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Road Trip USA - East To West Or West To East?  
User currently offlineLNv22 From Norway, joined Mar 2008, 182 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 6630 times:

Hello a-netters  Wink

I'm going on a roadtrip in the USA, coast to coast, January 2009.
I have ordered return tickets to New York, and it's the same for me if I drive from NYC to the west coast (San Fran.) and take a plane back to NYC, OR if I start the trip with a flight to San. Fran. and then drive back to NYC.

I have many friends and family saying that driving east to west is "the right thing to do". Do you agree?

One thing to have in mind: Renting a car is NOK 4000 more expensive when you pick up the car in New york and leave it in San Fran. than if you go the other way (west - east, same cities)!

NOK 4000 is about $ 684. Is it worth it?


We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 6620 times:

Do it. Just do it. That'll be the cheapest $684 you'll ever spend. East to west, west to east, makes no difference but you have to know that January in some parts of the US is pretty heavy weather. Here on the prairie we tend to stick close to home.

What you're looking at is that car rental rates float according to the traffic and there's a pretty big price spread.


If the agent'll work with you you can use this to ratchet the rate down by locking in a reservation and renewing it each time the rate declines.

I successfully did this with Budget when I rented a moving van from Cali to Iowa. I got it down from $2,400 to about $1,600 in the space of three months.


User currently offlineUPS707 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 360 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6615 times:

JFK seems to be horrible for rental car pricing. One option if you do decide to do this would be to get a 1-day rental from JFK to whereever your first stop is outside of NY, then do another rental with the same company for the rest of the trip from there, leaving the car in SFO. I had a friend do that on a trip to Connecticut and it worked out well and saved them quite a bit of $$$. Personally though, I would take the easy route and just go west-east and that way you save the extra $$$ without having to mess around with multiple reservations.

User currently offlineLNv22 From Norway, joined Mar 2008, 182 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6610 times:



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 1):
East to west, west to east, makes no difference but you have to know that January in some parts of the US is pretty heavy weather.

I live in Norway. We also have some "weather" during the winter  Wink

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 1):
What you're looking at is that car rental rates float according to the traffic and there's a pretty big price spread.


If the agent'll work with you you can use this to ratchet the rate down by locking in a reservation and renewing it each time the rate declines.

I successfully did this with Budget when I rented a moving van from Cali to Iowa. I got it down from $2,400 to about $1,600 in the space of three months.

Thanks for the tip! Hope this works with Hertz also  Smile



We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
User currently offlineMdsh00 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4124 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6599 times:

Look up rates out of LGA using hotwire. I've found some good deals on rental cars there. The two airports are not that far and the money for the cab ride from JFK to LGA could be worth it in the end.


"Look Lois, the two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."
User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6594 times:



Quoting LNv22 (Reply 3):
Quoting Dougloid (Reply 1):
East to west, west to east, makes no difference but you have to know that January in some parts of the US is pretty heavy weather.

I live in Norway. We also have some "weather" during the winter

I imagine you do, but when you can make 3 inches of snow pile up into six foot high drifts you have the wind to contend with as well.

It might be to your advantage to rent something like a Jeep Cherokee or a Ford Explorer that's got 4wd.

The tip about ratcheting down the rates was explained to me by a friendly person at Budget. I ended up with a brand new turbodiesel International 26 footer that had about 200 miles on it. Even with a shitload of stuff and a car on tow behind it still got about 6 mpg.

The day came, I showed up at the depot and there was no truck for me. Mucho embarrassment and they promised they'd get one from somewhere. They sent a guy up to Fresno to bring this one back for me.


User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13073 posts, RR: 12
Reply 6, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6591 times:

Make sure you have a International Drivers Licence, you should be able to get one from you countries Automobile Association. It may pay to become a member in your countries AA as will give you access to the USA's AAA maps, service and info.
Here is an excellent website focusing on Califorina driving for visitors, but excellent for any foreign visitor for other states and important tourist information from food, to tipping, to beheaviors. http://www.caldrive.com/
Don't go for the cheapest car, try for something like a Ford Focus or equivilent.
I would suggest a SF-NYC direction. My route suggestions would put you on the right side, going south on the Pacific Coastal Highway in California to Los Angeles. This would also track you on a more southern route, avoiding the highest elevations and risks of heavy snow if you chose to go directly East from SF.
I would then go through Arizona and New Mexico. Judging at the time the weather, you may be able to take a more northern route in those states, including seeing Santa Fe, The Grand Canyon and other areas. The northern parts of those states are about 2000 meters in altitude so you will get snow but I am quite sure you can handle that from where your home is. Most of the National Parks further north in the Rocky Mountains are either closed or only have small parts open as much higher in altitude, up to 4000 meters.
Then go through Texas, perhaps to New Orleans, across the deep south to Altlanta, then a more coastal route in South and North Carolina, Virginia, DC, then through NJ to NYC.

If you are planning to stay a few days in the NY City area, I would suggest staying in New Jersey. I live about 20 kms from NYC, and there are a number of nice hotels in Secacus, Carlstdat, East Rutherford with frequent and late night bus service and only a 20 minute ride to NYC as well as free parking and much cheaper rates at the motels.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8473 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6583 times:



Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 6):
Don't go for the cheapest car, try for something like a Ford Focus or equivilent.

At least. This is more driving than the poster seems to realize.

If you don't give at least 10 days for driving across the USA.... I mean it's 3,000 to 4,000 miles depending on route. 400 miles per day is a lot of car-time. And it is 8-10 days at that rate.

I'd seriously consider only driving across half the USA. and fly the other half. Maybe fly to Chicago and drive from there to California. Now there's a drive.


User currently offlineAnonymousInSAN From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 111 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6520 times:

My husband and I drove from New York to California in October 2005. Driving east to west was great because the sun wasn't in our face until the late afternoon, just as we would check into our hotel. Since we had our cat with us, we only drove (actually I drove the whole way) about 7 hours per day. Our drive lasted 7 days. We didn't do any sightseeing because our cat hated the drive. Another road-trip, sans cat, is definitely in our future. It was AWESOME!!!

P.S. You might want to stick with a southern route if you're driving in January (Interstate 10).

Keep us posted! Be safe.

Vicky


User currently offlineWunalaYann From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 2839 posts, RR: 25
Reply 9, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6514 times:



Quoting LNv22 (Thread starter):
East To West Or West To East?

West to east, mate. Prevailing tailwinds will save you fuel.

Signed,

Astuteman.

 biggrin 


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7951 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 6492 times:



Quoting LNv22 (Thread starter):
East To West Or West To East?

East to west. You need to win the west, not simply arrive there. Big grin
Go as the Cowboys did, plus it looks nicer with the sun going down in front of you.



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1644 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 6473 times:
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If you take I-80 it goes directly from San Francisco right to the George Washington Bridge in New York City. I would watch the weather very carefully because I-80 goes through the Sierra’s and the Rocky Mountains and the weather there can change almost immediately to some real nasty stuff. But if you do this route, you are going through some awesome scenery in the mountain states.

Once you get through the Rockies then its mostly boring flat farmland country almost the rest of the way to New York

I would recommend driving down to Las Vegas, how can you drive cross country in the US and not see Las Vegas. From LAS you can go over Hoover Dam, another great sightseeing spot and take highway 95 to I-40 in Kingman, AZ, Then take I-40 east and work your way up numerous interstate highways to New York City. This will at least get you out of the major weather problems you might encounter on I-80 in the winter.


User currently offlinePacNWjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 977 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6449 times:

If you go east to west you gain an hour with each time zone you cross.

Also, if you go east to west the people get friendlier along the way (just my humble opinion).

I have driven across the U.S. four times; twice east to west and twice west to east. Heading west gives you the feeling that you are re-tracing the steps of the pioneers who made the western migration across North America.


User currently offlineFlexo From St. Helena, joined Mar 2007, 406 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6409 times:



Quoting LNv22 (Reply 3):
I live in Norway. We also have some "weather" during the winter

Having seen both Norway and the US in winter you should be aware that the weather in the US can be a lot stronger than over here in Europe. During my last road trip it snowed 3 feet (90 cm) in one night in the Sierras so we ended up turning around, it was just too much. And that was in March.

So I'd take the advice of one of the previous posters and go with a 4-wheel drive!


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26426 posts, RR: 76
Reply 14, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6408 times:



Quoting Flexo (Reply 15):
During my last road trip it snowed 3 feet (90 cm) in one night in the Sierras so we ended up turning around, it was just too much. And that was in March.

Two things. First, March tends to be a stormy season in California, much more than earlier in the winter. Second, the Sierras are a whole different animal from much of the rest of the country.

Quoting Flexo (Reply 15):

So I'd take the advice of one of the previous posters and go with a 4-wheel drive!

There is no need to do that if 1) you are not going to drive through the Sierras and/or 2) you know how to drive on snow and ice and invest in a nice set of cheap snow chains.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineMike89406 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1464 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6385 times:

Having done 2 X-country trips myself you'll enjoy it. A tidbit about I-80 which is your most direct route to San Francisco from NYC. If you are a winter driver like me its not that bad until you reach Wyoming where I drove into a couple snowstorms and 3-4 mountain passes through the state however the view of the rocky mountains is breathtaking. We hit some gale force headwinds that were challenging and blowing snow at times i got scared and had to slow down. Since I-80 is heavily populated with truck drivers you have to watch out for them to as I seen jackknifed semis every now and then. If you have time you get pretty close to Chicago once you enter Gary, Indiana or you can drive down to Denver from Cheyenne, Wyoming and perhaps do a little skiing nearby, make a stop in Salt Lake City BTW the Wasatch mountains near Salt Lake City are pretty as well or the Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats where you can see where the land speed records were broken I also picked up some big salt crystals and put them in a jar for a souvenir, Reno, and Lake Tahoe are good places to make a pit stop a see a few sights and there is still skiing in the Lake Tahoe area in March but watch out for pass conditions in Donner's Pass right after you cross the California Line. With a 4WD it should be fine. They do require traction tires or chains on the west coast if your traversing through any mountain passes or the the Lake Tahoe area during adverse weather. Just keep your eye on the weather or weather channel as your going across and you should be fine.

You can skip Sacramento as there isn't much to see.   

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 11):
Then take I-40 east and work your way up numerous interstate highways to New York City. This will at least get you out of the major weather problems you might encounter on I-80 in the winter.

Hmm.. really? I drove down thru Sante Fe, NM and across on 40 thru northern Texas and there was tornadic activity warnings in March with golf ball sized hail not to mention the sleet and black ice and snow I encountered in my way thru until I decided to stop in Amarillo, TX for the night because the weather was getting dicey and dangerous. Seriously though northern Texas has some of the most unpredictable weather I have ever seen one day nice and warm next day snow. and the drive is really boring until Arkansas.

Regards Mike

[Edited 2008-09-19 15:53:43]

User currently offlineIH8BY From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 1142 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 6188 times:



Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 6):
Here is an excellent website focusing on Califorina driving for visitors, but excellent for any foreign visitor for other states and important tourist information from food, to tipping, to beheaviors. http://www.caldrive.com/

But don't be too put off by the way in which the site's written. I read it and ended up fearing for my life and absolutely paranoid about driving... then again, I suppose that's the way to approach it! I'm currently a few days away from finishing a week's driving in CA/NV, and I've had a lot of fun doing so... but I'm about to embark upon the most scary bit: LA!

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 6):
Don't go for the cheapest car, try for something like a Ford Focus or equivilent.

Though don't always assume you'll get it. People are going for the fuel-efficient cars at the moment and you may find you are upgraded into something a little more thirsty. I read about this on a news site a little while ago, and sure enough last week at SFO my 2-door standard car was "not available" despite being ordered a month in advance... Avis wanted me to have a 4Runner, but I really wasn't having that. Smallest I could get it down to was a Ford Edge. Nice car, and gas mileage is OKish, but it seemed massive compared to the 1.4 Skoda Fabia I usually drive!

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 11):
Hoover Dam, another great sightseeing spot

Was there only yesterday - lovely day, very hot, but a good place to see especially if you're staying in Vegas. I had hoped to get out to the Grand Canyon, but in the end was just too tired. Another day, perhaps...



Have you ever felt like you could float into the sky / like the laws of physics simply don't apply?
User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8473 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 6178 times:



Quoting IH8BY (Reply 16):
Though don't always assume you'll get it. People are going for the fuel-efficient cars at the moment and you may find you are upgraded into something a little more thirsty. I read about this on a news site a little while ago, and sure enough last week at SFO my 2-door standard car was "not available" despite being ordered a month in advance... Avis wanted me to have a 4Runner, but I really wasn't having that. Smallest I could get it down to was a Ford Edge. Nice car, and gas mileage is OKish, but it seemed massive compared to the 1.4 Skoda Fabia I usually drive!

Fuel efficiency is very important when you are buying at least 1 tank of gas per day. It could get very expensive driving a big SUV across the country.

I say again, DEN-california or Texas-California is really the drive to do. Save Chicago-NYC for another day. The USA is just so big.

It's like sitting in London and saying "Gee -- wouldn't it be fun to drive to Tehran." It's a long way. Maybe it depends how easily entertained one is.

Matter of fact, driving to Tehran sounds like fun next time I go to Europe.  Smile


User currently offlinePSA727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 974 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 6164 times:

I've done 2 cross country drives, both west to east. However, since the OP is doing this
in January, he'll probably want to avoid the I-80 route and take a more southern route.

As for the sun in the eyes while driving thing...it all depends on how early you will start
your day. If you wait until mid-day, then eastward works best. If you're starting out early
in the morning, then westward will work out better.



fly high, pay low...Germanwings!
User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26426 posts, RR: 76
Reply 19, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 6151 times:



Quoting Flighty (Reply 17):
Texas-California is really the drive to do.

Texas is a necessary evil if taking a southerly route, but not exactly picturesque.

Quoting IH8BY (Reply 16):
but I'm about to embark upon the most scary bit: LA!

L.A. isn't scary at all.

Quoting Mike89406 (Reply 15):
I drove down thru Sante Fe, NM and across on 40 thru northern Texas and there was tornadic activity warnings in March with golf ball sized hail not to mention the sleet and black ice and snow I encountered in my way thru until I decided to stop in Amarillo, TX for the night because the weather was getting dicey and dangerous.

Once drove through a freaky thunder and lightning storm near the TX/NM border on 40. That sucked.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 6122 times:

My first trip across the US in 1977 was in a 1964 Ford Falcon that cost me $75.

It was pretty interesting all things being equal. I remember that the left side of my face got sunburned out west. Going west from Flagstaff over the pass into Oak Creek Canyon was an adventure. The Falcon was floored and making about 35 mph all the way up, I figured if it was ever going to blow up it would do it on that stretch of road.

All i knew about what awaited me west of the Delaware River was that I had my life savings of $700 in my pocket and I had a date to start school at Northrop Institute in ten weeks.

Talk about not having a plan....it worked out OK. It took me three days to find and rent an apartment in Long Beach, another ten days to find a job, the Dragon Lady arrived with Zero the Wonder Cat in tow, and all my books arrived shortly thereafter courtesy of the post office.


User currently offlineTUNisia From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1844 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (5 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 6123 times:

Question ...


Have you thought of taking Amtrak cross-country? You get a bed, meals, hot shower (if you go sleeper).



Someday the sun will shine down on me in some faraway place - Mahalia Jackson
User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1644 posts, RR: 10
Reply 22, posted (5 years 11 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 6076 times:
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My first cross country road trip was in the summer of 1962 on a Trailways bus from New York City to Los Angeles and back. My father’s parents and most of his family lived in LA, I already had made a few trans continental flights out to LA to visit with my parents, so I decided to see America from the ground instead. My parents had absolutely no desire to take the bus, so they flew out ahead and met me at the bus terminal in LA with my uncle.

I planned out the trip and took the northern route out, with the bus stopping in Pittsburgh, Cleveland Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and finally into LA. On the return portion back east, I took the southern route, going thru Albuquerque, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus and all points east.

This was the days before personal entertainment systems, so my only entertainment was watching America go by. Since someone else was driving I was able to concentrate on what I was watching as the miles passed by. We would stop about every 3 hours for a drivers rest break or meals.

What I remember most was the change of scenery especially going westbound. From the mountains of Pennsylvania, through the industrial parts of Northern Ohio and Indiana, to the flat country through Iowa and eastern Nebraska and through the rock formations of northern Utah. As we passed through Nebraska from east to west, the scenery started changing slowly from corn or wheat fields to basically barren landscape as we slowly climbed up towards Denver.

In the distance about 80 miles out of Denver what looked like some low clouds on the road ahead was actually the snow capped tops of the Rocky Mountains, and as we got closer the mountains slowly came into view. The one section of America I did miss was the leg between Denver and Salt Lake City, the bus left Denver at 10pm and arrived in Salt Lake the next morning, so I didn’t see much of the Rocky Mountains up close, this was the sacrifice I made as to get into LA in the daytime. I made up for this later on, my wife and stayed at a dude ranch outside of Colorado Springs for a week and then drove to Salt Lake City for another week.

From this trip I really got to see what a good portion of America was really like, I grew up in the northeast, and lived near the water so seeing firsthand other parts of America up close made me want to explore this country as much as possible, which I have mostly done.

Lately we have been taking Amtrak’s Auto Train back and forth on our trips to Florida and I still find myself staring out the window watching the world go by, just like I did 46 years ago on the bus.

JetStar


User currently offlineDragon6172 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 1202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (5 years 11 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6045 times:

I made a cross country drive just last December going west to east, Oregon to Virginia Beach. Due to weather concerns, I actually went south on I-5 thru Cali and then east on I-40. Much better weather to deal with. Lots of places out west require chains in certain conditions, so keep that in mind.
I would suggest going east to west, for the simple fact you will have an extra three hours to your vacation from time zone crossings. Other than that, your route really depends on what you want to see. If you simply want to cross the US with no hassle then I would suggest going a southerly route for weather avoidance. If you have a list of places you want to see, then just connect the dots and hit the road.
As for the rental car, I would try and see about getting a one way rental for each day, you may be able to save some money that way. Not sure though. I have not rented a car in a while, but I think you should be able to get a one way/one day rental for 100 dollars? Doing a quick search, daily price for the whole trip lists at 200 dollars a day, and daily price for a one day trips is around 80-100. Something to keep in mind I guess.



Phrogs Phorever
User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (5 years 11 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6033 times:

I make the trek every year. I have to say I think going west to east is a little easier. Enjoy the trip you will love it!

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