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  1. Default LA to New York in 2 Months

    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if I could get some help please :)

    Me and 2 friends (all male) are hoping to do a 2 month US (and a little canada) roadtrip following this route:

    LA - grand canyon
    G.Canyon - Las Vegas
    Las Vegas - Santa Cruz
    Santa Cruz - San Fran
    San Fran - Portland
    Portland - Seattle
    Seattle - Vancouver
    Van - Minnaepolis
    Minni - Chicago
    Chicago - Toronto
    Toronto - New York

    Total Mileage: 5513

    we understand that there will be stops in between these destinations and of course theres getting lost :) and have estimated we will be driving about 6000 miles?

    We are hoping to do this a cheaply as possible. This means sleeping in our transport, which we decided will be a 2nd hand bought van. We are wanting to do this from 28th march to 29th may 2008.

    Any tips on what sort of van would be the most comfortable sleeping in the back (on a budget)? I read that something like a chevy astro with the seats removed is best?

    We have budgeted about $3400-$4000 each, which we hope will cover (sharing) all van costs, petrol, food, doing/seeing stuff, basically everything not including our flights. In other words we have between $10,200-12,000 for 3 people. What we really want to know is if this is too hopeful or do-able on our budgets?

    Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default 2 months, really?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    We've been getting a lot of people who are trying to save money on a trip by planning to sleep for weeks at a time in a car. Quite frankly, I just don't see how anyone could plan to have a fun trip like that.

    Yes, you can sleep in a van, especially if it is a full sized van, but are you really going to want to spend 24 hours a day for 2 months in something as small as a van? Where are you going to park at night? You can stay at truck stops and similar places if you need a quick place to rest, but that doesn't give you any ability to move around once you've parked. You can sleep in your van at a campground, but that costs money and at that point you might as well look at getting a tent.

    As far as your budget goes, even to stay on the cheap side, you'll need at least $5,000 to get a full size van worthy of a cross country road trip - and even that would really be pushing the low side. You'll also have to deal with the extra costs and red tape that goes with trying to purchase a car.

    That leaves you with $5-7,000. Your point to point miles might only be 5500 miles, but in reality, you'll almost certainly approach 10k once you factor in your time driving around cities and parks. That means you'll be looking at spending $2500 or more on gas. Now you are down to maybe $3000 for all three of you to live on for 2 months. That just $16 per day per person. Its hard to eat on that kind of budget much less have money left over for anything else.

    I think you'll need more money, and to have a fun trip, I think you'll need to rethink how you are going to spend your time on this trip.

  3. Default

    Thank you so much Midwest Michael!

    We really appreciate your advice. We have friends in some cities and a tent between us so we wont be spending the full 2 months in the van, probably about 70% of the time. We were also thinking about cutting out a few stops to save on mileage, maybe end the trip in seattle or vancouver? so it'd just be a west coast trip (cutting mileage to about 2400).

    Is that any more doable on our budgets? Thank you so much for all your expertise :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Cutting your mileage in half sure does help!

    Note that even if you have the money, there are a lot of logistical problems with buying a car. Read the link Michael posted.

    But this does ease up your budget a bit. Just a couple of points on sleeping in your rig. I agree that it's not something most people would want to do night-after-night. Save it for times when you can't find alternative lodging or are really tired and just want top pull over. Use your tent for camping most other nights. Expect to pay about $15-25 per night for camping fees.

    Here's a post with some helpful budgeting tips. I suggest you go through it and work on your budget a bit. A budget roadtrip can be a lot of fun. But not if things are so tight that you can't eat a decent meal, stop and play, pay entrance fees to interesting places you'd love to see, and have to live on the edge the whole time. And if you buy a vehicle, you will need to budget funds for potential breakdowns/repairs, etc.

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

    Default 70%

    70% of the time is still 5-6 days out of the week sleeping in a van. If you were talking about 1 or 2 days out of the week, I say that was possible, but even that would be pushing it.

    On the nights where you sleep in the van, what are you going to do? Pull into a truck stop parking lot and just sit there until you are ready to sleep? Cram as much into your day until you are ready to pass out so you don't have to worry about it? Do you really think you will be able to handle sharing such close quarters almost every night of the week?

    I can't answer those things for you, but I know I could not and would not ever do that myself because I know it would put an tremendous strain on my friendships with my traveling companions and it would really make it hard to enjoy the trip.

    Cutting your miles in half will help your budget, but I think your bigger issue is that you are trying so hard to fit a specific trip into your current amount of money, that you aren't being realistic with what it will take to both afford and enjoy a trip.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default RV Rentals


    If you are interested in just a western US trip, I just noticed that El Monte RV Rentals has a one-way special going on that gives you reduced rates and no drop off fees if you drop it off in Denver or Salt Lake City by May 25th. Check out

    The advantage of an RV is that you have decent places to sleep, eat, and perform other vital bodily functions. This is also a good way to save on food by keeping the refrigerator stocked instead of eating in restaurants all the time. (Yes, you could keep a cooler in the van, but maintaining ice and supplies is a pain for that long, not to mention the space it would take up.)

    You can do some free overnights in truck stops (which are much more available in the western US) as well as campgrounds. I'm not sure how this would fit into your budget, but take a look. It just might work.

    Finally, as I'm sure you've seen, getting a van, insuring it, licensing it, maintaining it, and selling it, could cut into your travel time significantly, unless you can make the arrangements before you get here. If you go this route, I suggest you buy from a reputable dealer so you know it has been gone over by a mechanic and so you get a warranty. (I just found a 1989 Ford Econoline with 98,000 miles for about $4,500 in the LA area on That's a good deal, if it runs well enough.)

    Finally, finally, I know you guys can do the trip as you've described. Yes, you'll have disagreements, you'll get on each other's nerves, but the totality of the experience is what this is all about. Just keep in mind that the more research you do, the more options you look at, the better the chance of making this "the trip of a lifetime" instead of a trip you wish you'd never taken.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  7. Default LA to Seattle on $11,000

    Hi all. Thanks for your replies. Unfortunately I don't think we'd be able to rent RV's because driving vehicles that large isn't covered under our UK driver's license.

    OK so the trip I have now is:

    LA - Grand Canyon
    G.Canyon - Las Vegas
    Las Vegas - Santa Cruz
    Santa Cruz - San Fran
    San Fran - Portland
    Portland - Seattle

    Basically, is this doable on $11,000, with an estimate of 5000 miles covered in total. We'd buy a van like this (I emphasise LIKE). Register it with my relative in LA, insure it and then sell it in Seattle (where we could leave it with friends).

    I can't see us sleeping 70% of the time in the van being a problem. Two of us have spent the last 7 months travelling together around Asia and are still friends - so staying in such close quarters isn't really going to be that much of a shock/strain.

    Any thoughts?

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-31-2008 at 10:17 AM. Reason: link format

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Objects online may be less desireable than they appear

    I've bought cars for $1000 before, but I've never purchased one that I would dare take on a roadtrip of this magnitude. I noticed on the craigslist ad that while the seller say it "runs good" he doesn't even tell you the number of miles that are on it. That's pretty basic information to leave off, to say the least. And while that might not be the exact van you end up with, there is a pretty good chance that anyone selling a vehicle for that kind of money is going to be leaving off some information that will be important.

    Ultimately, this is your trip. If you want to take a gamble on an old van with high miles, and hope that it doesn't have any major problem, that is your choice. If you think sleeping inside a van all night, night after night, with no place to go to "get out" can be a fun trip, you can certainly do that.

    Personally, I wouldn't want to take the kinds of risk or kind of trip that you are proposing, but these are choices that you have to make for yourself.

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