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  1. Default Car vs. Van -- Advice Needed

    I am thinking of taking a 3 week trip in April this year. I am planning to go from San Fran to Yosemite, then to Vegas, then the Canyon, San Diego and then back to San Fran along the pacific highway (Big Sur i think). Is this a good time to go? I reakon its around 2000 miles and will probably be doing this in a camper van as I figure this will make accomodation easier and also I can travel at my own pace. Is this a good idea? I am from the UK and altho I know America is a big place do you think this is do-able? thanks x
    Last edited by kexxer1; 01-08-2007 at 08:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Time Enough, But a Few Caveats

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, this trip is quite doable in a three week time frame. You should know, however, that you will not be able to see all of Yosemite or go directly from the western areas to Las Vegas as the passes over the Sierra Nevada mountains will still be snowed in. You will have to back track and come down through Bakersfield. As for doing it in a camper van, that would not be my first choice. It can still get quite cold at spots along your trip in April, and you will not be competing with huge crowds for accommodations. I think that you would be quite able to travel at your own pace in any event. So, the questions I'd be asking myself are: Is the extra cost of renting the camper van going to save me enough over getting motel rooms that I am even going to save money? (Don't forget to factor in the cost of camp sites as well.) Is the money I save going to make up for the lack of comfort, and the lack of a warm shower!?

    As you're pondering those questions, be sure to have a look through the many, many threads on these forums dealing with the locations you want to visit. The circle trip you describe is perhaps the most discuss RoadTrip around. Just use the search function on the toolbar at the top of this page to find your destinations and peruse the threads it takes you to as well as the "Similar Threads" listed at the bottom of each of those.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,060

    Default Our most discussed roadtrip route

    Quote Originally Posted by kexxer1 View Post
    I am thinking of taking a 3 week trip in April this year.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! It is possible that your route is the most-discussed roadtrip on this Forum. If you use the Search Utility (found in the green navigation bar above) and put in search terms like San Francisco, Yosemite and Las Vegas you will find about 1200 threads...
    I am planning to go from San Fran to Yosemite, then to Vegas, then the Canyon, San Diego and then back to San Fran along the pacific highway (Big Sur i think). Is this a good time to go?
    Most of the mountain passes will not be open yet (in April) and so to reach Las Vegas from Yosemite National Park you will either need to travel south to Tehachapi or north to Lake Tahoe. There are some other alternatives -- Sonora Pass being my first choice, but you will still need to find a road that is open.

    The trip as outlined can be accomplished very easily in three weeks, but you will still need to have some long driving days.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  4. Default

    Thanks for all the advice...we will actually be going from Yosemite to Vegas in early May - will that pass be open then? we decided on a van as we have more options we feel - for example if we get somewhere and its freezing cold we can check into a motel anyway. Also - we looked into the cost of hiring a van and fuel for 3 weeks and it worked out at around £800. We figured the cost of all that accomodation, plus hiring a car and fuel would be more and we are less flexible. Are we way off track?!
    Last edited by kexxer1; 01-08-2007 at 08:19 AM. Reason: changed response!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,066

    Default Very Unlikely

    Tioga Pass (on the eastern side of) Yosemite typically doesn't open until late May at the earliest. Last year, it didn't open until the very end of June. In early may, you will almost certainly still have to go around the Sierras by some other route.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-08-2007 at 09:53 AM. Reason: added clarification regarding Tioga Pass

  6. Default Car vs Van

    Hi kexxer1 --

    IMHO, I think you've got the right attitude regarding a car or a van. You have the option always of finding a hotel/ motel instead of camping. I've done multiple trips where we are fully prepared to camp, but ended up in hotel due to rain/ snow/ heat. We would sort of recommend though that you consider bringing along a cheap tent ($50 or so) to give you even the option of sleeping outside the van.

    The reason for the tent is after a day or a week or several weeks in a vehicle it's really nice to get out of it and stretch out in a tent. The time to setup/ take down the tent is pretty minimal once you've done it a time or two, and you don't have to unpack the vehicle to make enough room to stretch out inside. (No matter how you pack a vehicle, things seem to expand to fill the availbable volume -- so when its time to camp inside the vehicle, it takes a while to unpack/ repack to make enough room.) And if the weather is good, there's nothing nicer than to stretch out outdoors in a tent.

    Campervans work very well in giving you this option even if you don't sleep in them every night. I would also recommend (and these are probably already on your list) to toss in a couple of folding camp chairs, an ice chest, and a small camping stove for comfort, and to expand a bit of options on camp meals. (I use my small camping stove primarily to just heat water -- I have a nice camper's tea pot that works well for that.)

  7. Default camper van advice

    I am thinking of doing a three week tour of Western America and was thinking of hiring a camper van/motorhome as this seems to be cheap and easy. Is this a good idea? Has anyone any advice for me? On the websites I have already looked at rates include convenience kits (do I need these?) and different types of insurance options. As a Brit I have no idea what most of these are or mean...do you think I would be better off hiring a car and staying in motels along the way?

    x

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    10,060

    Default What is a convenience Kit?

    Quote Originally Posted by kexxer1 View Post
    I am thinking of doing a three week tour of Western America and was thinking of hiring a camper van/motorhome as this seems to be cheap and easy.
    We have published a number of articles about considerations to make when renting a RV. You should read both of them and especially print this one and take it with you when you pick up a rental.
    and different types of insurance options. As a Brit I have no idea what most of these are or mean..
    Here is a good primer of the types of insurance policies that are available here in the USA.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Money Saving with an RV?

    I don't think you should look at renting a motorhome as a money-saving measure. The cost of renting a motorhome can easily be as much as hotels would be during the same timeframe. And you still have to pay for camping sites each night at $20-35/night. Of course, you can boondock if you can find a place to do it but I wouldn't count on too much of this. And the gas consumption is quite high compared to cars so, especially if you're planning on covering a lot of miles, it can be cheaper to rent a car and stay in hotels.

    Motorhomes give you a totally different experience than you will get by renting a car and staying in hotels. I would consider the type of experience you want to have and determine which method will get you closer to the experience you want. Both have their plusses and minuses.

    If saving money is a big concern, I might suggest renting a car and then going to some kind of superstore (Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's Clubs, K-Mart, Target, to name a few) and then purchasing inexpensive camping gear. You could get a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow for less than $100. Then camp in your tent at night. This saves you money on cheaper rental fees and less gas, while also saving you money on camping fees vs. hotels. Most tent sites will run you about $15-25, with most being closer to $20 or under.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Default We have an article on that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Both have their plusses and minuses.
    Here is a column written by another professional roadtripper "How to Decide Whether to Try an RV Adventure or Stick to Hotels..."

    Mark

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