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Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

Antwerp, Belgium
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Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

Hi, we're 3 guys from Belgium (age: 22) and we would like to do a roadtrip from New York to LA in July-August. We have about 30 days to complete the roadtrip.

Some of the cities/states we want to visit are:

- New York

- Philadelphia

- Washington DC

- Nashville

- Memphis

- New Orleans

- Austin

- Tucson

- Phoenix

- Flagstaff

- Grand Canyon (Arizona)

- Las Vegas

- Yosemite national park

- San Francisco

- Los Angeles

This is just a rough plan.

But for a roadtrip, you need a car, so either we buy one and sell it at the end of the trip or we rent one in NY and drop it off in LA. What is the best option?

- Renting a car:

We know that we probably need to pay extra taxes because we are under the age of 23.

What are the best (and least expensive) companies? (We looked it up with Hertz, it was around 1600 euro)

- Buying a car:

How does it work with insurance and can you buy a car in the USA when you are not from the USA?

The price of the plane tickets are around 800 euro for a return ticket from Brussels to NY and about 120 euro to fly from LA to NY.

So that is roughly about 1000 euro p.p. for plane tickets and about 500 euro p.p. to hire a car.

That makes +/- 1500 euro for transport.

We would sleep in a tent (or sometimes a motel). We know that it differs which state you are in but is it possible to camp beside the road or do you need to camp at a camping site? And what is the average cost of a camping site?

So, is +/- 2500-3000 euro as a budget enough? We're young guys so no luxury is needed.

With this message we would like to get a better picture of the roadtrip we're about to do, so if you have better options or remarks please tell us. Also if there are other things we absolutely need to see during this trip.


Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA


It's not extra taxes for an underage driver, it's an extra fee charged daily for each driver. You might consider a less comfortable small campervan that includes the underage driver fee, or you might explore different rental options and find one that bundles it into the price (rather than charging $25 per day per driver.)

Rental ideas

www.RentalCars.com (Used to be CarHire3000)

www.drive-usa.com (Some options for a one way drop fee included or for underage drivers.) German language version of drive-usa: www.usareisen.de

www.usrentacar.co.uk (Some options for a one way route finder without an extra fee.)

Try the .co.uk version of your favorite rental company. Be sure to tick the box for your home country.

Renting a Car in the USA (from the Top Questions on the right) tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k4713887


You cannot sleep at the side of the road. Well, there are a few out of the way places where you can boondock or "wild camp", but you won't be in those places.

Tent campsites range from $10 to $30 per night. They can be more expensive in private RV Parks that allow tenters because those locations have more amenities (showers, laundry, etc.)


I think visiting a few destinations on the East Coast via public transit and then flying to Las Vegas or L.A. or San Francisco makes the most sense. Lots of travel ideas for California (or California PLUS Las Vegas) on the California state forum page, Top Questions on the right.


No one spends Euros in the US. We use US dollars. Expect $100 - $150 average for a basic motel room, more in cities. Expect $25-50 per day for food, less if you're preparing all the meals at a campsite, more if you're dining out for dinners & such. Expect $3-5 for a bottle of beer in a bar or $15 when purchasing a 12 pack at the grocery store. Expect $4 per gallon of gas w/ 22 to 25 mpg, worse mileage if it's a modified van/campervan.

RV info in the Top Questions here and on the California page.

Lots to think about. And if this is a trip for *this* summer, you need to think fast.

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2. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

Steff, welcome to TA and the road trips forum!!

Please read the top questions in the upper right corner, this forum for many months, and the trip report thread at the top of this forum for relevant material.

Thirty days is not much time for this trip.

Given your ages, one location to read about as you peruse this forum is the New River Gorge in WV. It would be an excellent and memorable stop on your way to Tennessee. You also can use the search engine at the top of this forum to search for "New River Jump Rock." It's one of the best "Huck Finn" experiences in the U.S.

Bring water shoes.

You are planning this trip very late for 2014. E.g., even camping spaces will be difficult to obtain for Yosemite in Yosemite Valley.

You probably won't want to spend time in Phoenix. Check out Page and Sedona as alternatives as you read through this forum. Sedona is especially excellent if you enjoy biking.

Beware that July/August is the peak of the U.S. summer school vacation holidays. It also will be very hot/humid in southern latitudes. As you read through this forum, consider instead a more northern trip, such as Niagara Falls, Cedar Point, Michigan attractions, Chicago, Dakotas and especially Yellowstone, likely the top national park in the 48 contiguous states. Reportedly, camping spaces are easier to obtain on a walk-in basis in that gigantic park.

You could head south from Yellowstone/Grand Teton to Zion and Bryce NPs before the GC.

Good planning!

Edited: 27 February 2014, 15:34
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3. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

Registering & insuring a vehicle can be challenging. One, first of all, needs a local address.

However, even with our address, our friend who was staying in our New Mexico cabin could not register his newly bought car.

He needed utility bills as proof & our cabin had none as it is solar. So even though he was a US citizen, had a New Mexico driver's license, paid New Mexico state taxes, & had our cabin address as residence, he could not get his vehicle registered.

Each state is different as to registration requirements. Then there is expensive, mandated insurance & the issue of reselling at the end of the trip.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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4. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

A car purchase is a non option ... US Residency requirements attached to registration and insuring the vehicle. Selling a non pollution certified vehicle in California would be difficult as well... You will find all but conventional small vans too expensive ... Yes, use public transport as far as Washington DC. If you must, take delivery of a vehicle rented through the brokers listed above... OR, Fly one way ... Baltimore- Las Vegas on Say. Southwest Airlines(14 day ahead internet only purchase) pick up a unit there...You then probably avoid a one way drop off charge... happy trails ... carracaer

Los Angeles
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5. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

Yep, no way to buy a car for this trip.

Las Vegas to Yosemite needs a stop in between.

Yosemite has some first come/first serve sites (particularly for tents), you can visit the Yosemite forum for more information.

National Parks cost $20 each to enter plus camping site fees of $10-15 per night. You can get an annual pass if you're going to visit several of them. It's $80.

3000€ is about $4000, give or take. I'd think that was enough if you are frugal. I'm guessing in the neighborhood of $400 for gas alone, more if you are in a camper van.

You've got a lot of planning to do, particularly as if you are camping, you will need to start making reservations. Motels in San Francisco, for example, will eat up your budget pretty quickly (L.A. too), and there are no campgrounds right in SF (there are some in the greater L.A. area).

You've certainly chosen a swelteringly hot route. I know I would skip Phoenix and Tucson and instead head up to Albuquerque and Santa Fe before Grand Canyon (I'd move further north as soon as I could from Austin. I'd probably go through Oklahoma and over into New Mexico rather than drive that stretch in western Texas through El Paso and then Phoenix.

If you did want to see El Paso for whatever reason, you could go by Las Cruces, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell as you went through New Mexico. Albuquerque has many interesting things to see, Santa Fe even more so.

I'm another person who would take the northern route at this time of year, although it sounds like you really want to see Memphis and New Orleans...

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6. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

If you're music fans, Chicago Lollapalooza is August 1-3 in 2014. Advance lodging reservations and ticket purchases will be needed. Chicago has one of the biggest blues festivals in June, and it's free.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland, Ohio. In major cities, you also might check out hostels to save some money.

Lewes, United...
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7. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA


Lots of great advice offered already. As said, no practical way to buy a car, so you have to rent and there's both the young driver fee and the one way drop fee to add to the rental cost. This will make the car hugely expensive. As said your best options are to use public transport for some of the trip - especially over on the east side of the USA, look at bolt bus, megabus, AMTRAK, etc. Or, look at very basic campervans, as also suggested. I'm no expert on these options, but look at the website for JUCY.

The other, important thing to say is that there's no reason to fly back to NYC to fly home to Belgium. It will always be cheaper to buy multi city or open jaw flights, so Brussels or Amsterdam to NYC, then LAX back to BRU or AMS, even if the return trip has an intermediate stop somewhere else in the USA.


8. Re: Coast 2 Coast Roadtrip: NY to LA

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