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  1. Default Student US trip all over US alone

    Hey guys

    I would like to ask for your help, as I am in the planning stage of my trip

    Some details before the plan: First time traveling to the US, as I have enough funds for 2 weeks trip, renting cars here and there( more on that later) and hostels mainly for meeting people. I would travel alone, and the plan below is based about what I have heard about US, so I am looking for some help to make sure that at least it is roughly right.

    Car Rentals: I am 21, so I can rent only the likes of a Ford Focus class car, and a bit above maybe, but I would be happy with a that big car. As you will see, I will take rounds for a good reason: If I rent a car and take it back, for 4 days it will be like £170 ish including young drivers "You are a lunatic" drivers fee. If I would drop it at a different location,we are looking at £500....

    The plan is, I fly from Leeds to Amsterdam, there to Boston and then New York at the end of March, so this is where it begins.
    I plan to spend a dayish or less there as I will be back there at the end of the trip again.
    From New York, I would take the train, go to Washington DC, White House etc.
    I would rent a car (Ford Focus class from Hertz, I am 21) and go to Toronto ( I know a long drive), spend a day or two there with my friend, then drive to Chicago, with a break in Detroit. I would like to check Chicago out more than Detroit, although if Detroit is interesting then let me know.
    From Chicago I would go to Colombus, stay there for a night, go through Pittsburgh, then back to Washington. Drop the car, get on a plane, fly to Las Vegas. Rent a car there as well, go to Grand Canyon, Death Valley, then go to Fresno or Bakersfield to sleep ( maybe stay a night in Las Vegas between Grand Canyon and Death Valley). Check Yosemite, go to San Francisco. A night there, then drive down to LA. Spend a few days there as well, then go do Las Vegas.

    And now this is a question here, as It would be a good thing I think. Go to Miami/Orlando, drive around there for 2-3 days, go to beaches, have fun. Then I fly back to New York and have there

    The plan is vague and for many reasons. First, this is my rough plan.
    Secondly, I do not want to over plan it. So I would like to pin point out the things where I should go, then get the plane tickets in the US flexible so I can change it if I would like to, as for example I enjoy Miami that much that I would like to stay there for more days, then take away few days from New York.

    This drip would be easy to do in 14 days, Miami might be a bit of a stretch.
    What do you think, is it a good plan to begin with? Would you change a lot on it?
    Last edited by NefosUK; 09-12-2015 at 08:03 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Finding Focus

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm honestly a little confused about your plan. The biggest question for me is your timeline. You make it sound like you want to do all of this in 14 days?

    If that's the case, then you're going to have to dramatically cut back. Even if you could be awake 24 hours a day, you wouldn't have time for everything you listed.

    But at another point in your post you talked about renting a car for 4 days - are you talking about for the DC-Toronto-Chicago-DC portion of your trip? Because if that's the case, again, You're severely underestimating the amount of time you need. You need more than 4 days just to safely drive between those points, much less hope to see anything in those cities and other cities in between.

    You also contradicted your age. At one point you said you are under 21, but at another point you said you are 21. That really is a big difference when traveling in the US. With most companies, you're not allowed to rent any car until you are at least 21, but that's not the only area where it matters. Las Vegas, for example, is a city that is very difficult to enjoy if you're not at least 21, as you aren't allowed in any of the casinos, and most hotels in Vegas won't even rent you a room unless you are 21 or older.

    It's good to dream big, and you can certainly build a plan that leaves you lots of flexibility, but at some point, you've also got to keep the scope of reality into play. The US is a huge country, basically the size of all of Europe, so it can be easy to underestimate just how much time it takes to get around. I think your next step really needs to be to sketch out a realistic day by day plan, so you can get a handle on what is actually possible to do. Once you're actually on the road, you don't have to stick to it, but it should help you understand that "a day or two here" and a "few days there" starts to really add up quickly, especially when you factor the time it will take you to get between all the places you want to go.

  3. Default

    Hi

    yeah, the timeline is not completed at all, I am aware of it and yes I am 21 years old, I edited my post. I should do a bit of proofread before I post

    The main plan was divided into 2x 1 week= 1 week for DC loop and another one was the Las Vegas loop.
    Then I tried to manage the Miami part in, and yeah, I squished in everything. I think Florida will be cut off this time around.

    Okay, that is a good idea, I will start to work on it, plan the trip as 1-1 week, then I will see what happens when I will be there

    I was traveling through Europe, although Europe is much smaller, you can basically drive through it in around 16 hours whereas US would take roughly 44 (info by Google Maps)

    I am not too worried about the final plan, as there are 7 month left, although I will buy the New York tickets shortly, so at least I will know the dates I can plan between

    I will post the updated plan here soon!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Good maps will help you plan.

    I'd have to agree with Michael, you need to get a more realistic idea of how far things are and how long it all takes. Forget about Miami. You may be able to work it so that you can spend a week in the North east and a week around Las Vegas.

    Since you are in the early stages of planning, it would be a good idea to get some good paper maps, which show you the country and distances. If good detailed maps are not available locally, I recommend you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas, from the RTA store at the bottom of this page. It will give you not only a great overview of the States and cities you want to visit, but most of the attractions in those areas as well. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks.

    You can work out the distances via various routes on the computer, but be aware that computer mapping software times are not realistic, nor to be trusted. To get a good idea of how long it will take, calculate that you will cover 55 miles per hour (that includes all essential stops, fuel, food, traffic congestion, road construction, etc.) when travelling on the high speed interstates. Reduce that by 5 miles when travelling on secondary highways.

    Check out hostels here. The places you wish to go have many fine hostels, and lots of them run budget tours especially for the cash strapped young traveller. Make good use of them. Besides meeting other travellers, you can often share in community meals and nearly all of them have coffee and tea on tap 24/7.

    In New York City I highly recommend the HI on Amsterdam Ave. It is no where near the cheapest but it is by far the safest and best. With 600 beds, it is always full. Bus at the door, subway half a block away, a couple of blocks from Central Park. However, you do need to book. In fact when I was there last, they told me that they book a dozen or so over the capacity, to cover for those who do not turn up.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NefosUK View Post
    I was traveling through Europe, although Europe is much smaller, you can basically drive through it in around 16 hours whereas US would take roughly 44 (info by Google Maps)
    Keep in mind as you plan, Google map times can't be trusted for long distances trips in the real world, as they don't factor any stops/slowdowns/etc. You need to figure your actual travel time to be about 20% longer.

    As an aside, I'm curious as to what you are defining as "europe" when you say it can be driven in 16 hours. Even London to Rome is much farther than that, and that doesn't even come close to say, Madrid to Moscow.

    One final note, in the future, please don't edit your post after someone has responded to it, it makes it more difficult for others to read in the context of the thread.

    We look forward to seeing what you come up with for your plan.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Keep in mind as you plan, Google map times can't be trusted for long distances trips in the real world, as they don't factor any stops/slowdowns/etc. You need to figure your actual travel time to be about 20% longer.

    As an aside, I'm curious as to what you are defining as "europe" when you say it can be driven in 16 hours. Even London to Rome is much farther than that, and that doesn't even come close to say, Madrid to Moscow.

    One final note, in the future, please don't edit your post after someone has responded to it, it makes it more difficult for others to read in the context of the thread.

    We look forward to seeing what you come up with for your plan.
    Yea, you are right. I will have a 9 hours trip on Wednesday, including a 3 hours ferry, so that will be a good comparison

    Basically Budapest to Paris. Yes, there is Easterner Europe, and there is countries up north ( side note: I have been in Finland and the country and the people are absolutely gorgeous, that is a plan for 2017) but for me, that is the first thing that comes to my mind for a cross Europe trip.

    The reason why I edited that post is simple, if someone new looks at the post he does not get confused. I do understand your point though, as I will not edit my replies

    As an updated plan looking thing, that is still vague:

    I looked at the planes, at it lands in Boston first, then I would get a connection to New York. So I got an idea:
    I will start in Detroit. I take a look around in Detroit, if I like it I will stay there for a night, if not, I go to Chicago. (Day 1 or Day 2)
    After a night in Chicago. From Chicago I go to Columbus via Indianapolis. it is 5 hours drive, let say 2x 3 hours drive ( including stops) that is not bad I reckon.
    From Colombus, I drive to Cleveland (2hrs) check the Rock Hall of Fame, drive to Niagara Falls, and then Toronto. It is a lengthier drive but I will stay in Toronto for 2 days. From Toronto I drive to Detroit, drop the car, fly to Los Angeles on Day 6, if I stay for a night in Detroit.

    After a night in LA on Day 7 I drive to Las Vegas, spend a night there,Day 8 I visit Grand Canyon, Spend the night in Phoenix, back to LA. Day 9, I go to San Francisco. Day 10 Yosemite, back to San Francisco. Day 11, drive back to LA, drop car, fly to Washington DC. Day 12, after a day in the Capital, I take the train to New York, spend 2 days there. on Day 15, go to Boston, fly back home.

    I can fly back a day or two later, it does not need to be a strict 14 days.

    What do you think about this plan?

    Next thing will be the math and dates. I need to look for the best flights, hostels, car rental services so on, and that will need loads of research but I am confident that I can keep to this plan, give or take a few days here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    Honestly, I don't think your plan is much better.

    In fact, I think the western portion of your trip is significantly worse, as it's not only impossible how you've laid it out, but it really doesn't make any sense at all - as you're doing a ton of backtracking.

    ,Day 8 I visit Grand Canyon, Spend the night in Phoenix, back to LA.
    First off, Just for the driving, that's nearly 900 miles! So, even if you ignore the completely unsafe 17 or so hours it would take for this drive, how on earth do you think you'd have time to see the Grand Canyon too?

    And then there's the matter of why would you be going back to LA at all? Similarly, from LA, I have no idea why you'd try to drive from LA to SF one day (basically going right past Yosemite in the process), drive out to Yosemite the next, then head back to SF, before doubling back down to LA again.

    I find this especially puzzling because in your initial post, you followed a much more logical path of making this trip a loop. To hit all the places you mentioned, you'd want to go LA - Grand Canyon - Vegas - Yosemite - SF - LA. You could hit Phoenix before GC, if you really want to go there, but it doesn't look like you'd planned to stop there anyway, so I wouldn't bother with the significant detour to get there.

    In both of your trips, it seems like you've started thinking about drive times, but you haven't given yourself much, if any time to actually see the places you'll be visiting.

    In the first half, I'm not clear on if "day 1" includes your international flight. If it does, you absolutely should not consider driving to Chicago, in fact, you shouldn't even plan to do much in the way of exploring Detroit. After traveling for nearly 24 hours, the last thing you should do is be getting in the car for a long drive.

    But from there, on your current plan, say you leave Detroit on day 2, you'd have just a half day in Chicago, a half day split between Indy and Columbus, and just a few hours at most in Cleveland, before getting to Toronto. That's not much payoff, for a whole lot of time spent in the car. As you see, that's really a theme throughout your entire trip. Even if you make it work, I think you're going to be pretty severely burnt out by the end of your trip.

    Again, I understand the desire to "see everything" but I really think you're in danger of doing a trip where you are trying to do so much, that you don't end up getting to enjoy anything!

  8. #8
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    Default

    Actually, taking a second look at your plan, I didn't notice you mentioned "spending a night in Phoenix, however, it doesn't really change the larger point.

    Going from Vegas to Phoenix in one day means you won't have nearly enough time to make a stop at the Grand Canyon worthwhile. I mean, you could stop, take a quick look, get back on the road, and claim you've been there, but you won't really have seen it. It deserves at least a half day of your time.

    Similarly, in my initial read of your post, i thought you were going out to Yosemite for a night, and now I read it as you're planning on making it a day trip from SF? Again, you wouldn't even be making it worth your time. By the time you factor the more than 8 hours you'd be in the car to get there, you won't have time left to actually enjoy the park at all.

    I'll also note that you seem to be extremely hopeful on both of your flight days, by starting in Toronto before flying out of Detroit, and even worse, by leaving from SF for a flight out of LA. That's a lot of driving, on days where being late could be a very expensive mistake! I'd say you'd have to leave SF at least 12-13 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave LA to account for the high likelihood of traffic. And that means, even if you find a red eye leaving late out of LA, getting into DC the next morning, you'll have to leave SF very early in the morning.

  9. Default

    Chicago is a FABULOUS city. I'm not sure a day would do it justice. Just the food alone is a temptation to stay longer. Museums and the "Miracle Mile" of Michigan Avenue are amazing. Good thing to cut out Miami. I live in Florida and the beaches in Miami are NOT nice and it's a huge city. Sarasota, Siesta Key, or the Tampa Bay area are much more entertaining, in my opinion.

  10. Default

    Okay, I am back with a plan

    it will be spring 100% so my plans will not clash with any internship I might do over the summer.

    A generic plan that I can keep easily

    Day 0/1: flying from Leeds to Toronto
    Day 2/3: Toronto
    Day 4: Flying to New York
    Day 5/6: New York
    Day 7: Flying to Los Angeles
    Day 8: Spend a full day in LA
    Day 9: drive to San Francisco
    Day 10: Yosemite, sleeping in Fresno (or nearby)
    Day 11: Drive through Yosemites, sleep in a hotel in the desert
    Day 12: drive to Las Vegas, Las Vegas trip
    Day 13: drive to LA drop car
    Day 14: fly to Toronto
    Day 15: fly home


    As you see I cut out most of east trip, California trip is rationalized, with 4-6 hours drive per day, and trying to do 1 thing per day, either travel or being a tourist.

    It is not exactly 2 weeks, although it really depends when can I get tickets in good price, if it is 14 days only, then NY will be cut out too

    Some explanation:
    The reason why I dont fly like UK-> LA-> Toronto -> UK is plane tickets. One way tickets are more expensive than return ones, and it works out cheaper
    I would be able to fly to LA straight away and back as well, but that part will be based on my math, so which option would be cheaper

    This plan would be a general plan that I can keep, as there might be events that I want to attend that time around, that might not be advertised now, but then again at least I will have a plan to change

    Does this plan sounds roughly good enough?

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