Thursday, November 17, 2011

DC – Deep South – Las Vegas = Road Trip?

Hi Jamie,

A friend and I are looking to spend a couple of months driving around the states. We're a couples of Thelma and Louise wannabes! So we want an amazing adventure. We're looking to go from east to west but going as southern as we can.

I was thinking of flying into Washington DC from London and driving down through the Carolinas and I guess into your “Southern Pacific” trail, but ending up in Las Vegas rather then San Diego. We're gonna do it as cheaply as we can but seeing as many of the interesting sites as we can!

How much $$$ do you think we'll need, and how long will it take?

We'll be renting a car!

Thanks for all the effort and info you've already shared with us.

Georgina !


Dear Georgina ! --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I'm glad to hear you've been enjoying the website (and the book?)

A couple of months, huh? That opens up an awful lot of opportunities for Thelma & Louise -style trouble-making (and sight seeing, too)


Depending upon your taste in weather, I'd aim for a Spring or autumn road trip -- summer is too hot and too sweaty/humid. The 100 degrees F and 100% humidity you get across most of the USA in summer, from DC / Carolinas all the way west to Arizona and Las Vegas is not fun for anyone; just look at the fires etc that Texas suffered thru this past summer.

Did you have some dates in mind? Spring is nice for azaleas and rhododendron flowers (as along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina), magnolias in Mississippi, and you also get a ton of wildflowers across Texas and Arizona. While September/ October brings "fall color" of autumn leaves. Both are magic.

Late summer is better than Spring for music festivals and the like, and summer has the widest range of fun things too -- 4th of July BBQs, and long hot days and nights.

My Southern Pacific route is great for fun, and food and music too. I'd suggest you add in some detours along the Great River Road (to Memphis and the Mississippi Delta), US83 down to San Antonio and Austin Texas, and of course Route 66, especially in New Mexico (Santa Fe and Taos are brilliant!)

The one problem I foresee with all this, and especially if you drive for 2 months, is that your rental car costs will add up pretty high -- cheaper than England, probably, but count on something like $250 a week as a minimum. You do get better deals if you do "loop" trips and drop the car back where you got it, so maybe you could consider doing a few trips, looping around one city with one car, then moving on to another big city and doing another big loop there. Though America is definitely best seen by car, since US cities are best seen by foot (and taxi); I'd include DC on this list, since it has very good "Metro". Other good car-free cities include NYC and Boston, Charleston and Savannah, New Orleans, Seattle and Portland, and San Francisco (not on your list, but a great place to visit!)

Hope you have a great trip!

-- Jamie


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