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I Know I'm not the first and probably not the last to start a thread on c2c, but would really like some advise on a trip I have planned for May/June this year.
My flights are booked, starting in San Francisco and leaving from Boston 6 weeks later. The route I have planned is loosley down to Los Angles over to Vagas picking up the north rim of the Grand Canon onto Bryce, Sequoia-kings canon and Zion national parks up to North Decoata - Mnt Rushmore across to Chicargo onto Main and down to Boston.
I have priced hiring a bike and like others I don't find it cheap, may buy so need to know implications/legal requirements and used bike dealers in San Francisco, also what gear to take or buy over the states? I would like to take my own lid will it go as hand luggage?
Will I find hotels/guest houses along the way or is it best to prebook everything, not that I want the trip to be that planned?
Thanks for reading your all stars
But to expand slightly - presuming you are from the UK?
You get a 90 day visa under the waiver programme, if you're planning on staying any longer, you'll need to go to the US embassy in London and get a full visa which allows you six months entry at a time.
Physically buying the bike is easy (and cash is king, especially in the current economic climate). Actually, cash itself is not king - most dealers will want a bank draft, so setting up a bank account is a good idea - Wells Fargo will offer foreigners (ie no US social security number) a current account - called a checking account in the USA. It's almost essential to have a US account, as every petrol pump takes credit cards, and many will not recognise non-US cards... you can use cash of course, you end up having to pre-paying the cashier. Likewise hotels and anything you buy online while you,re there will be easier with a US bank account.
For a bank account you will need an address in the US you can use as your own, and likewise for your insurance (use Progressive.com - again they will insure foreigners wiht a foreign licence - you have to buy an annual policy, but can cancel it with no penalty charge when you've finished the trip).
You'll also need the address for the Title (over V5 registration documnent equivelent) paperwork to be sent to, and you'll need to carry a copy of your Title and insurance with you at all times on the bike.
As for riding gear - there is a massive selection in every bike shop in the US (and they have the excellent Cycle Gear chain, which is a bit like Hein Gereke in the UK), so if you're in the market for a new helmet and boots particularly, I'd just get them when you get there - although with current exchange rates they are not as cheap as they were, and Arai particularly are more expensive in the US.
Also, buy a GPS when you get here (with the US maps in) - Garmin Nuvi 205 can be had for around $170USD - it will be invaluable for finding hotels, fuel, food and points of interest etc. and Garmin mapping particulalry includes loads of dirt roads too, especially in the west x
As DL says - virtually every town of any size will have at least one if not a handful of motels in, and most are very good value compared to the UK - check out the modern Motel6 chain - typically less than $40 a night, with laundry and wifi. I use them all the time!
Alternatively, camping is also widly available, and in the western states particularly, there is plenty of BLM (public) land where you can wild camp anywhere for free... but if this is primarily a road (tarmac) trip, then I'd forget humping the camping kit with you, and stick to motels...
Not trying to be argumentative, just putting in my 2cents.........cash is king, however, dealers WILL take dollars. A bank draft isn't necessary.
Almost ALL gas pumps in the US will accept your European credit card, however, in many municipalities you must enter your postal cope even if it is european. If the pump will not accept it, you must go inside to pay instead of paying at the pump. We have EXTENSIVE experience with this as my wife uses her German credit card here in the US daily.
The bank account thing is a pain in the butt...every week Homeland Security gives the banks a new friggin' regulation.
You can get a paid postal box at a Pack and Ship or similar and use that as your home address for the title. You need only carry a copy of the registration and proof of insurance. In Cali..it takes several WEEKS to receive the permanent title for your bike. You would then need to have the mailbox place forward the contents of your box to wherever you sell the bike at the end of your trip.
Riding gear IS cheaper here than EU or UK. LOTS of places to shop. Private party ads are going to be the best deal on a bike, check Craigs list here in the US.
Motel 6 is an excellent way to go. Good advice. Camping in the US is easy but JMo is right, it is a a pain in the butt. If you need help let me know, i have a brother in L.A. that is a moto mechanic with a portable shop including a dyno. If you need help holler
Thanks for filling in the gaps there Ornery - although another reason for getting a US bank account is that you don't have to pay the UK credit card company for the currency conversion (depending on which UK bank this is, it can be significant), afterall, a cross country trip is going to mean a lot of transactions... if only for gas and hotels?
I was only speaking from experience that my Barclaycard (one of, if not the most popular credit card in the UK) didn't work in a couple of stations in a big city - although as you say, if it happens you can always go inside swipe... or prepay with cash (then typically go back in and get a refund as you've paid too much for your tiny tank!)
Of course I meant to say the Registration document not the Title (in the UK these are combined) - sorry...
I agree most bike gear tends to be cheaper in the US, my point was no longer significantly so - and certainly I've found some premium brands like Dainese and Arai are more expensive than you can get them in the UK these days...
Good idea about the postal box, although often a friendly HUBBer can help out with an address/forwarding too...?
Hi People, open a Nationwide debit and credit account before you go, they are accepted throuhout the Americas and they do not charge for foreign transactions so instead of the old system of £300.00 a withdrawal to reduce currency conversion charges, just use them like you would at home. Nationwide has saved me a fortune since I started travelling full time when I retired and it will do the same for you. Have a nice trip and ride safe.
p.s. If you are going to hit the national parks, they are good, look at getting a year pass, $80.00 and worth it.
p.s. If you are going to hit the national parks, they are good, look at getting a year pass, $80.00 and worth it.
Agreed! You can get one at the entrance station to any National Park, and can save you a fortune - Big Bend N.P. for example is $30 a vehicle to get in (valid for a week), so typically visit 3 or more of the larger parks and you're quids in...
1) don't book in advance--almost never had a problem rolling up and finding a place, and this allows you to pick the best or cheapest place (not usually the same!). the earlier you stop, the easier it is to find a place, but usually no problem in any event. sometimes there is some local fair or something that causes places to get booked up, but very rare, and then you just go to the next town.
2) Easy to bring the helmet as carry on, I usually wrap it in something and put it in small bag.
3) instead of opening a bank account, you can by a pre-paid debit card in the US at most shopping centers--just walk up, pay $500 (or whatever) and you get a visa or mastercard that should work fine in the US. haven't used them at gas stations, but have used them for other stuff.
Thanks Folks for all the advice and yes I am from England.
Trying to digest it all now!
If I were to buy a bike the title documents take how long - roughly will do, Orney suggested a couple of weeks. Would I have a temporary title document in the mean time? That way I'll be able to use the bike to get on with my trip.
If you're buying a bike from a dealer (not sure of the protocol with a private sale), then they send off the title paperwork, and the Title document is sent to you in typically a couple of weeks... (maybe a little longer in some states/busy DMV offices).
In the meantime, the dealer will issue you with a temporary registration certificate that you attach to your bike (a piece of paper) as a numberplate. You then have 30 days to go to the local DMV office (local to the address you are using for post, ie. your 'home' in the USA), and sort out a full registration - you can do this before you get the Title certificate back (I did). The Title is only your proof of ownership, the registration document and plate is what they are really worried about, as that is where they get their $$$s - your registration is renewed each year, like a UK tax disc.
btw. you can get a personal plate for around $37 more - and as the plate is specific to you, and not the machine, it makes a nice souvenir.
As for insurance, if you use progressive.com (and they are really the only company who will insure non-residents) they can email you the cover note to print out (use the motel computer?), but it's still best to get the proper insurance card they will post you.
Private sale you give them the cash go to the DMV or office of licences and give them the old plate, old registration, old title and off you go with new ones. (there may be other buggers on the way but thats most of it)
Most of the larger bike shops have insurance in house and will print out a legal "proof of insurance" a P.O. Box is legal to use as a address as is the bike shop. You only need an address for the billing of insurance company nothing in the law demanding you have a place of residence. Insurance is done state by state and billed by where your address is, LA California is going to more that Camano Is Washington.
You don't have to be in the USA to get any of the paper work done.
Your temp. tag (licence plate in the usa number plate most all other places) is good for 30 days but you may be able to swing a deal and get them not to date it been told you can get nother 30day temp tag as well. The people at the bike shop can tell you where to get a real plate and your good for a year in the USA for registration and tags. Where I live there is a office of licences you go to and you give them the temp tag and registration and you get a plate and a new registration.
Title is only used as proof of ownership like if you finance the bike the banks name is on it pay for it your self your name is on it. You will need it to sell it or to import it in to the UK.
Registration is a paper that tells the cops you payed you tax on it and is legal for street use, you get stickers to put on the number plate with it as well.
If you can get a good bike shop you may be able to have all this done before you leve the UK. (a bit tricky as you will be paying for the bike without seeing it.)
What paper work you will need if your stopped by the cops?
You drivers permit (licence) with motorbike endorsment.
proof of insurance.
may need a passport to show that your from the UK not gust BSing the cop with a funny looking drivers licence.
Most credit cards will work in the US but you do need to tell them your going there in advance. same thing happens to me when I go to Canada dam card wont work till I phone them.
For the weather you will see temps in the 90f to 30f from time to time and place to place. Not to bad that time of year. Get a good atlas before you go I like National Geographic.
You dont need a title for riding the bike You can get it sent to you if need be. It can be done in a few mins. If there not pressed for time and its not ran by the government and your standing right in frunt of them. I have had a title in my hands by the time I counted out the money paying fot it. IF you use a P.O. Box you can get your paper work done and then change your address to your home address (or any other address) and have the title at your home befor you get back. Things get difrent when you import the bike to the UK or try to sell the bike. Both your going to want that paper title in your hand.
Frankly, dealers in SF are expensive and will not have much of a selection of used bikes. You'll do much better with a private sale.
Will you be camping? You'll find super campsites all over the U.S., and you'll save $20 USD at least vs. even a cheap Motel 6 (their rates at up to $50+ nowadays, BTW ... the days of less than $40 for a motel 6 are past, except in only the most remote towns).
The American Automobile Association (AAA) offers free (and excellent) maps and camp guide books to members. One-year membership is about $50. They will also handle all your bike registration issues without your having to visit a California Motor Vehicles office. And they sell insurance, a convenient one-stop shop. AAA will have an office in any sizable town.
you'll save $20 USD at least vs. even a cheap Motel 6 (their rates at up to $50+ nowadays, BTW ... the days of less than $40 for a motel 6 are past, except in only the most remote towns).
That's not strictly true Mark - I've travelled west coast to east coast (and am on my way back) and there are plenty of motel 6's under $40... sure not in the big cities like SF, but I was staying in Orlando (3 miles form Disney!) for $26.99 (plus tax a night)... and throughout Arizona, New Mexico and the southern states etc they are all typically $29.99 - $39.99... even in San Antonio $33.99... Houston $36.99...
For anyone planning a trip, I'd suggest getting hold of one of their free directories (from any branch) and check out the prices listed for any particular towns you're passing though - you may be surprised - and their facilities really are top notch for the price...
Good info about AAA - I have friends who are members and use their travel facilities all the time - as you say, their free maps are excellent!
X10 on the Motel 6 thing! It is, for a traveler in the US, one of the best places to know about. They aren't much but generally are clean and everything works.
All motels/hotels in the US are subject to rate fluctuations based upon time of year/time of day/whimsy of the locals, etc. ALWAYS shop the price, stop BEFORE DARK (they run out of rooms), and ask for the best price.
Also a membership to AAA is a good idea. You do get a room disount. BIG CAVEAT...they always try and find out if you are AAA BEFORE quoting the room price so as to up through the discounted rate. By the way...AAA LOVES to find out if a motel tries to pull this crap.
By the way...we are in the prettiest part of N.M. If you come this way, stop by. We own a little guest ranch (means we have room) and would always welcome another bike traveler.
We also have a FABULOUS custom bike shop in our little town that can fabricate almost ANYTHING!
Hi,alot of info here on cheap rooms and such. Another method I have used is to pick up a coupon book at Welcome Centers that most states have at border crossings, on the Interstate Highways.They will be in the Free! take one boxes near the rest rooms. Usually the chain motels will run ads for rooms from $29.95 up to $50 or so .I got a room in Fla. last year for $39 with the coupon. The British! guy at reception quoted me $69 or something like that .I said no,I want the room for $39 like this coupon says.He was flumoxed, but the coupon rules.I got the room.
Anyway,I camp more than motel anyway. I don't really want to close myself up in a box every night.If you travel half way round the world to be somewhere be in the inviroment not indoors.Ignore this in case of crap weather,need of a shower,or just tired of sleeping on the ground. There's nothing much to fear when camping in the U.S. as long as you're not in Grizzly country or too near a city.
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