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Old 28th February 2014, 08:24   #16
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Default Re: Driving expedition in the United States

Pleasantly surprised to see another person from Colorado I live here in Boulder and in the past 2 years I have seen a lot of Colorado. Excellent roads, breathtaking scenery, and a beautiful climate makes this state one of the best places to live in! I have done road trips to several places in CO such as the sand dunes, Pikes peak, garden of the gods, Vail, Winter Park, Royal Gorge, Independence Pass, Maroon Bells, Rocky mountains, and many more destinations. This is such a beautiful state that you can never get bored of anything even if you visit it multiple times! Everything looks different in different seasons throughout the year.

Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Old 28th February 2014, 10:17   #17
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Thanks a lot, for posting so many pictures and the time taken to write down the details. The general impression on Utah, Nevada, Arizona etc is of being very hot and desert-like. So the snow covered terrain in those pics was a different and pleasing sight. Very nice travelogue.

Congrats, and keep travelling!!
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Old 1st March 2014, 13:07   #18
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Thanks for posting these wonderful pictures and details. Clean, simple and effective narration.

Brings back so many memories of my own road trips in US. Those were some days!
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Old 1st March 2014, 13:11   #19
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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
This is awesome! Really liked it! 5-stars.

Only disagreement? Your over-extended training period! I was driving like a cat on my 2nd day of driving in Palo Alto. I found the cities to be really tough because you have so many regulations (e.g if a school bus stops on an undivided single lane road and flashes a stop sign - traffic on both sides must stop to let the kids pass). Once you "get" it, there's no issue!

My consistent issues was one: figuring out the right exit in time on the interstate - because you're doing like 60-70 mph and its quite easy to be in the wrong lane, and miss it since you can't cut lanes at the last moment unlike India! (atleast I didnt want to). The paranoia of seeing stop signs everywhere and stopping properly was a minor headache, as was the “free right" concept - I was quite scared of doing it initially unless there was another fellow ahead of me doing it

This happens a lot when you are in a new part of town. Its easy to miss an exit if you are on the wrong lane. Changing lanes like we do in India is very difficult and dangerous. People do not expect you do change lanes suddenly and you are in for a rear-end collision if you do so without a fair warning.

What helped me a lot in recent years was technology. I had a high end GPS that had lane assistance built in. On a major highway, the GPS would not only tell me which exit to take but would also prompt me to be on the correct lane.

For those of you who are wondering what the fuss is all about - there are situations where you are multiple exits one after the other at say 1/4 miles. Say you want to take the second exit, you need to be on the second last lane. The last lane will exit at the first exit and terminate. And you wouldn’t get time to safely change lanes if you are a couple of lanes off... The miracle of technology - its been a saviour

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Dada, Please can you throw some light on how you could get a license or was it required etc.
Getting a US DL for a tourist can be a bit of a pain. But you do not need a US DL to drive in the US. You can drive in the US on an Indian DL, as long as its in English. A card type DL is preferable but even a book type Indian DL works. Just that you may have to do some explaining.

You can rent a car in the US on an Indian DL. Hertz, National and Avis will gladly rent you a car. You will need to however, buy insurance from the rental company as you will not have your own car insurance. Rentals on Indian DL can be a bit expensive - or to be more precise, the insurance component of the rental car will be a bit more expensive.

Hey you are wrong. You need an International Driving Permit.
Nope, you don’t. IDP is needed only when your DL is not in english. IDP is not a DL. It always must accompany your DL and is only a document that serves as a translation for your vernacular DL. Note that you can drive on an IDP or Indian DL upto 6 months only. 1 yr in some states. But after than you need to get a US DL.

Last edited by Zappo : 2nd March 2014 at 16:24. Reason: Please use the Edit button in the first 20 mins rather than making back to back posts.
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Old 1st March 2014, 15:04   #20
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Originally Posted by torque!! View Post
This happens a lot when you are in a new part of town. Its easy to miss an exit if you are on the wrong lane. Changing lanes like we do in India is very difficult and dangerous. People do not expect you do change lanes suddenly and you are in for a rear-end collision if you do so without a fair warning.

What helped me a lot in recent years was technology. I had a high end GPS that had lane assistance built in. On a major highway, the GPS would not only tell me which exit to take but would also prompt me to be on the correct lane.

For those of you who are wondering what the fuss is all about - there are situations where you are multiple exits one after the other at say 1/4 miles. Say you want to take the second exit, you need to be on the second last lane. The last lane will exit at the first exit and terminate. And you wouldn’t get time to safely change lanes if you are a couple of lanes off... The miracle of technology - its been a saviour
Its a bit more complicated than that. My Garmin had uneven coverage of the exits. In some cases it would tell you the exact lane, and even display an image of the particular lanes/exits i would see. Very cool. Except 1 in 5 exits would not have that, and I'd get confused.

Further these arterial SFO roads like the I-101 and suchlike had weird exits at times. Sometimes only one lane would exit, sometimes two, sometimes three (that was I-580 near Berkeley). What that would do is to catch me napping at times, like you mentioned. Then i'd either be forced into exiting or forced to take a total detour.
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Old 1st March 2014, 16:50   #21
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Mind blowing pictures debuda and for the moment, I was feeling, I'm also traveling along with you on this expedition. Your narration and pictures kept me hooked till you last post. Complete US is very pristine and full of beautiful roads. When we can get similar and safe roads in India, I'm just thinking.

Of course, God bless everyone friends like Anirban.

Last edited by anujmishra : 1st March 2014 at 16:52.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 00:21   #22
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WoW! Lovely pictures and graphic story, thanks so much for sharing. Been planning a C2C, Boston-SFO for a long time, requires too much time, I think will do a loop drive either east or west coast in the near future.

Most passes closed up when you drove? Around what time do they close, did you have an difficulty with closed roads, see you've done in in Nov end Dec 1st week. Remember reading somewhere Tioga Pass is steep, caravans are recommended not to do it in snow times and caution for others. Will keep glued here to get all information.

The prospect of driving on the other side is scary, though I've done some in Europe. Will take your model of sitting in on the car with my cousin in SFO for a few days before I venture out into traffic. Did the same with a friend in Auckland before we did the End To End drive there in Nov 2013.

+1 to what Anuj said, you're lucky to have a great friend like Anirban in the US.

--Ramky
=====

Last edited by ramkya1 : 2nd March 2014 at 00:26.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 10:01   #23
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Friends, thanks for all your comments and responses. I'm travelling in Himachal Pradesh right now (in a Renault Duster) and have limited internet connectivity. Would respond to all your queries upon my return to Jamshedpur next week.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 12:46   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torque!! View Post
Getting a US DL for a tourist can be a bit of a pain. But you do not need a US DL to drive in the US. You can drive in the US on an Indian DL, as long as its in English. A card type DL is preferable but even a book type Indian DL works. Just that you may have to do some explaining.

You can rent a car in the US on an Indian DL. Hertz, National and Avis will gladly rent you a car. You will need to however, buy insurance from the rental company as you will not have your own car insurance. Rentals on Indian DL can be a bit expensive - or to be more precise, the insurance component of the rental car will be a bit more expensive.

Hey you are wrong. You need an International Driving Permit.
Nope, you don’t. IDP is needed only when your DL is not in english. IDP is not a DL. It always must accompany your DL and is only a document that serves as a translation for your vernacular DL. Note that you can drive on an IDP or Indian DL upto 6 months only. 1 yr in some states. But after than you need to get a US DL.

Quick urgent query please.


I am in the US for almost a month from tomorrow. My wife is going to be on consulting assignment there for a bit so I will keep commuting at least once a quarter.

We are on L1 Visas.

In this scenario, being on L1 and since I am only visiting from time to time and staying for no more than say a month at a time, will I need to get an US License in order to rent a car or will my Indian DL + IDP combo do?

I normally buy those 'peace of mind' covers whenever I rent, so I guess that should cover the insurance part, right?

Now, in case, after a while, my wife buys a car while she is there, can I drive that car using my Indian DL + IDP combo?

Of course, I will ensure that car is insured for Additional driver as well.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 12:53   #25
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Hello debuda, wonderful journey in USA. It is evident that you love travelling by road. i have done the west coast Yosemite and the PCH in bits and pieces in a Toyota Prius but never been able to do a 15 20 day drive. The pictures are beautiful. Keep them coming.
Hope to see your Himachal photos too. How is the duster on long stretches in the hills? I did Himachal west to east to Lahul and Spiti in a XTrail and after that for the next trip the Innova felt sad. Once again an wonderfully descriptive travelogue.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 16:08   #26
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Default Re: Driving expedition in the United States

@Debuda, congrats ! That drive will for long remain at the top of your best drives list !

@Phamilyman, guess it pays to take it slow, esp when in a new system.

Having personally done a 12 day, 5000 mile solo drive, I can relate to this drive. Debuda did CO - CA - CO. I had done CA-CO-CA, and managed to go through AZ, and further up to WYoming & IDaho before coming back. I would love to do something like that again. Being alone, I didnt have to worry about much actually. Indian food & water packed in the trunk, drive, stop & see - check into a motel at night. COuple of times I have slept in the car itself at rest areas. Other times, a night drive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
In this scenario, being on L1 and since I am only visiting from time to time and staying for no more than say a month at a time, will I need to get an US License in order to rent a car or will my Indian DL + IDP combo do?
Shankar, why not just get the DL - it will simplify things for you, though you may be more subject to local laws if caught.

Two reasons I suggest a DL is:
1. you will be on L1 / depenent. If the cops ask for ID, then they will surely compare residency status with the DL type.

2. Getting a DL will help you get a AAA membership - which in turn can get you discounts at various places.


Not related to the DL status:
Please check if the National Parks still offer the annual pass. Much cheaper than to buy an entry pass at each National Park
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Old 2nd March 2014, 16:20   #27
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Originally Posted by condor View Post
Shankar, why not just get the DL - it will simplify things for you, though you may be more subject to local laws if caught.

Two reasons I suggest a DL is:
1. you will be on L1 / depenent. If the cops ask for ID, then they will surely compare residency status with the DL type.

2. Getting a DL will help you get a AAA membership - which in turn can get you discounts at various places.


Not related to the DL status:
Please check if the National Parks still offer the annual pass. Much cheaper than to buy an entry pass at each National Park

Thanks Condor

For the first trip I think I will go with an IDP.
I will definitely consider what you say though.

Ref AAA, our own AA is affiliated and I am a Life Member of AA.
Ref National Parks. That is a great input. Thanks a lot!
I am indeed keen to visit some of those wonderful natural spaces.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 21:24   #28
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For the first trip I think I will go with an IDP.

Ref AAA, our own AA is affiliated and I am a Life Member of AA.
@Shankar - sounds good on the IDP for first trip. But AA & AAA are not compatible. No reciprocal arrangement between the two. I had tried this very thing when I went to US .. but the Americans were smarter
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Old 3rd March 2014, 12:15   #29
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Mod note: Posts merged. Back to back posts. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post

In this scenario, being on L1 and since I am only visiting from time to time and staying for no more than say a month at a time, will I need to get an US License in order to rent a car or will my Indian DL + IDP combo do?
Ideally your Indian DL should work just fine. But given that you have an L1 and will be there for a month, I would advise you to get a US DL. It should not be a hassle for you since you will be able to get an SSN on L1 papers. And once you have that alongside a valid L1, getting a US DL should be straight forward.

But if you are hellbent on not getting a US DL, your Indian DL will work. The 6 month validity of IDP/ DL is a bit of a grey area and can be interpreted differently by different people. Is it 6 months cumulative, or 6 months per trip or 6 months with a gap of x years in between is gray - so ride your luck till for the first 6 months and be sure to get a US DL in that period.



Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
I normally buy those 'peace of mind' covers whenever I rent, so I guess that should cover the insurance part, right?
Yep, it will. Also helps to rent your car using a good Credit Card. Most good US credit cards have a built in protection clause for Rental Insurance. It can be used to cover your deductible or in a very bad scenario, the amount that your Rental Company's insurance doesn't cover.

Is that a real scenario? Oh yes. Every insurance has a cap. The ones that rental car companies provide have a very high cap. But if you are responsible for a chain of collisions on a highway that involve a few Jaguars and Mercedes and some property damage thrown in for good measure, you will run out of your primary insurance cap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Now, in case, after a while, my wife buys a car while she is there, can I drive that car using my Indian DL + IDP combo?

Of course, I will ensure that car is insured for Additional driver as well.
You can. But let me explain...
In an ideal world, a third person can drive your wife's car. If they damage her car, your wife's insurance will kick in. However, if the husband is involved in an accident and wife has not declared that her husband may drive the car, then the insurance company may consider that you tried to hide important information from them and may rescind (cancel/withdraw) your policy (after filing a claim) under the pretext of concealment or misrepresentation of information. I have seen this happen in case of an acquaintance, so be cautious.

Make sure you indicate that you will drive your wife's car on her insurance. Given you do not have a well established US DL or have a foreign license, her Insurance cost will be higher than normal. But it does not beat your peace of mind. You can add, remove driver, from an insurance policy anytime. So, you may consider adding yourself in for a few months and some some money. Your mileage will vary with your insurance company though - some may offer a significant saving, others may not.

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Its a bit more complicated than that. My Garmin had uneven coverage of the exits. In some cases it would tell you the exact lane, and even display an image of the particular lanes/exits i would see. Very cool. Except 1 in 5 exits would not have that, and I'd get confused.
I agree. It's not perfect. In my experience, my Tom Tom did a better job with lane assist than my Garmin. Tom Tom and Garmin, in the US, use a different maps database, so its quite possible that one may be better than the other depending on the area you are in. Also, my Tom Tom would only show lane assist if it had that info. If it did not, it would just tell me to take whatever exit - never confused me.

Technology helps, but blindly relying on it is not a good idea. I used to always take the GPS recommendation and validate it with the road signs. It helps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Further these arterial SFO roads like the I-101 and suchlike had weird exits at times. Sometimes only one lane would exit, sometimes two, sometimes three (that was I-580 near Berkeley). What that would do is to catch me napping at times, like you mentioned. Then i'd either be forced into exiting or forced to take a total detour.
Again, my Tom Tom gave a very good experience with those type of weird exits too. It would visually show me how many lanes are exiting. It was an expensive GPS but I considered it money very well spent...

Last edited by Jaggu : 3rd March 2014 at 13:01.
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Old 3rd March 2014, 16:45   #30
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Thank you for that wonderful write up It's really a treat to the eyes and equally informative, Never knew about the law that the cars has to be parked with wheels tilted out in a gradient). It's a dream for me to do a road trip in US and of course I'm so envious now (no prizes for guessing that).
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