USA Road Trip Tips – Volume One

You’re back at work and have some serious itchy feet going on, them cheeky January blues are starting to hit and you’re ready to go explore. Maybe you are dreaming of an all American Road Trip? Good Choice. Over the last 2 years we have driven over 7000 miles across the USA including the famous Route 66.

Now I am not saying we know everything but we’ve certainly picked up some knowledge over them 1000’s of miles and I’m here to share.

1. International Driving Permits
These are £5.50 and we found the best and cheapest way was to pick one up at the Post Office. We’ve never been asked for it when renting a car in the USA but for a couple of quid we’ve always picked one up just incase. And on the rental website they are normally one of the documents stated that you’ll need.

2. Car Hire
Now this could get wordy so here goes:
– Always book rental before you get to the airport for the best rates. You can sometimes find deals like a full tank of free fuel or additional drivers fee wavered.
– I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than a ‘full size’ car especially if you are doing more than pootling around a city, a ‘mid size SUV’ has been a safe bet for us but we also upgraded to ‘premium’ on a trip.
– Factor in one way drop off fees, this normally applies when you pick up your car in one state but then drop it off in another and can be up to $500. Ouch!
– Young drivers fee, this seems to depend on the company. Some charge you extra if you are under 25 and some 30. Again shop around as this can be $50 a day if not more.
– Checkout what mileage you get, the last thing you want is to drop your rental car back off and have a huge bill.
– Insurance, always go for fully comprehensive just incase. BUT they will try to sell you breakdown cover when you pick up the car. So far we have always refused this and never come a cropper, we did debate it on our last trip just because it was 3000+ miles but risked it for a biscuit. Well not an American biscuit but risk it for a cookie doesn’t sound as good.

3. General Driving
Driving isn’t as scary as some people make out. Ok 6 lane motorways are a little terrifying at first but when you get off and hit the smaller roads it’s a little easier.
– You can turn right on a red light, this is something that feels totally weird at first but after a couple of days it feels natural and you’ll wonder why we don’t do it at home.
– Stop signs actually mean stop. Come to a complete stop then you can go again.
– Cross-roads, now these hurt my head a little but basically if they don’t have lights you go in the order that you arrived.

4. Petrol Stations (sorry Gas stations)
These are the wonderful magical places where you can buy all sorts of one of a kind weird foods to take on your journey, go for a free toilet break and buy slushy drinks. Petrol is also practically free compared to the prices us lucky Brits pay. So don’t panic if you think you’ve hired a guzzler.
– Petrol is called ‘Gas’ and the nozzles colours are the opposite to home. You’ll normally want the black one for gas.
– Paying at petrol stations, some you can pay by credit card but it can occasionally fail when it asks you for a ‘zip code’ in this situation try hitting enter and it may let you carry on. If not don’t panic, pop inside and randomly guess how much petrol you will need say $40 pay and fill up your car. If your tank if full before this amount go back into the store and  they’ll give you the cash difference or refund your card.
– The toilets are normally safe, clean and free but be aware that if they’re unisex they can be a bit grim. I guess the same applies at home.

So as this post has hit over 600 words already I’ve made the choice to break it down into a few different posts.

Do you have any questions or have I missed anything? Leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them in Volume 2.