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  1. Default Australian with dreams of travelling around USA

    Heya folks!

    First time on the forum so sorry if I've posted in the wrong section!

    Recently came back from a trip to America. My friend and I fell in love with the country the moment we stepped out of the airport! So I've decided to do something about it. Next year in september I am planning on taking extended leave (at the risk of not having my job after I return) to travel around America, sort of like a late gap year (I missed the boat that most people took after they finished with their studies)! Havn't decided on the finer details yet. But thinking between 60 to 120 days. I have no idea where to start planning and what option to take to travel around USA.

    I guess this is where you guys come in. To save me asking too many questions (which I don't even know what to ask yet!), is there some sort of sticky or online resource that I can start off with that can guide me in terms of what I need to think about and what options are available for an Australian to travel around USA? So I guess things I would need to find out are like, how to find travelling companions, most cost effective accommodation options, transportation, alternatives to working to financially support the trip (because I believe I can not work under the tourist visa), route suggestions, time of the year to travel (although a white "traditional" christmas and nye at Times Square is a must for me), ways to experience life in America with a local etc etc

    Thanks for reading. Hoping to get some pointers!

    Edit: One question I can think of is assuming I stay part hotels and part free accomodation (with friends), buy a car, maybe some domestic flights and public transportation, including entry fees and food not including shopping, what would be a very rough estimate of how much I need to save up for a 120 days road trip?
    Last edited by shazam; 12-11-2010 at 06:21 PM. Reason: Add a question

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

    Default roadblocks

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    As you start your planning, there are a couple major issues you'll need to think about that will make your initial plan very difficult.

    First: You'll probably only want to do a 90 day trip. Not because you couldn't more than fill up 120 days, but 90 days is the limit for the Visa Waiver Program. Going longer than that means you need to apply for a full tourist visa, which unlocks a whole range of challenges. They can be overcome, but from what I understand, its not easy.

    Second: Purchasing a car as an International Visitor is virtually impossible. Generally speaking, you need to be able to prove you live here (which requires at least a long term visa) before you can get things like license, registration, and insurance). Your alternatives really are renting, public transportation, or perhaps a combination of the two. Borrowing a car from a generous friend could potentially be an option, but know if you do that, you could be putting your friend at a liability risk if you get into an accident.

    Beyond that, I'd really encourage you to spend a little time looking around this website, as there are dozens upon dozens of articles and other pieces of information that will can help you answer many of your basic questions.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the heads up. What part of getting the tourist visa is difficult? I thought it would be a simple process so long as you can prove that you're on holidays there?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-12-2010 at 01:04 AM. Reason: no need for inline quotes

  4. Default Just curious, why September?

    In the US, our vacation season is basically the ten-week period between Memorial Day, Monday May 30, 2011 and Labor Day, Monday September 5, 2011. In many areas of the US, the vacation season really doesn't get into high gear until the 4'th of July.

    Many activities are available only during this time.

    You'll find some pretty cold temperatures at higher elevations in late September and October, with snow always being a possibility. To cut down on costs and really take in the National Park experience, camping is the way to go. But waking up to below-freezing temperatures is a very real possibility. I know. Been there, done that!

    This is not to say that you won't enjoy an off-season vacation in the US. In fact, the lack of crowds can be a huge advantage as our National Parks are open all year. But there are trade-offs. There will be a lot fewer ranger programs and other events that add to the experience.

    Just be aware of the trade-offs in choosing a "Fall" vacation in the US.

  5. Default

    travellingman, I was thinking start september because I thought it wouldn't be too cold yet and there are a few roads that would normally closed in october/november that would still be open in september.

    But having said that, if I go with the Visa Waiver Program and only have 90 days and given that I want to be in NYC for NYE. Should I start my holiday in mid october and finish up in jan or start december and finish around feb? I heard that winter starts in december so I'm guessing jan and feb will be extremely cold (except maybe the southern states)?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-12-2010 at 03:26 PM. Reason: clarifying (I think)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I'm completely using experiences posted on this forum - including a few very regular member - that the process to get a full tourist visa is a very long and extensive one. Basically, it sounds like you have to prove you're not a terrorist - and like any time you have to prove a negative - there are a whole lot of hoops to jump through.

    Again, I have no first hand experience, and I would recommend you check it out for yourself. However, I think you'll find that doing a 3 month trip will be far easier.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The earlier the better.

    Personally speaking, I love to visit the USA in the Fall between late September and late October, but once into October you can [as you noted] see some weather disruption. If a white Christmas in Times square is a must, I would plan to arrive in the States as early in the year as your allotted time allows, where you can still achieve that goal.

    If you want to check out Northerly and/or high elevation National parks such as Yellowstone and Rocky mountain NP etc, they would be the places to visit as early on in your trip as possible. Snow and sub zero nighttime temps are not unusual in October.

    Having a car [needless to say] is the best way of seeing the US, buying isn't easy for an overseas visitor [impossible in most cases] and renting for long periods can get expensive. If you are under the age of 25, even more so.

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