help, please don't hesitate to ask me.

    I look forward to your replies/help.

    Thanks in advance :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Transport ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The first thing that should be of concern to you, is your means of transport. It is very dificult to rent a car under the age of 21 years in the US, and even then it becomes very expensive due to young driver fees that are added daily to cost of rental.

    It is even more difficult to purchase a car as a visitor to the USA. So I will start with the question, have you arranged transport and overcome the difficulties associated with it as an 18 year old ? If not, I think that is something you need to look into before getting deep into your planning.

  3. Default

    @Southwest Dave

    Thanks for the quick reply.

    I am still in the very early planning stages and it could be a good year or two before anything comes of it. So I still have all of that to look into. I did not know it was that difficult, although I assumed it would be expensive, thank you for that and it is now top of my list of priorities to research.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Never stop dreaming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    ... it is now top of my list of priorities to research.
    What a wise young man. And yes, it is extremely difficult and expensive. But as you do your research, and the years fly by, you will no doubt come across alternatives to make this dream a reality.

    Keep the dream alive.


  5. Default


    Thanks for the reply.

    You are right and this is by no means a short term plan, it will take me a few years at least to have the spare money, so I can get a lot of research done by then.

    After finding out how difficult and expensive it is, I am tempted to wait until I turn 21 to actually do the trip, but keep planning and researching it over the next few years.


    What is everyone's opinion on my time frame for the trip, do you think it is realistic?

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


    The time frame seems to be ok, although I'm a little curious as to why Indianapolis was picked as a stop where you are spending some extra time. Nothing wrong with it, but I'm guessing you've got a specific reason for that one?

    Logistically, there are a few more things you should really think about. First, waiting until you are 21 is really the only way you'll be able to do this without looking into mass-transit options. There simply is no major rental car company that will rent to someone under 21 for a trip like this (they rarely do it under any circumstance, but one-way cross country trips are a non-starter.) However, you also need to think about your starting and ending points.

    Going from Florida to California is going to mean a one way drop fee that will add at least several hundred dollars to your rental costs. On top of that, Key West is going to be a very expensive place to start for both flights and rental cars. Starting in Miami will likely be a much much better bet. Logistically, it might also be a little difficult to find a rental company in Florida that will allow you to drive into Canada. Someone probably will do it, but starting that far south means most will default to 48 states in the contract.

  7. Default

    @Midwest Michael

    Thanks for the reply, it was very informative. I'll just answer your questions/address your points in the order you made them.

    I knew this question would be coming haha, every time I mention it to someone they say the same. I chose Indianapolis because to me it seems a lovely place (I know it has very little to do activity wise, or so I have been told), but when I look at photos of the place it just seems so peaceful in a weird way. Not sure how to explain it, it just looks to me a pleasant place to stay for a day.

    After researching the prices and such of being under 21, it really is impossible, looks like I will be waiting until I am 21 to do this trip, but I can still plan it and chat about it until then on this forum with you guys, can't I? or is it for summer trips this year only?

    I feel like a complete idiot haha, I didn't even think about one-way fee's. I will start looking at prices for that and if it would be cheaper to travel back from Santa Monica to Miami. Which would mean I could also visit Phoenix and Austin (or is it Dallas that has the eco-carousel? I cannot remember of the top of my head).


    So would you all say that it would be a wise idea to start in Miami for cheaper rentals and flights, and to drive down to Key West for a couple of days? I personally don't mind the back-tracking at all.

    How do you guys think I should go about visiting Vancouver with all the rental company troubles that @Midwest Michael pointed out? Do companies even do this?
    Last edited by Saul; 03-17-2012 at 10:07 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The easiest way to add Vancouver (if you can't find a rental with Canada privileges) would be to end your trip and drop the rental in Seattle, then taking the express bus from Sea-Tac to Vancouver.

  9. Default


    That's a great idea! The only downside is that would mean a one-way fee + finding a new rental car for the rest of the journey, wouldn't it?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'm suggesting that you rearrange your trip so Seattle is the LAST stop - then fly back home from Vancouver.

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