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  1. Default Roadtrip in the U.S. need advice on the most effective/ reliable means of transportat


    so me and my husband are planning a world trip in fact, and we will be coming in from Canada to the U.S. to fulfil our great american road trip dream. we will be in the U.S. for perhaps 2 odd months or more, we don't have any set timelines per say. I guess we will figure that out during our travel but more than 3 months would probably be a no-go

    - I needed some advise on whether to rent a car and travel from coast to coast or is there a a better way to go by?(please do let us know if there are any recommended car rental companies)
    - Is it also better to perhaps buy a relatively stable and cheap car, maybe around $700, if any is available? Since my husband is French, how difficult do you think would the process of buying / renting a car would be for a foreigner?

    - also, do you recommend perhaps trains or any other means?
    - Is taking planes during the trip a better idea? If yes, are there any cheap airlines that can be looked into? and is it better to book once we are in the U.S. or the rates fluctuate significantly and we need to book way beforehand? (like ryanair and easyjet for Europe)

    we will probably be starting our journey from D.C and our mutual interests are, 1. to see the wonders, e.g grand canyon, yellowstone,death valley etc 2. try to exhibit as much of the great natural beauty 3. we are both musicians so hit some of the folk / blues music/ festivals

    would be a real help if we can get some guidance from you guys. looking forward.
    thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 06-06-2012 at 05:52 AM. Reason: Moved thread to more appropriate topic.

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

    Default Some thoughts..

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    That sounds like quite some adventure !! With a journey of this size and in the early stage in planning, it's pretty much impossible to add meaningful advice with regards to routes and sites etc, but to answer some of your questions.

    To get around the country and see what you want to see at your own pace and with the maximum amount of freedom, you really need your own mode of transport. Carrying luggage on and off of planes and trains etc can get old real quick and while in the air you miss so much. Mind you, we are probably biased. This is a road trip forum afterall ! lol

    No matter where you are from, as a foreign national purchasing a car and getting all the paper work, insurance and an address to register it all to, is a time consuming and expensive minefield and almost impossible to achieve. In this situation there is the option of to get someone to locate a car for you like here. It's not something I would recommend, and it would cost a lot more than $700. If you suffered a mechanical failure it could run into a lot of money for repairs and/or leave you stranded without a vehicle. Despite the promises I have read how people turn up and then are taken to a dealer who then trys to push a 'dubious' motor onto the rather desperate traveller. However I have also read that by refusing certain cars they have gone on to have a succesful trip. Are you a gambler ?

    I personally would recommend renting a vehicle and the security that comes with it. A coast to coast trip is viable, but I would consider doing a complete loop of the country and return your car back to where you started. It often doesn't add too many miles to the trip, by the time you zig-zag up and down the country trying to hit the spots you want to see that is. Take a northerly route out, down the coast and a southerly route back or vice versa, perhaps depending on the time of year you are travelling ?? [The weather could influence this decision] A big plus is that you won't have to 'suffer' the hefty one way drop off charges that come with the one way trip !

    To get the best rental deal to match your criteria, it is a case of searching around and comparing prices. It's almost always cheaper to book a car through an European consolidator than it is to book at the desk on arrival. Carhire3000 and Dollar are a couple of popular ones along with your major companies like Avis, Hertz etc.

    You won't be able to rent in Canada and drop off in the USA, or if you did the costs would normally be A LOT !

    Take a good look around the RTA forums using the search function and check out the planning resources in the tool bars above and get yourself a good large map of the USA. Once you start marking the spots you want to visit, a route pattern will soon follow. Once you have made a start we can certainly help fill in the blanks and make suggestions.

  3. #3


    We are from Australia and bought a car with zero hassle in Texas. We used the car yard as the address for the insurance. The car yard got their broker on the phone and it was all sorted. I'm not sure you'll get any kind of decent car for $700 especially with the thousands of miles you will put on it. We've been here 6 weeks, done 7000 miles and visited 12 states in the west. (some more than once!). If you decide to rent a car organize it really early. The longer you wait, the more it will cost. And beware damage waiver insurance. Find out if you have this cover at home otherwise you will be looking at $9-$23 per day on top of the rental. If you start in DC all the natural wonders are on the opposite side of the country so you may want to consider flying east to west. Expect to pay an average of $4.50 per gallon for fuel at the moment. We've paid as low as $3.30 right up to $5.10!! You will have the BEST time!

  4. Default

    Thanks Folks!

    great advise. can you tell me the name of the company with whom you bought the car from in texas and roughly how much did you pay for it? that would be a great help too.

    thanks again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by lifechangingyear View Post
    We are from Australia and bought a car with zero hassle in Texas. We used the car yard as the address for the insurance. The car yard got their broker on the phone and it was all sorted.
    Not all car yards will be so accommodating. From my experience they are rare. Try buying a vehicle in WA, FL or perhaps MI, as they are more willing to accommodate non-residents. Chatris is an insurance company which accommodates non-residents, and from my research turned out to be one of the cheapest.

    But before you go down the buying path, consider the points mentioned by Southwest Dave... you will be responsible for your own repairs, you will be off the road during that time, and you do not have a guarantee of being able to sell the car at the end of your trip. For a period of less than three months, buying rarely ends up being a cheaper option.

    Do your research. Go online and look for vehicles of the type and age which interests you, and see what prices they sell at.

    An alternative you may wish to look into is Adventures on Wheels. They have long term leases which could well be cheaper than buying a vehicle, considering insurance, registration, etc. (They also sell with a buy back option, but I believe you need to have a US issued driver's licence for that.)

    How much time do you have before you make this trip?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Fly and Drive... eh?

    Fly and Drive with rental cars might be your best bet. That way you can concentrate your time in those key areas that appeal to you. Here are some tips on that approach.

    Trains are not going to be generally helpful for cross-country travel.


  7. Default

    Lifey - we have quite sometime..we are planning the trip for next year and are at the moment in the process of getting one of the RTW packages.

    But for the U.S since we will be doing a road travel so need all the information in advance.
    what about cheap motels and accommodations on the road? can you recommend some cheap companies that can save us at the knife end if needed :)

    thanks again ye'll.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Cheap motels and accommodations can be done pretty cheaply as you drive. My husband and I usually stop at the Visitors Centers at each state where we intend to spend the night. There you can grab brochures about things to see/do in the area, but also get a Hotel Coupon Book for the state. There are usually some pretty good deals in those coupon books. You can also check out the hotel-finder on this website, which offers some decent deals if you want to have reservations. I can tell you, we rarely get reservations for motels/hotels except when we're in a high-volume-tourist area or there's an event scheduled, or if we think we might be rolling into a place later than our usual get-off-the-road-at-4 pm goal.


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