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  1. Default newbie seeking advice and suggestions!

    hi guys,

    ok, myself and a few friends of mine are looking to do a road trip from east coast to west coast, stopping at various places along the way but eventually ending up in L.A. we've given ourselves 3 weeks to do this. is this doable???

    also, we were looking to buy a 2nd hand school bus to do the journey in. does anyone know the best places to find these and roughly how much this would cost?

    and one more thing, can anyone suggest the best places to visit along the way?

    thanks

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

    Default The New Merry Pranksters?

    Or The New Partridge Family?

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums!

    You will need 5 days each way to just to make the drive across the country. So this will leave you 11 days to play in LA and explore along the way. If this feels like enough time for you, then it's enough time. You won't have time to linger long but you can pack a lot of fun into those 11 days.

    Why a bus? Just curious...while it does sound like a fun way to travel, the fuel costs would be pretty steep. How many friends are coming along? Do you really need the space? I just googled "used school busses for sale" and found quite a few listings of places that sell them. You might poke around and see what you find. I was surprised at the reasonable prices but who knows what driving shape they're in. Good luck with finding a good one!

    The best places along the way are the places you want to see. I could give you a long list but they would be the best places for me, maybe not for you. Why don't you give us some idea of the types of things that interest you and your friends. Outdoors? Cities? Amusement parks? Historical sites? Arts? This info will help us help you.

    You might also consider getting a big map of the US and pouring over it, marking places to stop that you've heard of that interest you. Sometimes the best routes are obvious once you've marked where you want to stop.

    If you haven't done so already, you just might poke around these forums as there is a wealth of information. Don't miss the good articles in the "Roadtrip Planning" section (see the green tab above).

    Happy planning and give us more info to help you further!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default School Bus Considerations

    A few things you may not have thought about in your desire to get a used school bus. First they are neither terribly fast nor terribly fuel efficient. This is going to be a costly drive in terms of both time and money. Second, they are not very safe. Despite the fact that they are used to transport our children, they are built without seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, etc., and those seats are not what I'd want to sit in for a trip of this magnitude. Third, you can't just buy one and drive off. At a minimum, you will have to repaint it. It is illegal in most states for anything other than an actual school bus used in the transport of school children to be painted NSBY (National School Bus Yellow) or to say "School Bus". Fourth, since most school districts are pressed for funds, they tend to drive these things hard and keep them until there's no useable life in them. I'm not surprised that Judy found they're relatively cheap used. I am surprised anyone buys them.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    hi,

    thanks for your reply!

    in regards to the school bus, just sounded like it could be fun really! there should be at least 6 of us and we're looking to have at least $3000 each (thanks to the very generous exchange rate!) so this should hopefully cater for any possible trouble that we may come across. fingers crossed anyway!

    we wasn't actually planning on staying in L.A. for too long as we would be flying back from there (we're coming from the UK) so we was looking to visit various states along the way but we're not entirely sure what there is to see and do in each state. we would be very interested in seeing places such as mount rushmore, grand canyon, etc. we would probably look to spend maybe a couple of days here and a couple of days there if you see what i mean?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default A Big Bite

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Starting with the time aspect, 3 weeks is enough time to comfortably do this as a one way trip and have plenty of time for exploration and fun along the way. If you are doing this as a round trip, its still possible, but you'll be somewhat limited in your exploration time. Plan to spend about 5 days driving each way, and that is sprinters type pace. You have to add in more time if you are going to be spending time exploring along the way. Again, that's possible, but you will have to pick and choose what you are going to be stopping.

    As far as your transportation method, I think you're gettting in over your head. The bus idea might look good on paper, but I really can't see how it would work in a practical sense. Most bus companies don't get rid of their busses until they become too expensive maintain, and still I have to imagine that the cost of obtaining one would not be cheap at all. If you knew you were going to be traveling frequently on a long term basis, it might be an idea worth pursuing, but for a 1st time, 3 week trip, I can almost guarentee that trying to buy and use a bus for this one trip would be an astronomical expense that would double/tripple/quadruple/+++ the overall costs of doing a cross country trip. Unless you are going to be able to use the car on a daily basis after your trip is done, purchasing a car for a relatively short term trip like this rarely makes sense.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default well then

    that's what happens when you start a reply, get distracted, and don't finish for an hour around here...

    Anyway, knowing that you are coming from out of the country, there are a few more things you'll need to think about before buying a car. If you are under age 21, it might be your only real option, but otherwise, you'll likely be better off renting.

    Another note about the bus option since this is a one way trip, selling a bus would be virtually impossible to do quickly - especially in California where emissions laws add another line of red tape to the car selling process.

    As far as things to see, check our our state by state list of ideas!

  7. Default

    thanks for all of this information, it has been very helpful!

    we actually know someone who lives in boston so hopefully that may make things a little bit easier. we have a fair bit of time as we're not looking to do this til next year.

    i would like to get a rough idea of gas prices over there. how much roughly do you think it would cost gas wise if we went in a school/activity bus?

  8. Default

    I have to agree that a bus will be incredibly expensive for cross-country transportation. In addition to getting extremely low fuel mileage, they take diesel, not gas -- that's more prone to ups and downs than regular gasoline that we all use in our cars.

    Yes, it'd be big, and if you remove some seats you could put in air mattresses and sleep in it . . . but I don't think it'd be all that comfortable. No air conditioning, for example.

    Keep in mind, too, that these busses don't have secure doors. After all, no one leaves anything on a bus! Anyone can easily pry open the doors and get inside. This means every time you leave the bus, you'd have to be worried about your luggage, etc.

    The one thing that was brought up that I wouldn't worry about is the lack of seatbelts. I've read things about how busses are designed not to need them (and my husband says he studied this in engineering school, so I tend to believe it). The seats are high-backed, and the idea is that in case of a crash, the kids would fly forward, hit the straight-backed seat (which isn't far away at all), and slide down. Unless the bus rolls, kids couldn't fly from area to area -- they'd be contained. What's safe in a big, tall bus isn't the same as what's safe in a little car -- you can't compare the two. It takes a horrendous wreck to damage a bus.

    For six people, you'd be better off to rent a mini-van. Yes, you'll have less space, but the difference in gas mileage will make up for that.

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

    Default I agree....skip the bus

    I didn't realize that you were coming from overseas and only planning on using it during that time. I was imagining this would be something you would be hanging onto and using for a period of years, off and on. Even if that were the case, the bus doesn't make sense to me but, considering your situation, it makes no sense at all.

    I've ridden on numerous school busses over the years and none of them had high-back seats. Even most kids heads are above the top of the backseat. No support for anything like whiplash, etc. Maybe different states have different seat requirements? No matter. Just throwing that out.

    I think a mini-van is probably your best option as well. Whatever vehicle you choose, a rental makes more sense than buying. Considering the expense to purchase, the likelihood of having to do maintenance/repairs before leaving on your trip, the red-tape with registration, insurance, etc., and the difficulty in selling it at the end of your trip, it just makes no sense to buy a vehicle for a shorter, 3-week trip. If you were traveling for 3 months, maybe. But not for 3 weeks.

    This article says that a school bus typically gets 6-8 miles per gallon. I'm assuming an older bus that you would purchase would be at the low end, or maybe even worse getting only 4-5 miles per gallon because the engine would have had so much wear-and-tear on it. So let's figure 5 miles per gallon. Diesel costs about $3.30 per gallon right now, on average. And a trip from Boston to LA would be about 3,000 miles. Now that is only if you drive in a straight-shot by the shortest route. Your mileage could easily double that if you are exploring around the country before getting to LA, so let's use 4500 miles as an "in-between guesstimate". 4500 miles divided by 5 miles per gallon = 900 gallons x $3.30 per gallon = $2970 just in fuel costs. Ouch!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default $3.30... I wish

    I haven't seen Diesel for $3.30 in months, it was at $3.70 per gallon at my local station last week, and that was before oil crossed the $100 mark! That extra 40 cents, would add another $350 to those calculations.

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