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 www.adventuresonwheels.com 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.