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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    10

    Default Las Vegas to New York last minute road trip planning

    So I have flights booked from Sydney Australia into Las Vegas and out of JFK New York to London England. I'm English but living in Australia and just on my way to visiting home. Although my plans have changed and I have an extra month on my hands. My plan when I booked them was to get an internal flight from Las Vegas to JFK, but now I'm thinking good excuse for a road trip!

    I'm on a bit of a budget as I didn't really plan this trip, so going to bear that in mind too.

    I did a road trip 5 years ago from Miami to Dallas and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did next to no planning though, so I want to be a little more prepared this time with a route, things to do along the way and hopefully somehow find some people to meet and hang out with and get some useful tourist tips from along the way. Didn't find that meeting people was too easy last time.

    Route
    Which route to take? I'm really looking for help here as I don't know one from the other! The warmer the weather the better, friendly places are a must. Roughly a month to make the journey, although I don't want to be on the road every day and not for crazy long periods either.

    Transport
    I'm thinking either hire a car or buy something and somehow try and sell it before I fly out of JFK. That's probably not going to be too easy and buying a car won't be too easy as I'll have to do it quickly. Maybe just hiring a car would be better, in which case considering I'm going to be doing a one way trip and not returning the car to Las Vegas, what recommendations would you have in where to hire something that I wouldn't mind doing a fair amount of driving in. I'm 6ft tall, so don't want a compact if I can help it.

    I normally go for the lowest insurance cover and then make sure that my travel insurance covers vehicle excess charges, usually up to $4k or so. Is this what people would recommend when renting a car?

    Accommodation
    Thinking of staying in Motels (as I did last time). Youth Hostels don't seem to be a thing in America from what I've seen (although I could well be wrong). I'm not going to camp in a tent although I don't mind basic cabins on a camp site. Safety is my only real concern here.

    I think if I could get some advice from some of you seasoned travellers as to a route and stops, I can build it from there with recommended places to go to, things to see, ideas for meeting some friendly people and so on.

    Would really appreciate any help and ideas.

    Thanks
    Sam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,526

    Default For starters.

    Hi Sam, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    As for transport, buying a vehicle as a non resident in the US is completely out of the question. It is nigh on impossible. And when it is possible, it is often not an economic decision. So count that out.

    Renting a vehicle is going to hit you with a hefty one-way drop fee. Which you might like to research. There are a few ways of minimising this, if not overcoming it. And yes, on the few occasions that I have rented I have covered the excess insurance with my travel insurance. In each case they asked to photo copy the policy.

    I have also spent many nights in hostels along the way. Always worth checking if there is one in the area you are going to be. Here is probably the most comprehensive listing of hostels. You might also like to keep an eye out for hotel / motel discount coupon books, generally found at rest areas along the highways, visitor centres and at some truck stops. These can even include places cheaper than some hostels.

    As for route, well you have hundreds to choose from. Pick up a good map of the US and see what interests you. You could spend the whole month in Utah and Colorado alone... without even thinking of the rest of the trip. Pennsylvania is also a very attractive State. Every State has its attractions.

    One idea for meeting folk on the road, which I use constantly, is to always look for a lone traveller when you stop for a meal or cuppa. Not all will be open to have you join them, but many will. And if they are a local, will often direct you to some of their favourite local attractions.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,513

    Default Getting dots on the map.

    As Lifey touched upon, a trip across almost the entire country and with a month to spare would not only give you hundreds of routes to choose from, but thousands of combined routes that will allow you to hit the spots you want to based on your interests. In this one thread you can find lists of attractions in each State, and even then it will only scratch the surface of what's out there !

    The Four corner States offer wonderful and diverse scenery, a high concentration of National and State Parks, wonderful small towns, Tribal parks and historic remains. You could consider heading west before going east and dip your toes in the Pacific and enjoy some of the coastal and mountain scenery of California. As you have travelled from Miami to Dallas you could visit some Northern States, including Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore. Although you don't say when in Spring you are planning on visiting. This might have an impact on some routes, and the warm weather you seek, particularly in mountain areas at high altitude such as the Rockies.

    I would get a good map of the US as suggested and carry on looking around all of RTA. You will find much info from searching the forums and in particular, the Roadtrip Field report section where you will find many reports and Photos within. [You can alter the search duration at the bottom of the page to get more results come up]

    'Up top' in the tool bars you will find Lot's of useful planning resources, including the Map Centre and Wizard where you can create routes, Custom places [Map Centre] and find attractions all over the country.

    Once you have some dots on the map, we can help to 'fine tune' your ideas and suggest things to fill in the blanks. Enjoy the planning !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    10

    Default ways to minimise or overcome one-way drop fee for car rentals

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Renting a vehicle is going to hit you with a hefty one-way drop fee. Which you might like to research. There are a few ways of minimising this, if not overcoming it. And yes, on the few occasions that I have rented I have covered the excess insurance with my travel insurance. In each case they asked to photo copy the policy.
    Would be really interested in hear any and all possible ways on making the car hire cheaper and also some good places to hire cars from. In Oz there are a few websites that undercut all the car hire places and only use decent recognised companies, are there any of those or other good companies to try?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    One idea for meeting folk on the road, which I use constantly, is to always look for a lone traveller when you stop for a meal or cuppa. Not all will be open to have you join them, but many will. And if they are a local, will often direct you to some of their favourite local attractions.
    Not sure about just walking up to people, remember I'm English that's just not the way the Queen would do it ;-) Will give it a try though. Was thinking about connecting with people or groups over the internet before going and meeting up. There is a website in Australia called www.meetup.com, where you can go along to meeting, nights out, play sports, watch plays etc. with people of similar interests. Generally a range of people turn up. Anything similar that you could recommend?

    Really appreciate the help. Am going to look at a route in depth this week and start booking things...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,526

    Default Hello! My name is Sam.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam654 View Post
    Would be really interested in hear any and all possible ways on making the car hire cheaper and also some good places to hire cars from. In Oz there are a few websites that undercut all the car hire places and only use decent recognised companies, are there any of those or other good companies to try?
    Sam, I cannot speak from personal experience, but one thing which comes to mind is that Europeans often are able to organise car rental through a local consolidator. I do not know if you have access to them, while you are in Australia, and neither am I aware of any in Oz. But it might be worth a little research. You might also like to check out this suggestion... post #8. It requires a little flexibility, but if the saving is worth it, could work for you.

    Not sure about just walking up to people, remember I'm English that's just not the way the Queen would do it ;-) Will give it a try though.
    "Hello! my name is Sam..."

    Works everytime. There's nothing like a handshake and a smile to put people at ease. So long as they are not deeply engrossed in a book, or chatting on the phone. You'll find that often there is someone who is only too willing to share their travel stories with you and listen to yours. Maybe even answer some of your questions. Heck, the moment they hear your accent they will want to know where you are from. And if you wear a flag badge, it often arouses curiosity as well. Not sure if the Union Jack would, but certainly the Australian flag does. Though I need to be fair. Back in 2001 not one yank I met knew what it was. Now I am finding quite a few recognise it. I've been educating them. LOL

    Was thinking about connecting with people or groups over the internet before going and meeting up. There is a website in Australia called www.meetup.com, where you can go along to meeting, nights out, play sports, watch plays etc. with people of similar interests. Generally a range of people turn up. Anything similar that you could recommend?
    Does it come as a surprise to you to learn that I am a member of several Meet-Up groups? Yeah! a great way to get to know the locals with similar interests. Have even been thinking of starting a group. I am not aware of anything in States which is similar. If any of the others know, I am sure they will chime in.

    Am going to look at a route in depth this week and start booking things...
    I can't see if you mentioned exactly when you are travelling, but unless it is over a holiday weekend or in a National Park, I would not be in too much of a hurry to book accommodation. Hostels normally a day or two ahead you will get a bed (except the HI in NYC and Chicago). And the discount books I mentioned before, are mostly for walk-ins only. What I do in those cases, I call around two or three in the afternoon, and ask if there are any vacancies, so that I do not waste time - and fuel - driving from one motel to another.

    Of course, if you are the sort of traveller who is not comfortable unless everything is booked beforehand, then by all means, go ahead. But in that case, I would still run the route and attractions past the experts here, before making definite bookings.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,526

    Default Oh! yes I do.

    Anything similar that you could recommend?
    Just remembered! Couchsurfing might be something you would like to check out. And even if you do not want to use it for accommodation - though I do all the time - many members love to show you their town / attractions. It is a great way to get to know people in each and every place.

    Get verified, build up a profile and references before you leave... if you have the time. Well worth it.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    10

    Default

    This car thing is going to really be an issue. I can't do a loop as I fly out of JFK to London. I have that flight booked and paid for already. Unless I looped and bought another flight from Vegas to JFK... hummmm...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    I can't see if you mentioned exactly when you are travelling
    Hope to hire the car and set off on Friday 20th April 2012 and get on the plane at JFK on Wednesday 16th May 2012.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    but unless it is over a holiday weekend or in a National Park, I would not be in too much of a hurry to book accommodation. Hostels normally a day or two ahead you will get a bed (except the HI in NYC and Chicago). And the discount books I mentioned before, are mostly for walk-ins only. What I do in those cases, I call around two or three in the afternoon, and ask if there are any vacancies, so that I do not waste time - and fuel - driving from one motel to another.
    LOL, last time I road tripped in USA, I would spend the evening planning the next day and organising accommodation and then wake up with a plan and go. It seemed to work well and gave that little bit more freedom.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Couchsurfing might be something you would like to check out. And even if you do not want to use it for accommodation - though I do all the time - many members love to show you their town / attractions. It is a great way to get to know people in each and every place.

    Get verified, build up a profile and references before you leave... if you have the time. Well worth it.

    Lifey
    Okay, that sounds really good. Will have a look into as I can't see how I can get verified without actually being on the road meeting people. Expect it will become clear when I read it all through. Thanks, this looks good.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,526

    Default Easier than you think.

    Sam, if you join Couchsurfing, fill in the profile as much as you can, you can always edit and add more later. Then, pay to get verified. It means you make a $20 donation, and they send a card (I think it was) to the address you entered (it is hidden from the public). When the card arrives, it comes from the US, so could be a couple of weeks, you enter the code which is on the card. It is just to ensure that you do live at that address. And also to verify your identity through your credit card information. If you are coming back to Sydney, and you have someone collect your mail while you are away, get them to email you the code. If you will not be coming back to Sydney, enter your address in Britain, or wait with verification. Lots of members are not verified.

    And when you are on the road, if you know a week or so in advance you are going to be in an area, do a couch search, and see who is available for a 'coffee and a chat', which translates into, we'd love to meet you and show you around, or tell you all about our place. Now each time you meet someone, ask them to put up a reference for you. Tell them that you are new, and want to have some references. It is a legitimate way of getting references. Don't be too upset if some won't leave one. But make sure you leave a reference for everyone whom you meet, be it over the internet, in person, or if you happen to surf with them. Let me know when you have joined, and I will leave you a reference so you can see what I mean.

    I already have my first four days next week organised with Couchsurfers in Pennsylvania. And there are some great Couchsurfers in NYC, who will take you around, or help you with the best way to get to whatever you want to see. If you have a chance, I would highly recommend that make contact with Stephen Tupper. He is (or at least, in 2007 he was) a city ambassador with Couchsurfing in NYC. At that time he had a Couchsurfing dinner every Thursday evening. All couchsurfers in NYC were invited. We had a great time. He is located not far from the HI hostel. He owns a ground floor apartment with a tiny back yard, in which he has a BBQ, a fishpond, some plants, a deck and outdoor furniture. It really is interesting to see how they live.

    Jack Koenig is an actor who took me out and showed me some of the area where he lives, not all that far from Times Square. It was pouring rain! And Julie Tersigni, an artist, lives in a studio apartment almost opposite where John Lennon was murdered. We bought some morning tea and walked to memorial in Central Park where we sat and watched the passing parade. She told me ever so much about that little corner of Central Park. Mind you, any and all of these could have moved in the last five years, but I just thought I would share.

    I think your travelling dates won't clash with any public holidays. You obviously have a good handle on how to manage your accommodation and trip on a day to day basis. Have a great trip, and meet lots of people some of whom may very well become lifelong friends.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,526

    Default Loop and flight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam654 View Post
    This car thing is going to really be an issue. I can't do a loop as I fly out of JFK to London. I have that flight booked and paid for already. Unless I looped and bought another flight from Vegas to JFK... hummmm...
    If you are on a budget, it is probably the best way to go. Two things are in your favour. One is, you are not travelling at high season, so prices will not be at their maximum. The other is, the flight from LV to NYC is likely to be considerably cheaper than the one way drop fee.

    Have a look through the forums at loops in the Four Corner States and Nevada. These are popular routes.

    ... I would spend the evening planning the next day and organising accommodation ...
    What a waste of an evening! lol

    Lifey

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