The Ultimate Road Trip
The Ultimate Road Trip
Let me preface this by saying North America is one of my all-time favourite destinations. The plethora of natural beauty from the Rockies in the west to the Appalachians mountains in the east, it boasts some of the world’s finest natural phenomena. Amid this, endless clutches of buzzing metropolitan centres from New York to LA. Or if a chill out session is in order (yes I’m aware I sound like 40-something-yoga-fanatic here), you can head to the state of tranquil lush state of Washington (not DC) to enjoy a coffee in the chilled out city of Seattle. Picture this, sitting by the sea, surrounded by serene mountains and the world’s first ever Starbucks.
You can fly into pretty much any major city in the US from the UK direct, so this bit is pretty easy. At just £449 return with STA right now, it’s pretty cheap as well.
Once you select your starting point, your road trip can truly begin.
My recommendation would probably be New York City or San Fran for your start point. Just to make your life that bit easier. From New York you have a few options. Domestic air travel in the US is dirt cheap, so a quick hop over to the west coast will only set you back about £80 if you book well in advance. If you want to take advantage of the USA’s expansive and relatively well maintained road network you can hire a caravan or, if you have the money, a corvette, for £20 a day (the caravan that is).
What can I say about NY?
Take a walk through this incredible urban island metropolis with endless skyscrapers and some great clubs and nightlife. Hang out in the magnificent central park, or head into the financial district and walk along wall street. Just don’t think too much about rising sea levels…
NYC to Philadephia
From New York make your way down to Miami with stops along the way in Philadelphia – known for its memorable revolutionary war sites and some stellar cheese steaks, although maybe not if you’re a veggie.
Philadelphia to Washington DC
Stop off in Washington DC to check out some pretty awesome sites like the Lincoln Memorial. Walk along the promenade toward the Washington memorial, or stroll around the White House.
DC to Miami
Then it’s a bit of a slog down to Florida, but I wouldn’t put too much emphasis into the rest of the east coast.
Miami to New Orleans
From Miami it might be time to ditch the caravan and fly into New Orleans. Unless your up for a real slog of a drive through the deep south, better get your confederate flag ready, or maybe not. Get ready for a party in New Orleans, some great Bourbon and food awaits you.
New Orleans to Houston
Get a cheap Greyhound bus ticket for this trip, although make sure the air con is working. Enjoy this bustling Texan city with some quirky sites and some decent barbecue joints.
Houston to Los Angeles
From Houston you can hop on the sunset train headed for LA. Hop off in San Antonio and El Paso on the way to get a true flavour of the south.
Los Angeles to San Francisco and beyond
From LA head towards San Francisco, by bus or train, the latter being a bit more comfortable but costlier.
Then you have a few options; take the West Coast Goldliner train all the way up the west coast to Seattle, stopping off in Portland. This is considered one of the worthiest train journeys in North America, allowing you to absorb the ‘gold coast’ for a handsome 20 hours.
Option 2 Alternatively from San Francisco you could also take the California Zephyr train from Oakland (just outside San Fran) all the way to Chicago, stopping off in Reno for Yosemite National Park, Salt Lake City for, well a nice lake, Denver, and finally Chicago. From Chicago either fly home or drive/take the train towards New York and finish there.
A few tips
Check out my tips and tricks page to help you not make the same mistakes I’ve made on my travels, which I will continue to update to my dying day, I imagine. The US is massive, so don’t be too naive, like I was, with thinking I could do it all at once, especially on a tight budget.
Prices are comparable to Europe, even more so post-Brexit with a weak pound and strong (ish) dollar. This trip will probably set you back about £1.5k in youth hostels and 3 days per location, or more like £3k in nice hotels. Obviously it can be considerably cheaper in a group.