Car hire for 6 month trip

Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:59 AM
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Car hire for 6 month trip

I am in the very early stages of planning a trip around the states next year, for around 6mths.

My plan is to drive around but I know this would be very costly using the usual car hire companies. I'm also from UK, so the whole driving thing will be an experience in itself.

Does anyone have any tips on the best way to do this, or of any long term car hire companies that would offer good deals?

Also, if you have done this kind of trip before what sort of things should I be looking out for? My route is not planned at the moment but I know the places I want to see seem to be located in all 4 corners of the States!

Thanks in advance for your help,
beela is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 07:51 AM
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I don't know anything about long term renting but in our travels we've meet many people who come to the states for that peroid of time. Many will purchase an used motorhome and then resale it when they are done.

Upside is you don't have to pay the high cost of lodging, and you can do a lot of your own cooking and save money by not having to eat out much. The downside is the cost of gas and RV's don't usually get that good of mileage. Resale on motorhomes are pretty good. Of course there is no guarentee that it won't break down.

I would suggest making sure your route has you in the northern part of the US in the summer and the southern part in the spring and fall.

With 6 months you're going to be able to see a lot of our wonderful country!

utahtea is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:45 AM
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It is always a tough decision between renting and buying for such a long period of time. If you are lucky and/or clever you could possibly purchase a car and sell it for close to the purchase price. On the other hand, renting a vehicle means having much better determinations of ultimate cost, lower risk, time savings, and a support network in case of repairs. For such a long period, you should look into the used rental agencies, such as Rent-a-Wreck ( or Ugly Duckling (western states only).

When planning a six month trip across the whole country, my best advice would be to make sure that you visit northern locations during the warmer months of the year (April-September), and save the southern locations for the cooler months (October-March).
ALF is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:47 AM
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It's a vexing problem. Start by going to the websites of all the majors and see if they offer a long term rental or lease options at lower rates than their conventional rates, otherwise plan on around US$1000 per month for a basic rental (with unlimited mileage etc.) Taxes and insurance will be extra, so you should probably figure on 20% above that for planning purposes. That's a lot of money, but frankly cheaper than you'd encounter with comparable car hire plans in Europe.

Buying a car and selling it back is an idea that frequently comes up; however US (actually, individual states') car registration, title, and insurance laws make this an extremely difficult process. Unlike most other countries, vehicle policies in the US are the exclusive province of the states, and every one is slightly different, so that buying, obtaining title, paying taxes, paying for registration, obtaining insurance, driving licenses, etc. etc. has 50 (51 counting DC) different sets of rules, with wide differences in hassle and cost. Most states won't allow registration of a car to a nonresident of that state; to show residency you have to have a driving license and address from that state; you can't register a car without insurance, the insurance people want to see a driving record.... and on and on the effect of which is to drive you mad, consume time, and cost you plenty.

There are a couple of work-arounds to the rental/insurance/title problem, although you might think them somewhat off the wall.

First, if you have a friend or acquaintance in the US that you trust, ask him/her to purchase a vehicle on your behalf, title and register it, then add you to his/her insurance policy as another "named insured" party. You arrive, drive the car around for six months or whatever, then have him/her sell it. Naturally you would reimburse him/her for the costs associated with all this. In this manner, you'd have the benefit of full insurance, and you could recover a portion of your costs at the end through the sale of the car (which either he/she or you could handle.) This approach will be much, much cheaper than rental+insurance to a conventional agent. Your UK driving license would be okay for a reasonable period, by the way.

The second approach is very counterintuitive but works for a surprising number of visitors annually. Buy a car in Europe, ship it to the US, drive it around, then ship it back. As long as you don't register the car in the US it doesn't need to carry US specifications (various mechanical and safety items that Euro cars may or may not have.) Obviously you'd want to get a car somewhere on the continent so the steering wheel would be on the left side, and you'd want to make sure the car model has parts and service availability in the US (don't go looking for Smart Car shops in Tulsa.) Shipping will run around US$1000 each way (and take a month to/from the east coast). Every year we see increasing numbers of European cars on the road in the US being driven by people who've obviously done this. It doesn't make sense for short periods, but for 6+ month voyages it can be very cheap. BTW, the majority of cars we see like this are campervans, usually with German or Dutch reg. plates. You might think about a VW camper, which could double as a hotel for many nights.

Happy planning, and don't let the bureaucracy dishearten you.
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Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:53 AM
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utahtea's recommendation of buying a used motorhome is a good one. In fact, even if you choose to buy a car, buy it used. Depreciation will already be factored in, insuring it will be somewhat cheaper, and you will definitely get more back at resell time. The insurance question is very important, so check into it now before you even start on this adventure.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:57 AM
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Gardyloo: Awesome post!! beela, read it carefully-- it's everything you need to know.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 10:11 AM
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beela, take a look at, this may be a good option for you.
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 05:13 PM
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Take Amtrak across the USA, train is good if you want to see the land and make stops in between. You can also rent/hire a car in certain areas you want to explore more. It would be insane costly to rent a car for 6 months long, unless your good with a screwdriver 8-) . I went to and click on UK residents site and put in a rental for 6 months, they had a package w/ insurance and it was around 215 pounds a week. Check out dollar, they have good cars.
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 05:15 PM
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I was actually at and click on the "car for hire in USA" package. I put in jan 1 to june 1 of 2004 and that good package deal came up. Im sure u can find some good ones. good luck, let us know what u find!
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