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Old 10-23-2012, 02:01 AM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,660,022 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluesfella View Post
Hi there. I've been walking around with this idea for quite a while now. I finished college a couple of months ago and I spent 6 months in Florida as an exchange student (I'm from The Netherlands). While I was there I did a bunch of road trips and I fell in love with the country. I've made friends for life and met a couple of really cool girls. All in all I have nothing but positive memories of experiences and adventures from there.

Right now I'm 25 years old and I'm looking for a job. I really like the sense of adventure though, and I can imagine myself getting bored with a regular job pretty quickly. So this is the plan: I want to save as much money as possible and eventually fly to the USA again to do an epic year-long road trip across the entire country. I want to buy a car, get a blog going and write a book about it.

This is my life goal, basically. I want to do something crazy and big like this. I want to leave a mark in history in some way, even if only ten people read it I would be happy. The last thing I want is having regrets about not having taken a shot at my dream. And like I said, I'm pretty much in my prime years now, I don't have a wife and kids or a house I'm locked down with. Right now is the time to do something like this.

Because it's such a big (and admittedly vague) plan, I don't really know where to start my planning process.

How much money would I need for something like this, I wonder. I have no trouble with couch surfing but every now and then sleeping in a motel/hotel is nice. I don't need to drive the latest Mercedes but it's gotta be something safe and reliable. Is there any chance or way to get sponsored?


Ugh, it's 4.43 at night. I often get too excited about this to fall asleep.

Why not plan on working your way around? There are always part time, temporary or short-term jobs you can find to raise enough cash to get on up the road a little farther.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:00 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,548 posts, read 39,934,465 times
Reputation: 23673
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoulesMSU View Post
USA is not like Europe, it's a lot more expensive to travel here than it is there. ....
really? Having lived and traveled extensively on both continents, I consider the USA a far cheaper place for a road trip.

The OP plans to get a car and drive... That is quite a lot cheaper than Europe, tho USA has some pretty expansive regions, the fuel is cheap. (Especially if you have a 'grease-burner' (Which is also common in Europe, but FAR less competitive for getting used veggie oil in USA), Thus I drive a $35 car that gets 50 mpg on free fuel (as I have for 36 yrs).

In Europe I spent a fortune / day in fuel and 2 fortunes in tolls. Trains were not economical as a family. Hotels had 3 person max, requiring 2 rooms for family of 4. Hostels were not cheap as a family.

I have traveled world wide for 25 yrs using Hospitality Guest homes $10 -$20 / night There are many thousands in USA. We have used them over 30 nights this yr, and still 3 trips remaining in 2012. Many camping options FREE Free Campgrounds for RVs NO motels / hotels required.


Groceries are less expensive by far in USA. If you eat via grocery stores and TRUE farmer's market and selective healthy Fast food, you can easily get by on $5/day, tho it is POSSIBLE to spend $30/day. Go to produce department in early AM and you can likely eat for free (for a few days).

With a 'Access America' pass(national parks, monuments, memorials, forests...discounted camping), you can entertain yourself for hundreds / days for $80.

I can travel in USA less expensive than staying home (due to high property taxes at home).

YMMV
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:56 AM
 
Location: South Portland, ME
889 posts, read 1,014,925 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
really? Having lived and traveled extensively on both continents, I consider the USA a far cheaper place for a road trip.

The OP plans to get a car and drive... That is quite a lot cheaper than Europe, tho USA has some pretty expansive regions, the fuel is cheap. (Especially if you have a 'grease-burner' (Which is also common in Europe, but FAR less competitive for getting used veggie oil in USA), Thus I drive a $35 car that gets 50 mpg on free fuel (as I have for 36 yrs).

In Europe I spent a fortune / day in fuel and 2 fortunes in tolls. Trains were not economical as a family. Hotels had 3 person max, requiring 2 rooms for family of 4. Hostels were not cheap as a family.

I have traveled world wide for 25 yrs using Hospitality Guest homes $10 -$20 / night There are many thousands in USA. We have used them over 30 nights this yr, and still 3 trips remaining in 2012. Many camping options FREE Free Campgrounds for RVs NO motels / hotels required.


Groceries are less expensive by far in USA. If you eat via grocery stores and TRUE farmer's market and selective healthy Fast food, you can easily get by on $5/day, tho it is POSSIBLE to spend $30/day. Go to produce department in early AM and you can likely eat for free (for a few days).

With a 'Access America' pass(national parks, monuments, memorials, forests...discounted camping), you can entertain yourself for hundreds / days for $80.

I can travel in USA less expensive than staying home (due to high property taxes at home).

YMMV

A lot of those points aren't valid though.

First, he's traveling solo, not as a family. Obviously a car is going to be cheaper for a family who would have to buy MULTIPLE train tickets, but that's not what is being compared here. He doesn't have to pay for anyone besides himself.

Also it might be more expensive to drive a car around Europe compared to driving around the United States, but in Europe there is also a train system which is much cheaper than driving a car on either continent. A solo train ticket to a handful of different cities is going to be way cheaper than driving, but I was pointing out that option is not available in the United States.

Second, that's nice you rigged up a junker into such an efficient car, but how practical is that for someone to do who is coming in from overseas? Not very practical at all. What's more likely is that he's going to have to spend a couple thousand dollars to buy a car and then spend $50 every time he needs to fill it with gas (aka every 4-6 hours depending on his gas mileage). To cover the entire country doing that, plus any repairs that might be needed along the way, you're looking at quite an expensive cost for what is basically the only travel option here.

That's because, unlike Europe, you pretty much do need a car here. Only in the biggest of big cities do we have anything that even remotely resembles the kind of public transportation that they have in Europe (New York and Chicago for example), and even then, not all big cities even have that. Los Angeles is extremely difficult to get around without a car for example. That's another thing that makes Europe cheaper - you don't need a car at all there. You can get from one place to another without a car AND you can get around inside the city you're visiting without a car as well. If someone were to come to Detroit, Indianapolis, or St. Louis (for more examples) they would find it very difficult to get around without a car. Yet, you can visit Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga (some "similar sized" European cities to compare to) and get around just fine without ever getting in an automobile.

Third, hostels weren't economical for you because you were traveling with a family. Again, not the case here. In Europe, hostels can be pretty cheap when you are traveling solo, a lot are less than $10/day if you don't mind staying in the "dorm" style rooms with other solo travelers. And they are EVERYWHERE in Europe. Just about every decent sized town has one. Aside from maybe the really big cities like New York and Los Angeles, you'd be hard pressed to find anything like that here. In fact, I don't think there is a single hostel in the entire state of Michigan, and I bet that's true for a lot of other states as well. I've failed to find any on road trips - I went to Iowa City for a Michigan State game recently and the cheapest place I could find was $80/night. No hostels at all, no "guest houses", just hotels and expensive B&B's. Unfortunately, a lot of the country is like that.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:59 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,548 posts, read 39,934,465 times
Reputation: 23673
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoulesMSU View Post
A lot of those points aren't valid though.

Please read OP...
Quote:
this is the plan: I want to save as much money as possible and eventually fly to the USA again to do an epic year-long road trip across the entire country. I want to buy a car,
....
I figure the OP is planning to do as says...I want to buy a car

Very simple and explained in other posts.. (I had recommended a camper van, diesel preferred so you can run grease / jet A / Kerosene / used engine oil, surplus heating oil, home brew BD ...)

You can get a great car for $1000 - $2000, As mentioned I buy <$100 very successfully. Local towing auction sells 300 - 600 cars / week ($35 minimum bid). I just sold a dandy Mercedes 240D with veggie tank for $400.

Too bad you couldn't find a guest home in Iowa City. My directories list over 40 places within 40 miles. Last fall I stayed a few weeks in SE IA, and IL and IN. All $10. stays were GREAT and most were superb (Got private tour of all of South Bend from retired ND 'irish' prof). Most folks won't take the $10, but I usually leave $20 and tell them to pass it on to someone who needs it.

I think the OP is all fixed up and will have a GREAT time, and VERY cheaply too

European travelers are FAR more adept at creative travel than the typical USA person.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:29 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
48 posts, read 53,529 times
Reputation: 52
Very intersting to read all this. Thanks everyone for thinking with me.

Quote:
Why not plan on working your way around? There are always part time, temporary or short-term jobs you can find to raise enough cash to get on up the road a little farther.
I am not allowed to work and make money in the USA on the Vista waiver program. I'd need a work visa for that, and you can only really get one through your employer (and even then it's pretty hard).

Quote:
USA is not like Europe, it's a lot more expensive to travel here than it is there. We have literally no train system, so you either have to fly (expensive), drive (somewhat expensive), or take a bus (cheap, but takes a loooong time). Might want to keep that in mind if you are planning to see a lot of the country.
It'll be driving for me if the plan goes through. It's such an experience to just eat the asphalt with your car.

Quote:
really? Having lived and traveled extensively on both continents, I consider the USA a far cheaper place for a road trip.

The OP plans to get a car and drive... That is quite a lot cheaper than Europe, tho USA has some pretty expansive regions, the fuel is cheap. (Especially if you have a 'grease-burner' (Which is also common in Europe, but FAR less competitive for getting used veggie oil in USA), Thus I drive a $35 car that gets 50 mpg on free fuel (as I have for 36 yrs).
I'm not a mechanic, so the first thing I'll be looking for is a car that's really reliable. I don't want to sound prejudiced, but a 35 Dollar car does not sound reliable or safe to me. Especially since I'll be driving the hell out of it for a long time.

Quote:
In Europe I spent a fortune / day in fuel and 2 fortunes in tolls. Trains were not economical as a family. Hotels had 3 person max, requiring 2 rooms for family of 4. Hostels were not cheap as a family.

I have traveled world wide for 25 yrs using Hospitality Guest homes $10 -$20 / night There are many thousands in USA. We have used them over 30 nights this yr, and still 3 trips remaining in 2012. Many camping options FREE Free Campgrounds for RVs NO motels / hotels required.


Good to know. Thanks for the free campgrounds link.

Quote:
Groceries are less expensive by far in USA.
Quote:
If you eat via grocery stores and TRUE farmer's market and selective healthy Fast food, you can easily get by on $5/day, tho it is POSSIBLE to spend $30/day. Go to produce department in early AM and you can likely eat for free (for a few days).
I witnessed this as well. Even Wal-mart is cheap compared to what I'm used to.

Quote:
With a 'Access America' pass(national parks, monuments, memorials, forests...discounted camping), you can entertain yourself for hundreds / days for $80.
Thanks for this tip. Noted.


Quote:
A lot of those points aren't valid though.

First, he's traveling solo, not as a family. Obviously a car is going to be cheaper for a family who would have to buy MULTIPLE train tickets, but that's not what is being compared here. He doesn't have to pay for anyone besides himself.

Also it might be more expensive to drive a car around Europe compared to driving around the United States, but in Europe there is also a train system which is much cheaper than driving a car on either continent. A solo train ticket to a handful of different cities is going to be way cheaper than driving, but I was pointing out that option is not available in the United States.
Yeah, and like I said, if I'm gonna travel the USA again, it'll have to be by car. Nothing gives the sensation of freedom like that.

Quote:
Second, that's nice you rigged up a junker into such an efficient car, but how practical is that for someone to do who is coming in from overseas? Not very practical at all. What's more likely is that he's going to have to spend a couple thousand dollars to buy a car and then spend $50 every time he needs to fill it with gas (aka every 4-6 hours depending on his gas mileage). To cover the entire country doing that, plus any repairs that might be needed along the way, you're looking at quite an expensive cost for what is basically the only travel option here.
I'd recon I'll spend around 1500-2000 bucks on gasoline total if I'm doing the cross-country thing, which is acceptable to me.

Quote:
That's because, unlike Europe, you pretty much do need a car here. Only in the biggest of big cities do we have anything that even remotely resembles the kind of public transportation that they have in Europe (New York and Chicago for example), and even then, not all big cities even have that. Los Angeles is extremely difficult to get around without a car for example. That's another thing that makes Europe cheaper - you don't need a car at all there. You can get from one place to another without a car AND you can get around inside the city you're visiting without a car as well. If someone were to come to Detroit, Indianapolis, or St. Louis (for more examples) they would find it very difficult to get around without a car. Yet, you can visit Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga (some "similar sized" European cities to compare to) and get around just fine without ever getting in an automobile.
A lot of big cities over here are horrible for driving your car. You can't park anywhere (or at very expensive parking garages) and a lot of places are free of traffic. If you want to park your car in the city center of Amsterdam, it costs you 65 bucks for the entire day.

Quote:
Third, hostels weren't economical for you because you were traveling with a family. Again, not the case here. In Europe, hostels can be pretty cheap when you are traveling solo, a lot are less than $10/day if you don't mind staying in the "dorm" style rooms with other solo travelers. And they are EVERYWHERE in Europe. Just about every decent sized town has one. Aside from maybe the really big cities like New York and Los Angeles, you'd be hard pressed to find anything like that here. In fact, I don't think there is a single hostel in the entire state of Michigan, and I bet that's true for a lot of other states as well. I've failed to find any on road trips - I went to Iowa City for a Michigan State game recently and the cheapest place I could find was $80/night. No hostels at all, no "guest houses", just hotels and expensive B&B's. Unfortunately, a lot of the country is like that.
Yeah, I found that out, too. Most motels I've encoutered were somewhere around 45-80 bucks a night. It adds up pretty quickly.

Hostels with dorm-rooms are fine for a couple of nights, but I wouldn't want to do that all the time constantly. It's nice to have a private room every once in a while.



Right now I'm still looking for a job. The market just really blows right now over here. I'm struggling to find something, even though I'm a young guy with what I consider a respectable resume. It just sucks the life out of me, two months of this doing nothing. I got an offer recently I followed up on. They'll tell me next week. If this thing goes through, I could rack up around 10.000-15.000 a year in savings if I live cheaply (cost of living is expensive over here). If I do that for a couple of years, it should get me where I need to be financially to get this show on the road.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,241,442 times
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You can buy a reliable van that you can sleep in for about $3-4,000. It is easy to find "stealth-camping" places in the USA, where you can sleep for free. If you are middle-aged and not carrying drugs, firearms or alcohol, nobody will make much of a fuss if you discovered camped out. Gasoline is very cheap, now less than $1.00 per liter almost everywhere.

It's easy to eat fairly well in the USA on $10 a day, and it is very cheap to buy a camp stove and cooking gear. Potatoes, onions and carrots cost about one euro per two kilos at any supermarket. Just for some round numbers, say 6 months in a $5.000 van including insurance, with 100 miles a day of driving, and $10 a day for food and a motel once a week for cleaning up good, figure about $12,000 for the basics. That would come to around $2,000 a month.

Last edited by jtur88; 11-03-2012 at 02:34 PM..
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:12 PM
 
544 posts, read 886,707 times
Reputation: 493
I hear the "buy a car and roadtrip" story a lot, and it's hugely impractical to buy a car in the US as a non-resident.

Do you have a US driver's license? If not, good luck registering it. If it's not properly registered and you get pulled over, they'll impound your car until you get it registered correctly.

Do you have insurance that's valid in the US? If not, and you cause an accident, you're going to severely screw over the other person, and the police will fine you.

What are you going to do with the car when you're done? Just leave it by the side of the road? Wait around for an indeterminate amount of time before someone buys it off you?

Please think this through before you try to buy a car in the US.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:28 PM
 
302 posts, read 724,380 times
Reputation: 323
If you do buy a camper you can sleep in most Walmart parking lots for free. Might not be safe everywhere but it is cheap.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:19 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
48 posts, read 53,529 times
Reputation: 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
You can buy a reliable van that you can sleep in for about $3-4,000. It is easy to find "stealth-camping" places in the USA, where you can sleep for free. If you are middle-aged and not carrying drugs, firearms or alcohol, nobody will make much of a fuss if you discovered camped out. Gasoline is very cheap, now less than $1.00 per liter almost everywhere.

It's easy to eat fairly well in the USA on $10 a day, and it is very cheap to buy a camp stove and cooking gear. Potatoes, onions and carrots cost about one euro per two kilos at any supermarket. Just for some round numbers, say 6 months in a $5.000 van including insurance, with 100 miles a day of driving, and $10 a day for food and a motel once a week for cleaning up good, figure about $12,000 for the basics. That would come to around $2,000 a month.
Yeah, that sounds reasonable. I also figured around something like that. That will give me around 40 bucks a day to spend average. So that'll mean $19.000 for the full year. I also need to get an expensive plane ticket, get insurance and I want to do cool stuff, so my aim is at $25.000-$30.000. That's a lot of money, but I don't see it as something too crazy, since it's a life-defining dream for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reiflame View Post
I hear the "buy a car and roadtrip" story a lot, and it's hugely impractical to buy a car in the US as a non-resident.

Do you have a US driver's license? If not, good luck registering it. If it's not properly registered and you get pulled over, they'll impound your car until you get it registered correctly.

Do you have insurance that's valid in the US? If not, and you cause an accident, you're going to severely screw over the other person, and the police will fine you.

What are you going to do with the car when you're done? Just leave it by the side of the road? Wait around for an indeterminate amount of time before someone buys it off you?

Please think this through before you try to buy a car in the US.
Thanks for thinking with me

I was an exchange student a couple of years ago in Florida and I didn't had that much trouble getting a US license. I just went to the local DMV and got it right there and then. I got car insurance through GEICO and they were very friendly and willing to help me. I bought a 2nd hand truck and drove around with it for 6 months.

I've made really good friends that I trust over there. Most of them live in Florida, but a couple of others live in Texas and California. I would trust them to sell the car for me afterwards, or just to keep it for me in case I return again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aville239 View Post
If you do buy a camper you can sleep in most Walmart parking lots for free. Might not be safe everywhere but it is cheap.
That's a good tip. I can see doing that. Although I agree some Walmarts are pretty shady.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:39 AM
 
Location: SoCal
6,064 posts, read 9,526,027 times
Reputation: 5789
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluesfella View Post
... I was an exchange student a couple of years ago in Florida and I didn't had that much trouble getting a US license. I just went to the local DMV and got it right there and then. I got car insurance through GEICO and they were very friendly and willing to help me. I bought a 2nd hand truck and drove around with it for 6 months. ... .
But then you would have been here on a student visa. If you come back to travel, you will be on a different type of visa and the requirements may be very different.
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