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  1. Default Summer Roadtrip Information

    Hi there, people who are smarter than I am!

    I'm Nicky, and I'm planning on seeing the grand old US of A the summer before I start doing grown up things like being responsible and having a steady job and other such nonsense. Basically, as a military brat, I didn't grow up in America, but spent most of my life bouncing around the Middle East and Europe. I think it's sad that I'm technically American, but know very little about my "homeland" other than what I learnt out of textbooks. Myself and my three best friends (also military brats) made a pact to travel the US before we go lead our separate lives, and when we were young we thought it was all very sensational and probably very heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac, but it actually seems very much a reality as of now.

    So before I start any heavy research, I wanted to hear from experienced roadtrippers. We figured renting a camper with beds and a fridge - all we really require - and hopscotching from campsite to city, splitting gas and food costs four ways. I heard you could bathe and such at campsites. We're hoping to avoid motel costs... Our start point would be Washington DC, and we would be working down the East Coast first, towards Texas and Mexico, before wrapping back up the West Coast. So basically moving counter clockwise.

    Yeah that's as far as we've gotten. Any and all information would be hugely appreciated, as you can tell by my sheer ignorance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Reality Check

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First, you need to understand that I wish you and your friends the very best in your endeavors and sincerely hope that you get to pull off your great adventure. But your basic plan probably won't work as you've outlined it. From reading between the lines I am going to assume that you are either all of you, or at least most of you, are under 25. That is going to make renting a camper prohibitively expensive even assuming you can find some one to rent to 4 'underage' drivers. Even if you were to just rent a standard sedan, you would have to pay the underage driver fee of $25/day/driver. If all of you drove, even for just a minute, during your trip, that would amount to $100/day on top of the normal rental fee. The there's the fact that free campsites are disappearing rapidly as states continue to struggle with the lack of tax revenues caused by the economic downturn of the last several years. Between the cost of a campsite and the extra fuel you'll be buying to push a camper down the road, RVing -even on a small scale- may simply not be cost effective. I would strongly suggest that you look into the logistics and costs of what you're planning before you get any further down this road.

    If any of the four of you has a car that would be up to this journey, I think you'd be far better off planning on using that for your transportation. You can work out some method between you to compensate him for the wear and tear on his vehicle and agree to cover any maintenance needs that come up, such as oil changes or tire repairs. After all, such costs are going to be included in any rental fee, not to mention the depreciation on a relatively new vehicle from a rental fleet. You can still save on food by tossing a cooler and camp stove in the trunk and taking your meals in picnic grounds at local parks, rather than frequenting fast food joints. You'll eat healthier to boot.

    Actually, the routes and itinerary for your trip should be close to the last thing on your action list in preparation for this trip. You can almost do it on the fly with nothing more than the general outline of a route that you've outlined here, a good atlas, and a bit of discussion each evening to plan the next day's adventures. Oh yeah, and a calendar and an eye to keep on it (and your wallet) to make sure that you've got the time and resources to get home.


  3. Default

    I definitely appreciate the input. As I said before, this was all kind of a dream until recently. I'd been spending all my time attempting to get into an Ivy league school and just generally going mad, and had sort of forgotten all about this pipe dream of ours. I'm 18, so by far the youngest. The oldest one of us is 24, so you're right about the ages.

    This is all about cost-effective and budgeting, so you're saying it would be better to just take a car? We all have vehicles, but then there's the catch-22 of it all; the vehicles with the best mileage are small, whereas the SUV that would make things more comfortable has far worse mileage.

    The only reason we were examining an RV was because of the space. We thought it would be better to have more space if we were going to be spending any prolonged amount of time together, and that we could cut costs by sleeping in the RV instead of motels. But a car would be better? Money is of course an issue, but between the four of us, we should be alright...

    thanks so much!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default If

    If you already owned an RV or camper that would fit you all comfortably, that would be one thing. But renting it would seem to be completely out of the question considering your ages and budgetary constraints. I really do think you'd all be much better off using one of your own cars especially if you have one that is large enough to comfortably hold the four of you in the cabin while having a trunk big enough for all your gear. The gas costs, while important, are going to be so much less than what you'd have to pay for a rental.

    Best of luck, and please check back in after discussion(s) with your friends.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-10-2012 at 07:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd advise you to plan on taking the SUV - and tent camp wherever possible. Where not possible, use cheap motels.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Other issues.

    With the wide age diversity in your group, it would be wise if you discussed and considered how you will handle issues which are very much age related. Examples which jump out at me are, visiting casinos. There will be places where under 21 will be excluded. Another is alcohol. There are many places where the legal drinking age will exclude younger members of the party.

    By discussing beforehand how you will deal with these issues, could avoid any disagreements at the time... not to mention issues with the law.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Compatibility.

    The SUV will be far cheaper to run on gas than an RV would be and you could potentially save thousands of dollars in RV rental fees. If the person who owns the SUV is happy to use it for the trip and you can sort out driver arrangements between you, then for me it's a 'No brainer'.

    You would need an emergency fund for any mechanical problems, or simple things like a puncture, and decide upon who would be financially responsible for such events to save possible falling out's on the road, the owner or the group. You might want to all chip in and get the vehicle checked and serviced prior to the trip, to help reduce the potential for problems.

    As Lifey mentioned above, there will not only be things that some can do and some can't, there will also be things that certain people want to do that will hold no interest for others. Being good buddies takes on a whole new meaning when you are together 24/7 over a period of time. You should all do a little research and then sit down together with a good map of the USA and find out what each of you expect/want from the trip. Once you are on the same page, the planning will begin to flow. To get discussions going in a light hearted manner, try the RTA Compatability test.

    Once you have a few dots on the map you can work on how to best join them up based on your interests.

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