I'm from England and have been planning a roadtrip with my girlfriend for the last 5 or 6 months - I use the term 'planning' loosely as I don't have much more of an idea of what I'm doing now as I did before I started planning!
I've been visiting your site regularly over the last 2 or 3 months with great interest, I've found the threads really helpful and have taken on board a lot of the ideas that have been knocking around.
All I looking for is a little guidance. My girlfriend and I fly into San Francisco on Nov 12 and have booked a return ticket to take us home, from Miami on April 8th next year.
We have saved enough money (I think), we'll have $15,000 or so fro the trip. We hope to lease a car, and basically drive, starting in San Francisco and ending in Miami and taking in as much as we can inbetween. We have planned a basic itinery, but we keep stumbling across new things we'd like to see, but we're unsure if we can fit it all in.
My original idea was just to save the money fly over to USA and take it from there - however now it is getting nearer I'm getting a little nervous - I'm 24 and am giving up my career to do this as I feel I can't grow old without experiencing something so amazing as this, but would it be foolish of us to just fly out without a trict plan of our trip, or is the fun part not knowing waht to do!!???
Soory I've dragged on, but any advice would be much appreciated!
Wow.. Im English also and im basically doing the same sort of thing in 19 days time but the other way around. Im starting my roadtrip from New York and travelin down the East Coast to Florida. From there i plan to make my way too San Franciso via Houston and I plan to do this in three months. Yes, i have probably taken too much on with the distance but I believe I can do it, so I shall!!
The three most helpful places i have found on the web are www.wheels9.com (renting/leasing Vehicals) this place here and www.koa.com (Kampgrounds of America).
I had the jitters for a while but they left. Its just the waiting thats unpleasant at the moment. I cant wait!!!
Let me know how you get on
I've been doing fly drive holidays to the USA from the UK most years (when I can afford it) since 1990. By necessity in a two or three week trip they have to be carefully planned. My dream is to do what you intend to do. Set off on a prolonged trip with no plan but a vague route and an end point in the distant future.
Enjoy it, dont overplan it, follow your noses.
Contact me for any practical advice I may be able to give.
I am a fan of the "unsliced and unplanned"
Being "nervous" is part of the adventure. What you are embarking on is not a visit to Disneyland. You are supposed to be on edge. This is one of the fun parts!
I am all for pre-planning as a mental excercise, as a way to expand the notion of places and experiences that might be fun to "fit-into" a roadtrip. But I am ardent supporter of the notion of living an "unsliced life" and choosing a day's route solely on the weather, suggestions from fellow travelers and personal whims. There are a number of posters on this forum, (we appreciate their points of view too) that prefer to plan nearly every moment of each day of road trip -- but that is not my preference.
Your budget looks good. Booking a vehicle rental/lease from England will probably yield a better rate than doing it person. I have mentioned this before, but pick up a copy of "Drive USA" it is written from a Brit's point of view -- I don't agree with all of his suggestions -- but it can be helpful -- http://www.roadtripamerica.com/read/uk.htm
Jitters are a part of EVERYONE'S experience -- check out (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/roadtripamericaConference/
Index.cfm?CFApp=44&Message_ID=4243) for another new roadtripper's experience!
America is a big, friendly country. You already speak the language. Enjoy!
Thanks for your email, it's reassuring to know other people do this sort of thing and experience the same emotions!!
You mention www.wheels9.com, I got a quote from them - are they the cheapest guys for car leases etc?? This is the one area I'm struggling on
Forget driving across country to Miami, make that last or fly there. Rent a car in California and make your way up the coast to Alaska. A stop at the Hearst Castle is always terrific. Get to Seward, on to Anchorage, on to Denali. If you can fit in the 8 hour train ride to Denalie do it. Your funding is good and keep it to yourself.
Trip starts Nov. 12th...
I take it you are not a fan of American road trips? Personally, as stunning as Alaska is, there is too much good to be savored on a cross-country trip to choose aircraft over a vehicle.
On point, their trip begins on the 12th of November, driving to Alaska in late November/early December can be difficult to say the least. Only those with a pressing need and/or tons of north country driving experience should consider leaving the lower 48 much past the middle of October.
More to the point, some of the nicest weather one can experience in the south happens in the Fall and early winter months. Their timing and route selection is perfect!
Hi James, It was a while back when I booked it up but im sure was under the $4000 mark with all the insurance etc covered for three months.. I have booked a ford focus wagon but there were cheaper cars on there. I also had to pay a charge for droping off in a different location. Basically it was the cheapest I could find at the time.
The book that Mark recomended "Drive USA" is well worth a perusal also. It gives details on the different insurances which I found were quite confusing at first.
Here the deal,
So far your idea is awesome. I would most likely dump the leased/rented car for buying a cheapy. Take a mechanioc with you or have him look at it prior to sale finalization. I have purchased many a car under $2500.00 that have odne extremely well.
Plus insurance is cheaper once you own it. You should save money. Use the internet to help you find the car. Next, being scared is a huge thing for everyone, ignore it.If nobody did anything because of fear we would all be screwed. Plus your used to a stationary home.
I would also rethink the leaving point and return point so you may acheive a full circle of the US. it makes it easyier to navigate. You may even be able to set it up so you hit the state that get a nasty winter and hit those prior or after winter. IE take the northern route when you get here from Maine to CT west to Cali then head south as you'll miss most nasty weather the north has to offer. Place you wont travel in the brutel heat of the southern states during the hot months.
Lastly. Start an exercise program of running or walking, push ups crunches. Get so exercise bands for resistance. Retaining some structure in your life may help you enjoy the trip more. And you wont end you with the car seat ass when all is said and done.
If ya need help with any of the things I mentioned just ask. I'd love to help out.
I like your advice
Thanks for your advice - it's interesting to hear your view on the car. That's been the main problem with organising the trip. My original plan was to buy but then I talked myself out of it for fear of being ripped off (for being English!!!), having the car break down half way across the country and paying a load to get it fixed and also sorting out ownership and insurance without having a permanent residence.
These points put me off, but like you say it could work out cheaper, PLUS I could sell it on at the end.
I would really appreciate any guidelines you could give me about the whole car situation as it would help me enormously! (As long as it's not too much trouble!)