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Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
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benji Offline
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Post: #1
Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Just looking into the idea of driving around the US and seeing small town America (Also the big cities too) as a foreigner. Trying to figure out a budget for this. I can only guess that staying in Motels, etc would be cheap but not sure how cheap. Any suggestions or advice appreciated from those who have done it.
08-13-2017 06:53 AM
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weambulance Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Well, how long do you want to be here?
08-13-2017 07:20 AM
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benji Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Roughly 3-4 Months
08-13-2017 07:37 AM
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Jetset Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Are you trying to visit the whole country or do you have a region in mind?

"He always wanted to drift forever, but through the American Southwest."
08-13-2017 07:58 AM
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benji Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
I'd like to see as much as i can but in particular some areas of Texas, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California. I'd like to see more though and head east as well.
08-13-2017 08:13 AM
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Pete Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Sixt.com is pretty cheap. $20-30/day.

also Uber, Lyft, I think there's something called zipcar.

If you want your own car you should rent it. You should call them directly because probably if you're going to rent the car for such a long period of time you probably have different rates and there could be a (law) limit on the days they can rent out the car to one single person. Also, all that varies state by state.
(This post was last modified: 08-13-2017 08:28 AM by Pete.)
08-13-2017 08:28 AM
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Sidney Crosby Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Have you considered buying a travel van? They aren't the greatest on gas but you will have a bed when needed and a bathroom,kitchenette and shower.

It will give you more options since many places worth seeing in the states either don't have hotels nearby or they will be expensive. It's pretty nice to be able to pull up to a rest stop and make yourself a quick bite to eat or even sleep overnight.

I'm not talking about a new 100k sprinter van conversion I mean 5-15k camper van, you should be able to sell it for a similar price once you are finished anyway, if you buy it right you could even make money.
08-13-2017 10:35 AM
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Jetset Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
An alternative, if you'll be confident on it, is to pick up a used motorcycle when you arrive. I've had European neighbors do this in the northeast and sell it off on their way out with great success. County roads and state highways that you'd prefer for touring cheap small towns don't usually attract the speeding truck traffic you'd deal with on the interstates.

Throw a tent on the back, get a ground floor room at motel to roll the bike into your motel room at night in sketchy areas. Same thing oil workers do in West Texas.

Just don't underestimate how hot it will be if you're visiting in summer, even if you're in a car. It's entirely possible to have a breakdown where nobody will find you and for it to be too hot to call 911 because your phone won't boot up at those temps. Ridiculous way to die and it happens every year in Arizona.

"He always wanted to drift forever, but through the American Southwest."
(This post was last modified: 08-13-2017 12:58 PM by Jetset.)
08-13-2017 12:46 PM
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Shimmy Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Buy a used motorhome you can live in and then sell it when your trip is over. The money you lose will be much cheaper than renting a car+hotels. Here is an example of where to buy them:

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/rva

Obviously just change the city to wherever you want to get one. You should be able to get something pretty solid for $10-20k and even if you took a $5k loss on it when selling you will still come out ahead.
08-13-2017 01:24 PM
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godzilla Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Enterprise has long term car rentals. I got quoted once at 800 for a month. (Unlimited miles) When you consider insurance and potential loss you'll take when you sell the car back, the price is pretty decent.
(This post was last modified: 08-14-2017 08:36 AM by godzilla.)
08-14-2017 08:35 AM
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Wayout Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
OP...if you're looking at 2-3 months of traveling - definitely buy a car or a minivan ( if you like camping). You can get one at many auctions,depending on the state where you'll be. One example : get something like Dodge Caravan 1997-2000 for about $1000. Throw out all the back seats and throw in a small Ikea mattress. Don't forget about AC - you want to make sure it works!
You can travel problems free for a couple of months if you pick the right car and sell it at maybe $300 loss quickly when your done.
You will need to register the car and get insurance as well.
08-14-2017 10:59 PM
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RatInTheWoods Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
+1 for a van/camper. Buy cheap, do it up a little with a solar and shower etc and over three months you will save a fortune in hotels.

You can sell it for almost the same price you bought it for!

I will be doing this road trip one day.
08-15-2017 03:08 AM
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benji Offline
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Post: #13
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Thanks a lot for the responses. Looks like buying a cheap camper van/mini van is the go. I'll look more into it. It's definitely one of those bucket list type trips i really wanna do. Thanks again
08-15-2017 04:11 AM
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Vicious Offline
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Post: #14
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
With that long a stay you'll definitely want to consider some kind of motor home unless you're ready to drop $$. Trying to make an itinerary to hit only the cheapest places is a pain but if you don't it's inevitable that you'll end up at places with higher costs when rolling into towns after dark and just wanting to find a place to crash. It adds up.


If you just want a regular car. Call around to different rental agencies and negotiate directly. And make sure you can credit it all to some FF program or such.

The option is always there to just buy a clunker that you ditch when the time comes.
08-15-2017 07:16 AM
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Guitarman Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
A friend of mine did exactly this a few years ago. Him and his mates bought a car in the west coast USA for $900, drove it on a sight seeing trip across the US and sold it for $700.

They also got something more interesting that the typical rental econobox, being an early 90's V6 powered USA made barge, with soft suspension. Proving that ordinary folk can also do a Top Gear style US road trip in a cheap old banger.
08-15-2017 07:25 AM
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Sam Malone Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
(08-14-2017 10:59 PM)Wayout Wrote:  Throw out all the back seats

Better yet, post them up on Craigslist or something similar. If you go this route, and the seats are in decent shape, you can get a few bucks for them.

Alternatively, Chrysler started installing Stow-And-Go seats in the Dodge and Chrysler minivans around the mid 2000's. The seats in the second AND third row disappear into the floor..

[Image: img-1226252057-1469575320138.gif][Image: img-2142847844-1469576343464.gif]

If there's a choice (and the price difference in negligible), purchase one with these kind of seats. NO seats means you would essentially be selling a cargo van. Having the seats available will give you more potential buyers (think families on a budget).

Something to consider when reselling.

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08-15-2017 07:48 AM
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DirectDanger Offline
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Post: #17
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
@benji You got to give us some more details so we can help you.

Driving across the US is AWESOME. Do it!

I can't imagine a better way for a foreigner to see the country and get a real idea what the US is like. I am an American but have driven across the country several times. Would be happy to help you out but we need more details.


Is this a solo trip?
What kind of budget do you have?
Do you have enough money to put something like $5,000 into buying a car with the expectation you could sell it at the end of the trip?
Are you wanting to do things like national parks or go from city to city?
What time of year?
What kind of money are you able to spend?
Is sleeping in a tent/car something you want to do?
Do you have something specific you want to do... like travel from college town to college town hitting up football game days?
Knowing your age range would be helpful.

To get a proper response we need as many details as you can give us so we can better answer the questions. As you can see from all the responses already, lots of guys are willing to help.
08-15-2017 08:53 AM
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benji Offline
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Post: #18
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Thanks DirectDanger, it's pretty early on in planning but it's been great reading all the suggestions and comments.

Yea it'll most likely be a solo trip.
Approx $25k.
I could outlay an extra $5k if needed.
I'd like to do a bit of both but stay away from the big cities and see more of the national parks and small towns.
Sometimes around May-August
Probably prefer to not sleep in a tent but camper van or similar is fine.
It's pretty early in my planning but i do love sports and nature, so seeing some college sports games would be awesome.
I'm 36 but look like i'm about 30.
08-17-2017 03:50 AM
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Tigre Offline
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Post: #19
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Auto Transporters is another way to do it. It's a service where a car's owner pays a company to get the car to a new city.

What is the cheapest way for the company and the owner to get that done? Contract a random driver (you) to take the car from point A to point B.

You pay nothing for the use of it, but you also don't get paid anything. Costs to fill up the car along the way are on you.

Although the time they give you to make the trip may be short, you can negotiate for longer.
(This post was last modified: 08-17-2017 07:23 AM by Tigre.)
08-17-2017 07:17 AM
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WashedUPVet Offline
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RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
(08-15-2017 07:48 AM)Sam Malone Wrote:  
(08-14-2017 10:59 PM)Wayout Wrote:  Throw out all the back seats

Better yet, post them up on Craigslist or something similar. If you go this route, and the seats are in decent shape, you can get a few bucks for them.

Alternatively, Chrysler started installing Stow-And-Go seats in the Dodge and Chrysler minivans around the mid 2000's. The seats in the second AND third row disappear into the floor..

[Image: img-1226252057-1469575320138.gif][Image: img-2142847844-1469576343464.gif]

If there's a choice (and the price difference in negligible), purchase one with these kind of seats. NO seats means you would essentially be selling a cargo van. Having the seats available will give you more potential buyers (think families on a budget).

Something to consider when reselling.

Epic Suggestion. At age 23 I spent many a night from NYC to Baja Mexico in a minivan handed down from my mom with the seats taken out the back.
08-18-2017 12:06 AM
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scotian Offline
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Post: #21
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
I've seen campers and vans from these guys in Western Canada, you'll attract attention driving one from this company that's for sure: https://www.wickedcampers.com/

If you can't handle me at my dog fuckin', then you don't deserve me at my given'er!
(This post was last modified: 08-18-2017 09:53 AM by scotian.)
08-18-2017 09:52 AM
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RIslander Offline
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Post: #22
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
I know there is a way to lease vehicles that other people have sold. Say someone leases a car for 2 years and sells it after 1.5. You can then pick up the remaining 6 months lease.

“There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag!” -DJT
08-18-2017 09:58 AM
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DoctaWho Offline
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Post: #23
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
I agree with others that buying a van is probably your best bet. Since it's just you buying something cheap and good on miles like a honda sedan is also an option. If you get a sedan make sure that the back seat can fold down. This being the US you'll have to be careful where you sleep in your car but walmart parking lots are generally a good option. Since whatever you get will be used make sure to set aside some of your cash for any repairs.
08-19-2017 08:43 AM
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Cattle Rustler Offline
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Post: #24
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Get yourself a Toyota (reliable) or Honda (okay but shitty engine) and take down the 3rd row seats. Put a sleeping bag (cushion pad from Walmart optional). I can't recommend Caravans as they are unreliable as fuck, as anything from FCA is, and parts for other cars like Plymouth Voyagers are not readily available at Autozone since they are old as fuck. That way you can use the 3rd row seating to sit down, and do random shit because being in the front row (driver/passenger sit) will get old quickly.

Motorhomes are bulky and difficult as fuck to park when you want to park in the city. Some garages and drive thrus have bars that an RV won't clear.

Also, remember that there's couchsurfing to crash in people's homes.

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08-19-2017 12:24 PM
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Travel Museums Offline
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Post: #25
RE: Buying/hiring a vehicle and driving around the United States
Camper van with high top so you can stand inside. Fits in compact parking spot. Gym membership for showers. Couchsurfing and Hotshowers too. Walmart or gym to park.

Driving across the USA is overrated. I've done it several times. What's more fun is following the weather north. I spent 3 winters in SoCal. One south Texas. One south Florida.

A year for CA was good. Another for deserts. Still another for Rockies. Great Plains then winter Texan it with Mexicans down around Brownsville. Then smokies to Appalachia blue ridge and down to Florida. The frost line is around Orlando.

The high top is most important.
08-19-2017 07:45 PM
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