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  1. Default Beginner seeking advice

    Hi guys,

    This site is a fantastic resource. I stumbled across it whilst in the midst of a marathon RV researching session on Google and it's been really useful. No amount of written guides can equal the collective knowledge of an experienced RVer answering my questions directly; so I thought I'd pitch a few to you.

    My girlfriend and I are both 22, and we're looking to do a mammoth road trip from mid-September to mid-November. She is American but has a British license, I do not drive. She's moved out to Seattle now to stay with family until I graduate and join her there for a DMB gig at The Gorge. My first question is, I suppose, what's a reasonable budget for 60-odd days trip across the States? It's looking like it'll cost us no more than $3000 to hire a Class B van, we're both not particularly fussed about having great amenities and will strive to use as little water and electricity as possible, and we intend to buy cheap food from market stalls and supermarkets to keep us going. If all goes well, we think between us that we'd be able to save a maximum of $8000 before we go; will this be enough? With the research I've done I'm fairly confident, but then I worry about expenses I haven't thought of, and I'm assuming for example that we won't have to stay at proper campsites more often than once a week to dump the RVs waste and take on new water etc?

    Thanks in advance for all your help, and I hope one day soon to see you on the road!

    Steve

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sjrsmith View Post
    ......and I'm assuming for example that we won't have to stay at proper campsites more often than once a week to dump the RVs waste and take on new water etc?
    Steve
    So where are you planning to stay?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Something you may not be aware of - you can't pull a RV over just anywhere in the US and go to sleep.

  4. Default

    Haha yeah don't worry I've read enough stuff to know that's the case! Well when I say no campsites I mean nothing with hookups really, so the dirt cheap ones. Otherwise it'd be a mixture of single nights at Walmart car parks (with etiquette followed of course), possibly Flying J parking lots and boondocking. I got the impression a lot of people do this sort of thing?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Tricky.

    Hello and welcome to the R.T.A. forums.

    I think you will be lucky to find places that you can "boondock" at for 6 nights a week over a period of 60 days unless you want that to determine where you go, but even that would be difficult and each Walmart store is different and depends on the branch manager. The other problem is the holding tanks won't be as large on a class B and you would be lucky to stretch out a week, but there are dump stations all over, some charge, some don't.
    The National parks have campgrounds in some amazing settings and can be had for around $18 a night.
    As for your budget it will depend on how far you want to travel and what you plan to do.
    There will be extra mileage charges I would think over a certain amount that's included in the rental and will also depend on gas prices. If you have $5000 over after your rental it will equate to just over $80 a day so that's a good place to start, working on a daily budget. If you are planning on visiting natural wonders you can get an annual pass for the NP's and fed lands for $80 that allows you in any park for a year. [Doesn't include camping fees].

    It will be worth comparing the cost against that of a car and using Hostels with the occasional Motel if the choice of transport is budget related.

  6. Default

    Thanks for your reply Dave - with that in mind does it seem more do-able to assume two or three days a week at a "proper" campsite with hookups, and the rest "dry-camping" etc? Yeah we get 100 miles a day with one of our rental options, or unlimited miles with a buyback option, but I'm a tad more nervous about committing to a buyback RV as it's our first trip in one.

    Unless I've been looking in all the wrong places, car hire and hostels/motels would work out more expensive? I've struggled to find car hire for less than about $1500 for the period, and I've always been told that there are hardly any hostels in the USA compared to Europe, but is this wrong? I'm more than receptive to that idea as a good car would be far more economical and environmentally-friendly than a camper, and it'd make me feel a bit closer to Kerouac ; )

    I suppose food costs would be significantly higher without a camper though? Unless it'd be possible to take a propane burner in the boot of the car - but then would we be able to find many places to cook?

    I'll post more information here when I have it, such as the vehicle type and route information (and probably heaps of questions about recommendations!) if that's ok. Thanks again!

    Steve

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

    Default Some links.

    You would need to do the sums to see what suits your needs and budget the best, but there appear to be many hostels.

    There is lots of info on the forums using the search button and here are some tips from a few of them, Budgeting tips, Packing things, Tips for eating on the road, and some advice regarding camping.

    I'll post more information here when I have it, such as the vehicle type and route information (and probably heaps of questions about recommendations!) if that's ok. Thanks again!
    Of course it is, we will look forward to it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sjrsmith View Post
    ..... and I've always been told that there are hardly any hostels in the USA compared to Europe, but is this wrong?
    Steve, the site Dave posted, is the most comprehensive hostels site. The only areas where you will not find many hostels is on the midwest plains. There they are few and far between. Most of my nights in the USA have been spent in hostels, by plotting my route with hostels in mind. (Great one in Kanab if you wanna go see the North Rim, Zion and Bryce. Hope it is still there. There used to be a beauty in Beatty just by Death Valley.)

    Quote Originally Posted by sjrsmith View Post
    I suppose food costs would be significantly higher without a camper though? Unless it'd be possible to take a propane burner in the boot of the car - but then would we be able to find many places to cook?
    95% of hostels have a full kitchen, and even the odd one you come across that does not, usually has a toaster, kettle, fridge and microwave. Buy your food in the supermarket and cook it yourself. It is in the kitchen and dining room that you get the opportunity to chat with other travellers, compare notes and learn about the road ahead - and other hostels.

    I also carry a single burner propane stove, and have used it at rest areas along the interstates to cook up quick snacks for lunch, though mostly I had filled rolls or sandwiches and fruit, which I prepared at breakfast time.

    To keep some milk for a cuppa along the way, or to keep a sanwhich cool in hot weather, I would freeze two small bottles of drinking water and wrap them with the food in a plastic bag, then my towel, a jumper and lastly my polar fleece jacket. Never failed, and I would have cold water to drink during the afternoon. Carry a good sturdy unbreakable mug and some tea bags / coffee. Most service stations have boiling water on tap, and I have never been refused some, when I have asked. Just as you can buy a carton of your favourite softdrink, chill a couple of cans overnight in the fridge where you are staying, and wrap them with the frozen water as above. (Buying a drink everytime you want one will send you broke!)

    There are lots of ways to save money on a road trip if you just use a little ingenuity and think outside the square.

    Lifey who travels on a shoestring

  9. Default

    Gosh Lifemagician I consider myself somewhat of a pro at saving money back here in England, but you sound like you've got the competition all sewn up over there in the States; they're some great ideas!

    I'm starting to wonder now if a car + hostel trip is a better idea than a RV + campsites one. Can I ask an awfully awkward question: do you think it would work out cheaper to get a circa $3000 class B camper and stay at National Forest campsites etc, or get a cheaper more economical car and stay in hostels? I know that's an almost impossible question to answer, but would anybody be able to give me a general indication? It's for a trip of around 6000 miles taking in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. I suppose I should also consider the time of temperature/road conditions for the time of year, as we'll be going from September until November. Does this have much of an influence?

    Did you guys find, when planning your first trip, that the unlimited choices available to you are almost paralysing? Every time I think I have a route planned out, somebody tells me a place I *have* to go and see (though conveniently I had already chosen Beatty as one of the few places I definitely wanted to go to purely because it lies on a more interesting route from LV to SLC!) It's tricky to strike the right balance between planning enough to be well prepared, and not becoming too zealous and having a restrictive itinerary. I suppose the best thing to do is just to remember that I don't have to see everything in one, two or even ten trips, and sometimes the greatest joy is finding things completely by accident.

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

    Default This is a lot easier than you think

    Purchasing a RV for $3000 and trying to drive it as much as you are suggesting rings alarm bells for me. If saving money is your goal -- than a car + motel/hostel option will save at least 30% of your total expense versus the RV option.

    Mark

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