Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. Default Long US road trip - where do I start?

    Hi everyone!

    My girlfriend and I are planning a long road trip in the US next summer for 2.5 - 3 months (June - August) long.
    I've never been to the US before, and we want to see many things (of course not everything!!!)

    Having such a long trip in such a vast country requires careful planning ahead of time. And we want to get it right!
    The question is - WERE DO WE START? We want to take a top-down approach (first select total trip time, which areas to see, transport options etc. and then get to the details of places to go to in each area, roads, timetables etc.)
    We are still planning the trip in the macro level, so we don't look at specific points of interest yet.

    We have such debates about stuff like:
    - Round-trip USA or coast to coast? skip the center by flight or travel through?
    - Take a R.V. or sleep at motels? maybe do both on different areas
    - rent a car or buy one and sell at the end?
    - areas where public transportation is better than car/R.V.? (in terms of ease of use, costs, parking etc.)
    - given 2.5 months total, how much time should be allotted to east coast vs. west coast? spare time for the center part of the US?
    - what is a good percentage of time riding the car vs. traveling and site seeing (so it won't be just a through-the-window trip...)

    A bit about us and our preferences:
    - We like to travel! we love hiking!
    - We want to balance between sightseeing and museums to treks and national parks
    - We love off-the-beaten-road sights!
    - We are not rich in any way! we are looking to make smart decisions which will balance our cost/fun in the trip.
    - We like motels, but R.V. are fine and couchsurfing is great!

    How would you approach the planning of such a long and complex trip? Tips at this stage will help us a lot to find our arms and legs...

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

    Default You've already started.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Well to answer your question, you already have made a start. You've found RTA which is a great place to dig around searching the many areas of the site including the forums. The rest of your questions are one's we all ask ourselves when starting out with the planning and we will all have different answers based on interests, budgets and time etc.

    A round trip with one rental is probably your most budget friendly options, using the city that offers the best flight deals for you and saves money on one way drop off fees on car rentals, internal flights etc. Plus you get to see more from on the ground.

    The choice between an RV or car and motels is a Lifestyle choice, but if budget is a consideration an RV will cost far more then the car and Motels by the time you add mileage charges, high fuel consumption, campground fees on to the initial cost of the hire fee. Again swapping and changing from car to RV to flight can get costly with multiple one way drop off fees. Have you considered buying basic camping equipment and mix that up with Motels and hostels etc ?

    As for breaking down time, that will come as your research continues and your interests get drawn to certain areas. Most trips [even short one's] can chop and change multiple times during the planning process, it's perfectly normal so for now you should keep reading and if you haven't already, get a good map of the USA and start pinning places of interest and then it will start to take shape. As you move forward and other questions come up don't hesitate to ask.

    Enjoy the planning, it's a fun part of the process.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Let me add that buying a car is a no-go for a single trip under 3 months. Registering and insuring a car if you are not a US resident is time consuming and difficult, and there are a lot of expenses that you probably haven't thought of. Titling and registration fees (you must have a verifiable US address), taxes, safety and emission inspection, and the big loss you will take trying to resell it. Also, if you have a breakdown with a used car, you are on your own.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A General Strategy the Might Work for You

    What my wife and I have found that works for us as a travel style is to settle down in an area for a few days to a week, and then move on to another area. This has a couple of advantages. First of all, you're not unpacking/packing every day and you get a chance to actually explore an area in some depth and not just run around thinking "If it's Tuesday, this must be Buffalo." Second, you can often rent entire houses or apartments (for a week at a time) for less than you'd spend on motels, and the houses/apartments usually come with full kitchens and laundry facilities. Websites like VRBO, HomeAway, RedWeek and AirBnB are a good place to start looking, or just do a search on the name of the town you want to stay in and the phrase 'vacation rental'.

    Such a strategy also limits the amount of driving you're doing and focuses your attention on the places you decide that you really want to see rather than 'wasting' time driving from site to site trying to see everything and remembering none of it. Even at such a relaxed pace it should be relatively easy to do two complete cross-country drives and return to wherever you start from. As Dave pointed out, your start/end point can be chosen solely on the basis of the best combination of plane fares and car rental charges.

    Once you have picked a travel style that works for you, whether it be in an RV or a car, staying in motels, homes or couchsurfing; and once you have a few 'dots' on your travel map, be sure to come back and we can then help you with specifics such as some less-traveled roads, unusual attractions, and other tips - of which there are just far too many in the whole country to try to list now.


  5. #5


    The Northeastern cities of Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and Washington, DC are rich in museums and historical sites. Lodging isn't cheap. On the other hand it doesn't make much sense to rent a car in this area -- take a train between these cities and then rent your vehicle.

    Being summer you will need to make campsite reservations far in advance, i.e., the day campsites come open is advised, in most national parks. Keep that in mind once your plan begins to take shape. Often times there are more primitive national forest sites within an hour's drive of a national park.

    Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY, about an hour east of the east entrance to the Yellowstone National Park, is worth a visit. A week in Yellowstone is also worthwhile along with a couple of days in the Grand Tetons.

    There are some small camper vans for rental, really vans on steroids. They are a lot more mobile than larger RVs. But if spending 2 to 3 months you might be able to lease a minivan and do an amateur conversion for camping in it for a couple of hundred dollars.

Similar Threads

  1. 5 day road trip; Start/End in Vegas- where would you go?
    By Ageewhy in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-09-2012, 12:29 PM
  2. Planning a 3 week US road trip and no idea where to start
    By mimstar84 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-31-2011, 06:51 AM
  3. HELP! Planning a trip and not sure where to start
    By 1184shell in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11-27-2008, 12:12 PM
  4. I want to plan an AWESOME road trip!! but where do I start?
    By rockinsam14 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-18-2008, 01:40 PM
  5. X-Country Family Trip - where do I start?
    By simmordino in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-17-2008, 12:57 PM

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name