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  1. Default RV rookies travelling West Coast

    Hi!

    We are four families (four couples, all with kids between 5 and 14) planning to rent RVs in the West Coast and travel together for two weeks this summer. We are neighbors and very close friends --the kids go to the same school-- and two of the four families are getting transfered in the Fall, so we want to share this vacation before our employers put 1000 miles between us.

    We do not want to overplan the vacation, but rather see where the wind takes us. Two weeks is long enough to take it easy. however, we at least should know some things...after all we are travelling with 9 children among us!

    None of us has ever rented an RV, but at least a couple of us are pretty handy with tools and understand engines. We figure that if we rent manageable (not too large) RVs and do everything carefully, this is something we can do.

    We have plenty of questions:

    1. We would like mostly to stop and see National Parks and other natural wonders, but have not yet chosen which to visit. Any advice would be great.

    2. Since we are passing by some really interesting cities, we might want to stop for that too (at least San Francisco and Seattle, for example). How inconvenient is to do this if one´s transportation is an RV? Is driving it into town really unmanageable? Are there RV parking places near trains or other public transport? Should we just forget about the "urban" in the trip and focus on nature?

    3. Las Vegas is a good place for us to start the trip, since an air ticket from here to there is quite cheap. Any reason why we should avoid renting our RVs there? Should we be concerned about crossing the desert on them?

    4. One of us insists that deviating into Montana would be great, as she has heard that it is just beautiful. Any opinions?

    5. How much is too much driving per day for the kids? Any experiences? I know how long can my kids stand in a car without fighting or going (and driving us) crazy, but of course an RV is different from a car.

    6. None of us has ever dealt with the water/waste disposal/charging of an RV. Can this be learnt "on the spot", or should we look for an RV owner nearby to teach us before travelling?

    7. Are RV facilities (where we can park and service our vehicles, and perhaps stay overnight) usually open, or do they require reservations? Should we be concerned that there may be no room? What is a good source of information about different facilities?

    Any other advise or comments would be very welcome.

    tHANKS TO ALL

    Al

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by ATZ
    Since we are passing by some really interesting cities, we might want to stop for that too
    It really depends on the vehicle and the driver. Remember that there are folks driving through these areas in 18-wheelers - though I'm certainly glad I'm not one of them.

    None of us has ever dealt with the water/waste disposal/charging of an RV. Can this be learnt "on the spot"
    I don't know that I'd want to do that - though the rental outlet from which you acquire your RV should be able to assist you with this education.

    Are RV facilities (where we can park and service our vehicles, and perhaps stay overnight) usually open
    Yes they are, but reservations can be a good idea on especially busy weekends (July 4, nearby festivities, etc.)

    Montana is indeed a beautiful state, but certainly not on the "west coast."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default 2 weeks ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    None of us has ever rented an RV, but at least a couple of us are pretty handy with tools and understand engines. We figure that if we rent manageable (not too large) RVs and do everything carefully, this is something we can do.
    Checking the fluids and being able to top up if required, is all you should need to know. Anything else that might crop would need to be reported and for the RV company to get you assistance. I would recommend a reputable Co and avoid the risks involved with taking an 'Owner rental' for that very reason, the back up just in case you should need it.

    1] You should get a good map of the USA and see where your route might take you and then check out the NPS website. Yosemite, Sequoia in CA, the Grand canyon and parks in Southern Utah like Zion, Bryce Ardches are all incredible, plus there is so much more.

    We do not want to overplan the vacation, but rather see where the wind takes us
    That can work well, but there are limited RV spaces in the NP's which tend to book out very early when the booking window opens. Travelling with 2 or possibly 3 homes will make it even more unlikely to find a NP campground in summer.

    2]Urban or not is something you will have to weigh up as a group, but it certainly isn't the place RV's were to designed to go. You will get RV parks around the City, some with their own Shuttle bus service and some near public transport. They are generally more expensive than they are to stay in the natural areas.

    3]No reason not to start from LV if it is cost effective. You will find that most rental Co's will not permit RV's to cross Death valley or the like during summer months. Check your contract.

    4]Everywhere is wonderful in some respects, but with 2 weeks your time will fly by. You have already mentioned Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Montana while wanting to stop and visit National parks. You did say 2 weeks right ? ;-) I think you all need to sit down with a good map and really deside as a group what you want to focus on.

    5]I'm not sure why you think an RV is different from a car, it's certainly slower. While you are driving everyone in the vehicle must be buckled up and the rear benches are not as comfortable as that in a car. You could drive 100 miles up to 500 on Interstate but to keep everyone sane I would not recommend anymore than 300 miles in a day. Generally speaking on a 2 week RV holiday we cover around 2000 miles visiting mainly NP's and wilderness areas and we are on the go for 10-12 hours a day. That's with 4 adults and one RV. To get the logisitics right of stopping for bathroom breaks, lunch and catering for the needs of 4 different families travelling together is a whole new ball game. I wouldn't be tempted into to trying to do too much is what I am saying.

    6] After you have been shown around the RV and got the idea of how it all works it really is quite straight foward. Far less daunting than it appears when reading about it.

    7] You can get campground directories and most rental Co's provide a Woodalls or similar camping guide. Camping in the NP's is quite amazing in itself and as I mentioned these book up real quick for RV's. In some NP's, the difference between getting a spot or not can be an extra hours or more drive to get in and out of the park. Time I would prefer to be sitting around the campfire and relaxing with the family and friends.

    My main advice is not to try and cram in too much and cover too much distance. Sometimes less is more and the Kid's will enjoy the freedom of being able to run around then they will in the back of a moving vehicle.

    You will get many ideas looking around the forums, but here is a link to our first RV trip around the Southwest.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A rental RV checklist

    Quote Originally Posted by ATZ View Post
    Any other advise or comments would be very welcome.
    Al, here's a checklist that we recommend you print out and have with you when you pick up a RV rental -- Or at least think about the suggestions so you can ask questions.

    Mark

  5. Default

    Dave, Tim and Mark,

    Thank you all for your suggestions. Please keep them coming.

    Indeed, our first rookie mistake seems to be aiming at doing too much. In retrospect, perhaps we should settle for a slow California drive (or perhaps California plus Oregon), rather than this huge undoable we first had in mind.

    Vegas seems to be out, since driving across the desert is not allowed by insurance companies. Hard to understand, then, why would they rent you an RV in Vegas (anywhere you go from there its desert!).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default You need to re-read those rules!

    Vegas seems to be out, since driving across the desert is not allowed by insurance companies. Hard to understand, then, why would they rent you an RV in Vegas (anywhere you go from there its desert!).
    I think you've misread something. Las Vegas is one of the prime pick-up spots for RVs in the west. There are literally thousands of RVs picked up and driven from Las Vegas in the summer months. The only restriction I've heard heard of for rental RVs is a visit to Death Valley National Park in July and August. And that is routinely broken -- I've seen dozens of rental RVs from every RV rental company in the summer months inside Death Valley.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default Vegas is fine !

    Vegas seems to be out, since driving across the desert is not allowed by insurance companies. Hard to understand, then, why would they rent you an RV in Vegas (anywhere you go from there its desert!).
    No Vegas is not out at all. There are many 'desert areas' you can go through, particularly on main Highways. Death valley is one of the hottest places on earth sitting well below sea level and can be quite brutal as far as temps go. It also has nothing to do with insurance companies as such, but more to do with the rental Co covering themselves. At those temps the laminates in the back [like the kitchen cupboards and tops] can start to melt the glue and things come apart causing damage. You would not be breaking any road laws, but it would be the same as ignoring your contract about going off road, any damage caused would make you liable for costs. But again this is for restricted areas only, not just for anywhere in Nevada, Arizona etc.

    Dave.

  8. Default

    Indeed, I had misunderstood!

    Thanks again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,059

    Default Just a quick clarification

    I just to clarify something Dave wrote in his post....
    ... Sometimes less is more and the Kid's will enjoy the freedom of being able to run around then they will in the back of a moving vehicle.
    It is ILLEGAL IN EVERY USA STATE to have anyone moving in a RV while it is in motion. All passengers and the driver are remain firmly seated with a seat-belt anytime a RV is driving. Now, in reality, it's conceivable that someone might get up and grab something from the refrigerator and hand it to the driver, but.... if a peace officer observed kids roaming around a moving RV -- that's grounds for traffic violation stop.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default Good spot.

    Carifying the clarification !

    Thanks Mark, it was worth clarifying as my typing/description was rather poor in that quote. No way was it intended to suggest that the Kid's could run about in the RV, just that they will have more fun running around outside, than they will being couped up in a moving vehicle all day.

    It was actually a point I had raised earlier in the same post, that they need to be buckled up in a moving vehicle. [Shown below.]

    5]I'm not sure why you think an RV is different from a car, it's certainly slower. While you are driving everyone in the vehicle must be buckled up and the rear benches are not as comfortable as that in a car.
    Thanks for the spot though. [My bad]

    Dave.

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