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  1. Default Australian Couple - Travel 3 Months Or More


    I hope anyone here can help me. I've looked around at a few threads and they've been somewhat helpful but I think I need personal advice.

    Me and my partner are desperate to travel through America. It's a dream I've had since as long as I can remember. We plan on going at some point in 2016, where I will be 24 and my partner will be 27.

    There is no time limit on our trip. We are quitting our jobs in September 2014 and starting with a backpacking trip around New Zealand, then will make our way to the states in 2016.

    We want to do everywhere from New York to Los Angeles. We will be picking up odd jobs in New Zealand for extra money for the states. During the USA trip but would like to know options to go down? Routes to travel?

    In New Zealand we're using a hop on hop off bus system which gives us unlimited travel throughout the country for a year. Does USA offer a similar alternative?

    Most of the trips I see advertised or promoted are only about a month. Since we do not have a time limit, I don't want to be rushed between locations. A road-trip seems like the better idea.

    Can anyone give me recommendations, tips, if this is possible, money estimates, visa information. Anything is appreciated.

    Thank you so much.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd start by saying limiting your trip to 3 months will make your planning much easier. That's the limit of the Visa Waiver Program, and based on what others have reported here, getting a tourist visa for a longer stay is a huge hassle.

    The other big challenge you will have is transportation. The US simply is not well served by mass transit, and there are large parts of the US that can not be reached by bus or train. National Parks or other rural areas are largely bypassed, so having your own transportation becomes almost mandatory. Greyhound is the nationwide bus service, and Amtrak is the passenger train system. I know Amtrak has an "unlimited" pass, and Greyhound might too, but you'll really have to research this closely to see if either would really meet your needs. Purchasing a car as a non-resident is also a very tough task, so renting a car for your trip would be the easiest way to travel, although it could get expensive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Your priorities.

    As already mentioned above, your only option really is to roadtrip. When you arrive in the US you soon discover that this country is designed for roadtripping. It is like no other place. The facilities for roadtrippers is second to none. That goes for budget travellers, as well as top of the range travelling.

    First you need to decide what the purpose of the trip is, what do you want to get out of it.

    Then I would suggest that you get a good large wall sized map of the US, and start looking around to see what is where, and which attractions interest both you and your partner, and fulfill the purpose of your trip. Start noting the places, and soon you will find a route will develop. Since this trip is not for nearly two years, you have lots of time to do the research about places of your special interest.

    Vehicle renting too could be a challenge, since you will be 24, which will attract a not insignificant under 25 surcharge. There are other ways to go for long term renting. You mention you will be backpacking through NZ, so you may be interested in checking out Escape Vans. A regular member here has rented with them and was very satisfied. The other one is Adventure on Wheels. Both these organisations do not have the under 25 surcharge and permit long term rentals.

    As for a visa, you might as well forget it. Visas for tourism alone are given in very rare circumstances. You will only be able to enter the North America on the Visa Waiver Program which has a 90 day limit. You are able to re enter North America only after having travelled to another continent.

    But as I said, right now, what you want to do is get a very good large map and start studying and researching what is where, and making some decisions on which take priority. You will not be able to see/do it all.


  4. #4

    Default Definitely Make A Plan!

    We are Australian and we spent 3 months in the USA in 2012 as part of a one year trip. We visited 16 states in total. We ended up buying a car and camping gear since there was 5 of us and we had no other great way to get around cheaply. We had planned to come back for another 3 months later in the year and use the same car but decided 3 months was actually enough for us. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to rent a car for the 3 months rather than buy one. If you're just 2 then you could rent a much smaller car than what we needed and save a heap of money.

    Definitely plan your trip and plan to visit as many of the national parks as you can. We aren't really into nature but parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, White Sands and Mt Rushmore were like nothing we have ever seen! Well worth a visit - we camped in many of the parks for very cheap and they had fabulous facilities.

    Try (it will redirect to some other url). We rented an RV for 7 days from LA to Texas for $1 a day and they gave us cash for fuel! You can use them in NZ too. Again if you are just 2 you might be able to get a smaller vehicle. These relocations are AMAZING value if you are flexible on your route.

    You definitely won't easily get a visa for more than 3 months so use the Visa Waiver System. Another commenter said you need to leave the continent before you come back - take note - a visit to Mexico, Canada or Carribean Islands will not count, contrary to popular belief. You need to REALLY leave and we decided to go elsewhere rather than come back and explore the rest.

    America is a fabulous place to travel - we saw some amazing things, met some absolutely insane people and visited loads of geeky roadside attractions (largest pistachio or CarHenge anyone?)

    Also consider weather (read SNOW) when planning your route and your timing. As Aussies you probably haven't had to worry too much about blizzards!

    Enjoy your trip - you will remember it forever!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Making the most of relocations.

    Hi Tracey, good to see you on the forum again, sharing your experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by lifechangingyear View Post
    Try (it will redirect to some other url). We rented an RV for 7 days from LA to Texas for $1 a day and they gave us cash for fuel! You can use them in NZ too. Again if you are just 2 you might be able to get a smaller vehicle. These relocations are AMAZING value if you are flexible on your route.
    Tracey mentions something which is close to my heart. On my first two visits to the US my main mode of transport was relocating cars, albeit with another company. Standby Cars organises the relocation of cars and motorhomes in the US as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

    The way I approached this in 2001 and 2004, was to check what vehicles were available, and then choose one which went to a destination of which I had never heard. In those days I did not know a thing about the US, did not have any plans or even a list of places or things I wanted to see/do. My only obligation was to attend my son's wedding. I spent the rest of my three months roaming the country.

    The 2 dozen vehicles I relocated over some 45000 miles took me to the most amazing places. With good maps in hands (I use my RACV membership to get free maps from the AAA in North America.) I would follow the scenic routes to my destination, and check out anything along the route. So rather than planning a destination before hand, I accepted the destination of the vehicle, and made the route there my adventure.

    Routes took me through most of the great national parks, many historical sites and to the major urban centres. In between relocating I would rent a vehicle to check out the vicinity where I was. But, as Tracey mentions, it does require a measure of flexibility.

    I have been checking out Standby Cars to relocate between Perth, Darwin, Northern Queensland, Tasmania and Melbourne. Figure it is cheaper than driving your own car. Besides Tracey, I have heard great reports about them. They are an excellent way to create an adventure.


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