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  1. Default Roadtrip after school

    Hi, I'm from Germany,
    two friends and me are planning a 2 month roadtrip through the USA, after we finished school (probably April 2009).

    Now I want to ask if my plan is realistic.

    We want to fly to the US, buy a cheap car (or maybe borrow one from a friend, it's not possible to rent one, because we are all under 21, but over 18 though),
    then we want to travel about 10000mi in about 2 months, for example a route like this.
    We want to visit most national parks and see as much as possible, our starting point will be San Antonio, because i know somebody who lives there.

    As we have not much money, we want to minimize the costs, so try to find a bigger car (a van or something), we can sleep in, eat stuff form the supermarket and so on.

    We would split up the total cost.
    I thought (per person):
    300€ Food (for 2 months) ~$420 (1€=$1,4)
    700€ Flight ~$980
    500€ gas ~$700
    500€ for a used car, so 1500€ ~$2100 is it possible to find a reliable car we can sleep in with 3 persons for this price?
    and on top
    another 500€ if something goes wrong, e.g the car has to be repaired or something

    So overall 2500€/per person (~$3500)

    So, what do you think, is that possible, or are we just crazy ?
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-29-2008 at 11:42 AM. Reason: Preferred link format

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Problems

    Willkommen! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Much as we like to encourage people to take RoadTrips all over America, and to come see our country, there are several major problems with your plan. The majority of those problems have to do with the car. It is extremely difficult for foreign nationals to come to the United States and purchase a car. Even if you can get over the buraucratic hurdles, no car that you can purchase for 500€ is going to be up to the task. I wouldn't even consider setting off in a car that cost less than 2000€ OR one that hadn't been thoroughly checked out by a mechanic beforehand. Similarly, some of your other cost estimates are way to low. Gasoline for such an ambitious journey, especially in a van, would run much closer to 2200€ than 500€; I just don't see how you intend to feed yourselves for 5€ per day; and you have budgeted nothing for accommodations - even a camp site costs about 15€ per night. I hate to put a damper on your enthusiasm, but you need to seriously rethink this plan. In round numbers, I would think that you would need a minimum of 3500€ (NOT $) per person would be required.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default The Deutschland Google Map is kinda cool!

    Interesting to visit a website that I'm used to seeing in English written in another language! Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums.

    First, let me direct you to another discussion going on right now where two German women are planning a similar trip and have similar questions. If you read through the answers to their questions, you'll get some of the answers you need. And there are links in those responses that you should click-on and read what you find there. Some of the issues addressed are about buying a car. That's a complicated process for international visitors so be sure you read all the advice in that discussion and at the links.

    We generally recommend that people not travel more than 500 miles per day. Anything above that gets tiring and doesn't give you time to explore. But, really, less miles per day is even better if you really want to get out of the car and see things. You will have time to do this trip in two months but you won't have time to linger too long and really explore anything in depth. I suggest that you don't plan a tight itinerary. Ya know, be here on Tuesday, here on Wednesday, etc. Rather, have an idea of how many miles you need to cover each week so that you aren't rushed at the end of your trip and make sure your on target each week. If not, adjust as needed.

    If you're going to visit a lot of national parks, you will want to get a National Parks Pass. A big money-saver and speeds up entering the busier parks.

    Do you really think sleeping in a van is going to be comfortable for three people night after night? I doubt it. While that's a nice option to have once in awhile, I would suggest that you visit a big box store when you arrive and get some inexpensive camping gear. Or bring it with you if you have it!. Since you have a friend at your starting point, you could even ship it there ahead of time so you don't have to lug it on the plane.

    It's much more comfortable to spread out at night in a tent than it is to sleep in a van. And since your van, or other type of vehicle, will be full of gear, wouldn't you have to move that to sleep? Where would you put it at night? And a van uses more fuel (most of the time anyway), and will push up your fuel costs.

    So I suggest saving sleeping in your vehicle for infrequent times if you've pushed yourself to hard to drive to a campsite that night and need to pull over and rest. This post is a compilation of great ideas for cheap sleeps. Review the hints about sleeping in your vehicle at the bottom of the first post. Gen is an expert at it!

    I'm concerned about your budget for your car purchase. It will be difficult to find a reliable vehicle for that price. And it's not unusual to need to do some maintenance or repairs to a lower-priced used vehicle upon purchase. With a trip as long as you're planning, you might need to invest in new tires, if nothing else. And then there are taxes, registration fees, insurance costs, etc. You might ask your friend to let you know about the car market in San Antonio, since that's where you're starting from, since prices vary in different parts of the country. If he's willing to do some searching for you, he may get a bargain on a good used vehicle. Hard to say. That's another reason why many people decide to rent after all. And that way you won't have to worry about breakdowns while on the road.

    $420 each for food. Over 2 months? Only if you live on Top Ramen (cheap noodle dish if you're unfamiliar with it). Seriously, this is very low and won't allow for variety or healthy eating.

    Even if you eat all your meals out of your cooler and never eat in a restaurant, I think $12-15 per day (double your budget amount) is more reasonable. And, really, aren't you going to want to try some local cuisine at some point during your trip?

    And you have no budget for lodging. Believe me, even if you decide you want to sleep in your vehicle most nights, there are going to be times when your body is going to need to stretch out and stay in a hotel or at least a tent. You need to have some lodging budget. At the very least, you will need to spend money on showers. If you stay at truck stops, there is a fee for this. Other shower options like day-use fees at local gymnasiums, etc. would still need to be budgeted in. Truck stop fees and/or gymnasium/YMCA/health club day use fees can easily be anywhere from $5-12 each. Since you can usually get a campsite for around $15-25, you're paying almost as much to sleep in a van and then paying for the shower. Doesn't make much sense to me.

    And no budget for fun stuff either! I mean, really, you will never want to go to anything with an admission fee? Go to a fair or festival?

    At the top of the "eating out of your cooler" link is a link to a post about budgeting. Spend some time going over the tips and rework your budget.

    I'm all for budgeting and doing a roadtrip as cheap as possible. But there comes a point where you need to do it so cheaply that it takes away from the fun of the trip. Only you can decide what your threshold for this is but I suggest you go back to the drawing board on your budget.

  4. Default

    you made me think, and unfortunately I guess you are right, maybe its because we are young and naive or maybe because we are just a bit stupid... who knows...

    The main idea was to stay as long as possible since that the flight is probably already about 700€, and then when we planned the route (the route isn't fixed at all, its just to show where we want to go), then everybody was like oh there and there and the miles were like +10 +40 +80 +25 and so on but all in all thats a lot.

    Do you think there might be a possibility, to realize, maybe just parts of the plan ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default overcoming

    Certainly there are ways to make this trip possible. You've just got a big of a contradiction that is tough to get beyond. You are looking at a couple of major expenses that will be most cost effective the longer you are on the road (your flight and buying a car), however the longer you are on the road, the higher all of your other expenses will be.

    You may have to scrap the idea of buying a car, although until you turn 21, that will mean it will be difficult to travel throughout the US. You might also have to look at scaling back your plans, and only visit a handful of places over a couple of weeks instead of a 2 month loop. There will be ways to make things happen, but it might not be easily, and you might not be able to do everything you want in this one trip.

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