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Old 10-03-2012, 08:41 PM
 
Location: The Netherlands
48 posts, read 53,859 times
Reputation: 52

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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.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:26 PM
 
2,978 posts, read 2,776,355 times
Reputation: 6584
Well when I was that age I had sort of the same ambition. I plotted out a circuitous route to enable me to visit all lower 48 states in USA. I didn't want to take off that much time nor care to squander the money so I subsequently have in sections traveled about 60% of the routes I wanted to see. For example: lower Mississippi, California coast, lewis and clark trail, New England, Southwest, Rocky Mountains (National Parks) etc...

First thing would be to determine the mode of transportation. A small economical touring van / camper may give you the best overall bang for your buck on an extended travel tour as you'd have sleeping quarters and storage capacity for non perishable foods to lessen the costs. You can use inexpensive camping type sites.

A suggestion would be the old original US routes before the interstate highways were fully built up throughout the US. These routes still connect many large metros with sites to see (this really depends on where your interests lie for sight seeing) and go through many formerly prominent unique smaller towns that would give you flavor of the USA and enable you to sort of 'time travel' as many of these smaller towns will give you glimpses into a different era based upon when they hit their development peak and economic importance (old canal towns, once prominent industry and commercial centers before other modes of transportation and trade expansion rendered them obsolete etc..).

Definitely get a AAA membership before you go off on your great adventure. Well worth it in free maps / routing service / emergency vehicle service.

U. S Highways: From US 1 to (US 830)

As for costs driving solo food will be very inexpensive unless you have special dietary needs, lodging is where most is incurred. My trips I would plot route beforehand and make inexpensive hotel (Motel 6, etc) reservations at key points along way. I would estimate, if you intend to cover all of USA for say a 6 month period it would cost somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000 inclusive with 1/2 time spent at campsites. Perhaps others who've done a trip recently could give you a better sense of costs. Although with gasoline prices as high as they are depending on the vehicle economy you choose, you will likely exceed that amount, especially if you want to meander across the geography.

Best of luck,
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:02 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,829 posts, read 40,276,859 times
Reputation: 24105
getting sponsored would require some plans... and defined objectives for sponsor. Not impossible

LOTS of people do this, so you might want to be a bit more clear what YOU want to experience. (people, food, jobs, sights, cultures'.

A fun photo/interview documentary you can watch is a "day in the USA" Very good cross country tour.

Get a small diesel camper van ($3000 - $5000 used) (can use FREE fryer grease (from Chinese and Mexican Resturants for fuel )) Or can use jet fuel or kerosene...used motor oil... bio-diesel. I stay in private guest homes (cheaper than camping) so I use a $35 VW Rabbit (Golf 1 in Europe) instead of a camper van. Sometimes i just pull off the road and sleep under a tree. I used to do lots of motorcycle touring that way.
.
used bicycle $50 at a garage sale.
Camping gear VERY cheap at garage sale also (people in US LIKE to sell JUNK all summer from their home)

I like to see the back roads and meet the small town folks. I use the following in trip planning:
America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online
Free Campgrounds for RVs
Roadfood.com - Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Touring small town USA (& Canada) - Lonely Planet travel forum
Where We Eat: The Splendid Table

Be sure to buy an annual pass to national parks. $80 (reduces fees at camping and many other federal sites, and some state sites) (U.S. National Park ServiceAmerica the Beautiful. Many libraries and museums are free, especuially in small towns. ALMOST all of Washington DC is free. and VERY nice place on rainy days.

I spend about $3 / day on food.

Have fun...It's EZ and cheap to travel in USA. you can also consider FLYING to a few favorite destinations (I'm in an airport doing so now) $100 will get you a one way ticket for ~ 1000 miles... Cheaper than driving. I get priceline cars for $5 - > $ 15/ day Unlimited mileage (I often drive them 3000 miles / week at more remote destinations (such as the WESTERN USA or Canada). such as Salt Lake City is a CHEAP hub for Delta and SWA, and there are more than 10 National parks within a day drive!!! (even some of the BEST Parks...)
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:49 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,970,638 times
Reputation: 2983
One thing you definitely need to research:

How long is your visa waiver valid? You may only be allowed to visit the US for 6 months at a stretch, and cumulative 6 months in any 12-month period. You can overstay a visa by a few months with "no penalty" but I don't recommend it. You want to be sure to avoid overstays that will hit you with a 3-year or 10-year ban on reentry. Maybe it's no problem for a Dutchman to get a long-term visa (allowing you to stay in-country a year or more), but you should look into this first before you start making plans.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:54 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,829 posts, read 40,276,859 times
Reputation: 24105
Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
One thing you definitely need to research:

How long is your visa waiver valid? ....
Good to KNOW requirements and stay abreast of!

SO ... Know when to take a walk across the border (Canada or Mexico).
I have to do this frequently when working visiting countries that limit 'tourist' stay.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,970,638 times
Reputation: 2983
Unfortunately, in the US, I think a lot of visas/waivers require you to spend only X number of months in the us in a 12 month period. So if your stay is limited to 6 out of 12 months, you can't just cross into Canada and back to "reset" the clock like you can in China, Indonesia, or Taiwan. You wouldn't be allowed back in until 6 months later. There should be long-term tourist visas which will let you stay longer, but they may be a hassel to get, so start working on that now.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Matthews, NC
14,693 posts, read 23,215,052 times
Reputation: 14335
To throw another fly into the ointment, if you are travelling and writing a book at the same time would that not be considered working? If so, you would need a different visa or make sure to not tell anyone you are writing a book.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:56 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,829 posts, read 40,276,859 times
Reputation: 24105
Quote:
Originally Posted by bs13690;26390261[B
]...if you are travelling and writing a book at the same time would that not be considered working?[/b] If so, you would need a different visa or make sure to not tell anyone you are writing a book.
Working is EARNING, so certainly the 'sponsorship' idea for revenue would require different credentials. But I don't think 'journaling' w/o a profit / income during trip would constitute a requirement for Working visa / green card...

Don't couchsurf with USA immigration or IRS agents.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:36 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
48 posts, read 53,859 times
Reputation: 52
Thanks for the replies and links, you guys are great.

The Netherlands is on the Visa Waiver list (which means it's considered a 'safe' country by the USA), so I can stay 6 months without getting a visa.

Quote:
Don't couchsurf with USA immigration or IRS agents.
lol!
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Old 10-20-2012, 04:11 PM
 
Location: South Portland, ME
894 posts, read 1,020,892 times
Reputation: 890
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.
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