Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deep South = Cross-Country = LA to Baltimore

Hi Jamie,

Love your site, very interesting and helpful.

I'm looking into a drive across the states early to mid next year (April/May 2012). I'm from Australia, but will be traveling with my partner who is from Baltimore so I do have a little insight into the cool places to see in the US - but he hasn't been to many of these places/areas either, so I would love a little advice from a seasoned traveler!

My ideas for a route so far is...
We'll be flying into Los Angeles, then:
Las Vegas
Grand Canyon
New Mexico
New Orleans
and onto Baltimore

A couple of questions regarding the journey...

- What do you think is the most interesting route from Nashville to Baltimore (as I'd love to see West Virginia?) but will Virginia give us the same experience?

- Do you have any must sees on or near this southern path that you'd recommend?

- Do you recommend any particular car rental companies for this sort of one way journey? I assuming renting is less painful than buying and re-selling a car?

- What would a good time frame for this journey be?

Thanks so much... I appreciate any advice or tips. This has been a long awaited dream for me, so I'm very excited.

Look forward to hearing from you!




Dear Ema --

Many thanks for your nice words about Road Trip USA, and I do hope you're still planning to come over to the USA, and I think you've got a great trip planned. April and May are gorgeous months to travel in the southern states, and you may also catch the tail end of winter in higher elevation places (like the Grand Canyon and parts of New Mexico, which are more than 7000-feet / 2000 m above sea level).

And one great thing about traveling in April and May is that you can take advantage of some spectacular car hire / rental deals -- because April is the end of the prime "winter" season, in resort areas of Arizona and Florida, big firms like Hertz and Avis offer some very good money-saving deals, $5 a day, one-way, no drop-off fee rentals which are well worth looking into. Like this one, from Spring 2011:


So if you can be a bit flexible, you can save some big money. You might have to fly into Phoenix, for example, and pick up a car there then go on to LA -- but you'll save more than $1000, maybe as much as $2000. Which you could $$ spend in Las Vegas and other fun spots!


And yes, you are right to think renting a car is less painful than buying and reselling one -- that can be a nightmare, especially for overseas travelers.

As for must sees, yes there are many -- certainly enough that if you can spend 3 or 4 weeks, that'd be perfect. Give you time to get over jet lag too.

Two weeks would be a realistic minimum for a pleasant cross-country adventure, just so you can spend at least a night in the many great paces, like New Orleans and Nashville (not mention Memphis, and Zion National Park in Utah, and Austin and The Alamo in Texas, and Savannah GA and Charleston SC, too.) And maybe Washington DC, if you enjoy history and politics (2012 will be an election year.)

How long can you spend on this trip?

Baltimore is a fascinating old US city, too -- do you know the TV show The Wire? Or the films of John Waters?? Both v Baltimore.

Finally, you ask about a route between Nashville and Baltimore. I think the best route would head east to Great Smokies National Park, and take a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the forests of rhododendrons and azaleas should be in full bloom. I think I'd stay along the Blue Ridge Parkway as far as Roanoke, then cut up north across the Shenandoah Valley to explore West Virginia, winding into Baltimore via Harpers Ferry, a very pretty and very historic small town, preserved as a national park.

I hope this answers some of your questions, and I hope you have a fantastic adventure. Please feel free to write me again if you have any more questions.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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