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The Wheel America! Getting Around in the Great US of A

January 4, 2021 Headline News, Visit USA 1 Comment

About 3 days before Corona19 began making alterations to our travel plans, I’d written a feature story about Cruising across the American landscape in your very-own Recreational Vehicle. Timing’s EVERYTHING!  The story’s gone ‘on the shelf’ for the time being but, when the post-Covid doors DO Open again: Be Packed and READY!

Read On!  And begin making plans Now-now. You know you want to… and making the plan is, almost, as good as going along!    Almost……

“Lighting Out!” Has Never Been Easier!

Armed with a valid Driver’s Licence from Australia, and a recognized credit card, visitors to America have a smorgasbord of options for getting around on rented wheels. And the popularity of discovering the real America while rubbing elbows with the locals has increased ten-fold in as many years. Last year alone, more than 30% of the 1.1 plus million visitors to the USA from ‘the lucky country’ rented something with wheels underneath it. Australians who visit the United States linger longer, are known to visit venues far from the beaten track and travel those small varicose vein roadways known as ‘blue highways’. Far from the wide, multi-lane Interstates.

The lure of the Open American road.

The reasons for taking to the open road in America are almost too many to mention. To name-drop only a few highlight examples:  The USA boasts over 4.2 million miles of wide, well-sign-posted, and paved roads.  And every one of the “lower ’48 states” (Hawaii and Alaska being the exceptions) are linked by a well-maintained Interstate Highway System that makes it easy to determine if you’re headed in the wrong compass direction: All even-numbered interstate roads run in an East-West direction, making a horizontal line across the American road map, while all Odd-numbered Interstates run North-South, making a vertical line on the map.

Another pleasing reason international visitors are being seduced to the open road in the US is that because of keen competition in America, gasoline (petrol) prices idle at around half the price at any petrol pump in Australia.

Couple these two nuggets of travel trivia with the well-documented fact that Americans have a genuine affinity for Australians which helps to set the stage for a handsome holiday on wheels and ‘puts a tiger’ in the gas-tank’.

English Spoken Here!  Well, sort of!

Americans speak English, even if the Australians sometimes can’t fully understand them. As the great American poet, Walt Whitman once said: “Celebrate the Differences in all Men” and the incredible variety of accents in America make for great conversations, significant smiles, tongue-twisting-translations and oftentimes will lead to an invitation to a bottomless cup of coffee or a local’s favourite brand of beer. New York, New England, Boston, Mid-west and deep Southern ‘drawls’, and a lot more ‘accents’ on the English language are nicely mixed into the ‘melting pot of America’.

If It’s Got Wheels, The Americans Will Rent It To You!

Getting around in America is hugely popular with international visitors. Roadways are well-sign-posted, locals-only need to hear an ‘accent, and they’re keen to enhance a holiday with special spots and home-grown directions. And a GPS kit from your rental vehicle company or any K-Mart or Walmart will set the navigator free to do much more than spend an entire holiday buried or frazzled in front of the roadmap. A modern GPS can advise drivers of the fact that there should not enter a ramp of an LA Freeway going in the wrong direction with a variety of accents.

Bikes, Trikes, and Motorcycles! 

Visit any waterfront attraction or major American city and you’ll have exciting alternatives to ‘hoofing it’. Skate-boards, tandem bikes, Segways (Segue in other parts of the planet), gas-powered golf carts, Quadra-cycles, and in-line roller blades can be hired by the hour, by the day or by the month.  It won’t take long to discover this is the way the Americans enjoy getting around instead of on foot. Plan to tote a new address book in the top pocket: You’ll be needing it for all the new side-walk-found-friends you make.

Australians have a real affinity with the great American-made icon; the larger-than-life Harley Davidson motorcycle. And there are ever-increasing numbers of visitors to the USA who are opting for road-trip of a lifetime on top of a ‘Harley Hog’. Thousands of motorcycle aficionados tag along on fully-escorted tours to ride bare-back on famous bits of ‘blacktop’ in an organized tour, which includes back-up motorcycles, an American ‘trail boss’ along for the ride and all the highlights tossed into the saddle-bags. The most popular tours for this type of road trip with the ‘wind in your hair on a Harley’ glide along ‘the mother road’ – Route 66 and the famous Pacific Coast Highway that meanders from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond. There are hundreds of options to choose from. Touring companies have pleasantly packed up everything for the motorcycle enthusiast.

Would-be ‘Bikers’ can don the Leathers and motor ‘Solo’ or join an organized group for the added commentary and comradery. A current Motorcycle license from home is required, and some outfits have age restrictions so it pays to shop around.

Stop, Revive, and Thrive! 

Overseas visitors to the USA are pleasantly pleased to discover the potential number of diversions in their path. Road signs are abundant, and historical landmarks are well-signposted with enough warning to make a diversion without tipping the vehicle’s occupants onto the floor mats.

State and local ‘Visitors Centers’ offer-up free parking, bottomless coffee, information, and ice water alongside helpful staff and volunteers. Look for the side-of-the-road “I” signs. These ‘Information’ outlets oftentimes have an Mt. Rushmore stack of local newspapers, maps, and fliers on ‘must-see’ attractions in the area. Maps and collateral are almost always ‘FREE”. Expect sparkling clean restrooms.

Engaging the locals is still, the best way to discover the local shopping, fuel prices, the ‘good oil’ and other nearby, insider’s information. 

Super-Size When Selecting! 

For the past 30+ years, surveys of returning visitors from a holiday in the USA have listed The Shopping as Number One! Last year alone, over 89% of the million-plus visitors returning from America enjoyed the notion of ‘shop till you drop’ so it is a very good idea to pack lightly, and plan for an extra suitcase in the ‘trunk’ (boot) when exploring rental vehicle options.  If you’re renting a ‘Recreational Vehicle… ‘Fur-get-About-it!” There is enough storage space on an average “RV’ to include K-Mart bikes for all the kids, a new lawn-mower in the box for dad, and two full sets of golf clubs for mom. 

Put The Pedal To the Medal:  After All, You’re On Vacation!

Specialty cars are readily available in America, with many rental firms providing some powerful horse-power to their rental stables. At Alamo, for example, road warriors can select from a smorgasbord of powerful classic convertibles and luxury cars with loads of ‘grunt’ under the hood (bonnet). Smile nicely, be polite, and ask for a ‘courtesy upgrade’ at the check-in counter’… If they have extras, you can oftentimes land a Lincoln, a much bigger ‘boot’ or even a ‘soft-top’ convertible. 

Think Big! 

The fastest-growing segment of the rental industry in the USA from this market is travel by Recreational Vehicle. And hiring an ‘RV’ in America is marvelous way to enjoy the freedom to stop and go as you please while taking all the creature comforts along for the ride. In a recreational vehicle, you pack and unpack once, a bit like cruising on land.

Fully-equipped ‘bathrooms aboard a well-laid-out galley, refrigerator/freezer, and an oven large enough to cook a Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings.

Excellent bedding makes this the logical choice for thousands of Australians.

For families, the journey is a big part of the experience, but hearing questions such as ‘When are we going to get there?” are virtually non-existent because while under-way, with on-board DVD players, the young ones can enjoy board games on their ‘tablets’ at the kitchen table, use the toilet and raid the refrigerator.

If variety is the spice of life, there is no shortage of choice in the size, layout, and rental locations all across America. The astounding thing about hiring a recreational vehicle is the ease with which you enjoy the open road.

The RVs are as easy to drive as the family station wagon and are fully loaded to meet American expectations of full air conditioning and heat, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmissions, cruise controls, and more. Privileged ‘pull-thru parking’ at attractions, major city venues, and in national parks puts RV travelers at the front of the crowd.

Travel anywhere in the USA by RV has many rewards. RV campgrounds and resorts run the gamut of amenities. Swimming pools, general stores, full water, power sparkling clean facilities are considered ‘the basics by Americans who spend their ‘vacations’ in the family RV or rental. The American RV is seen as the family’s summer cottage, with the advantage of being able to change the address on a whim to waterside, national park, mountain top, and historic area. Just about anywhere the roadway takes them.

Many RV resort chains such as KOA (Kampgrounds of America) and ‘Jellystone RV Parks” (themed after Fred Flintstone characters!) boast handsome discounts for joining the ‘club’ (free) daily activities for the kids, night-time movies under the stars, and more. Even if you’re going by rental car, try a night or two in one of the ‘Camping Kabins’ they feature. It’s cheaper than a motor-inn, you just need to tote in your own bedding.

Freedom of Choice means mixing up the night-stops to enjoy ‘mother nature’ in a pristine National Park, or ‘checking in’ at a beachside RV resort bragging about the 18 hole golf course, or going totally ‘bush’ (outback) where the nightly cost of accommodation is zero, zilch, nada, nothing.

There is a website currently operating which highlights over 60,000 ‘free RV and camping sites in North America’  which appears to be very popular for newly-weds and honeymooners.

Enjoying a vacation in a Recreational Vehicle starts at the check-out and orientation counter. There is no need for a special licence, and damage deposits are far less than anywhere in the world and are not debited from the renter’s credit card until the vehicle returns to the depot. Australians who are often keen to start in the West and wind-up almost anywhere will find they can oftentimes drop an RV ‘without one-way charges’ and ‘shoulder season’ and ‘delivery rates’ are often cheaper than the cost of a motel room, so transport, accommodation, and meals make RVing almost, as ‘cheap as fast-food chips’. RV renters get a full orientation, and ‘walk-thru’ before ever putting the keys in the ignition, and in no time at all, turning entire families into RV gurus Toll-free 24/7 roadside assist lines are offered by car, RV, and motorcycle rental outfits, so it pays to go with a well-recognized provider.

Homesick? Not Likely 

Staying in touch with the pet-minder on the home-front has never been easier when taking an American road trip. Every fast-food chain, fuel stop, truck stop, and Starbucks coffee shop is pleased to pour on complimentary WiFi connections. This access to contacting the folks back home makes it a lot easier to let them know you’re going to be lingering longer and extending your stay in the US of A. 

It’s a Wrap!

 Because visitors to America from Australia visit for longer than any other long-haul visitors on the planet and return on average three times in a lifetime, they travel farther afield, enjoy the road less traveled, and love engaging the ‘locals’.

The love affair is mutual, so sharpen up the ‘accent’, engage the Americans, get out the road map and start planning the road-trip of a lifetime in the Wheel America. Remember to drive on the ‘wrong side of the road’ and … send us a postcard!

 

Written By:  Mark William Sheehan

 


Contact Box 

Air Tahiti Nui    www.airtahitinui.com/au-en
Delta Airlines     www.delta.com

CruiseAmerica RV Rentals www.cruiseamerica.com

Brand USA  www.thebrandusa.com/about/global-offices/office-region/67

Visit USA (consumers) www.visittheusa.com.au

Alamo Rent A Car www.alamo.com/en_US/car-rental/foreign-landing-pages/alamo-australia/alamo-australia-worldwide.html

EagleRider Motorcycles www.eaglerider.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA25v_BRBNEiwAZb4-ZcPjdsZrqwBPWxO6ZUdlXYUtFNDFPM2dG0H_zUrDXO25a7DWV7Ar4BoCQd8QAvD_BwE

Kampgrounds of America   www.koa.com

 

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Jack Aakhus says:

    Great article! Makes me want to travel (in an RV) around America right now!

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