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  1. Default Round America Roadtrip

    Hi everyone, I'm fairly new to the site and British. A couple of friends and me are thinking of going on a roadtrip to America. None of us have ever been to the USA. We thought of buying a nice American muscle car, we were thinking of a second hand Ford Mustang and go from New York to Seattle.
    Here's our itinerary:
    New York
    Washington DC
    Niagara Falls
    Mount Rushmore
    The Bonneville Salt Flats
    Follow the Colorado river for a while
    Las Vegas
    Los Angeles
    San Francisco
    and finally Seattle.

    Now we are going to take our time and stop in between these places to see as many places of interest as possible so we'll probably go off this route, but this is just a general sort of plan. We haven't really got a clue as to how long this may take but we think it might be about 8 weeks to see everything properly. We may not have much money, depending on the price of the car, but we should have enough to get by camping and maybe sleeping in the car.
    If you have any advice that would be great.
    Thank You!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default When the dreaming meets reality.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The first thing you should know is that you can't just turn up in the US and buy a car. You need an address to register it and file all other types of paper work to get the legalities sorted. This question of "how to buy and register a car as a non US citizen" has come up many, many times and to date we haven't had anyone come back with the answer of how to do it. If it were possible it wouldn't be financially viable for a trip of 8 weeks. By the time you have bought at retail prices and have to sell wholesale to make a quick sale at the end, plus insurances etc it just wouldn't be worth it. That is without taking into consideration mechanical failures that are more likely the cheaper the car.

    A lot of us from the UK have shared the "American dream" but then the real world slaps you right in the face !! Don't let that stop you though, you might just have to settle for a rental!

  3. Default

    You definitely will not be able to buy, register, insure, etc. a car here in the US as a non citizen on a vacation. Start looking into rental companies, keep in mind the high fees for one way drop offs.

    8 weeks sounds like enough time. Sleeping in the car sounds fine now but it won't once you have been on the road, especially if there are more than 2 of you in a car. Plan for campsites (you can pick up cheap camping gear and a tent) and most campsites are under $20/night. Some hotels can be very cheap as well in rural areas. Once you are in major cities the costs go up like crazy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Renting.

    With your itinerary as it is laid out, which has you dropping down to Denver, up to Yellowstone, down to Los Angeles and back up to Seattle. you would most likely be better off taking a Northern route out [Niagara >Chicago > Rushmore> Yellowstone > Seattle] and then head to California for a more Southern/Mid route back LA >Grand canyon >Denver> St Louis and complete a loop back to NY. With a tight budget it will also prevent a hefty fee for dropping the car off on the other side of the country.
    One other thing you should know is that for every driver under the age of 25, there will be a daily and hefty "young driver fee" that applies for the duration of the rental.

    As above, sleeping in the car is not advisable, not only is it not comfortable enough to get a good nights sleep and will leave you all weary and spoiled for the next day, you can't just pull up and sleep in a lay by or on someones land, it is illegal. There are truck stops that you can get some rest, but not a good nights sleep. Buying cheap camping gear and donating it to a good cause at the end of your trip would be a good way to go. You will have to allow for campground fees as the same as above applies, but State and National parks/Forest lands offer cheap [and sometimes free] camping.

    Have a look around the RTA pages [Lot's of info in the tool bars above, covering all aspects of road tripping] and if you have other questions don't hesitate to ask !

  5. Default

    Enough practicality! There are some really cool, and totally obscure things to see and do on the trip you talk about: There's a desert in the midwest. There are giant balls of string, there are giant ducks to eat in. Pennsylvania Dutch, Mormons, and all. Get a guide to the wierd stuff, and have fun. I live in Maryland, we're the third smallest state, and we're shaped like a handgun. Folks on our waterways talk like 16th century English Watermen. There are things like that all over the country, and it's really big!

  6. Default

    Thank you all for the advice.
    First of all the rental/buying issue. I was wondering whether I could register a car at a family members' residence? I have a couple of family members who live in Oregon and if I can register with them I might as well.
    I have looked at some of the rental costs and I must admit that you don't seem to get much car for your money which was our main reason for buying a car rather than renting.
    Secondly sleeping in the car etc... We have already planned to camp some of the nights and stay in motels on others obviously, 8 weeks is a long time and we can't possible stay in the car overnight all that time. On the other hand my friends and I have spent a lot of time asleep in a very small 3 door car before so we're used to it. So maybe a few nights would be OK for sleeping in the car.

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


    Buying a car at a family members address really doesn't work anymore, because as part of the paperwork, you generally have to be able to prove that you actually live at that address. If you are traveling on the Visa Waiver Program, that's basically impossible to do.

    Really the only way for that plan to work is if you started and ended your trip in Oregon, and had your family members purchase the car for you in their name (they'll also have to be on hand for the sale since you can't sell someone elses car). However, if you consider this option, you and your family members also need to know that you are setting them up for a pretty substantial amount of risk. If you were to get into an accident or even got a ticket, it could affect their insurance rates for years. Additionally, if you get into a major crash where someone is seriously hurt, they could be put at risk for a lawsuit and be held liable for any and all damages that aren't covered by insurance.

    Personally, even though renting a car can seem expensive, I think the real cost of driving your own car will be substantially more once you look a bit beyond a sticker price.

    As far as sleeping in a car, its hard enough for one person to sleep comfortably in a car, so I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a group. There's just no way everyone is going to get meaningful rest, which will make it very difficult for you to have fun and will pretty much guarantee that you and your friends will start snapping at each other that much sooner. To me, spending $20 on a campsite divided up amount your entire group is a very small price to pay to dramatically improve the quality of the time you spend on your trip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise


    At some point, get on Route 66 for an American experience.

    Put-in-Bay, Ohio, is an island out in Lake Erie and as close to a Key West experience that yoiu can get without going there.

    Near Chicago, get on the Lincoln Highway and take it some of the way.

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