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  1. #1

    Default How much in 3 months?

    Hi everyone!

    I am after some advice for our roadtrip next year.

    We are coming from Australia and are unfortunately, we are limited to only 3 months due to the Tourist VISA restrictions. So how much of the country do you think we will get to see? We are a family of 2 adults and 2 children (will be 10 and 7) and want to go by campervan....or should I say RV!

    We have travelled a bit around Australia both via RV and tenting it! Long distance are not an issue either, we travelled from Perth to Melbourne in 4 days, so one side of Australia to the other.

    I am thinking we will only have time to do the boarders i.e LA to down and across to Florida and then up to New York. Is this feasible? There is so much to see and do that I really need to start narrowing it down!

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Some help to get you started.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    I know there is a lot of romance about travelling by camper or RV, but it is nearly always cheaper to go hotel and car. Remember, in the US you will not be able to travel the distances you do at home, without coming to towns and cities and accommodation.

    Driving from Perth to Melbourne is almost equivalent to LA to the east coast, but don't imagine that it can be done in four days. That is a very hard five day drive, in the car for ten or eleven hours. without any sightseeing. Six days makes it a little more relaxed and a week makes it a really nice trip.... but that is assuming you are not stopping at any of the thousands - nay millions - of attractions along the way. You will not anywhere find the open spaces you have across the Nullabor.

    Three months would certainly give you the opportunity to see many, if not all, the major attractions, with time to actually see them, and for your children to enjoy and benefit from their visit.

    Regardless of which way you travel, start thinking loop trip. It is very expensive to pick up a vehicle in one city and drop it in another. Cross country could run into four figures. Secondly it is always cheaper to fly in and out of the same airport.

    Do you have any good large paper maps of the USA? One you can put up on the wall where you will see it every day? My preference is for the National Geographic map available at Map World. The larger one is excellent for the detail it gives. Furthermore I suggest you get a copy of the Rand McNally road atlas which has detailed maps of all States with scenic routes and attractions marked as well as all cities and towns and roads and routes. Both are invaluable to give you some idea what there is and where it all is in relation to one another.

    Use post it notes on the wall map to mark attractions as you decide which ones are on your must see list. Once you have some spots on the map, the members here will be able to help with routing, distances and times, etc. (One warning, ignore computer mapping travel times. They are pure fantasy and do not relate to real world conditions.)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Three Months is More than Enough

    When I did my first 'Once Around the Country' RoadTrip, I had three weeks and did it in an AMC Gremlin (AMI Rambler Gremlin in Australia). I got to see far more than I would have imagined and still had time to visit friends along the way. Three months and an RV are luxuries I could only imagine. So yes, it is enough time to see an awful lot of the US at relatively relaxed pace and get back to your starting point without once retracing your steps. I wholeheartedly agree with Lifey that you ought to close the loop on this. Leaving any vehicle, but especially an RV, thousands of miles from where you pick it up is going to get very, and needlessly, expensive. Whether to use an RV at all is another question and whether the additional expense and added hassles (urban driving, finding parking, poor fuel mileage, etc.) are worth it is entirely up to you.

    You're probably looking at around 10,000 miles to complete a circuit of the US that would get you to roughly every region and many of our most scenic/historic/cultural sites so you'd only need to drive about 150 miles a day or less. That is eminently doable and leaves you a great deal of time to actually explore and enjoy whichever sites you choose to visit.


  4. #4


    Thanks guys!

    Thanks Lifey for the suggestion for the road map. (I was hoping you would answer as you always have great suggestions) I have looked at a few on line, but it is hard to see if they are really good or not. So will definitely order that one. I was looking at the Ultimate United States Road Map by Hema.

    Just to clarify, I wasn't planning on doing the west to east coast in 4 days. WAY to much to see, just wanted to point out that the kids are used to driving and long distances are not a problem.

    We were hoping to do a closed loop definitely, I just didn't think we would have the time. But looking on maps and what to do, it seems that the north isn't as tourist stop populated would that be right? So really we could get a closed loop in? I was just going to bite the bullet on the one way rental fee (some companies are $1500!!) But if you think we can do it, we will!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    What months will you be here and what city will you be flying in and out of?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    3 months is certainly enough time to do a loop of the entire country. As Lifey mentioned, you can comfortably drive from coast to coast in a week, so time really is only a problem if you make it one.

    As far as your statement that there isn't as much to see in the northern US, I'll simply say that's very misguided and you should spend a bit more time looking into all the things you could see and do. From the Pacific Northwest, to Glacier National Park, to Yellowstone, to the Black Hills and Badlands, to the Great Lakes, there is no shortage of places you could explore in the Northern US.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Far from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2016USAHoliday View Post
    (I was hoping you would answer as you always have great suggestions)
    Thank you. After seven trips and some 180000 miles I am beginning to feel I know a little. There's still lots I have not seen, and I have never visited and driven in winter weather. Something we Ozzies are not too keen on. lol

    I do feel for you, however, as I am one of the lucky ones who has a B1/B2 visa which allows a six months stay to visit with my children and grandchildren. Six months in US... six months in Oz... helps me avoid winters in both places.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2016USAHoliday View Post
    ... it seems that the north isn't as tourist stop populated would that be right?
    This is a popular misconception. Sure the country is not as geographically spectacular, but that does not mean there are fewer tourist attraction. However, they are more based on history especially the history of the early European settlement of the US and the associated wars. Check out the National Parks site, and see just how many NP properties there are in each and every State. Not all NP properties are nature parks, some, just like in Oz, are historical sites.

    Once you get to DC you have the Smithsonian as well as all the national monuments. You could spend a week there and not see it all.

    Even the midwest States have a lot of history, with explorers routes, original native settlements, and the pioneering history as well as agriculture today. Worth reading up on, so you can talk about it while you pass through those areas. (I still find the 1930s dustbowl area amazing. If you have seen any of those movies you can visualise it as you drive through the area.)

    There are of course the commercial touristy glitzes as well. Yeah! there is a lot to see as you travel around the country. and when you venture off the main highways, there are countless smaller gems in local communities. All it takes is to ask locals where they would go if they had a weekend off. They will happily tell you about their favourite spots. Spots you are not likely to find on the internet or in tour guides. If only for that reason, I would leave all your travels flexible. You have the time to do it.

    Glc asked the very question I should have, though I assumed it would be around June, July, August and September, since you posted in the summer forum.

    Have you checked through some of the Field Reports in that forum. Especially the ones which go for several pages. These are usually the trips which lasted for many weeks... if not months.

    What input are the children having into your plans? Both are old enough to have some input to make it more exciting for them.

    I think you will find that map extremely useful, but don't underestimate the value of the Rand McNally with its individual State maps. (order it now, and you'll have it in a couple of weeks.)

    I take it you are Perth based? In which case I would urge you to take your WA RAC membership with you. It will give you access to free maps and tourism information from the AAA all across the country. I like to travel with AAA maps, the Rand McNally (in which at the end of the day, I highlight all the roads on which I travelled that day), as well as my gps (which is used to find specific addresses in urban areas.

    Enjoy the planning.


  8. #8


    Thank you everyone for your help.

    So yes, we are looking at leaving Australia in April/May. My plan at the moment is the following:

    Fly from Perth to Vancouver.
    Cruise to Alaska
    Pick up Campervan from Seattle and begin the anticlockwise trip. Or fly down to LA, spend a week here before grabbing the van and setting off.
    Once that is done, a couple of days in Hawaii and fly home.

    Unfortunately I do need to wait until the cruise schedules come out to get exact dates (April this year).

    The girls have a lot to say in where we go and they have already said the obvious Disneyland, Las Vegas (Honey I Blew Up the Kid), Kansas (have had to tell them that there will be no Yellow Brick Road to follow!) Niagara Falls, New York! My 9 year old would love to go to Houston and Cape Canaveral and she is a space girl. The 6 year old wants to go to Atlanta and Charleston..........a Gone with the Wind Girl!!! I have told her that Tara and Twelve Oaks are not real buildings but there will be other thing to see. Including Margaret Mitchells House. They also wanted to see Richie Rich's Monument. When I said that isn't real, but there is one called Mt Rushmore, they thought that was pretty cool as well. And they want to go to every amusement park possible. (Ah no, that wont be happening!)

    For the adults it is all of the above plus definitely most of the NP, San Fran, San Diego, New Orleans, Miami, plus for me Gettysberg and other sites from the Civil War (another Gone with the Wind fan!)Washington DC, My husband would like to see the big sports fields. We are not interested in the Wine growing areas for the wine if that makes sense. But would go for other attractions. I have a friend in Springfield Ohio so another must stop. They are just what is on top of my head, plenty more written down!

    Lifey, I have just ordered the Rand McNally book, thanks for that. And what great advice for the RAC membership! What a great idea to link it with AAA. As for driving in winter.....I don't think a Perth winter would even come close to comparison in some parts of the US! We don't even have a beanie or gloves! We do want a fairly flexible holiday, so are not looking at having much booked in.

    My mistake about the north, sorry to all!! I new about the NP's and were on my wish list. I just naively thought it wouldn't take as long to see as we wouldn't stop as much. Thanks for that info.

    Thank you all for the input and reassurance that in 3 months we can do a loop and see some of the USA! As Lifey said, 18,000ml and still not seen it all! Off to read all the field reports now!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Yes you will need to leave the northern areas like Glacier and Yellowstone [which doesn't fully open until late May -Mid June] until later in your trip. Even in California the snow in the Sierra's will still be thawing and roads like the spectacular Tioga Pass in Yosemite may not yet be open and the Rockies are likely to see snow. You need to bring layered clothing and prepare for some cold nights in the RV, although they are quite well equipped to deal with them.

    The good thing about the loop trip other than the one way drop fees is that you can choose the start finish point that offers the best flight deals from your cruise end point to home. So you might be better off starting south and heading east. Once you have done some research and got some dots on the map we can help fill in the blanks, offer suggestions and answer any specific questions you may have.

    We love the RV Lifestyle but take into consideration that it is not the 'cheap option' in the US, especially with a trip such as yours. By the time you add the mileage charges and high fuel consumption (8-10mpg) to the campground fees and rental costs it will be a lot more than a car and motels.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A bit of good news.

    If you are flying into Vancouver, then your clock does not start ticking till you get to Alaska. See if you can find out when on the cruise you will be going through the US border control. It is at that point that your three months start ticking. At that time you have to show that you have a ticket leaving the US (Hawaii) within 90 days. So you could actually have a few days more.

    From whom are you renting the campervan - they are actually few and far between in the US. Mostly you will find that they are motor homes, the larger and thus more cumbersome vehicles in any urban area you plan to visit.

    I'd agree with Dave that if you can start in LA it would benefit you. That does nothing for being able to fly out of the same airport, unless you then also flew back to Vancouver.

    Have you read this thread? It is most informative, even though the $$$$ amounts are a couple of years out of date.

    Post all those destinations you already have on your map, and you may find that it already pretty much forms a route. When you get to the point of weeding out some to make it all fit, you can decide which are your must sees and which can wait (for another trip).. Right now, put down everything. You have tons of time to do research on all the places. I did not see Niagara mentioned, I am sure that will be on your list.

    Also, go onto the NP website and look for the Junior Ranger program. That should get your girls excited about the parks.

    BTW.... that was 180.000 not 18.000. Yup a lot of miles which includes three trips to Alaska.

    A few other things you might collect as the months go by is small souvenirs. Anything from post cards from home, small koalas and pens to pins, key rings, etc. These come in handy when you meet people along the way, or when the girls have made friends in a park or campground, or whatever. I hand out a lot. Folks always seem to be amazed by whatever I give them, especially youngsters.

    The other thing I have is a small flag in the rear window of my van. I like to let them know I am not a local, especially when you make a traffic faux pas. lol


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