USA road trip: What I learned about my stocks, finances and more

One of my big goals from my bucket list was a road trip through the USA. Originally, I had planned it much later. Thanks to the Corona pandemic, however, all plans came differently than originally planned.

So at the end of November 2021, I went on a long road trip through the United States for two months. What I experienced there and learned about my finances and stocks, I describe in detail in this special podcast episode.

Overview USA road trip

Unexpectedly often comes. Instead of going to Asia and Australia, I went to the USA for a sabbatical from the end of November to the beginning of February for the very first time. This special episode will be about my road trip through the USA on the one hand and about some American stocks on the other hand, of which I got a slightly different picture through my stay. So that the podcast doesn’t get out of hand in such a boring travel narrative, I’ve divided the episode into three parts.

In Part 1, I talk generally about the road trip, why I did it, what the challenges were, and how I managed money and credit cards.

First, I went to New York City for a few days. From there to Miami and via numerous detours by car to Texas.

Last but not least we went to the west coast of the USA and there through Death Valley, over Route 66 to the Golden Gate Bridge. Due to the time of the year we did without Yosemite National Park and Monument Valley.

In the second part, I selected 5 stocks from my portfolio, tell something about my experience with the companies and give my personal insights. I already did that in my portfolio review on Tractor Supply. Now I will add some more companies.

And finally, the third part is about my anecdotes and learnings from over 10,000 kilometers by car through a total of 12 US states. I’ve created extra timestamps so you can jump right to the other parts if one part doesn’t interest you.

If you want to see the matching pictures to the trip, check out my Instagram channel. There I have many pictures and videos already published and there are still a few to come.

Now I’d like to briefly go over the itinerary and facts and figures.

Route of the trip through the USA:

The first part of the trip consisted of a few days in New York, then flight to Miami, where the second part of the trip began. With the rental car we went on this route to the Keys -> Naples -> Orlando -> Savannah -> Tampa -> Tallahassee -> Fort Walton Beach -> New Orleans -> Houston -> Austin -> Fredericksburg -> San Antonio. From there we flew to LA.

In the third part the travel route went through the following cities: Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Williams/Grand Canyon – Phoenix – San Diego – Santa Barbara – Monterey – Mountain View – San Francisco – Seattle.

All in all almost 10,053 kilometers through 12 US states. With Seattle/Washington we added a 13th state. We stayed in 22 hotels of completely different categories and in a log cabin Airbnb.

More episode about USA road trips

You can also learn more about the USA in episode 23 of More Courage to Happiness. There I interviewed the adventurer, book author and physician Dr. Di

rk Rohrbach as a guest.

Dirk Rohrbach developed a strong passion for the land of opportunity while traveling through the USA.

After a six-month trip on his bicycle across North America, he quit his job as a doctor. From then on, he worked only as a radio host.

After another long trip, he quit that job, too, in 2010. He has now been on the road for eleven years as a photographer, adventurer, book author and podcaster. He tells his exciting story in episode 23 of “More Courage to Happiness.”

Click here for the episode with him.

Shownotes USA roadtrip



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Part 1: Why a USA Road Trip?

The most interesting book I’ve read in the past few years is “Live Rich Instead of Dying Rich” by Bill Perkins*. He is an American millionaire with some very interesting but also many strange ways of thinking.

But while reading I had to think so much about it and also question my own opinion again and again. The book engaged me so much that I recorded an in-depth, discussion-filled episode with the financial vizier last summer on “Der Finanzwesir rockt” about the book.

Anyway, the bottom line was: what good is all that dough in your bank account that you’ve saved so painstakingly if you die tomorrow and have none of it? Especially given the Corona pandemic, the reduced contacts, the months of loneliness at my desk at home, and all the money I was able to save during the pandemic.

I really had the feeling that I was completely underwhelmed because nothing exciting or thrilling was happening anymore. After all, traveling presents you with other challenges or broadens your horizons.

All of this was no longer possible in the way it was before March 2020, and investing in experiences is much more sustainable than just saving all the money. But I knew that beforehand, too.

That’s why in 2018 I had planned a 3-month sabbatical in Asia and Australia for the end of 2020 together with my girlfriend. She had to submit it to her employer in time, because then money is deducted from the salary over many months, put into a pot and then transferred as salary during the sabbatical.

Since I couldn’t submit a sabbatical to my employer without a permanent contract, I planned to go fully self-employed in August 2020. After all, I had already worked part-time for a year before, so it wouldn’t be a complete transition.

View of skyline from Central Park, New York

Renting a car for your USA road trip

Inflation has risen tremendously in the past year, not only in Germany, but especially in the USA. There are many reasons for this, but inflation has had the most serious impact on car rental.

The way it works with car rental companies is that new cars are bought, rented out for about a year, and then sold to used car dealers.

The problem with cars: all new cars require semiconductor chips for engine, safety, brakes, infotainment, comfort or in-car electronics.

By d

en prevailing chip shortage, however, far fewer cars could be built than planned. Due to the severe chip supply difficulties, prices for new cars in the USA rose, but above all prices for used cars also increased. By June 2021 alone, used car prices in the USA had risen by 45%.

The fewer new cars sold, the greater the demand for used cars. That’s causing used car prices to skyrocket.

Now, in the case of car rental companies, the situation was aggravated by the fact that during the Corona pandemic, a large part of the rental companies’ fleets were liquidated – mainly because it was also lucrative due to the price increase.

After all, hardly any cars were needed because no foreign tourists were allowed to enter the country. This mixture of factors then led to an explosion in rental car prices.

This is not the first time I rented a car. In New Zealand a few years ago I was able to rent a car at the price of 800 euros for 6 weeks. Of course, that was a few years ago and inflation comes into play here as well. Also a car in Ireland a few years ago was available for a few hundred euros for 2 weeks.

Prices for rental cars in the USA

In any case, a mid-range rental car for the first part of the road trip should be between 3,400 euros and 3,700 euros. Here it always depends on where you book the car.

In places with high demand and also low utilization, the prices are significantly higher. We wanted to pick up the car in Miami and drop it off in San Antonio after 6 weeks.

There is then still a one-way fee due, but the price was still extreme and so also not calculated into the bill. I had tested four car rental companies and portals and one was more expensive than the other. I was already quite desperate how to deal with it.

Luckily, at our blogger meeting in Kassel, I talked to Bastian Kunkel from Versicherungen mit Kopf, who gave me the tip to try the app “Qeeq “*. He had had good experiences with it.

The app works similar to Expedia, for example, i.e. you enter the parameters and Qeeq searches out the offers of 8 car rental companies in the USA. These include Alamo, Hertz, Thrifty and Europcar.

And lo and behold, the offers for Diamond customers were in some cases 1,000 euros lower than directly from the rental companies. That’s still high, but not as bad as all the other portals. So Diamond member became, immediately booked and initially saved a lot.

3 cars booked for the USA road trip

For the second road trip from Los Angeles via Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego to San Francisco, the offers were then much better, because the fleets are apparently larger in L.A. than in Miami.

By the way, the same is true for Orlando or Houston, which were also much cheaper. Although this road trip only lasted 3 weeks, it was also priced at less than 1,000 euros for the exact same car model, a Toyota Corolla. An SUV would have cost three times as much.

A little tip on the side for the pickup: All three car rental companies still put on a sales show: Tolls for toll highways or bridges, more insurance, and even the second driver at one. If you are not careful, then the cost of the rental car increases again ordentl


With QEEQ, insurance packages can be booked in advance with Axa. The right package already includes all the necessary coverages. At the car rental they want to collect again well.

And a word about the toll roads: Except in Florida and on the bridges of San Francisco, the tolls were completely unnecessary. But in Florida it makes a lot of sense because the Sunpass routes are usually emptier and save a lot of time. Even after Disneyworld there is a toll road.

How to pay in the USA?

Let’s get to the money and account management. This has become really tricky with the specifics of the accounts. I talked about this in detail with Sara Zinnecker as recently as October 2021. With several Visa and MasterCard cards, you are well positioned.

Now it quickly became acute that I had to deal with the cards of my bank. One card can only be used for free withdrawals, the other only for payments, and the third can’t be used at all abroad. In general, there are hardly any free credit cards that have a credit limit.

I’ll give you an example of my comdirect cards. In the meantime I have 3 different cards: EC-card, Visa-Debit and Visa-card with costs. The EC card cannot be used at all in the USA, which is why I left it at home.

Sunset in Naples, Florida.

What are the fees for credit cards in the USA?

With the Visa debit card, you can withdraw money worldwide three times a month for free. But that only applies to the German side, because at every American ATM you have to pay fees. In Williams at the Grand Canyon the ATM wanted to have even 7 US dollars fee, there I did without it immediately. Usually it costs always around the 3 $, which was to be gotten over.

But if you want to pay with the Visa debit credit card, each payment costs 1.75% of the amount. That is deducted separately at comdirect.

In New York, I once paid for the bus with the Apple Watch linked to Visa Debit. That was 8 cents for 2 bus tickets. That adds up immeasurably over 10 weeks if you use it to pay all the time.

And here comes now…

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