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  1. Default West, East and Central USA

    Hi guys!

    So I'm a guy from the Netherlands, currently 21 and planning on doing a roadtrip to the US with a friend next year. As of now, our plan is extremely ambitious, as we wanna see the West, East and central USA in about 4 months, starting in April. We already sketched out a draft for a possible route, being something like this: .

    Now, our plan is to buy a car in either Vancouver or Seattle, and sell it once we get in Miami. We understand that this may come with complications, but have not gotten a clear overview of those so far. We're wondering about the costs of a used car that could last 6000-7000 miles, how much car insurance would cost us, and the amount of road taxes we would have to pay. I've been browsing Craigslist and found cars of under $1000, but am not sure if that's credible..

    We will buy a tent to be able to camp on the way, but are planning on staying in hostels and motels as well. By the time it's April, we will both have saved around $10.000 dollars. Would that be enough?

    Thanks so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Many Problems

    Welkom! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's start with the major problems inherent in your plan, because only once you deal with them would it make sense to get down to specifics. The biggest one is simply your plan to come to the U.S. for four months. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) only allows you to visit the U.S. for three months. In fact to make use of it, you have to show on arrival in the U.S. that you will leave the North American continent in 90 days. And that means a return ticket in hand. You can, of course, stay longer with a full visa, but getting one can be a long, involved, and costly process.

    Next is your plan to buy a car in the U.S. and sell it before returning. We have repeatedly run the numbers on this and from a strictly financial standpoint it makes no sense for a period less than three months. Remember, you will be buying retail and selling wholesale, and you will be the 'motivated' party in both instances. And that's not even your biggest problem. You can buy a car - but how will you register it? You will need a local permanent address to put on the title and registration, and you won't have one. Car insurance - if you could get it, you need a local permanent address for that too - would be fairly expensive since you're under 24, have no local driving record, and few if any insurers sell coverage for less than 6 month periods.

    Finally, you say that you are 21 but are all your traveling companions? Even at 21 you can expect a fairly hefty premium on renting a car. Under 21 you may not be able to drive at all. So those are the problems you'll have to tackle first. They aren't minor and shouldn't be shrugged off. Best of luck.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default Adding to the above...

    Two things to add to what AZBuck has outlined:

    1) Renting a car - you may be able to rent one through an overseas consolidator, and that agency may be able to get the underage drivers (under 25) fees waived. They will probably NOT be able to waive the requirement to be at least 21. Also, you may find it advantageous, in the event that the overseas consolidator can get you a car, to do a Loop Trip: i.e. start and end your trip in the same city. That agency may also find you reasonable insurance, but you're going to have to buy that, regardless. As AZB says above, forget trying to buy a car. It's going to be too much hassle and you'll be out the same amount of $ if you were to arrange it.

    2) In the event that you can get this trip off the ground, your loop trip (out of whatever city you can find the most reasonable flight costs and car rentals) should start by going south and doing the northern section later.


  4. Default

    First of all, thanks a lot for both your swift and elaborate replies.

    I've browsed the web to find out more on the Visa Waiver Program, and found out it should be possible to obtain a B1/B2 tourist visa, as long as you can show your plan to leave the country after a maximum of 180 days. Since I'm starting uni in september next year and will be able to show my enrollment, I think we can overcome this.

    Then about the vehicle. The two of us are both 21 so that's okay, and renting a car seems like a possible option. If an overseas consolidator can indeed get us a car with insurance that's reasonably affordable, that would be quite a good alternative.

    About the loop I'm not quite sure though. Both our thoughts were that we wanted to see both the west and east coast, with route 66 being the best way to connect those two. We figured that this route would show us a lot of what there is to the US, and we wanted to live what we always see on TV. That sounds like a huge cliché though.
    Last edited by TheDrivingDutchman; 09-13-2015 at 03:58 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default First things first.

    It is interesting to note that your response to the two members' advice does not even mention, let alone address the most important issue with your plan.

    Do you have a visa, or will you be travelling on the VWP? If you are planning to travel for 4 months, this is the first issue you need to address. The US website for Nederland has all the details.

    Attend to all that first, before you make any more plans.


    Edit: I notice you added this information to your response after posting, while I was typing. You might like to double check, from what we hear from other Europeans, it is difficult to get more than 90 days, just for tourism purposes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Except That...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDrivingDutchman
    ...our thoughts were that we wanted to see both the west and east coast, with route 66 being the best way to connect those two...
    There is no Route 66 anymore and even when there was one it didn't connect the east and west coasts. The old route, famous in song and story, went from Chicago to Los Angeles. It has been decommissioned, largely replaced by the Interstate Highways I-55, I-44, and I-40. There is an I-66 but that just goes from Washington DC westward to I-81 and has nothing to do with the old US-66.

    You can certainly do a coast-to-coast-to-coast loop in less than three months. Flying into an east coast city such as Boston, New York, or Washington, and flying home from the same city, should be cheaper than an 'open jaw' flight to Vancouver and home from Miami. And the car rental should also be cheaper with no one-way drop off fee. Our European friends can usually do better by dealing with a local (European) consolidator such as or Your biggest problem will be your age, so be sure to mention this up front when you contact any rental firm so that there are no nasty surprises later. Before you buy any insurance from a car rental company, make sure of what coverage you already have. What does your day-to-day policy for driving in Europe cover? Are you a member of a motor club such as ANWB? What coverage do they offer? Check with your credit card companies. If you charge the rental to one of those cards, will they offer any coverage? In my own case, I've got way more coverage from those sources than I'd ever need and never buy short term insurance from anyone.

    Typically, if you were going to do a coast-to-coast-to-coast loop starting in April, you'd do the southern portion of the loop first, westbound starting from your east coast port of entry, and then the northern portion on the return, eastbound, leg. This will generally put you in better weather, especially for camping. There are many camping resources in the U.S. including national parks, monuments, forests, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings as well as state parks. National forests and state parks are usually your best compromise between facilities and price. If you are going to be going into national forests, be sure to read your car rental agreement carefully and be sure that you are allowed to drive on 'routinely maintained' roads and are not restricted to solely 'paved' roads.

    There's a lot of planning still to go, including actual routes and sites to see. But you've got to get the above details worked out first: Visa, car rental and gateway city or cities. The last two often work in concert and the cheapest city to fly into may have the highest car hire rates so be careful about committing to any itinerary items before you have the entire plan worked out.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A route or great sites.

    I'd have to agree with Buck..... why follow a road which in reality no longer exists, and which does not go near any of the great attractions the US has to offer. Been immortalised in song, is all it has to offer... and some glitzy touristy photo ops.

    Plan your trip around the great attractions of the US, the wonders of the natural world and the attractions in some of the iconic cities. Good paper maps will help here. If you are not able to obtain these locally, I suggest you order a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store at the bottom of this page. Its maps have great detail, including natural and historic attractions as well as many touristy sites. Good maps are invaluable during the planning and essential when on the road. Do not be tempted to rely solely on electronics. Many have done so at their peril, some with fatal consequences.

    As for the centre of the country - read up on the history of the US, the pre European population, the westward expansion, the early pioneers and the disasters, such as the 1930s dustbowl. This will make the centre immensely interesting, as you reflect while driving.


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