Road trippin USA

I will be road tripping the west coast of the states from October this year and am hoping to get as much knowledge as possible as I know a few of the guys from FOA have been over before. Summarised plan is fly in to LA, get a car, drive north to Vancouver, drive back to LA. Finish off with a white xmas in NY.

First question of many:

Has anyone hired a car over there and can steer me in the direction of a reputable company. I have found this site to be helpful but I could be wasting my time. I am looking to have the car for 3 months.

Car Hire with discount rates from rentalcars.com

ask user p-dub. he’s just road-tripped thru USA

We hired a car (Ford Focus I think) through Avis. It was just my wife and I, so a little hatch was perfect. We also got international drivers licences, but didn’t need to use them. Might be helpful just in case. We only had the car for a three or so days, driving from Santa Barbara to SF.

We also chose not to drive in LA, but caught the train to Santa Barbara for ~$20 and drove north from there.

Yeah, I was thinking a small car to begin with. But there will be days where we will no doubt be sleeping in it. We are hitting up a few national parks as well so I am thinking a 4WD might be handy. Pity that Subaru Outbacks are considered luxury over there, that would have been perfect.

Was LA full on with traffic? It might be a good idea to do what you did and get a car from outside of the city.

It wasn’t too bad traffic wise, but we heard that from LA to Santa Barbara is a pretty average drive and the train pretty much followed the coast the whole way there. It was about 3 hours (I think) and quite nice. Plus the Avis depot in Santa Barbara was next to a Spearmint Rhino…!

Depending on what car company we go with, it might be better to get it at LAX due to better choice.

I just googled Spearmint Rhino. The wife would love it! - she actually would.

Yeah, we stayed in LA for three days first, so we picked the car up on our way out / north.

I’ve hired two cars in America the past two years, and both times went through Enterprise.. They pick you up from the airport in a shuttle bus and take you to their depot about 2km from the airport, they shuttle you back when you hand the keys back (pretty sure all of them do this).
I found enterprise the best value, had a wide range of cars and were very easy to deal with, even with the few changes I’ve made to bookings once I read reviews on certain cars etc.
One thing to note is that the price quoted on the website usually doubles once you get the full insurance and hire a gps etc.

In terms of driving in AMerica, it is 10000000 times better than Melbourne even if there is traffic. I found other drivers more courteous, didn’t honk their horns if you had to change lanes suddenly because you’re lost and also moved lanes if they saw you coming up faster from behind. I also liked that people drove by the conditions, not just the speed limit, so you don’t have people braking just to stay under an imaginary ‘safe’ number. If you can drive a car, you can drive in LA. It really isn’t that daunting. THe hardest part is that everything is on the wrong side of the car, so if you’ve just spent 15hours travelling, you might find it a bit daunting. I’ve driven numerous lhd cars previous to this, so didn’t find it too bad, except for having to look the ‘wrong’ way at intersections.

If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll answer them.

The “hard right” coming out of car parks, turning at T junctions took a bit of getting used to as well.

Legend, thanks for the info. I am hoping the price won’t double - we were tossing up the idea of buying a car rather than hiring. But the legal stuff that you need to do will probably soak up a couple of days, not to mention trying to sell it when we leave.

I should be fine, I have played Grand Theft Auto plenty of times.

Alot of credit cards provide full insurance, but mine doesn’t so I had to opt in for it. You don’t have to buy it, but I’m all for being safe rather than sorry.
Last year we hired an Impala for 14days and it cost us $1030USD total. I thought that was pretty good value considering we put over 2000miles on it.

How long are you there for?

Insurance will be a must for me as well. I am heading over for 3 months and will be doing a lot of driving so I will need something fairly reliable. I guess fuel isn’t going to be a problem seeing as it is pretty cheap over there.

3months rental is a bit more expensive than just two weeks!
Sounds like a perfect reason to buy an interceptor!

This is a rough outline of the sort of kms… sorry, miles, that we will be covering.

GANGSTAAAAA… The online quotes I am getting is anywhere between 2k and 5k.

If you got the time, the drive along the coast to SF is fucking great.

EDIT: Portland is fantastic as well.

Cars are cheap as shit in the US. You should seriously look at buying one.

i drove around california for three weeks back in december 2010, then spent another 3 weeks in NY for xmas/nye. this was the second time in a row i’ve done this trip. i know you mentioned you were hiring for three months but i thought i’d share my experience?

i would recommend driving out all the way through death valley/vegas and even yosemite up to san fran.

anyways, we (read-my organized girlfriend) booked everything here before leaving, helped to keep costs down big time. i would not recommend you book a car WHEN you get there. they will fuck you over. as JLN mentioned, international licenses are not actually required, but incase you come across a dumb cop you might aswell get one (NRMA).

we booked with Dollar Rent a Car. ended up with a Jeep Cherokee. the ONLY downside was the fuel consumption, but proved the better choice when we encountered the snow in Yosemite and etc. i would recommend you BUY a map here before you go, and if you can bring your own GPS, we had to hire one when we got there, and it did fuck up a few times so lucky we had a huge ass fold out map, laid it out on the bonnet to figure out directions.

on the californian coast, stop over in San Luis Obispo for a day or two and check out pismo beach/morro bay.

in regards to the driving conditions, i found american drivers to be shit. especially on the massive highways. even if i was doing the limit (70mph) they would stick right on my arse, even in the carpool lanes. next time i’ll stick all the way to the right to avoid that.

also when at a red light, apparently as i learnt, you can turn right at any time given theres no oncoming traffic. it’s not signposted at all and after a few instances of people honking and shouting at me, i figured it out by observing others doing that.

you won’t need to drive in SF since the public transport is great. but in LA thats different, cause public transport is crap. and everything is so spread out. we stayed in west hollywood and the only time we caught public transport was a train from hollywood to staples centre for the NBA. traffic can be bad but in my experience it really isn’t as different to peak hour here.

our West coast itinerary was LA-CALICO-VEGAS-DEATH VALLEY-YOSEMITE-FRESNO-SAN FRAN-SAN LUIS OBISPO-SAN DIEGO-LA.

Do not stop in Fresno. do not. i don’t even want to start telling you the horror we encountered there. later found out it’s the cesspit of California, highest unemployment/drugs/violence.

anyways, i’ll stop with the West Coast.

New York, on the other hand, is amazing.

We stayed in the East Village this time around, previously i had stayed in Times Square (Crowne Plaza) which was great for the NYE celebrations, but it was in the middle of all the chaos that is Times Square. Plus my parents were paying for that bit so i was stoked.

You really need a lot of time for NYC. There is a fuck load to see and do.
First of all, the subways are great. Apart from the crazies and homeless, it’s great. I had some crazy parrot sitting across from me licking his shoes.

Buy this to actully avoid all the ques.no lies, i didn’t have to line up in huge ques with that booklet.

We booked our New York accommodation through airbnb.com . Had to search a lot but we saved moneys and had great accommodation.

Yeah New York is rad, i could actually go on forever but i won’t.

anyways i hope my experience helps you.

Yosemite endorsed.

LA PT doesn’t suck.