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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip 2014 - Help needed!!

    Hi there! Me and my friend are planning a road trip in America for next year. Were both from Ireland, are in the early planning stages and have never done this before, so any help with the following questions would be much appreciated!

    1) Our main concern is how to get around. We would like to keep costs as low as possible, and renting a car for a long period is expensive. We would ideally find a used camper, and then resell on our return home. Can anyone offer any much needed advice on this? We are struggling to find any info related to insurance, specifically.

    The RV is an attractive idea because it saves money on hostels, etc, aswell as allowing a great deal of freedom, but we are also open to any other ways of travelling the coast. Could anyone recommend any other means of travel - public transport, camping, etc?

    2) Can anyone, who has taken a similiar trip, give an idea of daily costs? We would be living as cheap as humanly possible.

    3) We are flying into Seattle, and plan to drive down to San Diego. Any must-not-miss things you could recommend?

    4) For such a road trip, how long would you recommend staying in the U.S?

    5) Could anyone give any insight into Wwoofing? Sounds like an interesting option.

    Any help with any of these questions would be a massssive help. Thanks alot :)

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

    Default Buying is difficult and expensive for non residents.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You mention renting a car for long periods to be expensive but don't say how long you actually plan on being in the US for. It's possible to drive from Seattle to San Diego in 3 days, but of course there are thousands of routes and attractions you could choose from, but you haven't told us anything of your interests.

    Buying a vehicle as a non resident is extremely difficult, [almost impossible] time consuming and usually works out more expensive and risky then just renting a vehicle. I think you need to start with your budget and how much money will be available and then check out basic prices, a quick search in the RTA Roadtrip Travel link on the right of the page will give you some idea of lodging and car rental costs, and then consider how long your budget might last. Sometimes it's better to do more in less time and enjoy yourselves then it is to try and stay as long as possible without really having resources to enjoy yourselves. It's not to say you can't have fun on a budget, but travelling always gets more expensive then you think it will be.

    Public transport isn't really an option to explore the US, sure you can get from A to B, but then getting to the more remote parts can be time consuming and costly. You could check out Escape campers who offer small campervans to rent but from limited locations. If you plan on starting and finishing in different locations then you could face a hefty one way drop off fee, so a loop trip is often more cost effective. You should also note that you can't park up anywhere in the US for a night and campground fees can be equal to a cheap motel, so often a car and Motels are a cheaper option than campers and especially RV's.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Cold Water, I'm Afraid

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    RoadTripping is a relatively low cost way to travel which is one of the reasons that it appeals to so many people, especially young families. But it is not no cost and there are limits to how much you can save. In particular, your two stated ways of keeping costs to a minimum either simply won't or probably won't work.

    In the simply won't work category is the idea (which comes up often here) of buying a vehicle at the start of your trip and selling it at the end. First of all, the economics just don't work out. Remember that you will be buying retail and selling wholesale, taking a hit of at least several thousand dollars in the process. It doesn't help that you will be 'motivated' on both ends of the transaction and unable to wait around for a better or even good deal. Then there are the licensing, registration and insurance fees, usually only available in 6 month to a year minimal increments, so there goes another thousand plus dollars (minimum) that you won't be able to recover. Renting a small sedan (saloon) starts to look really good in comparison. Then there's the fact that you can't just park your RV (caravan) anywhere you like but will have to rent a campsite each night and deal with all the waste products, and pay for the extras gas (petrol) it takes to drive it around and even a car and nightly motel are looking like the better option. But in any case, you can't buy an RV anyway. You'd need a permanent US address and probably a US drivers license in order to legally be the owner/operator.

    Secondly, Wwoofing is not like the Irish Farmhouse Bed and Breakfasts that I have enjoyed n my visits there. Wwoofing is a working and teaching arrangement. Yes, you get free room and board, but you do so as a volunteer with something substantial to offer in return. Typical periods of volunteering run weeks to months or even entire growing seasons. Hosts are typically not interested in somebody just dropping in off the road for a few days.

    What will it cost you to travel in modest style? My personal rule of thumb is about $150/day for two to travel comfortably. By roughing it, camping, buying your own food in supermarkets and cooking it yourself, etc, you could probably lower that to under $100/day, but travel is NOT a low cost endeavor. Obviously it costs more than it would for you to stay home or else people would travel all the time. And many of your at home costs (rent/mortgage, insurance, etc) don't go away just because you're not there to enjoy them. You can find other money saving ideas by checking our Art of the Cheap RoadTrip page.

    You'd need at least a week to see the west coast at anything like a relaxed and enjoyable pace. Two would be better. Beyond that is up to you and your wallet. Note that by flying into Seattle and flying out of San Diego, you are probably raising the cost of your airline tickets and definitely raising the coast of your rental car.

    For things to see along the way should this all work out for you, you can start by checking some of the previous discussions linked to here.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default My kingdom for an extra "W"

    Quote Originally Posted by Reegis Reg View Post
    5) Could anyone give any insight into Wwoofing? Sounds like an interesting option.
    That's pretty funny... I thought you meant woofing -- which is playing with fire in a semi-controlled manner. Here is a video of a woofing session attended by RTA Contributing Writer -- Peter Thody and others...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Some other options.

    You will need to accept that purchasing your own vehicle is simply neither a sound economic proposition, and as mentioned, extremely difficult. Only for long term - a year or more - would I recommend it. I speak from experience. I bought my vehicle, and drive it almost half the year, every year. But it was not easy, and as you allude, insurance is the most difficult, and expensive.

    The other thing is, when it is your vehicle and you are stranded by the side of the road with mechanical problems, it is your problem. With a rental vehicle, it is the rental company's problem. It just keeps adding up.

    The first thing you need to decide is for how long do you want to travel. Then you can seriously look at what it would cost. For longer term travel, you might look at Adventures on Wheels. They specialise in longer rentals, and do not charge the under age fee. However, their locations are limited (as with most other specialist rental companies).

    I would not dismiss hostels outright, as some are extremely cheap, and even those which are not super cheap often have many other advantages, such as discount tickets to major attractions, minimal cost tours to major attractions and community meals for very little cost. Of course you also have the advantage of meeting others who are travelling on a budget, to exchange ideas, share experiences and even sometimes pool resources for special purposes. is probably the best hostel site on the interent. Do your research, and remember, price is not everything. On the west coast, by far the best are USA hostels. They always book out and need to be booked well in advance. A measure of their popularity.

    Have you checked out Couchsurfing? That is a community which you could join now and establish a good record with references as well as getting yourself verified. By attending local Couchsurfing functions and either hosting travellers or showing them around your area, you will soon have an impressive list of references.

    You could then start to do your research on the west coast and make internet acquaintance with likely hosts. Be thoughtful though, make a contribution of some sort each time you are offered a couch. Get onto their forums and start learning all about it. You have a whole year to get into the swing of it.


  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reegis Reg View Post
    We are flying into Seattle, and plan to drive down to San Diego. Any must-not-miss things you could recommend?
    FWIW my personal choices are as follows, but so much depends on what you personally prefer:
    The Oregon coast (US101).
    Yosemite National Park.
    The Pacific Coast Highway (California State Highway 1) especially between Monterey and Morro Bay.

    This is an official US National Park Service video about the splendours of Yosemite:

    This is a well-produced road trip video which includes the Pacific Coast Highway and San Francisco:

    This series of videos, also extremely well-produced, start with a trip up the coast from Santa Monica to San Francisco, then Yosemite (and then on to Death Valley and Las Vegas, and a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon):

  7. #7

    Default Buying a Car to Drive the West Coast

    Hey there,

    Me and my friend and currently exploring the West Coast and are loving it. We have visited Seattle and are currently in Portland and we've decided we'd like to go down route 101. We are wondering what is the best way to go about this?

    We are both Irish passport holders, here for 9 weeks, 25 yrs old, both with driving licenses.

    At the moment, we are looking into buying a used car, drive the coast, and sell it on at the end of the trip to recoup some money. Renting just seems a bit pricy overall atm.

    I have a few questions:

    - Firstly, is this plan feasible? We have met several people who have done the coast by this method and it has worked out very well for them...

    - What would have to be done, insurance-wise to be covered? Would cover be expensive, and could anyone give an estimate?

    - Any other costs to consider besides fuel and possible repais?

    - We are looking to buy the cheapest car possible, all it needs to do is run ok. We are looking at a car tomorrow for 1500 dollars, which is ok but still a bit steep for our budget. Realistically is this the cheapest we could hope for? Around 1000-1200 would be ideal. Does anyone know any good dealerships around the Portland area?

    - Should we look outside Portland to buy?

    - Is the route at all dangerous to drive? We are both experienced drivers back home, but not on American roads.

    - If this plan isn't feasible, what are our alternatives? Train, bus perhaps? Should we look again at renting cars?

    Any help or advice would prove invaluable! Thanks for reading.

    MODERATOR NOTE: Please Do Not Create Multiple Threads About the Same Trip.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-14-2014 at 07:22 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

  8. Default


    Rent a car, and save money if you need to by using the budget motel chains (Motel 6, Super 8) and less expensive restaurants. If you can't make ends meet doing that then yes consider train and Greyhound but both of those would lock you in to town centres for stopping points so you wouldn't be able to visit places such as Yosemite.

    Buying and selling a car would involve so much hassle and time, it's not worth even considering.


    (Other opinions are available!)

  9. #9


    Thanks John! When you say the hassle of buying a car, is there anything you mean specifically?

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reegis Reg View Post
    When you say the hassle of buying a car, is there anything you mean specifically?
    Sorry, I don't know the details - indeed, discovering the details would itself be all part of the hassle. For example, California has much tighter regulations regarding exhaust emissions than other states, so I suspect that an old wreck that was legal in Washington State or Oregon might not be legal in California - so you could probably drive it there, but never be able to sell it. But I'm guessing, so other posters might well have corrections and additional comments.

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