Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Gap Year" road trip to SF -- at age 18?

Hey Jamie,

I´m a high school senior about to finish school at last and taking a sabbatical year before college. For a while now I´ve been thinking about taking a road trip to San Francisco ( I live in Mexico City) but I have no idea on how to actually make it come true, where to stay, how to get there, if I should go solo or not. I´ve got a little money saved but that's all, is there anything you could recommend?

Thank you -- muchas gracias!



Hola Maria --

Many thanks for writing in Road Trip USA -- you have many big questions, but I'll try to give you some answers that help you make your road trip dream actually happen. One thing I know -- it would probably be better for you to bring a car and drive up from Mexico, because no US rental car company will want to rent to someone as young as you (the minimum age is often 26 -- muy vieja!)

I like the idea of taking a year off before college, so I don't want to talk you out of your plan. But maybe there are other ways for you to explore the US -- or maybe you could find a traveling companion who could drive you around?

And if it's just San Francisco you want to see, that's one American city where you definitely don't need or want a car -- it is very well served by public transportation. San Francisco also has many fantastic, inexpensive places to stay -- HI youth hostels, in old lighthouses and hotels and other interesting buildings -- try this: http://sfhostels.com/fishermans-wharf/

From SF, you can travel up and down the West Coast pretty easily, by train or bus . One very good, youth-oriented travel company has the unusual name of Green Tortoise:

Sound tempting? Hope so! One of my first travel highlights was a tour of Mexico (100 or so years ago, aged 19, I hitch-hiked for 6 weeks around Mexico, from Merida to the "DF", and had a blast!), so I hope my country will offer you a similarly exciting and memorable experience.

OK, buena suerte, and vaya con Dios,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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