Not so long ago a friend of mine did a fly and drive to Europe trip. The system is run by Peugeot and Renault and consists of you buying a brand new car from them. Well, you lease it actually. You pick the car up in the city of your choice although a Paris pick-up is the one that costs you nothing. The other cities all have a delivery charge. Then, for a reasonable amount, about €30 a day, which also includes complete 100% insurance and roadside assistance, you can tour the continent to your heart’s content for a maximum of 6 months.
He enjoyed the trip so much, he asked me if I knew whether that same system applies in the USA. The thing about driving rather than taking a fixed tour or travelling by bus or train is that you have the freedom of choice on where to go, where to stop and how long you stay in the one place. If you add the costs of public transport and the inconvenience of carting your luggage onto trains and buses and planes consistently, you might find that the price is almost the same.
If you do a car rental from America Car Rental, there is, as usual, a whole range of vehicles from which you can choose. A holiday period of about 8 weeks from July 1st to about August 31st would cost you $4274 for a small Chevy with GPS. DO NOT hire a car without GPS and do not think that your iPad or phone will do the same job. The pick-up point is New York and the drop off point is Los Angeles. So you are basically driving across the USA. The car also comes with fully comprehensive insurance, which is a fundamental condition of rental, air-conditioning and is automatic. Finding a manual geared car in the USA is hard!?
The distance is about 2800 miles or 4600 km and you will cover about 12 of the 50 states of the USA. Extend your trip by 2400 km and make it 7000 km so you allow yourself to see more. The extra distance doesn’t cost you anymore in hire costs, but it will in fuel. The cost of fuel in the USA is less than half the cost of Europe and Australia at $0.56 a litre! By the way, based on the car’s average consumption your fuel costs will be approximately $400 – $500 for the whole trip. Total cost so far is $4700. Food and accommodation are common to any way you travel although there might be a couple of nights you might end up sleeping in the car.
If you planned the same trip distance across the same number of states, you would need to look at bus, train, tram, subway and taxi costs, plus the inconvenience of manhandling your luggage on public transport. Spend some time on planning a detailed trip and you might be surprised at the cost difference!