Rent or Buy
Me and my fellow Erik are planning to cross the great US, starting the engine in NY and parking it in SF. We are a bit indecisive about wether to take at southern or western route, but for now south has got a good head start.
We're gonna take our time, making the trip in aprx. 1 mth(1st to 31st of june).
Our "crux" is how to arrange a car. Will it be cheaper to buy or to rent a car for such a long period?
If you and your travel mate are both at least 25 years old, rent. You can probably get a car for about 300-350 dollars a week, no problem. It beats the hassle of buying then reselling a car. And you dont have to buy private insurance, or worry about your car breaking down.
If you're between 21 and 24, you'll pay usually 20 bucks a day extra. Then it gets costly. Under 21, your probably out of luck for renting.
We'er 22 & 23
Thanks for your fast reply!
Are these prices based on the fact that we'er not taking the car back to NY?
One way rentals are higher cost -- alternative
You might be able to find a one-way rental, but it will be more expensive. For example, Budget will rent one way for 30 days, today they quote a BASE rate of $1089 for an "economy" car (the smallest one), or $1348 for mid-sized. Taxes are added to this (probably another $150), and insurance or damage-waivers are not included which could result in another $200 or more. Plus there would be an extra charge for a second driver. You might be able to shop around and find a better deal, but...
Have you considered a 30 day Amtrak rail pass? The passenger rail system in the USA is government-sponsored and not as convenient as the system in the UK (nor as fast), but as a foreign citizen you can get a discounted pass, ($385 off peak, $550 peak for 30 day passes), and your particular route does have Amtrak service. Peak is summertime, basically (May to September). You could get on or off as you please along the way. Remember though that unlike Great Britain, reservations are almost a must on our system.
I agree with bob, Amtrak might be something to look into. The website is amtrak.com.
I'm almost positive that bobs quotes do not include the extra money you'll have to pay because you are under 25. Usually it's around 20 a day.
Amtrak does not go everywhere but it goes to most of the major cities, moreso on the east coast. TO visit parks you can rent a car for a day or two from the amtrak station.
hm I'm kind of in the same situation like the two norwegian hunks. I am under 25 and so are my 2 friends. So renting would be expensive. I am really considering doing this with amtrak. The only problem i am still facing is the fact that amtrak itself may be cheaper, but accomodation would be more expensive. I think it's difficult to camp out while using amtrak as these trains stop in cities. So I can't really judge wether renting a car and camping out would be cheaper than using amtrak or vice versa.
...and the third option, buying and selling a car is even more difficult for me to estimate the cost of...
Overnights on the train
With Amtrak, the trains run between the cities, yes, although there are some National Parks you can get to altogether by train. Many folks treat train trips like backpacking trips -- you can sleep in the reclining "coach" seats on the train between destinations (not very comfortable but it CAN be done), then camp or hostel once you get there, after getting the rest of the way to the destination some other way (bus, local car rental, etc). You may be able to find hostel accommodations in some cities, and they are way cheaper than motels/hotels.
Also, Amtrak will have scheduled bus transportation to some of the parks and popular destinations where they don't actually have a depot. You just have to plan your transportation at your chosen destinations ahead of time to figure out how it will work out (or if). If you have specific destinations already in mind, let us know and maybe we can give you some specific ideas for those places.
thanks for the reply bob. Sleeping in the trains sounds like a smart way of avoiding expensive accomodation. I wouldn't mind doing it a few times.
I don't have a schedule yet, so I don't really know yet where or when I'll be somewhere. I guess I still have a lot of planning to do.