From Washington DC to Los Angeles
New York
Get your kicks!

The first thing to do is to book your flight. Do this well in advance, so you’ll find cheaper prices and more options. You’ll arrive in one city and depart from another one. To get an idea about prices, you can check out or a similar website (check the links page.), that make a search on all airline companies. Look for flights that make as few stops as possible.

Next step after you’ve booked the flight is to book the first night you’ll spend in the U.S., because you’ll have to put that information in the ESTA module. You can use or simply use Google Earth which will display almost any hotel with a link to its website.

Last, you’ll book your car. Look for the available companies in the airport you’ll arrive (we rented our cars with Hertz). Choose your car depending on how many persons you’ll be traveling with. Look carefully at the fuel consumption of the car , because in the U.S. everything’s bigger, even cars and their engines! Beware that there will be two surcharges: one because you’ll drop off your car in a different location from where you picked it up, and another for every additional driver.

Almost every car has an automatic transmission, but don’t worry if you’re not used to it, you’ll learn very quickly! Another thing you can’t do without is the cruise control, which allows you to set a speed and release the gas pedal as the car will maintain it until you touch it again.

If you’ve reached this website, which we hope you’ve enjoyed, it’s because you probably want to do a Coast to Coast yourself. We hope that what you read was helpful, but to give you a better idea of this trip here’s a page containing all the information and advices we can give you to better organize your road trip through the USA.

Lately, for the reasons we all know, entering into the U.S. has become a pain in the ass for a tourist.

You will need a biometric passport, with a chip embedded inside and with this symbol on the cover. If you live in Europe, chances are that you won’t need a visa, but you’ll need to fill out a form, called ESTA:  you’ll find it on this website. You can here website whether or not you’ll need a visa.

You also have to book your first night in advance, because you’ll be requested this information whether you fill out the ESTA or you request a visa.

You may also want to get a medical insurance that will cover the cost of any medical treatment you may require while you are in the U.S..

tips & hints

Ok, this whole coast to coast idea is very interesting, but how much will it cost me? It’s not a cheap holiday, that’s for sure, but then again, it’s 4 weeks! And after all, it won’t cost you a fortune, you can do it even though you haven’t won the lottery.

Some expenses are easy to predict because you’ll paid them in advance, like the flight and the car. Some others are more difficult, and you can only take a guess, like how much you’ll spend for the hotels, gas, food, parks and museums entries. You’ll then have to take into account all the extra money you’ll pay to satisfy your most inner desires!

Our prediction is €30 a day for the hotel (in the East and in big cities you’ll spend a bit more, in the desert a bit less); you can guess how much you’ll pay for gas, in our case, thanks to the Toyota Prius, it will be around €400.

All things considered, our guess is about €3500 each. You can find a more detail analysis in the NUMBERS page.

Credit cards are a must in the U.S., because you can pay almost anything with one. If you need some cash, you can withdraw it from the ATM machines scattered all over the cities. However, you can take a few hundred dollars with you from your country, just in case your card isn’t accepted at some ATMs or if you loose it.


If you’re going to visit more than three or four national parks, then we suggest you purchase a pass that will allow you entry to all of them. This will allow you to skip the ticket queue and to save a lot of money. You can buy this pass at the entrance of the first park you’ll visit it will cost you $80, it’s valid for a full year for four persons (the driver plus 3 people). Here you can find all the information you need.

You could find also very useful another kind of pass. This one will allow you entry to all of the major attractions in various cities. The cost will vary depending on the days you’ll use it. We used one in New York last year and it was great: we saved a lot of money, we skipped the queues many times and we did things than we never would have done without it. So for New York we can suggest the New York Pass. As regards other cities there are many options. For Chicago we opted for the Go Chicago Card. On the same website you can find pass for many other cities. In Washington, like in London, most of the museums are free.

White House

If you want to meet Obama, there may be a chance. Depending on your country, your embassy may organize free tour of the White House. For all the information, you should either contact your embassy in Washington or the U.S. embassy in your country.


On the internet you can find almost all the information you’ll need on all your stops along your coast to coast. However, if you want something you can keep in your hands, you can purchase some tourist guides. Since the U.S. are so big, it’s impossible to buy a guide for every state or every city you’ll visit. So we suggest you take one of those comprehensive guides: we bought two, USA by Lonely Planet and Road Trip USA” by Avalon Travels. We also purchased a road map by American Map just in case our GPS will stop working while we’re in the desert.

In the car

You’ll spend a lot of time in the car, so we suggest you make it as pleasant as you can. Prepare a very long song playlist, which you can burn on a cd or keep it in your mp3 player which you’ll connect to the car stereo. So we suggest you buy a car power adapter. You can also listen to some audio books.

Don’t think only about your ears, think also about your back: sitting in a car seat for hours can be painful so get yourself a nice pillow.


If you’re a sport fan , especially basketball, baseball, football or hockey, we suggest you attend a match, because in those sports in the American professional leagues play the best players in the world. You’ll also watch Americans doing one of their most favorite activity: watching a game while eating hot dogs and drinking lots of beer. Depending on the period you’ll go, you’ll have different options. NBA season begins in October and end in June; NFL season begins in September and ends in February; MLB season begins in April and ends in October; NHL season begins in October and ends in June. So if you go during summer, you’ll be able to attend a baseball game, or even a football one if you go in September. To purchase your ticket, visit the official website of the sport league you’re interested in and there you’ll find all the information you’ll need.


If you’re like us, you won’t be able to resist the need to buy a high tech gadget, like an ipod, a camcorder, a digital camera. If you want to make sure you won’t have to pay duty taxes on those items once you return to your country, we suggest you get rid of their boxes, so you can always tell them you owned those things even before going to the U.S. If they find those items in their original box, convincing the people at custom would be a bit difficult.

Speed limit in the U.S. can be very annoying. You’ll all have heard of the famous 55 mph limit in the highways, which was introduced in the Seventies during the oil crisis to reduce consumptions. From the Nineties this limit has been gradually raised, and in some States has been abolished. In many States it’s between 65 and 75 mph, with a tolerance of up to 10 mph. In urban areas and near schools the speed limit can go as low as 25 mph. Beware, if you go above those limits you’ll get busted by the police!

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You’ll need at least three weeks to take this kind of trip. If you have less than that, you’ll be forced to leave out some beautiful places, our worst you’ll risk spending all of your time driving the car to get there, making this trip more like a nightmare!  Plus, in less than three weeks  you won’t make the most out of your trip and of the money you’ve spent. If you have less than three weeks and you want to do it anyway,  you could rent a car to visit the east coast, than take a plane and go on the west coast, and there rent another car… sure, this would be less ‘on the road’! So the best choice would be four weeks; more than that and you’ll risk spending too much!

Anyway, the most important thing to do far in advance, to use your time and money in the best possible way, is planning. The USA are so huge that the things you could see (cities, parks, oddities) are almost infinite, so you have to find out what could really interest you, and then plan your visit accordingly. Luckily for you, you’re not the first to attempt such an enterprise, so the starting point could be the reports from people who’ve already done that., and if you’re reading this, you’re on the right track. Our starting point has been the website by Davide Catenazzi, who did his (first) coast to coast back in 2003, and to whom we’re grateful for the incredibly detailed amount of information he has put here, and again for all the kind assistance he gave us later.

Once you’ve decided what you want to see, you have to take into consideration the time factor. For this, you can go online and use Google Maps, which tells you the route to follow once you set the starting and ending points, or you can download and use the beautiful Google Earth, which can do even more, like give you Street View, 3D terrain visualization, information and location for hotels, transportation, attractions, parks and many more.

Our advice is to combine these software with one by Microsoft, Streets and Trips, which can do the usual route planning, but also the time planning: you can decide how much time to spend in one location, where to spend the night and when to depart. It can also calculate how much money you’ll spend on fuel. This way you can verify the feasibility of your trip. Be ambitious but also realistic: know your limits.

The best time to do the coast to coast  isn’t probably August, the hottest month of the year and also the crowdest. But chances are that if you have a job, you’ll get your holiday in this month; and if you’re not working (yet) you could have more freedom in choosing a better period of the year, but o the other hand less money available for this kind of trip. So if you can chose, the best would probably be May-June, when the weather is warm and tourists are still planning their holidays!

The Fellowship:

Chose it wisely. This is not your regular holiday trip, so whoever decides to follow you must be prepared for some discomforts: long flights, exhausting days spent driving, getting up at ungodly hours, long walks under the hot desert sun, nights spent in not exactly 5 stars hotels, and many more discomforts that can happen along the way.

Go with someone who shares your same interests: if you love nature, don’t go with someone who’d rather spend all day in shopping mall; If you like to visit museums, don’t go with someone who’ve been in one when he was in high school.

English language:

Obviously you must possess at least a basic knowledge of the English language, because you’ll have to deal with situations in which you must interact with people, like at the airport, in hotels, in restaurants and when facing unexpected situations. Don’t worry, Americans are nice and friendly, so even if your English isn’t exactly fluent, they’ll do their best to understand what you’re trying to tell them!

Tipping and pricing

When you go to the restaurant, remember to bring a calculator with you. Providing the service was good, a tip of 15% of the bill before tax is a good rule of thumb; if they spilled the soup on your shirt, you don’t give them anything;  on the other hand, if the service was superb, a 20% tip would make your server very happy.

Even if you go shopping, you must be good at math. You have to add to the price tag an amount of dollars depending on the State taxes: for example, in the State of New York the tax rate is 8.87%. So if you buy something whose price tag reads $100, you’ll have to pay $108.87. We asked a shopkeeper why they don’t put the final price: on the price tag you see the money that will go into my pockets, not the money that goes to the State!

Electrical guide

In the U.S. they use mostly this kind of power outlet at 110V and 60Hz. So if you have a different electrical system in your country you’ll have to buy some kind of power adaptor to fit the US electrical receptacles and/or a converter to change the voltage. To recharge your cell phone, mp3 player, camcorder or digital camera probably you’ll just need a power adaptor, because all chargers can switch automatically from 220V to 110V. If you want to use your hair dryer or electric shaver you’ll need also a voltage converter, or you may risk damaging your appliances.

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