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  1. Default *Santa Cruz to NY in 5 weeks 2008*

    Hello :)

    Me and a couple of friends from the UK are planning a road trip across the US this summer, we're planning on flying out to SF late July and flying home from NY early Sept. One of our friends is currently living in Santa Cruz doing an internship, so the plan is to fly out to meet her, stay around Santa Cruz for a week while we sort out renting or buying (most probably buying, we think ??) some sort of camper van to travel in. We are also planning on getting a tent so that we can camp too, as we won't want to spend every night squished up in the back of a van! :) Two of us are students, so we are working on a budget, but if we are careful we should have around $3-4,000 each to work with.

    This is a rough guide of the route we want to take on googlemaps,
    including all of the places we have suggested we'd like to go. We are planning on staying in each place maybe 2 days, to try and fit everything in if possible. Obviously, there is room for adding and/or dropping places if needs be...

    On there its saying it should take 3 days in travelling, although this seems a bit optimistic to me??

    Also, the friend who is currently in Santa Cruz has a US passport as she was born in Florida. She cant currently drive, but plans to learn to before the summer to split the driving with our other friend. If she gets her licence would the fact that she's got a passport be beneficial when we want to buy a van/get insurance etc? Or even when renting a vehicle if we decide to do so?

    I know there's a lot here, but any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated indeed!

    Thankyou! :)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-05-2008 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Many others from the UK have been here recently

    It must be the exchange rate, eh?

    Welcome to the RTA forums!

    Me and a couple of friends from the UK are planning a road trip across the US this summer, we're planning on flying out to SF late July and flying home from NY early Sept. One of our friends is currently living in Santa Cruz doing an internship, so the plan is to fly out to meet her, stay around Santa Cruz for a week while we sort out renting or buying (most probably buying, we think ??) some sort of camper van to travel in.
    Sounds like a good plan. Your route looks good. However, buying a car in the US can be difficult for international visitors. This discussion will give you some insight into the problems you will face buying a car. Read it over and follow the links in it to other, helpful information. Also check out insuring a car.

    We are also planning on getting a tent so that we can camp too, as we won't want to spend every night squished up in the back of a van! :) Two of us are students, so we are working on a budget, but if we are careful we should have around $3-4,000 each to work with.
    You might want to spend some time working out a budget. Your budget is probably fine unless, however, you have to buy/rent your vehicle out of it. Then it might get tight. Play with the hints in the post on budgeting to get an idea of how you will be doing. While many of us here also travel on budgets, you don't want to budget so tightly that you don't have much fun. So watch for the tendency to under-budget.

    I'm big on camping, too. Here are some camping basics and some tips on keeping down your food costs by eating out of a cooler.


    This is a rough guide of the route we want to take on googlemaps, including all of the places we have suggested we'd like to go. We are planning on staying in each place maybe 2 days, to try and fit everything in if possible. Obviously, there is room for adding and/or dropping places if needs be...

    On there its saying it should take 3 days in travelling, although this seems a bit optimistic to me??
    Your route looks pretty good. Yes, the mapping program is actually telling you that the trip will take about 72 hours of driving. Not three days of driving/exploring/sleeping/eating. 72 hours without stops.

    Trip planning websites are often overly optimistic. We typically recommend that people use 53mph as a guideline for traveling east of the Mississippi and 57mph west of it. This is the average travel speed most of us will be traveling at and includes time for quick meals and fuel breaks. However, it does not factor in time to stop and explore. You will need to add time for that. I'm come up with about 82 hours on the road using those averages. Here are some tips on how to plan your traveling distances for safety and enjoyment.

    Let us know how your planning is coming and how we can help you as you fine-tune your trip plans. And, remember, the planning is half the fun!

  3. Default

    Hey Judy, thanks for the reply!

    Yeah, I think our next steps are to look into how to buy a vehicle, and to start working out a budget. We will be buying our van out of that budget, but have had a quick look on craigslist and have seen the going rate is about $3000, between 3 of us. So, yes I can see how that might be a problem! Like I mentioned though, one of us is an American citizen, would this make things easier when buying a car at all?

    I worked out it would be around $40 a day maybe for food and activities etc. each and then another $20 if we camp or stay in a hostel/motel for the night. Although, we are planning on sleeping in the van where possible, if we can find a safe and suitable place to park.

    I will have a look through all of the links you gave me and post again when we need more help, which I'm sure we will do!

    Thanks again for the quick reply! :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Oh, American citizens...yes, that helps a LOT

    If your friend is willing to do the buying/registration/insurance in her name, with your financial contribution of course!, then this makes the process easy. She should start looking soon and get an idea of prices, etc.

    And I hope she either knows cars very well or can find someone who does to look over the vehicles. A trusted mechanic will often do this. Some, if you're a good customer, will do it for free but, probably most often, they will charge a small fee for this service. Obviously, you have to trust the mechanic for this to work. Beware of places that inflate problems in order to make a buck.

    BTW, most of us here would be a bit leery buying a vehicle in the $3000 range for a cross-country roadtrip. You might find something that is OK but I doubt that it will be OK as is. You will probably, at the very least, have to do a tune-up. I wouldn't be surprised if you would also need to buy new tires as well. Hopefully, if you found a good car for the price, that would be it. You may also have to do some preventive maintenance. For example, if the car has a timing belt and needs it changed to prevent a huge problem when on the road, this could be pricey.

    Did you use the link provided for starting your budget? $40 per day for food/activities should be fine as long as you don't do too many restaurant meals or other higher-priced activities.

    I hope you aren't including gas expenses in this figure. I expect a campervan might only get about 10-15mpg. So, figuring at 10mpg, you're looking at 400 gallons at minimum, the very minimum for your trip. Gas might reach $4 per gallon this summer so, if it does, you're looking at the very minimum of $1600 for gas. I would plan for at least $2000 for gas to have a bit of buffer. I would be more comfortable if it was my budget, to allow closer to $2200-2400 for gas. For side trips, etc.

    Sleeping in the van? Why? Most of us here, and we have many thousands of miles of road-tripping on our tires, discourage this as a general way to rest for the night. It will be difficult for you to stretch out and get a good nights sleep. For $15-25 per night, you can stretch out in a tent. And you can enjoy a nice walk around the campground or on trails, potentially speak to other campers and get tips on things to see on the road ahead, and even avail yourself of amenities like lake/river swimming, a swimming pool, hot tub, laundry facilities, etc. (these amenities will vary). Of course, you can also just relax and cook a decent meal with a cheap cooking set/camping stove with food from your cooler.

    I see no value in pulling over in a parking lot, that might be noisy all night long, to sleep in uncomfortable positions in a van, and have no real way to relax, stretch out, etc.

    I think it's worth it to invest in inexpensive camping gear for your trip and to enjoy campgrounds for the night. Occasional overnight sleeps in the van might be OK if you're really trying to burn miles for a day or two. But being cooped up in the van together for 5 weeks....and not even getting out to sleep? Ugh. I urge you to reconsider this.

  5. Default

    Thanks again for the reply :)

    Like I said, we were planning on sleeping in the van on some nights, not all. We dont really mind though, as we see it as part of the experience. But we will be getting a tent to camp and have decided to stay in motels and hostels some nights too. I guess it's going to be a mixture, depending on what we can find and how we feel at the time!

    As for our daily budget.. Well, I had a look at your tips for eating out of a cooler, which was really helpful :) I think that is what we're going to do for the most part, stopping off at diners and restaurants if we see somewhere we like. And as for activities etc. we're just happy to have a look around places, again forking out for things if we see something we really like.

    Yeesh, looks like gas is going to be a problem though!.. I used the link that works it out on here, and came up with around $1500 at the most, but I did use 20mpg as a rough idea. We might have to rethink what vehicle we buy maybe, but we have already started looking around and have seen one that seems to fit the bill. But maybe we should find something that doesnt eat as much gas!!

    Thanks again for your help :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Glad we've helped so far!

    To be honest, I don't have a clue what kind of fuel consumption a campervan has. Campervans do vary in size. A VW campervan is going to get better fuel mileage than one with a bigger engine. So it really depends on what you find. But the price range your looking in means that you're probably going to be getting something older. Most of these are going to be less fuel efficient. Partly because they have older, less efficient engines in the first place. Partly because they are just plain older and probably won't be running in tip-top shape. Make sense? You might consider visiting places like Edmund's and Kelly Blue Book. Both have forums where people discuss vehicles and they might be able to help you out with this issue better than some of us.

    If you're going to tent camp, there really is no need to get a campervan. You might consider a minivan. No, they're not very sexy. But they might very well be your best option. They will definitely use less gas than a campervan. Probably closer to the 20mpg range. And I think they actually get better than that on the highway. They have plenty of space to spread out your gear and lots of passenger room. You probably wouldn't want to sleep in it, but I really think you'll enjoy camping/hotels/hostels better anyway.

    Is there four of you? A larger sedan might work as well. Many of us roadtrip/tent camp out of regular cars just fine. But I really think a minivan might be your best bet.

    Just another money-handling idea. If I'm really strapped for cash, I have been known to bring a supply of envelopes. I typically use a debit card and what I will do is put all my receipts for the day in an envelope and, at the end of the day, add up what I spent. If I know I only have XXX number of dollars per day average to spend, I can quickly keep track if I've gone over/under budget. If over, I know I have to spend less than that the next day to make up for it. If under, I know I have a bit more to spend some other than during my trip. Cash I've spent is, of course, added to the totals as well. You might do something like this on a weekly basis, with daily sub-totals.

    I hate dealing with traveler's checks and in today's world with debit cards, they really aren't needed anymore. I was always afraid of losing them. But, really, that made this even more simple as I would just get denominations of traveler's checks that allowed me to put my budget for that day in an envelope. I couldn't spend more than that days envelope. Period.

    Anyway, something like that might be helpful for you since budget is an issue. You don't want to end up with more trip than money towards the end.

  7. Default

    Hey :)

    There's 3 of us.. so maybe we wont need such a big camper van. I used the info on working out a budget and I've worked out a budget for us and found that we might actually able to stretch towards $5000 for a van or car, rather than $3000 as previously thought. Im guessing this would get us a better quality, newer vehicle. But I think this is something we really need to look into more, so I shall have a look on the wesbites you mentioned.
    As for camping, this is something I would be fine with. However it was the suggestion of the other 2 that we sleep in the van.. I honestly wouldnt mind camping most nights. I'll have to talk more with them and see if we could downsize to a mini-van like you mentioned, to make things a bit easier and quicker.
    And thanks for the tip on money-handling! I've often found it hard to remember to keep track of what you've spent in a day etc. So keeping hold of all the receipts seems like a good idea, I'll remember that :)

    Thanks again!

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