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US West Coast roadtrip
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Eurofag here. I was planning with a companion on taking a 3-4 week trip to USA. Mainly a road trip from Washington Seattle to San Diego California.

I've never been to the US before and I'm having doubts if I can afford it, I've saved up about 3k. I know flying can be expensive. I'm guessing if I find cheaper flights to New York it's cheap to fly within the USA?

My questions are:

How easy is it to rent a car?

How much money (on average) does it cost to sleep in a motel per night or it is better to get a tent and stick to camping sites?

Is 3 weeks enough to take in all the glory of the west coast?

What would be the most recommended places to visit?

Anything else I need to be aware of before making the plunge?
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>I'm guessing if I find cheaper flights to New York it's cheap to fly within the USA?
not really. we don't really have cheap hop around flights like europe.

>How easy is it to rent a car?
you have to be 25, have an international driver's licence and a credit card

>How much money (on average) does it cost to sleep in a motel per night or it is better to get a tent and stick to camping sites?
depending on the season and location at least $70-120 for a non-murder hotel. LOTS of camping options on that route if you're okay with that, but popular stuff fills up early. like way early-up to 6 months for really popular places. don't expect to get a site in yosemite 2 weeks ahead. but if you look around at state parks and stuff you can often squeeze something in.

>Is 3 weeks enough to take in all the glory of the west coast?
yes. or at least enough for a good highlights tour of the glory.

>What would be the most recommended places to visit?
what do you like? cities? wilderness?
if cities, seattle, portland and sf are all going to have the most character. san diego if you just want to channel your inner jersey shore. wilderness the national parks will be the most crowded, but almost always worth sharing with other people.

>Anything else I need to be aware of before making the plunge?
probably, but not that i can come up with off the top of my head.
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>>1064843
>I've never been to the US before and I'm having doubts if I can afford it, I've saved up about 3k. I know flying can be expensive. I'm guessing if I find cheaper flights to New York it's cheap to fly within the USA?

>How easy is it to rent a car?

>How much money (on average) does it cost to sleep in a motel per night or it is better to get a tent and stick to camping sites?
Anon above me hit the nail on the head. If you're in a coastal city, it'll cost on the upper end of the $70-120.

>Is 3 weeks enough to take in all the glory of the west coast?
You'll see a great deal of it, but there's always ways to spend more time on the glorious US Best Coast. You have the Cascade range in the north end of your trip and the Sierra Nevada on the south end of your trip. Don't count the California border as the end of what you can see.

>What would be the most recommended places to visit?
I know your picture doesn't include Utah, but if you can swing a visit to canyon country do it.

>Anything else I need to be aware of before making the plunge?
You say Seattle to San Diego, but you don't specifically mention desert or rural areas. There is a lot of them on that route and they're all worth checking out.

Pic related - Joshua Tree National Park east of L.A.
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>>1064843
>How much money (on average) does it cost to sleep in a motel per night or it is better to get a tent and stick to camping sites?
It's expensive these days. But if you look around long enough you can still find deals. You can find places for around $45 that are decent enough, not great but also no blood stains on the floors either.

Camping sites might be a better option but you'd need to bring your tent.

>Is 3 weeks enough to take in all the glory of the west coast?
It would be enough to see the main sights.

>What would be the most recommended places to visit?
There's lots of places, what exactly are you into?

>Anything else I need to be aware of before making the plunge?
Yes. Don't go Seattle to San Diego. When renting a car, unless you return it to the same location you picked it up from, you'll be paying one-way fees. Basically these are fees companies charge to drive the car back to where it's from. I just looked up car rentals for 3 weeks Seattle to San Diego and you'll be paying around 1000 pounds for those 3 weeks, if you just rent a car in San Diego and return it there you'll only be paying around 350 pounds.

Instead of going along the whole coast I would instead fly to San Diego, rent a car there, go to Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, and down the coast to LA and San Diego area. California is huge, remember this because a lot of European don't realize how big the distances are. If you go down the coast it's 900km from San Fran to San Diego. You don't want to spend 2 out of the 3 weeks in your car.
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A car is easy to rent if you're of age.

Expect $50 at least for a motel. There's a lot of Indian Casinos in the west. You can often get permission to sleep in your car in their parking lots if you ask.

Highway 101 is good. If you like mountains the bit around the Olympic peninsula is great.

What time of year are you thinking? Unless it's the summer, everything north of San Francisco can be rainy.

Unless you're really into exploring the cities, I'd consider doing a round trip of Seattle-San Diego, and going down the coast one way, and then back up the Sierra Nevadas and Cascades. Car rentals can charge a lot more if you don't return to the same lot. Like twice as much. And the advertised price comes with a real shit insurance which could really fuck you up. Getting decent insurance almost costs twice as much.
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>>1064923
>you have to be 25, have an international driver's licence and a credit card
You don't have to be 25, it just costs more when you're under 25. Source: I'm a European who rented a car in California when I was 24 two years ago.

Also keep in mind that the credit card can't be a prepaid one. My buddy had some issues with that.

OP, from experience I advize you to take a trip along the coast. Definitely do Yosemite park, and while you're in that area visit a few towns, it's more like the stereotypical USA we as Europeans think of. LA is a very interesting place. San Francisco is nice to visit but don't plan too much time there.
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OP here

Thank you all for the replies really appreciate it. I'm 27 and have a credit card. So does my companion.

> If you're in a coastal city, it'll cost on the upper end of the $70-120.

50-120 for a motel isn't too bad if I'm splitting the bill. Camping sites sound like a good deal as well as long as we stay away from the popular areas.

>What do you like?

I love the nature more but don't mind exploring the cities. My friend is more inclined towards city areas however.

>you'll be paying one-way fees

Holy shit I was not aware of this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Might put a slight dent in our plants. Is it smarter to perhaps choose either Seattle or San Diego as a starting locating and just rent a car for the areas around? Like the anon described a pretty good trip if we were to pick San Diego.

>Extra information.
Will be most likely going from May-June or July-August. I don't think we want to go at summers peak between June-July.
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>>1065014
>Is it smarter to perhaps choose either Seattle or San Diego as a starting locating and just rent a car for the areas around?

I would agree with the anon that said San Diego. There's a LOT you can do without going north of San Francisco, which is still quite a drive from San Diego.
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>>1065010
>>1065195
>>1064999

Thanks again guys. I've been looking in to flights and they're all around 70-200 for a one way trip (SEA->SAN). I think renting a car around Seattle then flying to San Diego would be a better option. Perhaps even the other way around.

Thanks for all the recommendations, again! I hope the plan to take an airplane isn't too stupid, if it is let me know.
>>
>>1065010
In my personal experience, this varies a ton by state. I've had places that wouldn't rent me a car at age 25 period. I've also had places that only required I have a drivers license. The most frequent requirement is a credit card, and by that they mean an actual credit card. A debit card won't cut it.
>>
First of all I would say that 3k is enough but you should add the flight and the rental car to that. I'm from Switzerland and I have taken two separate roadtrips in 2015. One that lasted for 19 days (including LA & Vegas) and I've spent a little less than 2.5k during my trip. I've been eating three times per day in restaurant/dinner, did a helicopter tour etc so you could probably save some money there. Anyway feel free to ask.

As for your questions:

>How easy is it to rent a car?

It is very easy. You need to be 25 in order not to pay a tax which can range between 15-25$ a day. If you are not 25 I would recommend you to book as if and discuss it with the rental guy. We did this with a friend an he gave me a US military discount (which I'm obviously not). Otherwise you should check some online comparator (such as rentalcar) and get a deal such as full tank, gps or free additional driver. Don't hesitate to call them. On our first roadtrip we both were 24 and ended up not paying the additional driver (saved around 250$)

How much money (on average) does it cost to sleep in a motel per night or it is better to get a tent and stick to camping sites?

You can definitely sleep for cheap. In the most touristic place we paid something like 70$ per person but also found place where we could stay for 25$ per person. Don't forget that in the US you are paying for a room equal how many people sleep there. Anyway you can find cheap place that are not dirty quite easily.
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>>1065537
>>1064843

continued

>Is 3 weeks enough to take in all the glory of the west coast?

I'm not so sure about this one as you could probably spend 3 months in California and still haven't seen it all. Anyway, we were able to drive around 4300km quite easily and without forcing in 19 days (plus stops in phoenix, LA, Vegas etc). It is quite amazing how much you can drive in such a short time span, so I would say yes, granted you plan a bit before leaving so that you don't drive too much

What would be the most recommended places to visit?
North cascade NP, Olympic NP, Crater Lake NP, Yosemite NP, Kings Canyon NP, Sequoia NP, Death Valley NP, Joshua Tree NP and everything that is in between. As an European you'll be amazed whatsoever, if not by the landscapes at least by the distance between things. However, be careful about the weather as some roads and parks are closed in winter


>Anything else I need to be aware of before making the plunge?

You can buy a pass for 80$ granting access to all NP in the US. If you plan to visit more than 1 it is quickly reimbursed (as some park can cost up to 20$)
Gas is dirt cheap in comparison to Europe. In Nevada we paid smth like 2.05$ for a gallon, filling the tank for 17$.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions or whatsoever
>>
Hey OP, send me a quick email to my junkbox [email protected] I can send you a post from my roadtrip with pictures that might give you some insight. Traveled the west coast and 4 states for 4 weeks and I can answer any questions you might have.
>>
>>1064923
Well put anon.

In addition, you should plan to head inland for at least a portion of the trip, particularly LV is not that far and worth a visit to share in everything that is American Decadence and Excess. Plan on midweek and you can get those $20/night deals. Also, you will get to do Yosemite and Death Valley. Try to hit Joshua Tree as well.
>>
>>1064843
West Coast is a shit travel idea for your first time to the US unless you really enjoy the hell out of the outdoors.Also all the major cities in these states will give you a very inaccurate portrayal of Americans.
Choose in east coast especially the original colony states as they have far more to see and do.
Also they have far better public transit like you are sued to such as tubes and trains and whatnot.
>>
>>1065656
>least coast faggot
>"w-we're more relevant, guiz"

fuck off
>>
OP HERE AGAIN

>>1065540
>>1065537

>Add the flight and rental car to that

Are you saying I should keep the 3k for the country itself but car rental and flights calculated separately?

Also nobody has commented if I should fly over the states instead of paying the one way fee for a car. Just wondering if it's stupid or in the end it will equal the care rental price anyways?
>>
>>1065743
>Also nobody has commented if I should fly over the states instead of paying the one way fee for a car. Just wondering if it's stupid or in the end it will equal the care rental price anyways?

There's a few choices with the one way fee.
>don't pay it and return yourself
You'll spend more in gas, and this will take more time. But gas is really cheap, and you can drive fast on the highway. If you both can drive, you could easily go 1400 km a day on the interstate. You should consider driving back and forth. . There's a huge difference between taking 101 on the coast, and going inland on other highways.
>pay it
Just drive up or down. It's going to be around $500. You should probably end up paying as much for the hidden fees of a decent insurance plan.
>fly between cities
You'll miss all of the inbetween nature parts. LA sucks as a tourist, with or without a car. Things are just so spread out. Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco and San Diego are a bit more concentrated. But they're still big, and really hard to get around on public transportation or expensively by cabs.
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>>1065743

I'm >>1065537 & >>1065540

Yes that is what I'm saying. If you stay for 30 days (4 weeks) you'll have 100$ a day for gas, food, hotel and souvenirs/shopping. It is not a lot. Some day you'll spend less and in big cities you'll pay more. I've always thought that if you are about to take such a trip you should be able to spend a little. It's funnier to be a bit "carefree" about money than to have to calculate everyday to see if you can afford that noon burger.

As >>1065751 said, you'll pay a 500$ fees for the one way trip. Flight tickets are not that expensive (I remember paying 800$ for GVA-LA; PHX-GVA) so you basically do the math.
If it is cheaper for you to fly to NYC, stay there a few days (accomodation etc) rent the car and pay the 500$ fee then do it. If it amounts to the same as you would pay to either Seattle or San Diego I would rethink about it.
The road might be fun but if you plan on driving 1400km a day for 3 days straight just to save a few bucks it might not be a good calculation to me
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>>1065326
>Thanks again guys. I've been looking in to flights and they're all around 70-200 for a one way trip (SEA->SAN). I think renting a car around Seattle then flying to San Diego would be a better option. Perhaps even the other way around.
That's a decent idea that would work if you come up with two separate routes - one northern and one southern.

Of course, others mentioned you'll miss the nature, and they aren't lying. If I had to choose, I'd fly into one airport and travel the coast one way and inland the other.

It all depends on time and what you want to see. There is definitely enough on the Best Coast to fill 3-4 weeks either way you go.
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>>1064992
>Lives in Joshua Tree
This place is pretty fucking cool if your a tourist. 29 Palms is a cool place to check out too because of the marine base. Also, recommend
eating at Johns Place in Yucca Valley, good food!
>>1064843
There is also a lot of rock climbing places, hiking trails, mines to explore and of course, Giant Rock (just a big boulder that split in half with a lot of graffiti on it).
Staying in Yucca Valley would be the cheapest, if you stay at Motel 6 by the Sizzler on Highway 62.
This place is nice, but just be aware of the people. A lot of druggies and scammers.
Enjoy your road trip and ask me if you need any information about the Morongo Basin area!
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>>1066762
>29 Palms
Yeah, I stayed there two separate times. I enjoyed the building murals.
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>>1064923
Hotels are $50 or so off the interstate, not in bad neighborhoods at all. If you want to go that cheap in a large city you will be in a bad neighborhood though. Also you can a place in Yosemite right now without any reservation. The summer gets super busy. It's very cold though so you might not see anyone else at all camping, even in very popular sites. Unless you already have the gear for winter camping, hotels will most definitely be a better option
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>What would be the most recommended places to visit?
-National Parks, which are all highly recommended and never a wrong choice, though they can be crowded as shit in summer
-Hearst Castle, halfway between SF and LA on the coast
-Monterey Bay Aquarium
-Santa Cruz Boardwalk

In the Bay Area:
-Avoid Silicon Valley/San Jose. Winchester House is batshit crazy, and the Rosicrucian Museum has a fantastic collection of Egyptian stuff, but that's pretty much it.
-Alcatraz is very, very cool. Only one ferry company actually drops you off on the island (http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/), make sure you don't get tickets from the ones that just drive their boat around it and take you back to SF
-Golden Gate Park, particularly the Botanic Gardens and the deYoung museum (Academy of Science is okay, not great). Bonfires at Ocean Beach after sunset
-USS Pampanito, tour a WWII submarine. Avoid the rest of FIsherman's Wharf and Pier 39
-Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Absolutely a must.
-Cross the Bay Bridge and check out Oakland and Berkeley. Drive up to Grizzly Peak Road for an amazing view of the bay and SF
-Muir Woods National Monument, see insanely large trees

-Lake Tahoe
-Reno. It's like Vegas, but worse. Recommended.
-Real Goods Solar Living Center, Hopland, CA (on 101). Pretty neat actually, the whole place is totally self-sustained and off the grid. Avoid if you can't stand hippie stuff, but it's a great place to take a break from driving and have some lunch in the gardens.
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