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  1. #1
    Briar Drummond Guest

    Default coast to coast in 3 months...

    Hi, my boyfriend and I (both in our late 20's) are planning our dream 3 month coast to coast road trip early next year (mid Feb to mid May). I've spent a lot of time looking on the net, pouring over our Rand McNally atlas and guide books, and have plotted out the following route...

    Los Angeles - San Diego - Las Vegas - Flagstaff - Truth or Cons. - Roswell - San Antonio - Houston - New Orleans - Orlando - Savannah - Atlanta - Lynchburg - Memphis - Louisville (or somewhere near) - Detroit - thru Canada to Niagara Falls - Boston - New York.

    Does this sound do-able in 90 days? We're planning on renting a car, that is if I can find one that doesn't charge too much for one-way rentals, any recommendations? We're saving up as much as we can and look like we'll have between $15,000 and $18,000 USD depending on the exchange rate (we're from New Zealand). Is this going to be enough money? We're not looking for anything fancy just budget motels for 95% of it. We'll do the touristy stuff in the cities, just wondering about seeing some off the beaten path stuff that's not in the guide books. I've also just realised it's going to be the middle of Spring Break season when we're planning on arriving in Florida - how much of a pain is this going to be? My boyfriend really wants to go to Daytona Beach, should we even bother trying to stay there? Would it be better to base ourselves in Orlando and drive to places like Daytona and Cape Canaveral for the day?

    I'm just a bit worried, having never done this kind of thing and trying to plan it from the other side of the world... I'd appreciate any info or tips anyone can give me! Also anything that's a must see en-route. Thanks a lot in advance!

  2. #2


    Sounds awesome! I live in the US and I would love to do the same thing sometime. For what you want to do, I'm sure $10k will get you anywhere you need to go. Doing a little math, that's ~$110 a day which is good for what you want to do, food, and gas. As for rentals, I'm sure there are some but you will have to shop around. If you plan on eating at restraunts every day, expect around $20-30 for the both of you for each meal. Otherwise, stop at a grocery store and pick up some food there for cheaper. Fast food isn't a bad idea either but it can put on the pounds.

    As for Daytona, about the time of spring break (in Feburary-March) There is a bike week. This means, no way you will get a hotel. I would recommend Orlando, it also has Universal studios which is an awesome place to visit (but expensive). Do check out Daytona if you are there during bike week to see all the festivities. Have fun!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default It's doable

    Yes, 90 days is plenty of time to see all those places. I'm not sure about the money part though. I guess this depends on whether part of the $15-18,000 is going toward the car rental.


    The Hertz sites quotes $1213.99/month to rent a Ford Focus for pickup in LA and drop off in NY. That would be $3642.00. But beware that there is sometimes a mileage limitation with an extra charge for any miles driven over that amount and there may be additional charges for dropping off in another location. You will really want to explore this via the internet a bit first. You might check out Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, National, etc. I know there's more but I rarely rent cars so I'm not sure of all the companies out there.

    Hotels: Cheap hotel prices vary depending on location. $100 would be cheap (and difficult to find) in New York but you can find hotels as cheap as $40 in places like Roswell. I would think that $60/night would be a good average to guesstimate your costs with. So $60 night x 90 days is $5400.00. Maybe you should consider tent-camping? You can get tent sites from $10-35/night depending on the type of campground you stay in and the amenities it has. This would save you a lot of money. You can buy cheap tenting gear at a place like Wal-Mart when you arrive and then donate it to a place like the Goodwill prior to your return home if you don't want to haul gear here and back on the plane. You could figure $20/night for camping fees so $20/night x 90 days is $1800. A BIG savings. Of course, you could do some nights camping and then others in hotels. Cheap hotel chains to check out are Motel 6, Super 8, Budget Inn, Days Inn. If you do a search for cheap hotels in the places you plan on staying, you'll find if my guesstimate is too high (let's hope!) or too low.

    Gas: Gas prices vary greatly in the US. is a great website to check out gas prices in various cities and states. You could probably figure about $2.00/gallon average at this time. Of course, that may be higher or lower when you are travelling here. Let's say your rent a Ford Focus which is supposed to get about 25mpg in town and 33mpg on the highway. Let's average that out at 29mpg. You will be traveling, at the very minimum, 5900 miles. You could probably add at least 1000 miles to that to allow for some sight-seeing and other short explorations along the way. So, let's figure you'll be driving 7000 miles. At 29 miles per gallon, you will be purchasing about 242 gallons at $2.00/gallon for $484.00 total. But I would figure a bit higher just to be safe so let's round that way up to $600 for a buffer.

    Your budget so far:
    -3,642 for car rental (low estimate)
    -5,400 for hotels
    -600 for gas
    balance left $8,358.00 for food, entertainment, souveniers, entrance fees to any emergencies, etc.

    This averages out to $92.87 per day for 90 days of travel.

    Food: Eating every single meal at cheap places like McDonald's will still cost you about $30/day. And who could stand that for every meal for 90 days? Yuck! But let's say you can do it, then you will have $62.87/day for other activities to spend, on average. I would suggest eating most meals out of a cooler (sandwiches, fruit, etc.) and only eating out one meal per day, at most, at a restaurant.

    Anyway, I think what this boils down to is that it is doable but you will have to budget yourself to make it work. Also, remember that the rental car cost estimate is probably low so you really need to check on those drop-off and high-mileage fees that you can get hit with. Oh, and I have found that the price estimate to rent the car normally doesn't include the insurance fee that you will probably have to get since you won't have a US auto insurance policy that would cover you. This could add quite a lot to the final cost so be sure you get a quote that includes that amount.

    If the car rental fee gets much higher when you include these other costs, then your budget may be really tight. Quite frankly, considering some of the high cost areas you are planning on seeing (mainly New York, Boston, and New Orleans) your budget may be somewhat tight anyway.

    I would really encourage you to consider camping. It will save you a lot of money, is a lot of fun, and can take you into areas with some fantastic scenery. Eating out of a cooler most meals is also a big area to save money on and it's usually healthier eating as well as long as you don't fill up on junk food.

    Another thing to consider in your budget...if you're planning on doing any kind of theme parks, etc. that can get quite expensive. DisneyWorld is about $55/day per person for a single day ticket, for example. If you plan on doing many of these types of activities, it will add significantly to the cost of your trip.

    I hope this information helps you figure out whether or not your trip is doable in the money department.

    Now, as to your itinerary, are you planning on visiting any national parks along the way? You are missing some of the best parts of a roadtrip if you neglect these areas. Some of the national parks you will be traveling near are: Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, Adirandocks, and a lot more I've probably missed. If you plan on visiting any national parks, you would do best to get a national park pass for $50 at vs. paying as much as $20 per day per park.

    Again, your trip is doable but you will definitely have to watch your budget. Enjoy your trip to the US and let us know how things went when you return!

  4. #4
    Leigh Budd Guest

    Default camping

    Sounds like a blast. We did a Northern Canada to New York trip and we camped about 4 days a week. If the weather was bad, or it was just time for a camping break we grabbed a hotel for a day or so. Saves an easy $50.00 per day. We were only gone for 30 days, and budgeted $120.00/day without much trouble (until we hit NYC). None the less, enjoy!

  5. #5
    Elaine Guest

    Default rental cars

    Maybe you can rent a car from LA to Houston. Then turn that one in and get another from Houston to NY. I'm wondering if that would save money on the extra charges for mileage. Check it out.

  6. #6
    imported_Jason Guest

    Default car cost

    Wow!! that is a lot of money for a car. You could almost just buy one for that much money. Speaking of which, e-mail me if you want a 1989 Volvo Turbo - gas mileage is around 18 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, so that will cost you a lot more, but I will be selling it around that time for 2500 to 3000 depending on its condition through the next few months. By buying a car, you might be able to find a quick buyer in New York and regain maybe a third or even half of your money. I wouldn't suggest my car for a road trip considering the mileage, but if it suits your fancy its yours. Nonetheless, buying a car here is an option to consider.

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