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  1. Default 3 Month Road Trip Central-East-West

    I'm going to be headed out on a 3 month long road trip around the beginning of September. I'll be taking a minivan that I'll be sleeping in most of the time lightly loaded with some clothes, air bed, cooler, mini propane grill, small tent for camping and some small things for hygene purposes. I've never done a road trip like this one before. The trip is gonna be starting in Minnesota, then headed out east until the end of September, then down south to Florida and over towards New Orleans, Austin, Phoenix, Vegas, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, then down south again to reside in Austin around the end of November. I have memberships to Lifetime Fitness and the YMCA for exercising and showering purposes and plan on running to fill up some time in my day when I don't want to spend money. I guess I came on here to get some advice on where to visit along the way. I'm a huge sports fan and would love to see all the things I can on the cheap to make my money stretch. Also, were can I shower when there isn't a gym around? How could I make an extra couple dollars here and there for gas money? Any advice would be useful. Thanks!

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

    Default the budget battle

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Money wise you need to plan to have more than enough money for your entire trip right from the start. In this economy, hoping to find work along the way when every town you'll visit will have hundreds of people unemployed just isn't a smart plan.

    For the most part, if you are camping in state parks and similar facilities, you should be able to find showers most of the time. If you are not planning to stay at those kinds of places - then where are you hoping to park? Also keep in mind that by the end of November, you'll be basically in winter, even in the west/southwest, and it will start to get quite cold at night, which may make sleeping in a minivan very uncomfortable.

    I'd say in general, it sounds like your budget is probably going to be your biggest issue. How much money are you planning to have available? Living on the road is not cheap, and it sounds to me like you could be in danger of really underestimating how much your trip will cost, even to live on the cheap.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default I'd have to agree....

    ... that if you do not have sufficient funds before you leave you are asking for trouble. You might be tempted to implement shortcuts and put yourself in harms way. And those funds need to include enough for emergency repairs to your vehicle.

    Sleeping in a mini van, assuming you have a good sleeping bag, can be very comfortable. I did it on a many months long trip, with the occasional hostel and motel thrown in. Your comfort will depend greatly on the quality of your sleeping bag. Michael mentioned November may be cold in a minivan. From my experience, sleeping in a minivan in (southern) Florida is much more challenging. Besides it being hot and stiffling, you will be eaten alive by mosquitoes if you leave a window open.

    However, a few words of caution. Do not be tempted to just pull off the road and sleep, nor in rest areas along the way. Nor in Walmart or other stores' car parks, without specific permission. It is not safe, and often illegal. Only in Florida 'where there are armed guards at rest areas is it safe and legal. An alternative is at truck stops. And whereas you do not pay to park on their tarmac, do not regard it as a freebie. Have a meal - dinner or breakfast - in their restaurant, a shower for a small fee and/or fill up the tank. It is the only secure place I would recommend outside of campgrounds. Truck stops are mostly 24 hour operations, have people coming and going all night, and are well lit. (Make sure you have something to keep out the light.)

    To find truck stops which make RVs welcome and which have showers and restaurants, best invest in this publication.

    Lifey

  4. Default Money

    I'm going to have roughly $10-$11k saved up before I hit the road. I also have things at home that I could easily get sold if need be for another $4k. I just hate the thought of sleeping in a hotel or finding a campground 5 days a week when all I need to do is sleep for 7 hours or so. I thought about Couch Surfing and will be staying with friends in different states here and there. I appreciate all of the advice so far!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Couchsurfing.

    Quote Originally Posted by isellshoes View Post
    I thought about Couch Surfing ...
    Couchsurfing is a wonderful community, where you will meet people who are interested in travelling and meeting other travellers. It is a mutual community, of folk who help one another. You need to earn your stripes, get your references and be verified as to your identity and location. That all takes time. Planning on joining just before your trip, may not be as successful as you think. CS works best if you can establish communication with your intended host(s) well before your arrival.

    Don't be tempted to use it merely as a free night's accommodation. Most Couchsurfers like to have some time with their guests to share and compare travel stories. It is also appreciated (if not expected) that you make some contribution, be it a small gift, a meal you bring or cook, or doing the dishes, etc. Whatever it is, make sure you show your appreciation to the home which has made you welcome. I like to take my host(s) out to dinner, which sometimes costs more than a motel would have. On the other hand, I have made some great friends.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    I'd also say that it is easy to sit in your home and on your computer and say that a campground would only be used for 7 hours of sleep. Sure, there may be some times where you are really only stopping for sleep, but realistically, you're going to have, and you're going to need downtown. Even after a long day on the road, having some place to relax and unwind for a hour or two before sleep is important, and it can be hard to do that in a car.

    More to the point, on a trip of this size/duration, you'll certainly have a lot of days where you don't (want to) have plans that fill up your entire day, and even if you don't have a "home" per se, having someplace like a campsite will be a whole lot more relaxing and enjoyable that trying to find some place (or just sitting in your car) to fill up that time.

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