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  1. #1
    lizardking Guest

    Default Brit needs help planning first road trip

    Hi there, joel here from the UK

    Im in the very early stages of planning a roadtrip hopefully for next summer. I've just finished university and so I'm thining of taking a year out to travel and America is top of my list.

    Im from England and so I need to know how long can a non-American citizen is allowed to stay in the states for? I've been on a American visa web page but cant make find the right info.Can anyone help with this?

    I'm hoping to take my bike with me so do you know if i will I need any special plates or licence's? At present I have a full UK licence will this be enough?

    Finally something I know a lot of you will be able to help me with, I plan to arrive in New York and travel over to the west coast ending my journey in la can anybody surgest a good route? I would like to visit a few places Washington, Forida, and Texas. I would also very much like to see some of the central American states but not sure about the best places to go and the sites to see. I hope to be in the US for a while (depending on how long I'm legally allowed to stay) so time shouldn't be an issue.

    So if there is anyone out there who can help me please please please do.

    Cheers LK

  2. #2


    Hi Joel,

    If you travel under the visa waiver programme you can stay in the states for up to 90 days. If you wish to stay longer than that you will have to apply for a visa.


    for more info about the visa waiver conditions


  3. Default

    There are some neat places in the "Midwest" here. One that comes to mind is Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.
    You're planning a lot of miles if you want to see Florida, Texas and Washington state.
    I would think going west from Florida, you might want to see San Antonio in western Texas. That's where the Alamo is, and there's a beautiful river that goes right through town. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is quite a sight. You can take tours inside the caves. At dusk, thousands of bats leave the caves to go hunting insects. Quite a sight to see. There are the national parks in Arizona and Utah. If you have time, go up to Utah and see Bryce and Zion parks. Further north in Utah, is Salt Lake City and the great salt lake. In Arizona, there is Grand Canyon park. A beautiful place. If you have the time, go on a mule trip that starts at the top of the canyon and goes down to the bottom. I think it's worth the time and money. Also, in Arizona, there is the western town of Tombstone, famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral in the 19th century. It's southeast from Tucson.
    In Nevada, there is of course, Las Vegas. But, outside of L.V. is Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. I think worth the side trip. If you have the time, go north through Nevada, and see Reno and Lake Tahoe. Going west from there, would take you through Sacramento, California's capital, and then San Francisco. From there, if you have the time, you could go north on highway 1 and go along the coast all the way to Washington state. Lots of stuff to see along the way. Seattle is a nice city. And, if you're so inclined, you could travel out of the country and go up into British Columbia to see Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. Victoria, is also on the island and is a pretty city. Traveling south from Washington, if you wanted to speed up the trip, you could take highway 5 all the way down to L.A. About a 3 day drive from Seattle. Or, you could go south either along highway 1 or 101. Highway 1 has beautiful scenery including Big Sur, and Hearst Castle a little north of San Luis Obispo.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default other suggestions

    Great ideas given to you so far.

    From New York City, you will want to spend a couple days in Washington, DC. The " Smithsonian " museums are all free admission. Walk " the mall" to see the various memorials and monuments, and the Capitol and White House. You could easily spend a week here. There is so much to see. If time is limited may I suggest the Air and Space Museum, and perhaps the Museum of Natural History and / or the Museum of American History.

    When going across Texas to San Antonio, also stop in Dallas / Fort Worth. You may enjoy a bit of the historic "old west" at the Fort Worth Historic Stockyards. They give a walking tour that is very very informative. Also, you can catch a rodeo or some type of horse or cattle show in this area.

    You may want to ride down to Big Bend National Park in Texas as well. Nothing like it in Britain, that's for sure! It's beautiful, vast, peaceful, along the Rio Grande River.

    I heartily agree with seeing Carlsbad Caverns on the border of Texas / New Mexico. Depending on time of year, you may want to make reservations for a couple tours. You can easily take a couple different tours in one day here.

    Check out the national parks website. Each national park across the USA highlights the spectacular scenery of that area, and each are well maintained, very beautiful, and different in their own way. You can see where they are located on the website

    Grand Canyon (Arizona), Zion, and Bryce Canyon (southern Utah) - quite close to Grand Canyon would easily fit into your route. Zion is a favourite of many.

    Keep us posted with your planning and any further questions.

  5. #5
    lizardking Guest


    Hi guys.

    Bob Cathy & syv thank you so much for all your help, it is really appreciated.

    It turns out that I can get a visa that will last for 90 days which will give me 3 months to do this road trip before I have to return to England, do you think this will give enough time to carry out a road trip like this. I donít really want to be driving everyday as I would like to see a lot of the places and attractions that you have mentioned plus some other places I have in mind. I know America is big country and you could spend 3 months in one state and not see everything, so am I being realistic.

    Your suggestions are all really good, some of these placeís I had never even hear of before but I definitely want to check them out. Is the big sur as stunning as everyone says Iíve read the book by Kerouac but I have never seen it for myself.

    As Iíll be driving through some of the old west parts of the US Iíd would like to visit a ghost town and get some pictures, if you know of any could you please let me know about them so I can plan to see them.

    One last question to save some money I was thinking of sleeping in my car ( if I donít go on my bike that is) I just wanted to know how safe is it to sleep in your car. Some places are safer than others but would you recommend it.

    Cheers LK

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    You've gotten some great suggestions.

    How much driving you'll need to do daily/weekly is totally dependant on your itinerary. Most people figure 5 days to do a fairly speedy trip across this country, coast-to-coast, without taking time to explore. I believe the average speed run from NY to Florida is considered to be 2 or 3 days. So, if we figure that it's only 8 days of driving to do your route as a speed run, then doing it over 90 days means that you won't have to drive much each day.

    However, if you start zig-zagging to catch different attractions, you will be adding tons of miles and time to your trip. This can easily double, or even triple, your total miles.

    I think the best way to figure this is to design your perfect trip then use roadtrip planning software or a website to find out what the total mileage and estimated travel times are. Only then will you get an idea of whether or not the driving is about what you are willing to do.

    Gen, one of our frequent contributors here, does a lot of sleeping in her car. You might read The Art of the Cheap Roadtrip for her hints on this. Both her and Bob contributed many good ideas to this article.

    I prefer camping over sleeping in my car. People laugh at me but putting up the tent really helps get the kinks from sitting and driving out of my system. And being in a campground promotes activity. Rather than sitting in a motel room or being stuck in your car, you might enjoy a walk around the campsite checking out the rigs. I love checking out license plates to see where people are traveling from. If you're traveling solo, this can also bring you pleasant conversation. When people are outdoors and camping, they seem to also be friendlier. I've had people invite me to join them for conversation. At the very least, it's easy to strike up conversations with other folks walking around, in the campsites near you, or in the jacuzzi, whatever. Of course, this is far more pleasant in good weather than bad.

    You can pick up inexpensive car camping gear at various discount stores. The money you spent to purchase these items could be paid back to you with just a 2-3 nights of camping. After you trip, you could donate the gear to someplace like the Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

    Another place for huge savings is food. Eating out of your cooler is the best way to save money. Coolers are cheap and a great investment for a roadtrip. Bob and Gen discuss this issue as well.

    If you need more ideas on saving money while traveling, do a search through these forums. This topic has been discussed quite a bit.

    I hope you have a fantastic trip. 3 months! Wow!!

  7. Default

    You mentioned a ghost town. There are a few in California & Nevada. One of the most famous is Virginia City outside of Reno. It's a "ghost town". It's also a tourist attraction. The original buildings are there, but also a lot of places that sell tourist things. One town that has never been built up for the tourist trade is a town called Bodie. The town is the way it was when it was abandoned back in the 1930's. Some of the buildings are leaning and
    unsafe to go in. It's in a state of "arrested decay." Which means they're trying to save what's left. It's not too far from Yosemite. If you look on a map of CA, it's off 395. Most of the road to Bodie is paved, except for the last 5 miles, which is gravel. It's OK to drive a car on it, except you have to go slow. I've been there several times, and I do enjoy it. Check it out online if you'd like.

    Big Sur is spectacular. Highway 1 is really slow along this part of the coast, but well worth the drive.

    If you plan to sleep in your car, I would suggest a rest stop along the major interstates. They tend to be safer than just pulling off the side of the road. They have restrooms there. A lot of truckers pull off there, and spend the night. Also, the different states would rather you pull off the road and sleep rather than you falling asleep at the wheel and having an accident.

    I'm not a camper, so I can't give you any ideas on that, but it might be fun.

    I hope you have a wonderful trip this summer. I envy you, having that much time to see this country.

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