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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    20

    Default North America Trip in 2013

    Hello everyone

    I wonder if you could help?

    Me and my girlfriend are going to be travelling North America for approximately 6-7months starting in July 2013 on a tight budget

    We are starting our trip in Chicago and then onto Indianapolis to check out some NASCAR (if it is on)

    From there we want to travel to South Dakota to Rapid City and see Mount Rushmore.

    From Mount Rushmore we then want to travel to Yellowstone national park.

    I am not sure on where to stay, how to stay (camping, etc) and how to get around. I have been thinking about hiring a car to travel around for the time we are there the thing is I am not sure how long you will need to stay at Yellowstone and what there is to see?

    After Yellowstone National Park I have found a bus which can take you to Denver, Colorado.

    From Denver I was then thinking of flying to San Francisco (due to the distance) and it is relatively cheap.

    Obviously be spending a few days in SF and then we want to travel to Yosemite National Park again been thinking about hiring a car to travel California and around Yosemite for the time we are there the thing is I am not sure how long you will need to stay at Yosemite and what there is to see?

    From Yosemite we then want to travel California via LA and down to San Diego - not sure what the best/cheapest option would be travelling in California bearing in mind we need to travel to Yosemite. Looking at public transport, looks quite expensive and a lot of travelling around time.

    From San Diego we are then going to travel to Las Vegas

    While in Vegas we will go and see the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon

    From Vegas will we then fly to Dallas and work our way down to San Antonio (not sure if this is worth doing but would like to) and along to Houston.

    From Houston we will then travel to New Orleans

    From New Orleans we will then travel to Miami to visit Miami and the Florida Keys.

    From Miami we then want to travel to Orlando and do "the parks" and maybe a visit to Daytona Beach

    From Florida we then want to travel up to Washington DC

    From Washington DC we want to travel to New York

    From New York to Boston

    From Boston to Niagara Falls and then finish off to Toronto.

    We want to see as much as we can and if we can stretch our budget time is not an issue, not sure where to look for cheap accommodation as we are not keeping to dates and most of the hostels requiring advance booking.

    Please can I have as much as advice as possible and any helpful information and attractions that should not be missed. We also want to see baseball games, basketball games, american football, etc to make the most of the trip

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default big picture

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A trip of this size and scope is simply too big to offer lots of specific ideas, but there are a few things that I think you should think about as you start to fill out your plans.

    First, have you got your visa situation sorted out yet? Getting a long term tourist visa is an unfortuantly complicated process. Even if you get it, typically you are only allowed entry into the US for a maximum of 6 months.

    A tight budget and a 6 month trip is a bit of a contradiction in and of itself, but there are some things you should keep in mind to keep costs down. If you rent a car, and that's about the only way you'll be able to get to a lot of places, then you generally are best off keeping a rental as long as possible. Unless you are doing a loop, you'll pay an extra fee every time you drop of a car, and that could quickly add hundreds of dollars or more to your costs.

    As to some of the specifics of your outline, your trip is extremely city focused. For example, if you fly from Denver to San Francisco, you'd be going right over some of the most interesting and unique sites and national parks in the world. People spend months just traveling around Colorado and Utah because of how much there is to do there.

    I will also note that while Indianapolis is famous for racing, and they do a Nascar race there every year, it is most known for open wheel racing because of the Indy 500. NASCAR is stock car racing, and Daytona is more of the featured track on that circuit, although its very popular, especially in the south.

    Finally, finishing your trip in Canada will likely increase your costs rather significantly, especially in regards to airfare and car rental. You'd be best off ending in Chicago, where you started.

  3. #3

    Default Maybe Daytona?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Cann View Post
    We are starting our trip in Chicago and then onto Indianapolis to check out some NASCAR (if it is on)
    Although there is one NASCAR Race a year at Indianapolis, Daytona is really the king of NASCAR Tracks and you may want to visit there during your time in Florida. That's not to say the Indianapolis Speedway is not worth a visit. However, it is geared to and famous for open-wheel racing. There is a museum there andi it displays all the cars that have won the Indy 500.

    Whoops! I guess Midwest Michael and I were both thinking the same thing at the same time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Hi Midwest Michael

    Thank you for the insight, that is greatly appreciated.

    I will be applying for a visa in the next month or so, I have travelled to the US before under the visa waiver programme and I know its completely different procedure.

    The budget is going to be approx $18,000-$19,000 between 2 of us and thats for everything, travel, accomodation, food, attractions, etc.

    Looking at long term car rental this seems to be very expensive unless you know of a place which offers good deals, even then we will still need to look at places to park, fuel cost, etc.

    I was even looking at RV's but again this is very expensive

    The trip at the moment is only in the first stage of planning so am open to as many suggestions as possible, I am incrediablly focused on making this "once in a lifetime" as best as it can be.

    Thank you

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default First things first.

    Ben, if you do not yet have your visa, I would attend to that first, before you think of making any more plans. From what we have heard on these forums, it is by no means a given. If you do not have a really good reason - family, work, etc. - don't count on getting one. Most folk have been told it is the VWP or nothing.

    On the other hand, $19K for two for six months, including travel costs, renting vehicles, etc. is going to be very very tight. If, and it is a big IF, you get a 6 month visa, I would contact Adventures on Wheels. They give out long term leases which are cheaper than renting.

    Lifey

  6. Default

    $18,000 is only $100 per day for both of you. Perhaps you could get food (supermarket stuff), a very cheap place to stay (hostel, cheap motel in non-touristy area, campground), and some really inexpensive transportation (bus?), but there'd barely be anything left for attractions. I think you might have a more enjoyable time if you shortened the trip a bit so you can spend more per day and have more flexibility about what you see.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    My husband and I just came out of a 4-day, 5-night stay in the Florida Disney parks. Here's roughly what we spent, and there were just 2 of us:

    Motel = on property, $130/night (that was a military plan).

    Park fees = plan on $280 for a 4-day park hopper, PER PERSON. (We were on a military park promotional that was about half that, but was not available for civilian people.)

    Food = this is variable. The motels on property don't feed you any meals. You can buy a dining plan starting at $40/day/person, and that's about right, but it gives you a LOT of food. Can you bring your own food in the parks? Yes. Do people do it? Not usually.

    Souvenirs = ouch! Expensive!


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default real costs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Cann View Post

    Looking at long term car rental this seems to be very expensive unless you know of a place which offers good deals, even then we will still need to look at places to park, fuel cost, etc.

    I was even looking at RV's but again this is very expensive
    RVs are typically far more expensive than car/motel trips.

    Renting a car isn't going to be cheap, but the reality is that in many cases, its the only way you can actually get to many places in the US. If you do rent a car, doing lots of little rentals will probably end up costing you more than one big one, unless you do lots of hub-spoke type trips, where you go to a city, rent a car, and explore the area around it, return the car, and then find another mode of transportation to move to your next city.

    If you are able to secure a 6 month visa, and I very much agree that the visa needs to be your top priority right now, then purchasing a car might be an option. That's still not going to be cheap, and there are lots of red flags for foreign tourists trying to purchase a car, license, and insurance, but if you can make it work, it could be the most cost effective option for a trip of this length.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Thanks for all the information guys, ideally what kind of money am I looking at in regards to travelling for this length. I think if i really sit down and work stuff out I could raise around $23,000-$25,000.

    In regards to getting a bus I dont mind getting public transport and hiring a car in a city is this also a cost effective thing to do but again I dont want to miss out on things I can see while driving but am thinking of costs.

    If there was public transport we can sleep on these but with a car we will have to stop and find a place to sleep as I dont think we can sleep in the car in the US as you cant in the UK.

    In regards to staying in places is there anyway I could find really cheap hotels or maybe Bed and Breakfasts? Obviously there is the usual big chains but is there any people know locally about?

    I am thinking maybe hiring a sleeper van for a lengthy period as I think it will be cheaper than staying at hotel, etc. while travelling Yellowstone, Yosemite, California, etc. What do you think of this idea? Also need to think of fuel costs as well.

    Ben

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Escape Vans

    There are relatively inexpensive sleeper vans you can rent, and at least one member I have heard of was satisfied with the arrangement. In fact so much so, he is planning on renting the same for his next trip. As I understand it, these are restricted to the western states. But you can check out all that.

    Check out this thread.

    But get that visa organised first!

    Lifey

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