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  1. Default HELP! - From Ottawa to San Francisco (MAY-JUNE 2009) - HELP!

    Hi everybody,

    Iím part of a group of 5 French students planning to cross the USA next spring. We are exchange students in Ottawa, Canada and we would like to be on the road from May 1st 2009 to June 5th 2009.

    Iím going to expose first what we are up to, what is the best for us, and then ask you a few questions.

    Our project : From Ottawa to San Francisco via NYC (spend 3 days there), Washington DC (1 day), Atlanta, New Orleans (1 day), Texas (cross+visit), Colorado (visit), Las Vegas (1 day), Los Angeles (2 days), California and National Parks, San Francisco (1 day). We will buy a used Dodge Caravan, a tent and a roof box. We planned to drive up to 5 hours a day, sleep in campgrounds (hostels in the cities and motels when itís raining !) 3 in the tent and 2 in the car, eat one hot meal a day at least and visit as much as we can. We will split the fuel bill in 5 !!!

    Our budget : 3.000 $ maximum each, 15.000 $ total. Approximately 6.000 $ for the car, 2.000 $ for the fuel, 1.000 $ for accommodations, 3.000 $ for the food, 2.000 $ for leisure + 1.000 $ for unforeseen expenses !!!

    Questions and remarks : This is just a plan, we have no experience in road trip, only in camper van holidays across Europe with our parents (for me at least) !!! We can change our mind if you think this is not achievable. Iíd like to know some things :
    - What might be the best car for us : mileage, price, fuel efficiency, comfort, toughness, etc. ? I think a Dodge Caravan can be large enough for 5 adults, cheap enough (5.000 to 6.000 $, used, with 120.000 km), but I recently looked for a GMC Savanna, GMC Safari or other vans too.
    - The best for us would be to buy the car in Ottawa and try to sell it in SF (even at half price or less !). Do you think itís possible ? Is it better to come back to Ottawa by car (thinking about the airplane ticket too !!) ?
    - What would the most plausible budget to expect ? Is 15.000 $ ok ? How can we cut costs without cutting too much comfort or too many visits ?
    - And finally, what to visit first and to do only if we have time (thing we probably wonít have!!!) ? Can you give us some advices about some bad touristic places we should not even think to go to ?
    - Last question : In France, if you are lucky you might find some companies eager to pay a little bit for your trip as soon as you do things for them (so as putting huge sticks on your car, using their products, etc.). Does it exist in the USA or Canada or should we give up the search as soon as possible ??

    I hope somebody will read this and most of allÖ. somebody will answer !!!! A road trip across the States is a dream for all of us. Weíve started our research and preparations since August and we really want to fulfill this dream !
    Thank you all and sorry for the length of my post ! Hope nobody was scared and stop reading right in the middle of it !!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by french_in_usa View Post
    Hi everybody,
    - What might be the best car for us : mileage, price, fuel efficiency, comfort, toughness, etc. ? I think a Dodge Caravan can be large enough for 5 adults, cheap enough (5.000 to 6.000 $, used, with 120.000 km), but I recently looked for a GMC Savanna, GMC Safari or other vans too.
    Welcome to the RTA Forum! A minivan will probably be the most practical and cost effective option. However, when you pack in 5 people plus gear, you're going to probably be looking at a pretty tight fit. As far as the specifics of models, that's mostly personal preference that you'll have to decide based on your own desires.

    The best for us would be to buy the car in Ottawa and try to sell it in SF (even at half price or less !). Do you think itís possible ? Is it better to come back to Ottawa by car (thinking about the airplane ticket too !!) ?
    It will be pretty much impossible to sell a Canadian car in the United States. Driving it won't be a problem, but yes, either going back to Ottawa, or maybe Vancouver if you want to stay on the west coast, will make the experience much easier.

    - And finally, what to visit first and to do only if we have time (thing we probably wonít have!!!) ? Can you give us some advices about some bad touristic places we should not even think to go to ?
    There are millions of things to see and do in the US. Its pretty much impossible to give specific answers to a such a broad question.

    - Last question : In France, if you are lucky you might find some companies eager to pay a little bit for your trip as soon as you do things for them (so as putting huge sticks on your car, using their products, etc.). Does it exist in the USA or Canada or should we give up the search as soon as possible ??
    You're not going to find someone who will pay you just to put a logo on your car. The only possibilities are promotional campaigns, where you are working full time as you travel cross country, but those don't work well with a leisure trip.

  3. Default

    Ok thanks for answering so quick ! This website is definitely the one I need !!!!

    I didn't know it was impossible to sell a Canadian car in the USA. So we have to find another solution. Maybe going to Vancouver and then flying back to Ottawa is a good solution. I got to compare a SF-Vancouver drive + a Vancouver-Ottawa flight to a SF-Ottawa drive and see which one is the best !!!!

    I'm happy you didn't notice anythink stupid or impossible to do in our project !!!! Still hoping this will work for us !

    For the moment my main concern is the car : which model and price, how to sell it and wether or not we've got to rent instead of buying (we are under 25!!!). I'm also anxious about the accomodation, is it possible for 2 adults to sleep in a van like this for a month !!! Not sure. And finally, our budget is a big point : reasonable, totally stupid, ... ?

    Thanks Midwest Michael
    If anyone can answer my question...I'll be glad

    Thx

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default clarification

    Quote Originally Posted by french_in_usa View Post
    I'm also anxious about the accomodation, is it possible for 2 adults to sleep in a van like this for a month !!! Not sure.
    I'm confused, I thought you were going as a group of 5? If you've got that many people traveling, its going to be hard to convert a relatively small traveling space into a sleeping space. If you're doing it as 2 people it will be easier, but it wouldn't be my first choice for a month.

    On the face, I think your budget number sounds reasonable, although I haven't run any actual numbers. Having 5 people pool resources should make things easier, but if you are doing this as a pair, then your money situation could get a lot more difficult.

  5. Default

    Sorry Michael

    My sentence was a bit confusing ! We are 5 students but in our project, we would have only 1 "3 adult tent" (need room in the car for all the other stuff) and the 2 others would sleep in the car (rotation system : you sleep in the car and then the next 3 nights in the tent, etc.!!!).

    Thanks

    Hope this helps

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    I think there would be a good chance, even with the dropoff fees and young driver fees, that you could rent a suitable vehicle for less than what you are planning to pay to purchase a used van. You should check this option out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default tents

    Getting a larger tent, or even a 2nd smaller tent, really wouldn't take up that much room in the sceme of things. It would certainly be a lot easier, and likely more comfortable, than trying to clear out space for 2 people to sleep every night. I also think that if you've got 5 people in the van all day long, I think all of you will feel much better if you all get a chance to spend your night outside of it.

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