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  1. #1

    Default San Francisco to Miami, Dec12-Jan12, please help

    We (wife+kid&me) are planning to fly from Europe to SF mid December, rent a car and drive to Miami in four weeks. Fly back home from there.
    Our guidebook suggests:
    SF-Yosemite NP-Sequoia NP-Mojave NP-Las Vegas-Grand Canyon NP-Flagstaff/Sedona-Albuquerque/Santa Fe-Big Bend NP-Austin-Houston-New Orleans-Mobile-Disneyworld-St.Petersburg-Sarasota-Miami/Everglades NP.
    What do you think?
    1)Is this the best/most interesting southern route for the four weeks?
    2)Is the time of the year ok? (actually workwise we do not have much choice)
    3) What will be the pace (hrs per driving day vs stopover days)?
    4) Is Nashville and Memphis doable additionally (worthwile)?
    5) Is it better to rent a car ( ca 3000$)) or buy one in SF and sell in Miami?

    I always dreamt of doing such a route in an american classic-eg. an eldorado or such. Is it feasible (fuel economy notwithstanding)? How about a camper?

    We will greatly appreciate your input.
    P+K+Z(5yo girl) from Poland

    PS. We really want to travel in the south this time ( weather, our 5 -year old) , reserving NYC , route 66, Appalachians etc etc for another time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default solid foundation

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you're on the path to having a pretty nice trip. A think a month should put you in decent shape. The total driving could be done in about a week, and if you spend a full day at each of the places you've listed, you'd be up to 3 weeks, so I think you'll have time to make the trip, and enjoy yourself at a comfortable pace. Tennessee would be possible, but it is quite a bit out of the way, so it will depend upon how much you want to balance driving with exploring.

    As far as the car goes, renting really will be the only feasable option. Buying a car for just one month is not practical or cost effective. "Classic" cars really aren't available for renting. An RV would certainly be an option, if its the kind of trip you are looking for. It can be nice to have one all contained unit and many people really enjoy it as a method of travel. However, its generally more expensive than a car/motel trip, and even though you'll be in southern states, it still can get quite cool or cold overnight.

  3. #3
    MaxxedMan Guest


    You can rent a new car for a month for $800 ... no car you buy for $800 I would trust to drive across country.

  4. #4


    All rental options I found (avis, budget etc) come close to 3000$ per month for a midsize comfortable car. One way fee alone is ca 1000$.
    Is a small RV/conversion van a good option? They might cost similar because of off-season specials. I'd love for us to be able to rest in the back at any time. We would still stay in hotels where feasible, maybe every second stopover.
    I am really concerned about night cools though...Do those RV's have like separate heaters (independent from the engine ).
    Thanks again.

  5. #5
    MaxxedMan Guest


    I work as a consulant. I'm always in a rental car. 4 days is about $250 ... but a montly you can do for about $800 upto $1200 with some companies. I have a rental now, I have had it for 3 months from avis. $800 a month and it has 5000 miles, 2000 of them are mine. It's a PT Cruise, big enough for a family.

    I'm not trying to say you are wrong, just seems my experience and your quotes are not lining up at all. Check the company websites, and check the travel sites. Don't just check one or the other.

  6. #6


    I just checked AVIS again.
    Ford Fusion class ("standard") comes to 2300$ basic fee for 34 days; pick up SF airport, drop off Miami airport. One way fee included is 750$.
    If I add second driver and a more comprehensive insurance, let alone child seat and navigation, 3000$+ is easily crossed. I am afraid other companies I know of look similar.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-17-2008 at 07:20 AM. Reason: Preferred link format

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

    Default profit points

    Well, if you purchase every extra that a rental car company has to offer, then, yes, you're going to pay a lot. Those extras can easily double the cost of your rental. That's going to be true if you rent a car or rent an RV.

    I actually found a better deal through Budget, coming in at around $1600, but if you buy all of those extras, then yes, you'll be paying close to $3000.

    You have to look at what extras you actually need or are worth the money. For example, Avis charges $15 per day for a GPS, that works out to more than $300 over the course of a rental. I'm pretty sure you could buy a new one for less than that. Of course, you could also remember that GPS wasn't even available technology until a decade ago, and do what travelers did for the entire 20th century and just use maps.

    You also probably don't need to pay for an extra driver, because in the terms and conditions of most rentals, spouses are included in the base price of the rental.

    Insurance is probably the single biggest money maker for rental companies. The question is how much of it do you need? What coverage does your personal car insurance company provide if you are driving a rental in the US? Before just checking the box saying you'll pay nearly $1000 for extra insurance, find out which coverages will actually be a benefit, and see if you can get them from an outside company for less than what the rental agency charges.

  8. #8


    Thanks for all the info. I'll check the "spouse" driver clause. GPS of course I'll get seperately. Child seat--Probably it'll be cheaper to buy.
    Insurance--one to check.
    Still 2300$ for bare so-so car (ford fusion) is a lot. Given my route and time (winter) wouldn't it be better to get a 4x4? (Grand Canyon etc)?

  9. #9


    I checked Budget and indeed it's better. For similar car (Ford Taurus) they want 1700$, mostly due to a lower one way fee. It's worth shopping around.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Extra expense

    Quote Originally Posted by nugat View Post
    Given my route and time (winter) wouldn't it be better to get a 4x4? (Grand Canyon etc)?
    I doubt you will find a 4x4 more beneficial. The main routes are well taken care of and if the roads are not clear enough to take a 2WD then you shouldn't be attempting it in a 4x4. Most rental companies put it in the contract that you shouldn't go off paved roads either. Taking the extra rental cost, fuel and poss one way charges into consideration it's not really viable, unless of course it is what you want to rent.

    I checked Budget and indeed it's better. For similar car (Ford Taurus) they want 1700$, mostly due to a lower one way fee. It's worth shopping around.
    It's always worth shopping around as there always new deals coming up.

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