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  1. Default SF to Boston MA in 7 weeks

    Hi All,
    Completely new to the Forums and looking for any helpful advice!

    My partner and I are taking a sabbatical year and one of our dreams is to do a proper american road trip. We both do a fair amount of driving in the UK but never in the USA.

    Our current thoughts are a souther loop starting in San Fran, down through grand canyon, monument valley, to new orleans (some stops on the way of course), then back up towards DC, NY and then Mass.

    We have from the beginning of August 18 to October 18 to do it in. Currently looking at car hire (what a bombshell!) but then gna need to budget for accommodation, fuel, etc.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    One way car rentals are always going to be extra expensive, especially if you're going all the way across the country. With 7 weeks, you might consider doing a full loop around the entire US, otherwise, at least compare the costs of going east to west vs. west to east, as that could also have a significant impact on the cost. The fees are going to be a function of demand, so the exact dates and locations of pickup and drop off could all result insignificantly different costs.

    There are too many other variables to give much generic help in terms of budget - it depends upon where you're planning to stay, what you're planning to eat, what kind of vehicle you'll be using, etc. But if you have any other more specific questions, feel free to ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Incremental Trip Planning

    Trying to work up an itinerary for a major RoadTrip can seem daunting, particularly the first time. That's what most of here at RoadTrip America try to help people with, because we've been through it and know that a little "been there, done that" advice can go a long way towards helping you plan the best trip for yourself. In your particular case, I'd start with a basic framework that minimizes cost and maximizes time for the RoadTrip.

    The first thing you should do is look at the costs of a loop RoadTrip vs. a one way rental and return flight. A simple search shows that the cheapest one-way car rental, San Francisco to Boston, over seven weeks is about $2200 for a compact (small) car. The return flight would cost about $300 for two coach class tickets, so roughly $2,500 (£1,860) in fixed transportation costs. Compare that to a simple 'local' rental from San Francisco for seven weeks, $1,400, plus the 'extra' gas to drive back, $330, for roughly $1,750 (£1,300) in fixed transportation costs. So the all-drive version saves you about £550! I'm assuming that you're going to be staying in motels, B&Bs, etc. and eating out for the most part no matter which way you do the trip so that those expenses will end up being a wash.

    The other thing to consider is that with a loop RoadTrip, you get to take two completely different routes eastbound and westbound so you would get to see that much more of the United States besides just the two cities and a 'southern' route. And you don't 'waste' a day getting to Logan, going through security at the airport, waiting for your flight, sitting in a tin can, and getting back out of SFO. Taking ten days to two weeks for each leg of such a trip would give you plenty of time to travel at a very leisurely pace and see many attractions, scenic wonders and historic sites, and still leave you four full weeks to split between San Francisco and Boston.

    Other things to consider: Why are you starting in San Francisco? If you decide to do a full loop, you can do it just as easily starting/ending in Boston, thus saving a bit on your trans-Atlantic fares.

    You say that this trip will be you and your partner. You will need to be careful about exactly what your relationship is, what car hire firm you use, and whether you are enrolled in their rewards program, A major cost you may not have considered is that if, for example, you hire the car in your name then your partner would be an 'extra' driver. Even if they wanted to just drive for five minutes, they would need to sign up for the entire length of the rental. That can be as much as $15/day, although some companies cap the total amount charged. If you find a good price, it is always worth first signing up for any loyalty program the company may have before making the reservation. One of the benefits of such programs is that often a spouse, and sometimes even a domestic partner, can be added as an extra driver at no charge.

    We have seen that sometimes our European visitors can do better by arranging their car hire through a European consolidator such as Europcar or Rentalcars, and can even get one way drop-off fees and extra driver fees waived entirely.

    Once you've run through the costs and your own preferences and have developed a basic framework for the trip that suits you, we can be of much more help in planning specific places to see along the way. But even then you should tell us what you're interested in, what pace you like to travel at, what you general budget and travel style are, etc.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-04-2017 at 10:34 AM.

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

    Default Time for a loop.

    I would go along with what has already been said, you can create a fantastic loop trip which has the advantage of saving you money, flying in and out of New York from the UK will save even more. You don't mention what your main interests are but there is so much to choose from other than City's and 'main events' like the Grand canyon. You can get off Interstate and enjoy scenic drives, beautiful parks, small towns and meet the Locals. At least that's my idea of a "Proper road trip". Colorado and Utah have many of these things to offer and when thinking of heading from San Fran to the Grand canyon, first look at Yosemite, Sequoia and Death valley National parks that are just as incredible in their own way. You will find loads of useful info and ideas by searching around the RTA site and one of the first things you should do is treat yourself to decent map or atlas covering the USA and check out all the possibilities.

    As you make your way through the planning stages we are here to help with any questions you may have and can offer suggestions along the way, but right now you have thousands of route and attraction options to choose from ! Enjoy the planning.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Resources

    If you follow Dave's advice and fly into New York, be sure to leave the hiring of a car until you get to New Jersey - just across the Hudson. It will save you significantly. Many travellers have told me just how much cheaper New Jersey is compared to New York.. Besides you will not want to have a car in NYC. Parking is almost impossible and it will break your budget if you can find a spot.

    For maps, why not scroll down this page to the RTA store and order yourself a Rand McNally atlas - there is none better. Order it now and you'll have it in a couple of weeks.... possibly even before Christmas.


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