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  1. Default Road trip through USA July/August 2017

    Hello everyone,

    I have just decided to make a road trip through the United States for 8-10 weeks in July/August/September 2017. I have been to the States several times before so I know the country quit well already but this time I would like to visit all the cities that are still on my bucket list. I am from the Netherlands so this might be my one and only chance to see all the beautiful things the States has to offer :-).

    There are some cities/places of interest I definitely want to see:
    - Seattle --> + Vancouver
    - San Francisco --> Route 101
    - Mount Rushmore
    - Denver
    - Chicago
    - Philadelphia
    - Savannah
    - Nashville
    - Memphis
    - New Orleans
    - Florida

    Because my father owns a house in Florida, I have two options. Return flight from Amsterdam to Florida and several inbound flights from Florida to the rest of the States or I could really make a road trip. Starting at the west coast and traveling to the east coast and then finish my trip in Florida.

    Does someone have any idea which would be more affordable? Because I am traveling alone I'm also thinking about traveling by train. I know that the parking costs in bigger cities are quit high and because I would also like to meet some new people, traveling by train might be a good option.

    Are there some things you could recommend to me? In case of cities, places of interest, traveling, accommodation etc? All travel suggestions are welcome.

    By the way I have already been to New York, Boston, Washington D.C, Los Angeles en Las Vegas so that is why these cities aren't listed above.

    Thank you all for your suggestions.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The most affordable way to approach your trip would likely be to Fly to Florida, do a roadtrip around the entire US, ending back in Florida. Based on your list of destinations, a loop seems to make a lot of sense, wouldn't really add that many miles vs. ending your trip out west - where you'd see a significant extra one-way fee for your car rental.

    Train could work, but would put a significant restriction on where you can go, as train routes in the US are fairly limited.

    In terms of recommendations, I'd start by saying their is so, so much more to the US than just cities. It's noteworthy that all you've mentioned is cities you've been to and cities that are still on your list, but other than mentioning US-101 and Mount Rushmore, you haven't said a word about all the the unique natural wonders within the US/Canada that you just can't find anywhere else on the planet - from Yellowstone to Yosemite to the Grand Canyon to Arches and Canyonlands - and that's barely a start of the possibilities. I think if you spent a little time on the National Parks website, you'd start to see just how much you'd be missing if you put your entire focus of touring the US on cities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First Things First

    Welkom! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's start with the Big Picture and then refine it. If costs are a concern (And when aren't they?) then you definitely want to fly in/out of the same city pair. That is: do a simple round-trip (return, as the British would say) flight. Then simply rent a car at the beginning and return it to the same place at the end. Both of those basic travel strategies will save you money.

    Now, the other great thing about such a 'loop' trip is that it doesn't matter which city in the US you use for your port of entry/departure. So you can price out all your various options. Almost certainly an east coast city will prove to be your best value, probably Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington. You should price them all since it's not just air miles that determines airfare but competition, landing fees, local taxes, etc. Also be sure to compare car rental prices and pick the city with the best TOTAL cost (air and car) to get the best deal.

    I don't think that it will matter in pricing this out that your father owns a house in Florida. Unless he's there at the time you'll be traveling through, can pick you up at the airport, put you up for a while and provide transport while you're staying with him, you're still going to rent the car for the full time you're in the US. Otherwise, your stay in Florida can be for as long as you want and anywhere it fits in your overall loop trip.

    You could also just rent a car for part of your trip. One option would be to land in any of the cities previously mentioned and use public transport (subways, busses, trains) to tour most of the other east coast cities. When you're ready to hit the road westward rent a car then and only then. Again, return the car to wherever you rented it from and return to your gateway city by train. Train service on the east coast, especially in the BosWash corridor is pretty good. And you are right: It's often best to see those larger northeast cities without a car - no parking or traffic problems and expense.

    But other than that, I would urge you to see as much of the country as you can by car. Flying is not only expensive, but you really don't get to see anything or talk to anybody but the person next to you. Train travel would be a little better in both regards, but still wouldn't let you stop and see something unexpected that piqued your interest. In any case, you'd also then be doing multiple car rentals, some with one way drop-off fees as well as paying for all the 'extra' modes of transport.

    With as much time as you have, there really shouldn't be much problem with seeing quite a bit of the country, but we can work on such details after you get the basic framework of your trip decided on.


  4. #4


    You have plenty of time to do your entire trip via car... but, if your primary focus is on the cities listed and not the scenic sights and national parks and other items along the highways, then you might want to explore a combo air/rail/car adventure. First, I would explore a multi-day/trip airline package (some airlines offer something like 5 flights in 30 days). Where in Florida is also a factor for travel options.

    First, check out the Amtrak national route map: or
    Many of the cities you wish to visit are linked, e.g., Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans; Vancouver, BC-Seattle-San Francisco; Florida-Savannah-Philadelphia; Chicago-Denver. You could rent a car in Denver to visit Mt. Rushmore and the surrounding area. Likewise, you could rent a car RT from Memphis to visit Nashville.

    Flying from Denver to Seattle is a possible long-distance quick link although the train ride from Denver to San Francisco is a nice option. I highly recommend the train from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. There is also a bus option from the airport or downtown Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. But the train is great at least on the southbound leg.

    The coastal highway in Big Sur is closed until mid- to late-Sept 2017, due to a bridge collapse (more info elsewhere on this forum). The Amtrak schedule isn't always easy but with a little bit of flexibility it should fit into your travel planning.

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