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  1. #1

    Default Planning a RoadTrip across Canada and US!

    Hey everyone!

    I am currently planning a roadtrip with my friend, we are from Montreal and we want to ride across Canada all the way to Vancouver, then head down the US West Coast, Washington, Oregon, California, go to Las Vegas, mabe the Grand Canyon, then head up to Chicago and make our way back to Montreal...

    Our itinerary is not complete at the moment, but my main concern is the money... Do you have any tips on how to save money, and how much would you plan on saving for a trip like this?

    Also, any tips on what to bring, what to see and where to visit would be great! =)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Many variables.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Have you your own transport ? How long are you travelling for ? Is camping an option ?

    A trip of this size is going to require a fortnights worth of driving and to have time to see any sites, at least 3 to 4 weeks of travel. Finding budget Motels and/or camping will be a significant saving and if you have your own road trip vehicle you should be able to work out gas costs and save on rental costs. Buying groceries and eating out of a cool box will make a big difference compared to eating out 3 times a day. When comparing Motel costs, check to see if there is a breakfast included in the price. I try to do most of my money saving prior to the trip by cutting back on little 'luxuries' at home to try and ensure the best time while on the road.

    Your trip is far too big to offer any meaningful advice on places to visit out of the hundred's of thousands available at this point, but I would suggest you search the forums and other RTA road trip planning pages and when you have some dots on the map, we will be pleased to help fill in the blanks.

  3. #3


    Thank you for your answer!

    We have a car, and we were planning on leaving for at least a month, maybe a month and a half!

    We have also considered youth hostels, since they cost a lot less than a hotel, and I have looked up the Couchsurfing site... We also planned to sleep in the car in order to save a bit of money!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Hostels may not be the cheapest way - they charge per person where hotels/motels charge by the room. Sleeping in the car should not be done except in places like truck stops with permission. You could do it in campgrounds, but you still would have to pay the fees and you might as well use a tent if you do - it will be a lot more comfortable. You can't legally do it in most highway rest areas or alongside the road.

  5. Default


    I also planned to do a road trip across the USA and Canada with my girlfriend, in a minivan.
    You say you don't advice to sleep in the car. As we planned to do it during the trip (we have dark windows), could you explain to me how it is not adviced to do it please ?
    Because it would be quite a cost killer to sleep on motels...

    Thanks a lot !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    There are several reason it is not a great idea to plan to sleep in your car as a long term plan.

    First, a car, or even a mini-van just doesn't have enough room to be comfortable as a long term apartment! Even if you can find enough room for 2 people to lay down in the back, that's going to take up all the space you'd have for a months worth of luggage and gear.

    Second, there's the where to park issue. As was mentioned, you can't just pull over on the side of the road or in a rest area. Its often illegal, and it's certainly not safe. To safely sleep in your car you need to be in a legal, and well lit spot. Truck stops often are the best bet for this. The problem is that "well lit" and "good night sleep" often don't go together. If you are spending the night at a truck stop, you are there to park, not "camp" so you certainly can't cook your own meals out of your trunk, and it is customary to make some sort of purchase as a thanks. Of course, the other option is just to park at a campground, but you need to pay for camping fees, and then you might as take advantage of a tent.

    Finally, if you are going to be on the road for a long period of time, spending every minute of every day inside the same tin can is going to get very old. A minivan is just not much space, and there is something very nice about having somewhere else to go after the end o a day on the road.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-28-2011 at 05:49 PM. Reason: extra text

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default From one who did it

    As one who has slept in a small SUV, I would have to agree with Michael that sleeping with two people in a mini van, as well as storing your luggage will not make for a comfortable night's sleep.

    I travelled alone, and with my mattress, pillow and sleeping bag, I was very comfortable indeed, and slept well. So much so, that I often slept much later than I wanted to. But that said, I only did it for less than 20% of the nights, and then usually at truck stops.

    [Other nights were spent in cheap wayside motels, hostels, campgrounds and couchsurfing, besides spending nights with family and friends.]

    As far as the well lit issue, I had some dark material covering the windows (fastened with velcro dots). And parking in between two large RVs, lights are not a concern.

    What would be of much greater concern is making two people comfortable in such a small space, as well as storing all the stuff. I had everything over one side, beside the mattress (which took more than half the floor space), but still found that at times I had to put things on the front seat.

    From my experience, I find it hard to imagine two people getting enough restful sleep to be fully alert and competent drivers to hit the road next day.

    Maybe you should consider putting this road trip on hold for a couple of years, till you both have more money to really enjoy it. Both a great road trip, and a disastrous road trip will create lifetime memories. Make sure that yours are memories you want to remember.


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