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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

Firstly, I want to apologize for posting this in this forum, but there's a reason for it and I hope that it may be left here by the admins.

As some of you know, I am a native Swede, born and raised and still residing in Göteborg, Sweden. I have been a member here since 2004 and remember lots of discussions about pin codes on credit cards and studded winter tires. I've done my best to give my honest advice for anyone coming to visit my home town. Some of you I've met, and some of you have become close friends.

So, the reason for this post is that I have a Swedish friend who is on 2 year contract in Charleston, SC. I was planning to visit him but as destiny had it, things grew a little out of proportion. :) So...

Today, my and a friend have booked:

Business Class tickets on British Airways, Göteborg-London-Washington DC, arrive 2nd January 2016. Then return Houston TX-London-Göteborg (again, BA, Business Class) on the 9th January 2016.

We've rented a "Normal Size" car (Ford Fusion or equivalent) with National Car Rental (I'm an Emerald Club member with some pretty good discounts through my company). Seeing as the price of gas is practically "free" compared to Sweden, this is going to be one awesome road-trip! I've triple confirmed that there is no additional cost for picking up in DC and dropping off in TX! Amazing!

So, the route is something like (but not set in stone):

DC --> Raleigh, NC --> Charlotte, NC (Yes Bob, I'm coming to see the dealership!) --> Charleston SC --> Southern coast line --> Houston TX


So, I now have some real questions for you all! (or should I say y'all) :)

1) Any good "don't miss" that I shouldn't miss? (I've never been to the US, apart from a week on Manhattan...)
2) Anyone have a US GPS unit they feel like lending to me?
3) Speeding - I've understood that it's an issue... How expensive is it? What will happen if caught speeding?
4) Tax - I had the option to get some kind of transponder in the car. I guess paying tolls in cash is the equivalent and I don't need one?
5) Any ideas what else National have other than a Ford Fusion? I'd love a Challenger or something else 'murican . :)
6) Anything else that I should think of that I haven't thought of...? (Yes, I've answered questions like that for people doing OSD's).

And finally, if you live along the route and feel like a cup of coffee, let me know!

I've created a Google Map that anyone can add (or remove...) pins from. Pin yourself or something I shouldn't miss!

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z4v7hwr_WfMY.kaZMfr19ljVs&usp=sharing

Thanks everyone!

And again, to the Swedespeed forum admins, I hope you understand why I posted this here. It's my 11 years return of investment I'm collecting now... :p Thanks for your understanding!

Cheers,
Jonas
 

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Hi there Jonas,

Although I haven't been to any of the places you've mentioned, well except the Washington DC area and a small part of Virgina, I will answer your question to the best of my abilities (I have none! hahaha!):

1. Do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour around DC. If you love history like me it'll be awesome, but that's a very touristy so be prepared.

2. Forget the GPS, you don't need one. If you own a smart phone and will have access to highspeed internet on the go; that should be enough. Waze is a great app that a lot of locals are using. Good luck finding someone kind enough to lend you a GPS unit. :p

3. VERY EXPENSIVE!!! Don't get caught especially in Virginia - read this http://jalopnik.com/never-speed-in-virginia-lessons-from-my-three-days-in-1613604053. The fine really depends on where you are, how fast you're going and what other violations you have. Usually if you go more than 5mph they'll let it go (but I got 2 speeding tickets while doing an excess of 5mph in Ohio, but that's another story). The typical fines for speeding range from $120 - $160; and that's the cheapest - Again depending on the circumstances you might be spending a night in jail or get scot-free if you're lucky. My advice is just follow the flow of traffic if you want to get to your destination faster, it's risky so if you wanna stay safe just follow the speed limit that is posted.

4. It's better to rent a transponder or EZ-Pass or whatever they call it (we call it I-Pass here). It's usually cheaper than paying cash and it'll save you a lot of hassle and getting screamed at by the driver behind you. Not to mention some tolls don't have people ready to take your cash, you will be force to pay the exact amount of cash or coins - again if you're not well versed in our currency getting the right amount may take time (remember the guy behind you... he's always allergic to people not having the exact change). You will be fined as well if you missed paying a toll.

5. No comment! hahaha!

6. Can't think of anything other than have fun, be careful and watch out for the popo! ;)

We'll I can tour around our city while you drink some coffee but we're out of way so lycka till and enjoy!!!
 

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3. VERY EXPENSIVE!!! Don't get caught especially in Virginia - read this http://jalopnik.com/never-speed-in-virginia-lessons-from-my-three-days-in-1613604053. The fine really depends on where you are, how fast you're going and what other violations you have. Usually if you go more than 5mph they'll let it go (but I got 2 speeding tickets while doing an excess of 5mph in Ohio, but that's another story). The typical fines for speeding range from $120 - $160; and that's the cheapest - Again depending on the circumstances you might be spending a night in jail or get scot-free if you're lucky. My advice is just follow the flow of traffic if you want to get to your destination faster, it's risky so if you wanna stay safe just follow the speed limit that is posted.
This sounds like such a cool trip! Hope you enjoy your time here!

My only offering to this would be to repeat, DO NOT SPEED IN VIRGINIA!!! My one pass through that state, I got tagged with a "Super Speeder" "Reckless Driving" charge while driving my wife and mother in my parents' Honda Pilot (clearly, not a fast car) in the middle of the night down a very long steep hill on the highway. I was all by myself on the road, using cruise control, but the car rolled beyond the 80 mph "Super Speeder" limit and the guy pulled me over. I'm fairly certain I was not going as fast as he claimed, but alas, there's nothing I could say. Ended up having to hire a lawyer in VA to get the charge knocked down. It's a scam, plain and simple. Do not become a victim!
 

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yep, DO NOT SPEED IN VIRGINIA!!! i lived there through high school and in d.c. in college, no mercy there.

Do visit New Orleans.

otherwise there are many neat places to visit in between, like anywhere in the world i guess.

have a great time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi everyone and thank you so much for your replies!



Follow-up on old questions:

3) Haha, okay, message received loud and clear - adhere to the speed limits. Especially in VA. Cheers! But seriously - this craze of Americans and their horsepower. The whole discussion of that Volvos I4 engines will not be powerful enough - when do you use this power? I know it sounds like a silly question, but do you get my drift?

4) The EZ-pass, will this work in all states? Or is there a new system in every state? The "guy behind me" sounds charming... :-/


Concerning Waze - this will require mobile data. So new questions:

7) As I'm coming over with a Swedish mobile data subscription, having roaming turned on will cost me an arm and a leg. But is there a possibility to pick up a prepaid data sim card that I can use in my smartphone? Just for data - not voice. Where can I buy them? What do they cost and which network provider is best to use as I will be traveling through many states?


Thanks again for all of your replies. I greatly appreciate it - as so many of you have had the similar headaches before traveling over to Europe.

Cheers,
Jonas
 

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One option for data SIM from AT&T.
http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB106930&cv=820
AT&T is the "best" GSM carrier in the US. Best coverage, highest price too. Cheaper alternatives are available. T-Mobile has their own GSM network with somewhat inferior coverage. Other low price providers just rent bandwidth from AT&T. Verizon is probably the best network in the US but it is CDMA only.

Regarding the speed/horsepower question, Swedespeed is NOT representative of most American drivers, who couldn't care less what's under the hood of their car/truck/SUV. For those that are enthusiasts using it is more an exercise in knowing where and when it's OK to do so...something that a visitor is unlikely to know.

Between DC and Houston there will be plenty of wide open interstates with fast lane traffic approaching (and sometimes exceeding) 80 mph. If you try to drive the speed limit you'll be stuck in an endless cat and mouse game with big trucks. You can go with the flow and be pretty safe, but you probably don't want to be the first in the parade, and always watch your rear-view for lurking dark colored sedans or SUVs that appear out of nowhere. If you get out of their way without drama they'll probably pass you by. After dark this handy guide might help identify a trailing cop by his headlights http://jalopnik.com/is-that-a-cop-behind-you-try-this-handy-cop-headlight-716351284. I'll bet everyone on Swedespeed knows the Ford Crown Victoria pattern by instinct.

When traffic is sparse a good rule of thumb is to stay within about 7 mph of the posted limit and you're unlikely to be pulled over. So for highways posted at 65 you can do 72 all day long (outside of northern Virginia at least) with no troubles. You don't want to be the fastest guy on the road, and you don't want to be conspicuously driving aggressively (quick lane changes, passing on the right, tailgating, etc).

If you venture onto rural roads beware of small towns with speed traps. Many support themselves by tagging drivers who fail to slow to 30 mph at the town line. The cruiser will be hidden off the road behind a bush or something and you won't see it until it's too late, so best to just slow down. Outside of towns there are plenty of fun to drive rural roads that are lightly patrolled and posted at 55 mph (maybe faster in the southern states). Passing slower traffic on these 2-lanes is exciting and gives you a chance to use that horsepower. Just try not to kill yourself :)

Some sightseeing ideas:
Monuments and museums in DC area (Smithsonian could take days to see, don't miss Air and Space)
Luray Caverns, Skyline Caverns (northern VA)
Colonial Williamsburg (eastern VA - historic park with many buildings and costumed players)
Nashville TN (country music headquarters)
Graceland - Memphis TN (if you're an Elvis fan)

Outdoor stuff may be a problem in January but you never know. Last winter we had nasty ice storms as far south as Atlanta, but that was unusual.
 

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When traffic is sparse a good rule of thumb is to stay within about 7 mph of the posted limit and you're unlikely to be pulled over. So for highways posted at 65 you can do 72 all day long (outside of northern Virginia at least) with no troubles. You don't want to be the fastest guy on the road, and you don't want to be conspicuously driving aggressively (quick lane changes, passing on the right, tailgating, etc).

If you venture onto rural roads beware of small towns with speed traps. Many support themselves by tagging drivers who fail to slow to 30 mph at the town line. The cruiser will be hidden off the road behind a bush or something and you won't see it until it's too late, so best to just slow down.
I was about to echo everything that Northeast said. I think as long as you stay within 10 miles of the speed limit on interstates, you're fairly safe. When passing through small towns, I would adhere strictly to the posted speed limit. But as other posters have already noted, follow the general traffic flow. Never be the fastest. Never do anything that would draw attention to you.

Speaking about speed traps, some cities (like NYC where I'm from) have cameras at some intersections. So you can get a nice souvenir if you decide to run a red light!
 

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I would just like to add something regarding EZ-Pass and getting pulled over.

Here's the link for all the States that allow it: https://www.e-zpassny.com/en/about/facilities.shtml

YOU DON'T WANNA ARGUE WITH COPS. They don't mess around here. Hahaha! But seriously you'll find a lot of helpful tips online on how to conduct yourself in a traffic stop. I'm not saying you'll get pulled over but just in case. Be nice, don't do anything stupid or be a "smart ass" (Ooooh! They hate people smarter than them! lol) and you'll be fine. ;)

Have fun on your vacation your stay will be awesome!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would just like to add something regarding EZ-Pass and getting pulled over.

Here's the link for all the States that allow it: https://www.e-zpassny.com/en/about/facilities.shtml

YOU DON'T WANNA ARGUE WITH COPS. They don't mess around here. Hahaha! But seriously you'll find a lot of helpful tips online on how to conduct yourself in a traffic stop. I'm not saying you'll get pulled over but just in case. Be nice, don't do anything stupid or be a "smart ass" (Ooooh! They hate people smarter than them! lol) and you'll be fine. ;)

Have fun on your vacation your stay will be awesome!
Thanks! I have a hard time seeing that I would get in an argument. I've travelled quite a lot but never to the U.S.

The link does not work. The page says that I'm not in the U.S. Which is true. So... :)

cheers,
Jonas
 

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Hi everyone and thank you so much for your replies!



Follow-up on old questions:

3) Haha, okay, message received loud and clear - adhere to the speed limits. Especially in VA. Cheers! But seriously - this craze of Americans and their horsepower. The whole discussion of that Volvos I4 engines will not be powerful enough - when do you use this power? I know it sounds like a silly question, but do you get my drift?

4) The EZ-pass, will this work in all states? Or is there a new system in every state? The "guy behind me" sounds charming... :-/


Concerning Waze - this will require mobile data. So new questions:

7) As I'm coming over with a Swedish mobile data subscription, having roaming turned on will cost me an arm and a leg. But is there a possibility to pick up a prepaid data sim card that I can use in my smartphone? Just for data - not voice. Where can I buy them? What do they cost and which network provider is best to use as I will be traveling through many states?


Thanks again for all of your replies. I greatly appreciate it - as so many of you have had the similar headaches before traveling over to Europe.

Cheers,
Jonas
#3. The world is working in very mysterious ways. I live in USA for 25 years and still cannot find a good answer to this question, especially in Los Angeles, where 99.9% of people commute @ 10-15 MPH 5-6 days per week. :p

#7. I can share my trusted TomTom 530 w/windshield mount. Served me well for many years. It has a fresh set of maps (2014) and it has built-in traffic info. We just need to figure out the sharing logistics.
 

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Thanks! I have a hard time seeing that I would get in an argument. I've travelled quite a lot but never to the U.S.

The link does not work. The page says that I'm not in the U.S. Which is true. So... :)

cheers,
Jonas
Dang it! Here you go:


Delaware
Illinois
Indiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Jersey - Delaware
New York
New York City Area
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Virginia
West Virginia
 

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Just follow this rule of thumb, and you'll be fine on the interstate, in whatever state, never speed down hill, even if you have to ride your brakes the whole way down to stay within the speed limit, speed traps will always be at the bottom of a long(especially) descent, go with the flow of traffic on the flats, go as fast as you want to uphill, seriously, I have never seen a speed trap at the top of a hill. On the flats they will usually be hiding on an overpass, or around a bend. Small towns, never speed.
It's all about revenue, they will only pick the places most likely to generate a ticket.
 

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it's not only small towns that ticket speeders to get revenue. In this tax-fearing country we now live in, ALL cities consider themselves cash-strapped, and you can get a speeding ticket ANYWHERE. I've been caught in a speed-trap in Palo Alto, which has to be the least cash-strapped city around. So, be careful when in any town/city. Keep it within the speed limits.

Your only real hope to speed is on the highway, really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
#7. I can share my trusted TomTom 530 w/windshield mount. Served me well for many years. It has a fresh set of maps (2014) and it has built-in traffic info. We just need to figure out the sharing logistics.
Thanks Gascos! Although, I will go for the AT&T Sim-card option and use my smart phone instead. Thanks again though!

Delaware
Illinois
Indiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Jersey - Delaware
New York
New York City Area
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Virginia
West Virginia
Thanks! As I will be only in two or three of those states, I believe it's not worth it. I'll make sure to study coins and have buckets full of it and chance it with "the guy behind"-option. :)

As for the whole speed-limit thing, I feel I fully understand and have got a good idea on how it all works. Thanks everyone!

Cheers,
Jonas
 

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We live in Lafayette, Louisiana right off interstate 10. You will be passing through in route to Houston. Feel free to stop in for a absolutely great Cajun meal.
 

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Jonas....we've never met but I've had the pleasure of meeting Bob several times while on business in Charlotte.
Charlotte's darn near in the middle of NASCAR stock car racing country if that's of any interest to you...I know Bob knows a few race shops in the area.

Please tell him hi for me. You'd be more than welcome to visit us...but Iowa is a wee bit out of the way for you ;-)

Rick Talbot
 

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And if you ever make it to St. Louis, Missouri be sure to give me a call!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We live in Lafayette, Louisiana right off interstate 10. You will be passing through in route to Houston. Feel free to stop in for a absolutely great Cajun meal.
I might take you up on that! Thanks!! Anything you miss from Sweden?

Looks like you have a great trip planned. Can't wait to see you again!


Funny thing - I look exactly the same! I haven't aged a day nor gained 15 kg or so since, what, 2008? *irony* Either way, I'll be great to you see you and the shop. Please let me know if I can buy or bring anything to help you "sell" Sweden even more!



Both Iowa and Missouri are a little off route for us, but thanks a lot! If plans change, I might look you up though! :)

And as I've said time and time again - when in Göteborg, let me know (it's been far too long since I met any OSD:ers).

//Jonas
 
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