Road trip: Prepare it well

A trip across the United States, how can you forget nothing before you leave?

Before your big road trip in the USA you will have to take the time to prepare your trip. To make sure you don't forget anything for the big trip, here are the essential steps to organize a trip to the United States.

Step 1: Visa or ESTA, which document to enter the USA?

Of course, before you can realize your dream, you must be able to legally enter the United States. There are two alternatives: apply for an electronic travel authorization (ESTA) or apply for a VISA.

ESTA is open to anyone wishing to play tourists in the USA for 90 days. If you have a valid passport, you can apply for this authorization online; on the site, it will only cost you $14.

If your ESTA is refused, you will have no choice but to apply for a Visa at the Embassy.

Step 2: Preparing your trip, how to find a cheap flight to the USA?

Please note that you can book your ticket well in advance, i. e. well before you apply for your ESTA authorization. As for the travel agency, you can choose the one you want. Before you make a final decision, be sure to compare prices carefully, as some airlines offer cheaper fares than others. This is quite possible on comparison sites like Kayak or Liligo.

Step 3: Rent a car for your road trip in the USA.

To do a road trip in the United States that goes without saying, you'll need a car. How do you get them? Unless you have an onsite acquaintance who can lend you hers for a long time, you will have to go through the rental box. You will have no difficulty in finding a rental agency: Sixt, Alamo, Hertz... there is something for everyone.

You can also go through brokers such as RentalCars, Expedia or AutoEscape, they usually offer lower prices. As with your ticket, the best way to make a good deal is to compare prices. Please note that to rent a car in the United States, you must be at least 21 years of age and have a driver's license. If you meet these conditions, and if you do not intend to stay for more than 90 days, you will not need an international permit either.

Step 4: Choose the right car for your road trip to be comfortable.

You will certainly be asked if you would like to rent the car with or without petrol. Our recommendation: always choose the option "full tank". The price of fuel is indeed not given to the United States. Better to pay a little extra and leave this responsibility to the rental agency. In terms of size, this is left to your personal discretion. The smaller the car, the cheaper it will be. However, remember that you will spend most of your time in the vehicle of your choice. It is important that after a certain amount of time, you are always at ease and that you don't feel cramped.

With or without GPS?

As long as you are in a foreign country, the presence of a GPS can be very comforting, if not a great help. But as you may fear it, its presence can inflate your rental bill. If you already have a road-tripper, take it with you! If not, compare the rental price with the surplus GPS and the price of a new GPS. It may be more interesting to buy one than rent one with your car.

Step 5: No road trip without compulsory insurance.

That's right! To be able to move freely in the United States, you must be insured. You will have the choice between "Liability Insurance" and "Third Party Liability", basic insurance which will cover you like civil liability in France.

For more comprehensive coverage, you can subscribe to Supplemental Liability Insurance or Extended Protection as a supplement. In the event of an accident with serious injuries or following a complaint against you, these types of insurance can compensate you up to $1 million.

If you can't afford one, you can always turn to the "Loss Damage Waiver". While it won't cover you like the SLI would, at least it will provide you with good coverage in the event of theft or external damage.

Step 6: Nothing beats a good map to prepare your itinerary.

Even with your GPS, it is always safer to have a map. You find it useless and troublesome? Download an application and install it on your mobile phone. Please note, however, that these types of applications are generally subject to a fee. As a precautionary and safety measure, it is always recommended to leave a paper card handy.

Even if you are sure you won't have to use it, you never know what might happen on the road. In the event of a technical or other unexpected problem, your good old card could prove to be beneficial. In addition to showing you the scenic routes, it also tells you where to find campsites, museums and other practical information.

Step 7: Define your budget for a dream road trip in the USA.

It is not easy to establish an accurate budget because it will depend on your plans: your destination, where you will stop for food and sleep, your entertainment, etc. Apart from the price of your plane ticket, you will have to charge a fee for:

  • Car rental: From about $30 to $80 per day depending on the car you choose (small or large, with or without GPS, with or without gas, etc.)
  • Insurance: Usually added to the rental price, depending on the risks you wish to cover, the contribution can be up to $50 per day.
  • Abandoning a car: If you rent a car at one location and leave it at another, you will have to pay a penalty of about $100.
  • Fuel: If you have opted for a rental with an empty tank, plan to pay a minimum of $3 for the braid, i. e. about 0.80 € per litre. Depending on the distance travelled, count at least $30-$40 a day.
  • Accommodation: The budget will depend on the type of accommodation you choose. If you want to save money, table for campsites ($15 to $30). For a hotel room, you will need about $60 and if you opt for a Bed & Breakfast package, you will need up to $200.
  • Catering: Here too, everything will depend on where you choose to eat. If you opt for a fast food, $10 will be more than enough, and so will a Chinese buffet. If you choose to eat in a restaurant, plan to have at least $50.00. If it's a fancy restaurant, the bill can be up to $200.
  • Entertainment: The price will depend on the activity you wish to do (visit the national parks, watch a show, play in Las Vegas, fly over the Grand Canyon by helicopter, etc.)

What is the budget for a stay in the United States?

If you choose to organize your own trip, the trip will cost you much less than with a travel agency. In the end, to achieve a dream road trip in the USA, you will need an average of $80 per day.


Other articles related to the same subject:

First Time ESTA VISA / ESTA USA Applicant?

Update your Travel Authorization?