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  1. Default BIG Trip through the USA (8 to 10 weeks)

    I am intending to go on a rather long road trip with my buddy through the USA. I have an idea of where I'd like to go, and it includes going to 4 (possibly 5) cities where I have American friends that I would like to visit! My buddy and I will be 22 and 23 and from England so as we suspect renting a car will be nice and expensive (thank you insurance people!) however we have been working our legs off for some time and saved up quite a bit and would like to splash it all on a crazy road trip that we would like to last for around 8 to 10 weeks!

    So... here is roughly what I was thinking, however I am going to need a lot of advice and tips on where to go in between and why?:

    Miami > Atlanta (to see my friend Nick) > Chicago (to see my friend John) > Houston (to see my friend Graham) > Grand Canyon > Las Vegas > Santa Ana (to see my friend Antonia) > Seattle (to see Jordan and Mitch).

    There is a lot of room there for detours and other places of course but these places are must sees. Now bearing in mind me and my friend are young we enjoy going out, so cities with night life are our kind of places!

    Also any advice on rental cars, we may be pushing it but cannot see a better way to travel the states than in a pick-up truck.

    Importantly, the trip is likely to happen at the start of August.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You are 100% correct that this will be very expensive, especially in regards to a rental car. You're looking at a surcharge of about $50 per day to have two under 25 drivers. On top of that, you're doing a one way trip from Miami to Seattle, which is likely to include a huge extra drop fee on top of that, likely to cost you several hundred dollars minimum.

    It's also very unlikely you'll be able to rent a pick-up, as they are typically considered a specialty vehicle and generally aren't usually available for one way rentals.

    Your best value is going to be renting a regular sedan. With the amount of time you have, and the amount of zig-zagging north and south you're looking at, you might also consider doing a full loop of the US, rather than a one way trip.

    Do a lot of shopping for your rental car, but I'd guess you'll end up finding your best price by going with a consolidator based in the UK or Europe, with carhire3000 being one example. They are much more likely to get your underage and/or one way fees reduced, compared to booking directly with the rental companies.

  3. Default

    Thank you for the advice Midwest Michael! Anyone else?
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-28-2013 at 05:13 PM. Reason: removed quote of entire previous post

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Loop vs One way

    Not only do you have a lot of room for detours, it would make even more sense to do a loop. You could choose to go up to Chicago via Atlanta, head through the Rockies to Seattle down California, and back across the south via the Grand Canyon and Houston and back to Miami. In such a loop you will travel close to much of the best the US has to offer in the way of cities, national parks and scenic routes.

    Have you actually laid this trip out on a large map? I think if you were to do that, and compare a one way trip, with a loop, you may see that a loop would not only make more sense, it will save you a lot of money. Check a good map, and see where all the major attractions are, along each route. Supplement this with the RTA map program to see what other attractions may interest you.

    I think you may be surprised how much sense it makes to do a loop trip. You have the time.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    The distance between places in the US has surprised many European visitors.
    I've known several who hadn't paid attention before setting out on a "weekend visit" to someplace that requires 12 hours of driving just to reach.

    Do work out the distances between your stops. And a loop makes more sense than zigzagging across the country. (that was kind of a hint to us that you hadn't come to terms with the distances yet)

    Lots to see here. Plan carefully.

  6. Default

    [Buy a truck when you get there and sell it when you leave? If you are starting and ending your trip at the home of good friends, they could start looking out for a used truck for you, something sound but not too pretty. leave it with them to sell cheap once you're gone. ]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's not easy, nor is it cheap.

    It's just not that easy for overseas visitors to purchase, insure and register a vehicle in the US, it has been discussed many times before. Forgetting the lenghty process of sorting all that out, [if possible at all] the expense of purchasing retail and selling on the cheap at the end of the trip plus all the associated costs would not really be worth it for such a short trip. You then have to consider the possibility of breakdowns and repair bills that are at a higher risk the older and cheaper the vehicle is. Getting a friend to purchase in their name and insure it is not really a burden that should be placed upon them as they could be liable for any claims/losses that could occur.

  8. Default BIG Trip - 10 weeks - Suggestions please.

    Hi everyone,

    I have narrowed down roughly the main locations of my trip, and have decided to do a big old loop of the USA:

    Washington, DC, > Atlanta, GA > New Orleans, LA, > Houston, TX, > Dallas, TX, > Las Vegas, NV, > Santa Ana, CA, > Seattle, WA, > Des Moines, IA, > Washington, DC.

    There will be more places other than these stated, since the distances in between are enormous, I mean seriously the USA is massive!

    Can anyone suggest specific places to go see in between these cities. Grand Canyon is must see!

    Thank you!

    P.S. I always appreciate any advice you may have.

    Moderator note: Please don't create multiple threads about the same trip
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 02-24-2013 at 12:38 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    From experience ... even if a pick-up truck were available for a loop or one-way rental, you'd have the issue of how to keep your luggage safe, secure, and dry. Most rental pickups are only for local use, and therefore, they are only regular cabs and the beds are not covered. Buying one is neither easy nor cheap anyway, but for a non-citizen, very difficult.

    The closest thing to a pick-up that may be available is a small SUV. Still sits up high like a pickup but with the added comfort of a dry and safe place for your belongings.


  10. #10


    One thing I'd do is review with current auto insurance company about any option that would cover you for some category of losses. The $50/day surcharge I saw posted elsewhere in this thread is quite likely, otherwise.

    Washington DC, is not car-friendly. You can drive to a parking lot (West side of National Cemetery in Virginia, just across the river from DC) for a tourmobile which is the best way for hop on/hop off getting any given day in the central city.

    You indicated interest in Night Life -- Are you thinking of places for food, drink, and meeting like minded people? Sorry, can't help you in that dept., but elaborate more if you'd like.

    On your trips between cities, what type of sites would be most tempting to stop for? (Nature, amusement parks, historical (any particular historical period?) ... the range of possibilities is huge.)

    DC to Atlanta is about a 2-day trip, but that's not counting time to see things along the way. For instance for natural scenery, I'd consider heading West out of DC on I-66. If you might be interested in large caverns, I could name several possibilities, but none of the larger ones I could name appear directly on your path. There's a decent medium sized one (Luray Caverns) that would detour you off of I-66 along a smaller highway US-211 along curvy and hilly terrain. The route runs WSW of I-66, and afterwards you could pick up I-81 towards the South to continue.

    On the other hand, some of our earliest history is readily available in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Williamsburg areas with several options for getting there -- one of them being US-13 along the "Eastern Shore" peninsula via the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel. US-13 takes much more time than I-95->I-64 but there's more Americana that way.

    Tolls: Many or most roads and bridges are non-toll, but there are exceptions, and cash usually works in those cases. For any major route, cash should always work, but there are short distance exceptions: Rarely toll facilities require a transponder -- no humans are there. There is no "universal" transponder for the country. I.E. If you rent a car near DC, it's transponder will work with EZ Pass sites in over half a dozen states to the West, North and in Virginia. But it won't work in Florida, nor California, etc. In the rare cases there are no toll gates, just overhead automatic readers and eye level cameras, ready to take your license plate picture and send a fine to the rental agency for non-payment violations.

    Eg: I-95 S from DC is toll free, but the tunnel in I-13 to Virginia Beach is useable by cash or a transponder. I'd suggest a tourist book that will cover other combinations you might find in the cities.

    BTW all I- highways are similar to Britain's M- class roads.

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