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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Nottingham, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default Bumbling Brit needs help!

    Hi and thanks for taking the time to look at my post.

    I will try and make this as painless as possible so here goes.... myself and my girlfriend who are both from the UK (Nottingham to be precise) are keen to return the US for a road trip in May 2013 having exhausted European destinations. We have both previously been to the US on a few occasions and really enjoyed it so we are keen to get a road trip sorted.

    We plan to do the West/Mid-West area specifically:

    San Fran
    LA
    Flagstaff
    Grand Canyon
    Grand Staircase
    Grand Junction
    Denver
    Cheyenne
    Hot Springs
    Mt Rushmore
    Rapid City
    Yellowstone
    Idaho Falls
    Salt Lake City
    Las Vegas
    Death Valley / Yosemite
    San Fran

    Its give or take 4200 miles and we have a month set aside. There are 2 of us driving so we have worked out an average of about 300 miles or so a day between 2 drivers.

    We have some overnight stops and some smaller towns on route but given the above is there anything that is a must see that is close or not too far from our intended route, or if someone has any other proposed route that would be good to hear about to, it would have to include SF, LV, Mt Rushmore, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and Yosemite.

    Also finally we plan to hire a mid size car something like either a Chevy Cobalt or Ford Focus (both around 2LT Gas auto's) etc. Any ideas on the sort of expected combined fuel consumption for these vehicles, I thought maybe around 28-32mpg combined.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Welcome!

    May might be just a bit early for the high mountain attractions such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. The roads may or may not all be open yet. Can you move this trip into June?

    For conservatively calculating your fuel costs, I'd recommend you use 25 mpg and $4 a gallon, adjusting the per gallon price closer to the time when you are coming over. Right now, the national average is $3.80. Who knows what may happen to the oil market between now and then?

    Don't forget Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd say the biggest thing I'd recommend in terms off adding stops would be many more national parks you didn't include that sit basically right along your path in Utah and Colorado. Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain, Zion and Bryce Canyon are a few that would certainly be worth consideration.

    I'd also make sure you are rationing your time well. A month is a great amount of time and should make for a nice trip, and 300 miles in a day is quite easy. However, a lot of these places you could spend days visiting, so you do need to make sure you don't end up having days where you need to cover huge distances.

    I'd say your fuel estimates are pretty good, but I'd probably estimate 25mpg just to be on the safe side if you are trying to come up with a budget.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Time for Even More

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First, some specifics. Both of the cars you mention would be classed as Compacts by most car rental agencies, and both would get an overall average of around 30 mpg according to the EPA. However, be aware that when you reserve a car, the rental company will not guarantee you a specific make/model, but will only list a 'typical' car in their fleet and the words "or similar".

    Your total driving time will easily fit within the month that you have available to you. Actually, the biggest advantage of having two drivers is that you get to take turns just enjoying the scenery or reveling in the wide open roads of the American west. What you should do before you get here is brush up on your map reading and navigation skills so that you are prepared to wander off your pre-planned route should the spirit move you.

    While there are more efficient routes that would include all the towns and sites you mention, I think that the order in which you list them will work for you. Given that, and that you probably already have a fairly detailed route in mind, here are a few additional attractions you might want to consider: the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Colorado National Monument, Rocky Mountain National Park, Badlands National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Little Bighorn Battlefield, Grand Teton National Park, US-89 south to Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park. You should have time to include many if not all of those on your journey.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Nottingham, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks for the advice. I think with the above in mind we may think about going mid june ot mid july. This way we should also squeeze in some July 4th parties.

    We are going to revise the route to include San Diego, Zion park, Grand Teton.

    The fuel consumption seems a bit low but I forgot about the US/UK Gallon difference so 30 mpg US is 36 in the UK which is ok. Still I always wondered why the US seems to have lower MPG ? I have a 2.0ltr Ford Focus in the UK and have a combined MPG of 40 odd, anyway I have worked on the basis of overall 25mpg US so any more than this should be a bonus.

    Thanks

  6. Default

    Hi Daniel,

    Fellow Brit here! Me and the Girlfriend have recently driven 4500 miles in about 21 days, but firstly, do not worry about fuel costs it is SO CHEAP compared to the UK you will be laughing. We hired a VW Jetta (2.5l auto - the smallest they had at the airport) and i guess with a/c on full blast you can get about 25mpg but $40 filled the tank (compared to £75/$120 in my golf here). we drove from atlanta to san fran, via new orleans, vegas etc

    If you are hiring a car, i'd always recommend booking the cheapest possible before you arrive, when you get to the desk they try and upgrade you, refuse again. Wait until you get to the car park and you get your pick any car and always upgrade then. I always book the smallest (chevy aveo) and have never paid to upgrade but always get a big family sized car as airports never stock small cars. car hire works very differently over there to here so you get much more for your money.

    A good thing we done was to get up early and just go, you can do most of your driving by 10am then. Also I wouldn't book many hotels, and book them on expedia the night before, you can get cheap decent hotels at no cost at all.

    p.s. tell your mrs to deal with cars being auto, mine was too chicken sh*t so i had to drive all 4500 miles!!!! p.p.s i hope you like One Direction as every radio station has them on repeat!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default a gamble

    Quote Originally Posted by adcarter View Post
    If you are hiring a car, i'd always recommend booking the cheapest possible before you arrive, when you get to the desk they try and upgrade you, refuse again. Wait until you get to the car park and you get your pick any car and always upgrade then. I always book the smallest (chevy aveo) and have never paid to upgrade but always get a big family sized car as airports never stock small cars. car hire works very differently over there to here so you get much more for your money.
    That strategy is a pretty a bit of gamble for a big trip. There have been a couple times where I have been upgraded for free, but most of the time I end up with the same size car that I've booked.

    If you are just planning a short trip, then I'd say its very much worth the chance. But if you're planning a long trip, where you're going to be on the road for lots of hours and miles, then I'd plan to pay a few extra bucks and make sure you get a larger car that has more features and a more comfortable ride. Typically, the cost between a compact car and a midsize/standard/full-size car is only a couple dollars a day if you are reserving in advance. If you wait until you're ready to drive off the lot, the upgrade fee can be a lot higher.

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate any effort to save a couple bucks, but there's sometimes were the risk of actually being stuck with an Aveo isn't worth it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Nottingham, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default Car Model which one ?

    Ok so next year my girfriend and I are off on a West / Mid West tour of the US for 22 days. We plan to drive about 200 miles a day (about 4000 miles total). With this in mind we have some quotes for car hire and was wondering what would suit best.

    I don't care about high performance, Ideally we need something economic (at least 30 mpg combined), comfortable and above all reliable. It would have to handle a mixture of highways and back roads. All models come with A/C and Auto transmission, In addition all cars are inclusive of breakdown cover and zero excess damage insurance etc.

    For $535 we can get one of these:
    Chevy Aveo
    Chevy Cobalt

    Or for $650 we can get one of these:
    Pontiac Grand Prix
    Pontiac G5
    Chevy Impala LS

    They exact models are not listed but I thought maybe the Cobalt would do the job. We don't have a lot of luggage and we are not planning on having any passengers so space is not a massive issue.

    Finally I have never driven in the US before, seems a random question but are most gas stations in the big towns self service, i.e you fill up yourself and pay in the kiosk ?

    Thanks

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about this trip together in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-23-2012 at 04:23 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default don't worry about models

    The biggest thing you need to remember when renting a car is that you are never reserving a specific model, in fact, its highly unlikely that you'll get any of the models you've listed.

    Most of the cars you've listed aren't even made anymore. The Pontiac brand was eliminated in 2010 (and both of the models you listed were retired by 2009), and both the Aveo and Cobalt were retired and replaced in 2011. Since most rental cars are only 1 or 2 years old, you'll probably be getting a 2012 or 2013 model year car, although a 2011 is still possible.

    What makes your specific question a little more difficult is the example models you've listed are all over the map. In fact, the Pontiac G5 you've listed at $650 was the exact same car as the Chevy Cobalt you're being quoted at $535! A G5 was a compact, a Grand Prix was a midsized car, and an Impala is a full-size.

    When it comes down to it, for a month long trip, I'd probably spend the extra $100 for a larger car. No matter which you go with, you should end up with something that is reliable and will have plenty of space, but a larger car is likely going to be a little more comfortable and have a few more extra features that certainly aren't essential, but can be nice to have when you are spending lots of time in the car. A larger car may get a bit worse gas mileage, but that depends much more on the specific model. My last 3 rental cars were a Dodge Charger (a full size that got 25 mpg), a VW Jetta (a compact/midsize that got about 29 mpg), and a Toyota Camry (a full size that got 34 mpg).

    Yes, most gas stations are self serve, and these days, you typically have to pre-pay. The easiest way is to pay at the pump by swiping a credit card right at the pump. However, with an international credit card that might not work, and you may have to go to inside the store/kiosk first to get the pump turned on.

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