Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. Default Are we being too ambitious?


    I’ve been lurking and reading these boards for a while and have found some really useful advice, however, it has made me wonder if our plans are too ambitious.

    My husband and I are from the UK and we planning a USA road trip in the fall of 2015 – yes I appreciate it is a long way ahead but it will take us at least that long to get the money together! By then we will be in our late 30s and we plan to take a 6 month sabbatical from work and have the “gap year” that neither of us had the chance to have when we were younger as we both have been working since we were 17. We are still in the very early stages of planning and researching the areas that we want to travel through, but this is our idea at the moment:

    Start in San Francisco in September then LA, across to Vegas, Grand Canyon, to New Mexico through Albuquerque and Truth or Consequences. Then, head through Texas to Austin (where we will visit some friends.) From there, head up through Arkansas and into Tennessee, through Memphis and then up through Kentucky, West Virginia and so on up to New Jersey. Hand the car back in Newark, and then get a train into NYC before heading home back to the UK a few days after Thanksgiving, which also happens to be my husbands 40th birthday. After 2 weeks back in the UK, we then plan to head off to New Zealand and spending 2 months touring round that country too.

    Timescale wise – we had originally planned on several months, but after finding several logistical issues with insurance and visas, we decided to stay in the USA for 88 days, therefore falling nicely within the Visa Waiver Program. We have been to the USA several times before on vacation, but never for longer than 2 weeks at a time, and never away from big tourist areas like NYC and Vegas, so we both want to spend more time exploring your great country.

    The idea is to have an adventure and not be tied to strict timetable and route so we can be flexible. However, we do plan to build in key destinations and dates to ensure we progress across the country at a sensible rate and don’t end up with hundreds if not thousands of miles to cover in very little time.

    I have a couple of concerns though. Firstly, my husband does not drive, so all the driving will be down to me which is perfectly OK with me. However, I have never driven outside the UK, and never driven an automatic car, so it will be very new and weird for me. Is there any way I can spend a couple of hours with a driving instructor before I am let loose in SF with a car, to have a controlled introduction and tuition of driving in USA?

    I know that as non US citizens, buying a car is not an option, but renting also seems to be difficult because of the sheer length of time we want the car, combined with the one way fees. However, we did find which seems to be the answer. Using a dummy set of dates, I got a quote from them for a midsized Sudan, unlimited miles and all relevant insurance for $5500 which I didn’t think was too bad (I know we can’t rely on this as pries can change dramatically in 5 years, but we had to start somewhere. For comparison, a national car rental company wanted to charge us $25,000 for the same dates and details). How much attention from the public and police will we attract in a California registered car the further away from California that we get?

    Accommodation – we thinking of motels as we go, but I am also interested in camp grounds. We don’t want to carry a tent, and indeed we are both feeling a bit old and stiff in the spine for camping now so I want to find out if US campgrounds have solid cabins or static caravans as they do in UK and New Zealand.

    Given the areas we want to travel through, and the time of year, should we expect to run into any severe weather that could pose a danger to us, or necessitate any big diversions?

    Lastly, the all important budget. We plan to save £25,000 (US$38,000) for the whole thing, all flights, insurance, the US trip, the New Zealand trip and the money that we need to leave at home to pay our mortgage and meet all our financial commitments. I appreciate that we will be spending a huge amount on the road, but to put it into perspective, here in the UK, our fuel is well over US$7 per gallon, so I imagine that we will think the gas is cheap!

    Sorry for the long post – any advice greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not At All

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are many Americans who would think that a week or two is enough time to cross the continent and explore the best this country has to offer. They'd be wrong, of course, but then they're in a better position to do it again (and again) to fill in the blanks. For you, three months of meandering around should be great. As just a rough guess at how much to have set aside for the American portion of your travels, I'd say $9,000 - $10,000 as a ballpark figure, plus airfare and car hire. I would think that $2,000 would be plenty for the car without insurance. Car rental companies charge exorbitant amounts for insurance, so if at all possible see what other coverage you may already have, or can set up before you come over. Check with you current agent/company to see if the auto insurance you are already paying for covers rentals as well. Check with your credit cards to see if they offer coverage when you charge the rental on their account. Check with any auto club you may belong to as to whether they offer coverage. Only if you don't have and can't arrange other coverage should you be buying insurance from the hire firm.

    With your timeframe, you'll only have to average around 50-100 miles a day of driving. depending on how many detours and side trips you end up taking. That is not a terribly taxing load, even for a single driver. I don't know of any driving program that will give you a short instruction on driving on the right side of the road, but I will tell you that I have made the reverse adjustment many times without a problem. The fact that you'll be sitting on the 'other' side of the car and all the traffic will be on the 'wrong' side of the road will provide sufficient visual and physical clues as to where you ought to be. And the fact that the car will have an automatic transmission will relieve you of one major thing that might distract you from directing the car. All you have to do is push the 'go' (accelerator) and 'stop' (brake) buttons. Within a few hours it will feel completely natural. The one thing to keep in mind is to always look both ways when pulling onto a road. This is where your instincts will fail you and you'll want to make sure that you know which lane you'll be turning into and that no traffic is coming from the appropriate direction(s).

    Given the time of year that you plan to be here and your proposed route, snow should not be a problem anywhere you'll be. You will be in the southeast during hurricane season, but those huge storms give plenty of warning of their coming and are easy enough to avoid when traveling, especially with your loose scheduling.

    Unfortunately, campgrounds with cabins are relatively rare in the U.S. The majority that I know of are in national parks such as at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Those are quite popular and would need to be booked at least 6 months ahead of your travel time. That may work against your freedom, but the main point is to start looking early for such accommodations if you really want them.


  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I will tell you that I have made the reverse adjustment many times without a problem.
    I agree with that statement, having done this in reverse a few years ago when I went to South Africa. I don't know what it would be like to go from driving manual transmission to automatic, but I can't imagine it would be that hard of an adjustment, as AZBuck says. The "driving on the other side of the road" issue shouldn't be too big of a deal either. Once you get adjusted, it's fairly natural. You just have to remember that everything is reversed (exit on the right instead of on the left, left turns cross traffic instead of right turns, etc.). Also, be vigilant when you are turning onto roads where there is no traffic -- that is where you could easily revert into UK mode and start driving on the left side of the road again.

    My one suggestion would be that on your first night in the USA -- instead of picking up your rental car at the airport -- get a taxi to your hotel and then pick up the car the next morning. Dealing with driving in a foreign land will be much easier after a good night of sleep. Also, try to avoid too much city driving in the first few days.

  4. Default

    Thank you very much for your advice - I will takeit all on board and do a bit more research on the car! To be honest, I had not even thought about my UK car insurance or credit card. In fact, we have previously had problems with my UK credit card being refused in USA simply because it is not a US issued card, so I had assumed that if the card issuer did offer insurance, the US authorities wouldn't recognise it. Anyway, I will dig a bit deeper and see what I can find out.

    As for getting to grips with the differences in driving - I think I am just scared of doing something wrong or dangerous and getting pulled up by the police. My biggest fear is having no cars in front of me to copy/follow, but I think that's just a natural fear. I suspect that after a couple of months driving in the US, I will have an equal but reverse culture shock coming back to the UK to my comparitvley small, manual transmission car, and our comparitvley narrow roads. We are also planning a 10 day trip to USA this time next year, so I thought we could have a trial run, and hire a car for a day and do a quick 100 mile loop just to get the feel of it.

    But, for now, we will stick to the fun bits of planning, research and maps, and the reality of saving every penny we can spare. Thanks again gor the advice.....

Similar Threads

  1. Over Ambitious Englishmen
    By davidnewton82 in forum Gear-Up!
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 07-24-2008, 10:38 AM
  2. LA-LV-SF...too ambitious?
    By sandi in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-04-2006, 10:14 AM
  3. a somewhat ambitious undertaking
    By kara in forum Gear-Up!
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-11-2003, 07:58 AM
  4. really ambitious spring break?
    By imported_Steve in forum Gear-Up!
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-20-2003, 11:10 PM
  5. really ambitious spring break
    By imported_Steve in forum Share the Gas
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-20-2003, 12:02 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts