Would I be able to satisfactorily travel the US east coast in four weeks?

Tom asked:

Some points to consider:

– I would be flying from the UK.

– I would start in the south (I don’t know where but it would have to have a big airport — Orlando? Miami? Maybe not anywhere in Florida?) and finish in NYC.

– How would I travel up the coast between cities? What are the trains and buses like? How expensive are they? Are there passes or discounts available?

– I want to strike a balance between seeing as much as possible and seeing things thoroughly: I don’t want to see it through a train window. How many places do you think I could reasonably see? Which cities and towns should I definitely see? What about tourist attractions? What can I afford to miss on a first trip? I want a mix of beaches, towns and cities.

– What about national parks, is there any way I can see those if I will be taking buses and trains?

– I intend to stretch my time out by camping and using hostels. Is this cheap in America?

– Do you have any other advice to give me?

Thanks a bunch! This idea is in its formative stages and I really need some early guidance.
It seems like flights are too expensive. One-way flights seem to cost over £500 which is more than I can afford as a student. Shame, as I want to see America.
Okay I did some more research. Flights for around £380 is affordable, fly-drive car rental for about the same price. Now it’s a matter of where to stay and what to see.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Kristina L on August 11th, 2009

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    4 weeks is plenty to see the east coast if you aren’t going north of New York.

    Public Transportation isn’t spectacular in the US, and I wouldn’t really recommend it. It’s not like it is in Europe. Your best bet is to rent a car. This will give you the freedom to see and do what you would like to do.

    There aren’t a lot of hostels in America either. There are some, but last I checked I had to hunt around to find the few that I had. There wasn’t any central websites to locate hostels (although this may have changed since I looked). However, camping is very much an option. I camped all the east coast all through college. It’s an inexpensive way to travel.

    National Parks are plentiful and most of them are fantastic. You may have to go out of your way a little but it’s worth it to see as many of these as you can. Use the link to help figure out which parks will be close to the route you plan to take. If you take the train (which I doubt is a workable option for you) you won’t get to see any of these. I don’t think Greyhound goes here either, but you might be able to find some private tour companies that bus people to the National Parks. Again, I still think your best bet will be renting a car.

    Feel free to email me specific questions. Always happy to help.

    Edit: what are your interests? what type of stuff do you do want to see while you are here? Did you want to go straight up the coast or are you just thinking in general the east part of the US? What are your expectations? I can help you out here, but I need more info.

  2. duker918 on August 12th, 2009

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    Other things to consider:
    Given that you say you are a student, check carefully into the car rental. Most companies will not rent to anyone under 21. Just about all will charge an extra daily fee to renters under 25. It can add up FAST! Also fine out what the charge will be to pick the car up in one location and return it in another, again, this can be quite a significant amount of money.

    As this idea is still in the formative stages my best suggestion is to get to the local library and check out one of the travel guides (Let’s Go or Rough Guide probably). They will have most of the information you are looking for in one place. From that you’ll be able to figure a rough plan and then have more specific questions that people will really be able to give you great advice with.

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