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  1. Default 2 month USA roadtrip in a van dwelling

    Hi everyone,

    Firstly, Sorry if I have reposted something that has already been said, I didn't find what I was looking for. Or if this is in the wrong thread.. I wasn't sure which one to post under either.

    So, My husband and I are starting a USA road trip on October 4th. The route is somewhat ambitious... We plan on driving down the west coast from Vancouver, through portland, Napa Vally, San Fransisco, Santa Barbara, LA, Anaheim, San Diego, then up to Vegas, to the grand canyon and some form of route across to Miami (hoping to see san antonio, houston, new orleans) Where we will be doing a caribbean cruise and Harry potter theme park (the entire purpose of this trip, well... other than just travelling lol)
    Then, probably fly or train up to DC and New York, Then train back from New York/DC (not sure which way around) all the way across to San Fran then to LA to fly back home to New Zealand on December 3rd (although I may consider pushing those flights out a little)

    SO, the big hitch is, we only have about $8000 (Im a temp so if I can get more work, we'll have more than that :) . We will be living in our van for most of it, although will be ditching the van somewhere between Miami and New York. I understand that this is a VERY ambitious route, so i have a backup plan... Drive as far as we can on $4000 and when that starts running low fly/train/bus the rest. Im super flexible. Im expecting the worse so planning for it! haha. Our flights are changeable too so thats not an issue. If we fall on our a$$ we can just go home.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to make our money last? Do you even think this is possible or am I kidding myself?

    We've converted our Astro van into a "camper" so we have built a level to store all our stuff underneath and the bed on top, with curtains and everything. We have camping gear, tarps, gas cooker and utensils etc to live basic (but we will be testing local cuisines of course). Its pretty comfy, although Im betting after a month living in it... its not going to be so much fun anymore. We have insurance on absolutely everything, so are pretty well covered there. (would rather not have to use it though! haha)

    The "Must See's" are below. And are in that order! haha.

    1. Harry potter theme park/ Orlando
    2. Caribbean Cruise (for our anniversary :)
    3. Disney Land (will get a city pass for this and San diego zoo)
    4. Las Vegas - Cirque du Soleil. O or la Reve or both??
    5. Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam
    6. New york
    7. Washington DC
    8. Texas BBQ (although if we dont make it that far we just dont make it that far, no biggie)

    Anyone have any other good recomendations?? and Ways to make our money last??

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default thinking things through

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Certainly doing a trip over 2 months of this size is possible, and I don't even think your budget is too far out of line (assuming the Cruise is a separate expense?) however there are a few things with your plan that I question your thinking.

    The first giant red flag is the plan to sell the van enroute. First, why would you do that? I don't see any advantage at all, and trying to sell a car on the road, when you've got other places you want to go means you're certainly going to get a wholesale or less price. You could easily be throwing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in value away by doing that, and you're certainly not going to be able to fly/train/bus home for the two of you for much if any less than you'd spend driving.

    The other big issue with your selling plan is that if you are starting in Vancouver, I assume this is a Canadian car? As such, trying to sell your car in the US may be virtually impossible. You've got some major legal issues with such a plan, since importing a car for sale is a much bigger deal than driving a car across the border for a vacation, and you'll have to work out the custom's issues - which could cost you hundreds if not thousands again. There's also the practical issues that a car made for Canada will simply be worth much less in the US because of things like metric gauges, and a lack of US inspections.

    I'd also question your plans to live in the van in general? Where are you planning to park? What are you going to do for food? Living inside a van isn't impossible by any means, but that's a very small space to call home and you need to think about how much fun that will be after the newness of being on the road wears off a couple days into the trip.

  3. Default Thinking things through

    Thank you for the welcome :)

    Ok, so selling the car, we planned on selling it to a wrecker... lol. We can get a few hundred bucks for it, we bought the van with that in mind (we payed $1000 for it, its in great condition, already got our trip through the rockies and smaller trips to Seattle/forks etc in it so its cheaper than a rental car) So it would be the same deal as if we wrote it off.. the customs etc shouldnt matter, although, just in case, I have posted on other forums, emailed scrappers and everything to make sure. I want to know what I'm doing! lol.
    As for living in it... we are planning on booking hotels in Vegas and Orlando... And putting out adds with all our friends and family on if we can spend a night at their houses... there is also a "couch surfing" website that my friends have used... but I am a little skeptical, especially for a couple. Where will we park overnight? Anywhere we can! lol. Truck stops are going to be our number 1 I think... there are overnight rest areas avaliable. We can even knock on someones door and ask if we can park in their driveway if we had to (although I would really rather not..) I know sleeping in the van will probably suck... but we only plan on sleeping in it... Otherwise we want to be out and about. Chilling out in a cafe even. I've even thought about showers! haha. Theres plenty of truck stops, public pools, campgrounds, hostels etc that you can use. Even if its a buck or two a shower. There are ways of getting around it. I know it wont be an amazing experience, but we are priorotising attractions over hotels. Although, we plan on staying in a hostel/hotel once a week if we need it lol. Might be a nice break.

    Food, I have done a LOT of camping in my life time, and can wisk up some pretty decent meals on a single burner camp stove lol. And compared to the instant noodles and toasted sandwhiches ive been living on to save up for this trip (slight exaggeration) I think anything will be better! We have a 12v fridge/cooler in the van aswell :) It won't keep meats for long, but is fine for everything else. We eat a lot of fruit and veges so will probably live on stir fry's, fried rice, eggs on toast etc, and eat out a bit too.

    We can buy a rail pass for $400 each.. which I thought wasn't a bad idea... The other option would be to drive up to toronto and sell the van for $800 or so. Should be do-able. We came over with an exchange programme, we could probably list it on there and sell it before we even got there. Its done over 300km though lol. I don't even know why I thought it would be a better option to sell it... lol. But I will re-look at it. i just know that once we get to New York we arent going to want to sleep in it (security) and will probably use transit... then maybe a tour to Niagara etc.. But I definately will re-think it.

    Thank you for your advice! Will definately take it into consideration. Thats what I signed up to this forum for, because usually, others have a better idea of what you need than you do! lol. I know I'm missing things, and i usually bite off more than i can chew, and my brain is being fried by all the things I want to do that I just cant, so honest advice will definately be accounted for!

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