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  1. Default 1st road trip to usa

    hello all my name is andy. im from glasgow, scotland.

    im planning a road trip for next year arround may time but this could change depending on how saving and work goes.

    i hope you guys can help me if i run into any problems while planning this.

    my first question is, is it ok/safe to sleep in your vehicle at night possibly in national parks?
    i was thinking that i could sleep in the suv and sleep in a motel/hotel every second or third night for a shower etc.

    many thanks


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    In National Parks, you'd be better off getting a camp site than attempting to sleep in your car. In fact, that goes for just about anywhere. Search these forums and this subject comes up quite a bit, and with the exception of certain places, such as truck stops or businesses that allow the practice, sleeping in the car is usually not allowed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Laws Are Quite different

    Ceud měle fŕilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I must say that I for one have thoroughly enjoyed the rather liberal 'trespassing' laws in Scotland. As a geologist, it has been my great pleasure to be able to walk in the footsteps of Hutton, Playfair, Lyell and others and have access to the sites on which they founded the modern study of the Earth. However, I am sorry to say, that here in the United States there is nothing like the legally defined 'Freedom to Roam' that you enjoy and that if you simply pull over in your vehicle to sleep at night you will almost certainly be trespassing on somebody's private property. You will be subject to a fine or even arrest. At best you might be roused from your sleep and told to move on. Even in national and state parks, you will be restricted to spending the night in designated campgrounds for which a fee is charged. There are some rare exceptions to this - some 'big box' stores allow people to park overnight in their lots, and some national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites allow distributed or dispersed camping, but those are on a case by case basis and you will have to check locally in each and very instance.


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

    Default Designated areas.

    Hi Andy, welcome to RTA !

    As you make your way around RTA you will find a wealth of info from searching the forums to navigating your way around the planning sections in the tool bars above. As you come across questions during the planning process, I'm pretty sure we can offer any help you may need.

    To answer your first question. Yes, you could possibly sleep in your car, but it would have to be in a designated campground for which there will be a fee and in some cases a shower block. You can't just find a quiet spot and decide to park up for the night, whether it be in the NP's or not. Campground fees are pretty cheap anyway and by doing searches you can find free camping areas, but how they would work into your journey is something you would have to research as you go. It's not worth burning $10 of gas getting to a free campground to save a $10 fee, if you see what I mean.

    Depending on the lenght of your stay, you could consider buying some basic camping equipment. It might [and most likely would] actually work out cheaper than renting a car such as an SUV to sleep in, and select a mid range saloon [er..sedan] that returns better mpg and will be cheaper to rent.

  5. Default

    thanks for the replys guys. im still in the early stages of planning. routes to take, things to see. camp or stay in hotels. all coming down to money at the end. iv kind of got my heart set on an suv. ill look into camping along the routes.

    thanks for the warm welcome. and look forward to talking more.

  6. Default

    There are some rare exceptions to this - some 'big box' stores allow people to park overnight in their lots,
    These places, like Wal Mart, require you to be self contained. They really don't want people sleeping in cars or trucks. You also have to ask the store manager if it's ok before you spend the night. Many Wal Marts have to turn away people who want to sleep in the parking lot because of city or state codes and most will have signs posted as such.

    As temping as it might seem, you can't just pull over to a quiet spot in a National Park sleep in a vehicle. The parks require you to stay camp in designated areas.

    I don't recommend spending the night at rest areas, because many aren't safe, but here are the rules of the road for parking in rest areas


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Be Sure to Read the (Not So) Fine Print

    Before you lay out a lot of money for an SUV, be sure to read all the Terms and Conditions in the car hire contract. I can pretty much guarantee you that you will be forbidden from taking it 'off road' in any case, and it is even quite likely that you will be restricted to 'paved and maintained' roads, which means that even may park and forest service roads will be off limits. Yes, it seems kind of a total waste to have such a capable vehicle and not be able to use it for the purposes touted in its advertising, but that's the way most contracts are written. And since essentially all rental cars are equipped with tracking GPS devices, even if you don't get the display, the rental agency will know where you've taken their vehicle. If you have voided the contract by taking it places that are expressly forbidden, then any insurance coverage you may have will be voided as well and at worst you can be charged with vehicle theft. Hardly seems worth the extra cost of the SUV both in terms of rental cost and extra fuel costs. You could easily end up spending more for capabilities that you don't get to use than you save by suffering through several uncomfortable nights' sleep.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Budget accommodation.


    You might like to research the wide range and extend of hostels in the US. For solo travellers, they are not just a great and safe place to stay, but also a place to meet other travellers and exchange stories. Most places do not need booking, but if you are looking at hostels in places like NYC, Chicago and the like, it is wise to book. Mostly I just call a day or two ahead. When you do book, don't be caught out by so-called free booking agencies. If you book directly with the reception desk at the hostel, you will find it is usually cheaper.


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