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  1. Default California Road Trip - First Time Renting RV?

    Hi - We're planning a road trip for next year - probably mid October, for 16-21 nights. We're from the UK and we've visited the East Coast before but not the West.

    First question - We'd really like to rent an RV, to save money and time. There will be four of us travelling. But we've never driven an RV before. Are they easy to get the hang of? Are the gears automatic? And are the roads in California reasonable suitable for this type of vehicle.

    Second question - Does anyone have a rough idea of what they would charge if we picked up in Las Vegas and dropped of in San Francisco or LA?

    Third Question - We're planning to visit San Francisco, stop over at some of the places between there and LA on Route 1.

    We'll probably spend about a week in LA and San Diego area and we'd also like to spend some time at Yosemite and probably LA too.

    Are these good places to include? Where else is a must see in this area and is Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon really worth the drive, or would it be better to spend more time in other areas? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Perhaps Faulty Assumptions

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You seem to be taking many things as given which really aren't, or at least require careful consideration. So before you get the cart before the horse, here are a few items you need to get straightened out before you go too much further down the planning path you're on. The first assumption is that there is some generic 'RV'. In point of fact there are three basic classes, simply enough: A, B and C, so before anything else you should have a look at those and see what appeals to you, and what you can handle. A Class B or C motorhome would likely be something you could handle and also be very likely to have an automatic transmission. Still, it will almost assuredly be significantly larger than what you are used to driving and will require some getting used to, at the same time you're trying to get used to being on the 'wrong' side of the road. Also keep in mind that they have limited visibility at a time when you may not be looking in the right direction.

    The second assumption is that an RV will "save money and time". That is not a given at all. You will need to look into what one actually costs to rent versus a standard sedan and motel rooms. And don't forget to factor in the additional gas required to move your home around with you everywhere you go. Then there are the intangibles. How much is it worth to you to occasionally rent two rooms rather than 1 so that the four of you can split up a bit rather than always being cramped up in the same small space 24 hours a day.

    There will certainly be a substantial drop-off fee to leave the RV somewhere other than where you pick it up. The same is true of a car rental, but again I suspect that the fee on the RV will be significantly larger than for a car. You'll just have to check around and see what you can get.

    Those are the questions I think you should be asking yourself and the things you should be checking out with rental companies. The questions you do ask about roads and such are very much secondary at this point. American roads are certainly up to handling RV's, people drive them every day. And there are plenty of places to stay along CA-1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. And there are tons of attractions in your vacation area. But first you'll need to get your basic logistics squared away.


  3. Default

    Thank you. I think I didn't give enough background info - sorry. The teenagers are opposite sex, so we would need two motel rooms every night, as they can't share a bed. Also we like to prepare some meals ourselves - usually breakfast, to save a bit of cash.

    I already did a rough costing - the only thing I wondered about was the one way cost - two or three hundred would not be so bad. But a thousand dollars plus would put us off.

    When I checked out the RV site, it was the mid-size one that appealed most. I'm used to driving a transit van - which is fairly big but probably a bit narrower and not as long as this. Last one I had, I was not able to see through rear window, which can be a nuisance - I'm guessing this would be the same with an RV right?

    I've already begun to research a lot of the places we want to visit - just wondered if anyone else had any suggestions and whether Vegas would be worth it, as opposed to spending more time at Yosemite, or other places.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A loop ?

    Hi Cath,

    To get a quote for a one way drop off fee you really need to speak to the company direct, sometimes they have special deals on offer. For a one way drop off you will most likely need to use one of the bigger company's such as Cruise America and I would imagine your fee would be much nearer to $300 than a $1000.

    Having said that and having looked at the places you may wish to visit I would actually consider doing a loop which would in fact save you zig zagging across the West and not have to back track at all. The route in question would look something like this SF>Yosemite>Death valley>Vegas>GC >SD>LA>SF[route 1]. This could be done in either direction but the Tioga pass [120] which is the direct link from Yosemite to Vegas closes between mid Oct and Nov, so if it's open I would go the way described. Of course you could still do a loop that doesn't include Vegas and Grand canyon, would I recommend it? No ! I would swop time in LA for the GC any day but that's me.
    October is a fantastic time to travel, with lots of fall colour and much, much quieter in the National parks which are out of this world.
    As for the RV, the 'C' class is the most popular and will be more familiar to the transit, but bigger and longer. You will not be able to see out of the back window but when backing into a tight spot for instance you can get a family member to go to the rear and look out of the small window to look out for any obstacles while another waves you in from outside the vehicle. By the time you have taken camping fees etc into consideration the RV won't be so much the cheaper option, nor the quickest, but if you like the freedom and lifestyle it offers then it's a great choice but in my opinion more so sitting around the camp fire in Yosemite rather than trying to negotiate it through LA traffic.

    The links Buck gave you above includes our RV trip report in Oct which, although didn't include LA and the coast, might give you an insight of what lays ahead.
    As you gather your thoughts keep asking questions and we can help you piece it together.

  5. Default

    Hi Dave - Thank you. $300 doesn't seem bad for the convenience and flying into different gateways is only about £25 per person more, which surprised me.

    I guess we won't save much time, as we'll have to drive slower. But I really hate the hassle of packing and unpacking and checking in and out of hotels. Plus, the fun element really attracts me and it's not something we could really do in the UK, because most scenic routes over here have such narrow roads.

    Your trip report sounded awesome. You managed to see so much. I guess that whether we fit in Vegas & the Canyon will depend on how long the trip will be - it's too early to say how much time we'll be able to take.

    The time spent in LA would be mostly divided between Anaheim and San Diego with two nights in LA. If the roads are so awful in LA maybe we'd be better doing the hotel and car thing for those couple of nights?

    One more question Dave - I've checked out some of the RV sites and noticed that the C class RV's have two double beds. Do they also have a pull out/sofa bed and where is that located? Is it single or double? Thanks.

    Now, I'm going to check out some more of your planning links.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The dining area.

    One more question Dave - I've checked out some of the RV sites and noticed that the C class RV's have two double beds. Do they also have a pull out/sofa bed and where is that located? Is it single or double? Thanks
    The other sleeping area is in the dining area. Basically the table and bench's fold to make the other bed [double I believe.] When you look at the lay out you will notice that the larger class 'C' RV's have a full size back bedroom and allows for a bigger washroom/shower area which we find far more comfy with 4.
    If you start or finish in LA then I think the car and Motels would be a good option for your time in the city and then hit the road with the RV.

  7. #7


    Hi Cath

    We were in america last september and rented a C30 rv for 3 weeks, we started off in LA (you have to spend the first night in a hotel though before picking up the rv).Malibu then went to death valley, Pahrump, vegas (our friends renuwed their vows there) we then went up to Kanab in Utah, Lake powel, then on to Grand canyon, Williams az, Needles ca, Barstow Ca and then back to LA. The last 2 nights we spent at Pamona LA and we went to the big county fair which was good.

    We Booked with Complete North America if you Email them with what you want to do they will give you prices including flights 1st night in hotel and RV rental. Off the top of my head it cost £1200.00 per person for 3wks plus spending money

    We had no problem with the rv as hubby and our friend are both LGV drivers.


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