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3 month driving holiday USA, any tips?

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3 month driving holiday USA, any tips?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning
22 replies 11.9K views
Malc`Malc` Forumite
43 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning
Hi, myself and 2 friends are planning on flying out to the USA in September until December. We are going to be renting a car out there and driving through as much as we can cover during the time!

Having a nightmare trying to get everything organised, has anyone ever done anything similar? We are planning to rent the car from a company called adventures on wheels (http://www.wheels9.com/) so far as they allow long rentals (we want about 85 days car rental) and we are all under 25 which doesnt help with the costs. Getting a car from them for 85 days with full CDW and LDW insurance for the 3 of us is around £900 each.

So far the cheapest flight I have found is about £370 return using travelsupermarket. Travel insurance seems to be about £65. Planning on opening a nationwide debit account for most purchases over there and either a nationwide credit account or a post office account for a deposit on the car. Mainly going to be using camp sites or cheap motels to see the sights but possibly hotels in the bigger cities.

Any tips as to cutting costs down a bit more? Have plenty of time yet really so looking to save as much money as possible before then! Any tips would be greatly appreciated :money:
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Replies

  • dzugdzug Forumite
    2.3K posts
    No help on your main questions, sorry - but remember that if you are are staying more than 90 days (3 months is a trace more than that and the US will be very picky as to exact dates) you will need to get a visa in advance.

    Sorry if you knew this already
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User]
    0 posts
    Holiday Haggler
    MoneySaving Newbie
    If you want hotels on the road, remember : you can occasionally barter. Stop at petrol stations and look for the vouchers off hotels.. there's also one's online you might want to print off before you leave.

    Get a credit card with a BIG limit. Get several credit cards incase you loose one (i lost my debit card AND maxed out my credit card's poxy 250 quid limit). Leave a cheque at home with a paying in slip so that someone can transfer money for you / pay off some of your credit card. You will spend far more than you expect you will.

    I did this for 5 weeks when i was 21 - we didn't hire a car, we used a firm called 'autodriveaway' where you transport cars between states and only pay deposit (refunded) and petrol.

    Throw away your expectations. You don't go into the centre of towns to drink in the USA - there are bars on the outskirts. Same with shopping. If you want free internet access, find the library. You won't find many net cafes. Hopefully this has changed in 7 years.

    They won't recognise your driving license for entry into bars/clubs (you will get IDed everywhere) so keep your passport with you (obviously keep a photocopy + a scanned version in an email account). Girls will dig your accent - fact.

    Americans will be very hospitable to you. Far more than you'd expect in the UK (we had a family invite 4 of us to dinner after we'd chatted to them in a hotel bar, we had 2 strangers lend us a tent and let us sleep in their garden, we had people give us lifts). The English accent will count for a lot over there.

    Learn the lingo. e.g: you don't queue for the toilet - you wait in line for the restroom.

    oh yeh, avoid the cash machines in New Orleans - they're damn expensive to use.
  • dzug wrote: »
    No help on your main questions, sorry - but remember that if you are are staying more than 90 days (3 months is a trace more than that and the US will be very picky as to exact dates) you will need to get a visa in advance.

    Sorry if you knew this already

    and expect a possible grilling from immigration if you are stopping for eighty odd days , with no set plans and being the age you are. alarm bells will go off in their head
  • Malc`Malc` Forumite
    43 posts
    Cheers for the replies, plan is to go for about 85 days to avoid having to get a tourist visa and extra faff! Good thinking about leaving in a paying in slip for the credit card, I was wondering what the best way to make payments to it would be without internet access and that sounds like a good solution.

    How far did you manage to get by using that autodriveaway company ringo? Sounds a great way to see the states - are they still around?

    Thanks again :)
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User]
    0 posts
    Holiday Haggler
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Yup, they're still around - http://www.autodriveaway.com/

    We managed, in 5 hectic weeks, to.. fly into Newark, NJ. Get the train to Philly, get a car from the philly office to Kansas City. Then to Houston, Then houston to Miami. Miami to Chicago, Chicago to cincinati, cincinatti back to new jersey. Sadly, i'd ran very low on cash in the last few days and couldn't afford to stay in new york.. so we hopped on the train at Newark and went down the NJ coast for a few days (oh what a few days), then got the train back and flew home. Phew.

    Yes, it was quite mental. My fav places were Chicago and New Orleans. Many stories, many crazy drunken stories.

    I don't know about using that firm for 3 months... but it's one way to get from one side to another cheaply.

    Out tip: before returning a car, make sure you pick up another one or you'll be stranded at someone's house... you don't drop off to the offices. You might want to invest in a USA sat-nav, but we managed without one
  • Malc` wrote: »
    Cheers for the replies, plan is to go for about 85 days to avoid having to get a tourist visa and extra faff! Good thinking about leaving in a paying in slip for the credit card, I was wondering what the best way to make payments to it would be without internet access and that sounds like a good solution.

    How far did you manage to get by using that autodriveaway company ringo? Sounds a great way to see the states - are they still around?

    Thanks again :)
    I can't vouch for every hotel in the US but all the ones ive stayed in over the last couple of years have free internet access.
    Just set up a direct debit for the credit card, anything else requires effort every month!
    Most places in the UK don't use chip and pin (except cashpoints) so card cloaning occurs occasionally.
    Take 2 cards as one of them is almost bound to be stopped at some stage on the basis that it has has an usual spend pattern - used at a number of hotels/restaraunts and gas stations across the US (evem though you tell them before)!
    If you want to call the UK get them to call you on one of the 1p call checker numbers. If you need to call back get a phone card or a US mobile (prepay) from walmart (from $20 for 200 minutes). You pay to receive on US mobiles but still much cheaper than a UK mobile in the US.
    Look out for offers in local papers.
    Dont be too polite in the service industry the extra words confuse staff as they are not used to them.
    Dont give help with change by giving 11.63 for a 6.63 bill. It only confuses them and they'll say youve paid too much!
    Use the lowest grade fuel you can unless its underpowered at altitude or hot climate.
    Register for points/offers with your hotel chain/miles etc.
    Dont reverse park, you're ment to show tail lights and rear plates (we are the stupid ones in the UK).
    Its perfectly normal to have a 'box to go' for any food you cant eat. you MUST tip!!! - almost LAW!!!
    Take it in turns at box junctions - not many islands. Turn right on red.
    Just cant stop thinking of more things - what else do you need to know? ive been for several weeks per year for the last 20 years.
    Cash ISA rate 6.5% fixed for 2 years. Mortgage rate 0.75% = 5.75% profit on £75K = £4500 per year:j
    Mortgages make money. Definitely don't wanabee mortgage free!
  • missyg_3missyg_3 Forumite
    1.5K posts
    ✭✭✭
    Malc good luck with planning your trip, sounds fab. Have you considered using a campervan rather than a car? For the £900 each you're paying the car rental company you might even be able to buy one and sell it back at the end of the journey. Gas is cheap and if you have cooking facilities in your van you could self cater a lot of your meals.
  • Malc`Malc` Forumite
    43 posts
    Great stuff, thanks for the replies people! Looked at buying a vehicle out there missyg but you need a permanent US address to buy one :(

    andrewmoorcroft very helpful stuff there, whats a 1p call checker tho? Planning to get a cheap mobile out there as you said and use that mainly. If I set up a direct debit for a credit car, what happens if I overpay onto a credit card? Will I just get extra funds to use - I normally always just pay off my credit card in full online with my debit card.

    Turning right at red lights is gonna take some getting used to!
  • Malc` wrote: »
    whats a 1p call checker tho? Planning to get a cheap mobile out there as you said and use that mainly. If I set up a direct debit for a credit car, what happens if I overpay onto a credit card? Will I just get extra funds to use - I normally always just pay off my credit card in full online with my debit card.
    For 1p/minute calls to the US use Int CallChecker it can be found on the MSE home page in the free tools on the right hand side.
    If you set up a direct for your credit card then the credit company will take exactly the outstanding balance out your bank account each month. This makes paying your credit card bill hassle free (providing you intended on paying off the full amount each month)!
    As mentioned by the previous poster. If you are looking for cheap accomodation then why not hire an RV (big camper van). Gas (petrol) is still cheap at $3+ per gal although americans dont think so!
    Cash ISA rate 6.5% fixed for 2 years. Mortgage rate 0.75% = 5.75% profit on £75K = £4500 per year:j
    Mortgages make money. Definitely don't wanabee mortgage free!
  • don't forget the us gallon is smaller than a uk gallon ....gas prices are going to be $3.25 upwards and a fair bit higher than that in certain states (ca especially)
    turning on red is not a nationwide thing in the states
    the ultimate crime is not stopping when a school bus stops and the lights flash .....this means you stop ....not go a little bit further towards the bus or ignore it because it's the other side of a dual carriageway....this really is something they take extremely seriously.
    they don't like original paper uk licenses (they've charged me with that one before )
    catching you speeding is considered revenue making for the county you are in ( i've learnt my lesson ) and can become a bit of a nightmare.
    i'd take a sat nav or buy one there
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