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Old 13 Jul 2010
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Rough budget for Road Trippin North America?

A mate and myself (both from Scotland) have been thinking about doing a trip from possibly Alaska, through Canada, down California and zig zag across North America to end in either NY or Florida. Trip would be for no more than 3 months as i have rent etc to be paying while im away

Will most likely be sharing a car, tho there is a possibility of doing on bikes but my mate hasnt done his test so car is the most obvious solution. Ive not been to the USA since i was too young to appreciate money so havent really got much a clue how much everything costs. Except fuel which is obviously silly cheap so a major saving there.

We wouldnt be using hotels all that much, cheaper accommodation would be used to save the pennies.

So what do u guys rekon is a reasonable budget for this adventure? excluding the cost of flights to and from america and the cost of the car itself.

Actually how much do half decent cars go for in America? It would be good to get a big V8 or something since running one here in the uk costs faaar too much. Anything suited to around 10 thousand miles of travelling tho would be ok.

Cheers guys,

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Old 14 Jul 2010
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Well not all things are the same UK vs USA. The price of gas and food and every thing is cheaper but the miles you are looking to is massive. Get a world map and look. You may well put on 15,000 to 20,000 or more. lots to see but you got drive to them all.

But you can look to spend $50 to $150 US a day each. Less if you camp. less still if you make your food. A bigger car burns more gas. As for how much I think a good used V8 getting 10 to 15mpg will run $20,000 to $30,000 bit less if you have more miles on it lots more if it new. New Cars, Used Cars - Find Cars at AutoTrader.com will give you an idea. A older car may run $10,000 and will be worth the time to find. You will need insurance to drive it even off a car lot.

A bike trip will run far less used bikes going for $5,000 and getting 50mpg

To off set the price of a car a bit I will give you a little hint. Around the USA there are rest stops that let you stay for 8hr. and you sleep in your car but you can NOT put up a tent you can cook you food there to. A small mini van may be the best car for the job no off road and not the coolest looking thing but will get the job done. Or you can get one of the big V8 sport utility things and run a muk or a truck with a gun rack in the back and have a go at being a red neck! (no guns in Canada or Mexico)
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Old 15 Jul 2010
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I agree, a small mini van could be good. No big V-8's. Get an old beater mini van ... Chrysler, Chevy. Honda and Toyota are best but more money. Plenty around for under $5000. If it breaks, have it fixed. Not a big deal.

Cities are tough in a car or bike. I would avoid most ... but a few are worth the agro. (NYC, Wash DC, San Fran ... maybe a couple more) Buy a National Parks pass. Saves money. Time of year is critical regards weather and your comfort. Brits die in heat ... and we've got more than you can handle. Most get on a plane home. You guys really have no concept of real heat in the UK. Late Spring or late Fall best. Winter OUT, Mid Summer, OUT.

You can live in your mini van. But occasional motel is good for getting cleaned up. Learn where you can camp free, where you can't. Cops are major Assholes in the US. Just a warning ... basically a Police State ... and that's no joke mate. Make yourself understood or risk being shot. Car Campers are considered to be Hobo's and generally jailed or run out of town. So blend in.

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Old 16 Jul 2010
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Go cheap and go farther

Buy a japanese import with a dented fender or two. I just bought a honda four door for $500.00 drove it with no repairs for 7000 miles and sold it for $950.00. It was ugly on the outside but just fine on the inside. Don't buy a 100K mile or more american vehical and then have to fix it.....like a $2500.00 transmission. Look on craigslist and other shopper newspapers to find something that granny drove and ran into stuff occasionaly. We took a cheap car and drove from the canadian border down to the tip of mexico and then home and didn't do anything except have one flat fixed. Find a popular car and things like tires, alternators and starters are very available and cheap in the US at the corner auto parts store. I like cars with front seats that recline fully for sleeping and a nice big trunk so you can put stuff out of sight of the crooks. One tip if you are out west is to pull into the visitors center that most towns have and take a nap for the night. If the cops ask just explain you are tourists and want to find out about their wonderfull town and area.
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Old 16 Jul 2010
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Don't fret too much about American police. There are some jerks, and a few who are actually dangerous, but most are just like men in uniform throughout the world....except significantly less corrupt than most places. And contrary to the post above, I car camp all over the States, and I've never yet been run out of town. Every so often a cop wakes me up and asks what I'm doing, but usually they're satisfied with the explanation and let me go back to sleep. You'll get the hang of where this is possible, aside from the obvious Walmart parking lots; there are areas where you'll see others doing the same.


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Old 16 Jul 2010
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Go to yahoogroups vandwellers they travel and live in vans and cars , trucks . Loys of good info there .
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Old 17 Jul 2010
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Consider something like an s10 small truck or one of the other small trucks. You could sleep in the back in camper. a Hyundai accent , firefly,geo metro a good small cars. Firefly get 50 mpg. Any old Dodge K car will work. 13 k per L. Any wallmart is free to sleep at overnight. Same with truck stops. Also couch surfers website. Consider buying a bike . it's under 2 grand for an old goldwing . They well carry two people in comfort. At the end of the trip it's still worth the same amount.
You going to have trouble with insurance because most companies don't insure people without a usa address and drivers lic.
It going to cost about 1000 to 1500 buck a month per person depending on what you do.
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Old 22 Jul 2010
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You can get an older Crown Victoria for a few thousand dollars in reasonable condition, have a big V8 and living-room-couch comfort, and 20 miles a gallon. You can sleep in it in a pinch, and carry boatloads of gear with you.

Ford Crown Victoria - Get a great deal on a new or used car or truck on eBay Motors!

I'd suggest bugeting, on average, 3 dollars a gallon for fuel. Hotels can usually be had anywhere from 50 dollars a night on up. Commercial campsites, say 25 a night for a tent spot. State parks are the way to go- much cheaper and really pretty places.

Maps are free- cross into a state on an interstate highway and the first rest stop will give you one. They're called "welcome centers".

Look for brown signs by the road- they point out state parks, attractions, scenic places, that sort of thing.

Stay off the interstates unless you want to score a free map.

If you're camping you can shower at truck stops if need be.
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Old 25 Jul 2010
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Two weeks ago I came back from 10 months riding in the States, and can tell you that when we camped we just about managed to keep to $40 between two of us each day. We would eat and drink mundane stuff most of the time and then get and decent food once or twice a week. We ate out maybe once a fortnight.

The cheapest we ever found a motel for was $28 for a night, which is actually ludicrously cheap. The cheapest motels hover around $35-40, and most are more like $60.00. As you cross each state border be sure to pop into a petrol station or visitor centre where you can get a book of vouchers for motels. They are always in print.

Camping isnt dirt cheap. The cheapest was $5 but on average its $12-$18 a site at State Parks. If you are staying in the West get BLM maps (Bureau of Land Management) where you can wild camp for free, and of course without any ammenities.

I know pretty much everyone will say America is cheaper than England for most things, but I cant really say we noticed, apart from petrol of course!

The faster you travel the more expensive it will be, or at least this is what I found. In order to stay within our $40 daily budget we would end up having to ride one day, and rest the next, because to fill up tanks every single day was financially burdensome. And who wants to ride every day anyway.

I have oodles of information and tips on travelling in the US. Let me know if you need anything else. Good luck with the planning.

Don't be scared your life may end,
Be scared that it may never begin.......
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Old 26 Jul 2010
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Indeed GO CHEAP andgo farther.Gas here is cheap compared to Europe but it all still adds up.
I would suggest you get a standard transmission vehicle. America seems infatuated with automatics but they are a lot of trouble , keep all the tranny shops in business. . Small van or station car give s you the option of using it for sleeping in if weather is too mucky for camping. If you buy it cheap then no great loss is likely at end of trip if you have to make a rush sale. Outside of buying the car and insurance figure on spending around $60-$80 per day.
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