USA is THE place to go for a great roadtrip. Since our first adventure around 20 years ago, we have driven cars and ridden Harleys across many of the most epic landscapes of the western US, and not to forget the Overseas highway from Miami to Key West. The deserts of western USA is a great open space to cruise an american muscle car or a Harley. On the way we have learn a thing or two about how things work on the road, how not to do things, and how things should be done. We hope that this short introduction will help you on your future adventure in a car or on a motorbike. Should you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.
We always rent with «big brand” car rental agencies. We have tried those “bundle” agencies who represent several brands, and we have always been burned on total price at the end. We use Avis and Hertz this is a personal preference, but they have always delivered. It is good to check where you can pick up and where you can deliver. For instance if you are staying last nights in a city, its often better to deliver car in city or airport, just to save parking in town. Selection is also bigger at airports than city offices. Make sure to get all necessary insurance before you drive away.
Harley Davidson Rentals
For Harley Davidson rentals, or motorbikes in general in the US, we have always used Eaglerider always fresh bikes, never any troubles, and they have locations all over. Self-driver is what we have done, but they have nice tours as well. It is expensive to rent motorbikes in the US, most of the cost is insurance as is normal ine the US. Read all info carefully, and make sure you are covered for every eventuality.
To plan trips, we have used Google Earth, download the pro version, its great to put pins and get the distances calculated, it makes it easier to see the distances between cities and attractions. Also to ride more than 400 kilometres a day is a pain on a motorbike, so make sure to aviod too long rides per day. The distances you can drive in a car on a good interstate is always much longer than you think, we have been surprised many times on how fast the miles go by on the Interstate.
American drivers, well to be kind, they are not European drivers. Already at the age of 16 they get their drivers licence. The 8 lane Interstate roads can be a bit intimidating going in to or out of a big city. The trick is to stick to your lane, if you know you are taking an offramp in a while, stay in the righ hand lanes. Find your inner zen, stay in lane, keep cool, keep an eye on signs and look around you on both sides. In America they do not do like Europeans, and overtake in left lanes, and drive slower in the right lane. The cars will use any lane to overtake, they will drive in the left lane under speed limit, not moving a muscle to move to the right, so you do have to pass on the right side. So be aware that fast traffic will be both on your left as per usual, but also on your right. This is the biggest advice we can give, keep an eye on all lanes if you drive more than two lane highways. This is by no means a mean dig at drivers in the US but more an observation, all nations have their own way of driving, this is how we percieve American drivers. In all our years of riding and driving the great US, we have had no accidents, knock on wood.
At gas/petrol stations you always need to pay in advance. Unless there is a option for paying by credit card outside at the pump. You will not be able to fill anything until you have given cash to attendant inside, or sent someone in with a credit card to guarantee for the gas. If you give 20 dollars, and fill for 17, you will of course get change back. And the pump will automatically stop at 20 if you max your amount. And fill up when you can, in the deserts there are not plenty of gas stations, so especially if you are on a motorbike, when you see a station, even if you are half full, fill it!
If you are travelling the states, you will meet the NPS at various locations, but mainly at entrances to National Parks. You pay a fee at many parks to enter, but if you plan to visit more than 4-5 parks in a year, it pays to buy an Annual pass. This pass costs 80 USD and covers a vehicle, and up to 4 passengers. If you are two people on two motorbikes, and arrive at the same time, you can use one pass for both motorcycles. They do an awesome job, and always smile and give great service at every location we have encountered them. So, read up on their services and parks.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” creating the National Park Service, a federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for maintaining national parks and monuments that were then managed by the department. The National Park System has since expanded to 419 units (often referred to as parks), more than 150 related areas, and numerous programs that assist in conserving the nation’s natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.
Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. Taking care of the national parks, more than 20,000 strong, the uncommon men and women of the National Park Service share a common trait: a passion for caring for the nation’s special places and sharing their stories. Source: nps website
Note that parks like Monument Valley are run by the local Navajo Nation, so the NPS pass does not work in this park, or any other park run by Native American Tribes.