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  1. #1

    Default Kiwi's heading across America in May09

    We're a group of 5 early 20's guys from New Zealand looking to travel from LA to NY in around 30 days in May 09...

    We're looking to keep costs as low as possible, so roughing it as much as we can. The general plan being LA -> Vegas -> Grand Canyon -> Austin TX -> Orlando -> Washington DC -> New York City.

    So just got a couple of questions that we are battling to find answers for online someone which hopefully could shed some light on..

    1. What is a good company to look to hire a mini-van (12 seats) or a small RV for 5 people? What is a realistic cost for hiring and also for fuel (5000miles). We're not looking for anything flash/expensive but something that will get us there in one piece...

    2. What are some must see spots, other than the cliche's for people our age through a route like this?

    No doubt we'll have more questions soon...and if you have any other ideas/thoughts about this trip feel free to throw them our way!

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Under 25 ?

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    We're a group of 5 early 20's guys from New Zealand looking to travel from LA to NY in around 30 days in May 09...

    We're looking to keep costs as low as possible
    I'm afraid these 2 don't go together to well, the car companies tend to up the premium to rent to under 25's. It maybe more difficult from overseas.
    Some info on under 25's

    30 days is plenty of time to do this trip and take in plenty of the many places along the way. A straight run is generally a comfortable 5 day cross country trip.

    1. What is a good company to look to hire a mini-van (12 seats) or a small RV for 5 people? What is a realistic cost for hiring and also for fuel (5000miles).
    I'm not sure if an R.V. is an option due to age again, but without the extra ins cover it's not going to keep the costs down. At a guess I would say you would be looking at least
    $4,500 rental and add to that $900 site fees and at 10mpg aprox $2200 for fuel [depending on pump price].

    Have a look at the link i gave you to get an idea of other costs but make sure you check the extra charge out.

    2. What are some must see spots, other than the cliche's for people our age through a route like this?
    We don't do "must see's" as such here, we are all different in our likes and dislikes, so the question is, what are you looking for, what are your main interests for this trip?

    A great way to save money would be camp some of the way, would this be an option?
    My main thought at this moment would be to find some one in there late 20's who loves to drive and that you get on with ;-).

    This compatibility quiz might be worth doing with your mates before you head out. It helps open up a discussion about what you want and don't want from this trip, and it's important you are thinking along the same lines, 30 days in close proximity is going to test any group at times.
    Have a search through the forums, there is a host of info available and let us know when you have some more questions.

    Dave
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-28-2008 at 04:12 AM.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Dave, some really useful info.

    Yeah, I think we've accepted that the costs for hiring a vehicle and the fuel costs will be fairly steep, and the dominant cost of the whole trip. Dividing those costs over the 5 of us makes it a bit more bearable to look at...

    Many of the vehicle hire companies seem to be restricted to the state it is hired from also. Are there one or two companies that anyone thinks would be fairly likely for us, and I can potentially ring them for a more accurate quote of costs...?

    I think the trade-off for us will be an RV versus a normal vehicle, with the RV having the benefits of sleeping and cooking functions, whereas we would have to buy a tent/gas stove etc if we just hired a standard van/car.

    Are there licence restrictions on an RV? We all have full NZ licences so assume we would be ok?

    If anyone has more info which could help us in this area would be appreciated.


    I think we are after a mix of sight-seeing i.e Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Washington DC etc and also a bit of time in some of the cities i.e Vegas, Austin, Orlando so we are open to any suggestions or recommendations.

    What is Miami like, we will be heading to Orlando but unsure whether it is worth dropping down to Miami?

    Let us know any thoughts/comments anyone has...all is very handy for us to compile all the info...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default beyond price

    A few things, with the size of the vehicles you are looking at, it might not just be the cost - you might not be able to find anyone who will rent you the vehicles you need. While some compaines will rent to drivers under age 25, for a fee, they generally restrict those rentals to standard sedans. SUVs and Vans generally are considered specialty vehicles, and often aren't available to younger renters. I should also mention that a 12 seat van is certainly a full sized van, not a minivan. A minivan should be big enough for 5 people, but it will have 7 or 8 seats, max.

    I'm not sure of any company that will allow the kind of rental you are looking for, but that doesn't mean its impossible - you'll just have to spend a lot of time looking for something that will work.

    On the positive side, your standard NZ licenses should be fine here. As long as you could legally drive it there, you should be able to drive it here.

    I think the trade-off for us will be an RV versus a normal vehicle, with the RV having the benefits of sleeping and cooking functions, whereas we would have to buy a tent/gas stove etc if we just hired a standard van/car.
    I think you are seriously oversimplifying the trade-offs here. An RV is going to be much more expensive to rent than a van, its going to cost more to drive, and campsites will often be more expensive because you'll need electric and water hookups to take full advantage of the RVs offerings. If cost is the primary issue, an RV will not be cheaper than renting a van and buying tent camping supplies - in fact, RVs are usually more expensive than driving and renting motels when you factor in all the costs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Camping supplies are really cheap at big box stores

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    If cost is the primary issue, an RV will not be cheaper than renting a van and buying tent camping supplies - in fact, RVs are usually more expensive than driving and renting motels when you factor in all the costs.
    Exactly. With five of you, a minivan style rig is going to be a bit tight once you add your gear but it's probably your best bet considering your age.

    Things you'd need to buy to tent camp and estimated low-end costs:
    * Propane campstove $30-40.
    * Tent for five, about $100. Or one 2-man and one 3-man tent, about $30-50 each.
    * Simple, rectangle sleeping bags for $12-20 each.
    * Closed cell sleeping pads about $10...although the better ones can cost much more.
    * Cookset $20-30
    * Five flashlights $10-20 for all
    * Lantern $20-50
    * Coolers $5-15 each for lower-end ones just fine for short-term travel
    * Other cooking gear like can opener, turners, knives, paper plates, eating utensils, etc. would be about $20-50 depending on what all you choose to buy
    * Propane canisters, usually about $2 each

    So, at the high end, camping gear should run you about $450-500. And you could do it cheaper if you shop well. Hint...look for big box stores.

    You will easily save in gas the money to cover these purchases if you get a minivan instead of an RV. Campsites are going to run you about $15-30/night with tents, over more like $25-40/night with an RV. Over 30 days, the difference in camping fees alone will also practically pay for your gear.

    At the end of your trip, places like Goodwill and Salvation Army would love to take your donated camping supplies. Also, most any homeless shelter would also be thrilled to have things like this to hand out to homeless people.

    If money is a concern, I really think the minivan/tent-camping is your best option.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks for this, it's very helpful.

    I think what you have suggested could be a real possibility, as long as we can get our hands on a van of reasonable size. I've been emailing around a bit, but am battling a bit with vans.

    Most hiring companies seem to have a range of brand new looking vehicles and not really any vans. We've hired vans before in NZ and Australia without any problems, so I assume I'll just have to keep looking...?

    If anyone has looked into this before, or can suggest some companies that would be realistic to get in touch with that would be great!!

    I think we've accepted that we'll have to fork out some cash for the vehicle, and are happy to rough it and live cheap while we are there. Will add to the adventure!

    Would it potentially be easier to sort a vehicle out when we arrive, or is pre-booking a much better option?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Pre-book for sure.

    Hi Kiwis,

    I can't help you with any particular companies, I can only suggest you keep searching the net for deals.

    Would it potentially be easier to sort a vehicle out when we arrive, or is pre-booking a much better option?
    I wouldn't recommend this to anyone for a cross country trip, but with your set of circumstances, such as your age, the type of vehicle you require and the fact you are struggling to find it with the help of the Internet, I would say 100% pre book it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Get car set-up before you come here

    Quote Originally Posted by LA2NY_KIWIS View Post
    Thanks for this, it's very helpful.

    I think what you have suggested could be a real possibility, as long as we can get our hands on a van of reasonable size. I've been emailing around a bit, but am battling a bit with vans.

    Most hiring companies seem to have a range of brand new looking vehicles and not really any vans. We've hired vans before in NZ and Australia without any problems, so I assume I'll just have to keep looking...?
    Definitely. IF you wait until you arrive, you won't have as many options to choose from and may get stuck with the wrong type of vehicle for you.

    I did some poking around and, hopefully, this will help you a bit.

    Hertz - 7 passenger the Toyota Sienna minivan
    Avis, Alamo & National - 7 passenger Chevrolet Uplander
    Budget - 7 passenger Ford Freestyle
    Enterprise - Dodge Grand Caravan & Chevrolet Uplander - both 7 passenger

    These minivans aren't sexy but they should give you decent passenger and cargo space while getting fairly reasonable gas mileage to keep fuel costs down.

    All these companies have bigger vans as well but you're going to pay a lot more to rent them and their fuel consumption will be higher.

  9. #9

    Default Luggage Trailer or Roof Storage?

    Hi,

    We're having some similar issues with the biggest vehicle rental companies allowing us to hire something along the lines of a Chevy Uplander, 6/7 seater.
    (Going LA to NY around next April/May)

    The problem is going to be gear...is it possible to easily hire luggage trailers, or a rooftop storage device from the main rental companies?

    I guess we would have to face a bit of extra cost to hire it, and also it would have a slight impact on fuel economy, but I think it would solve our space problems....has anyone got any tips around this issue? Would be much appreciated
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-23-2008 at 07:11 PM. Reason: Moved Post to Existing Thread For This Trip

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A field report

    Quote Originally Posted by LA2NY_KIWIS View Post
    The problem is going to be gear...is it possible to easily hire luggage trailers, or a rooftop storage device from the main rental companies?
    Not really, they really don't want to know that you are placing gear bags on their vehicles. U-Haul and Ryder have some luggage racks you can add to your vehicle and here is a field report from a road tripper about the rear gear bag options.

    Mark

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