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  1. Default Cross country trip questions?

    Hello everyone, new to the forum. I found this site while planning for my trip. It's a big one, I'm leaving from Philadelphia to LA but not just a slanted line on the map trip. Were going to Chicago then to Mt. Rushmore to the west coast and then down the coast and we plan on staying in LA for a little like a month and then going in the direction on Colorado and then back down through TX some and over to FL, all in about 3 months - ish. That's kind of the jist of it. So my question is, we plan on saving alot of money by hitting up campgrounds and hostels, can anyone give me some good options on good as in clean and not in a bad area and CHEAP? Is there any branches, like franchises that are out there that are any good and cheap either campgrounds or hostel branches? Any response is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-26-2012 at 06:08 PM. Reason: inappropriate language

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

    Default opposites

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    It sounds like you've got quite the trip planned. Have you done much camping before?

    Campgrounds by their very nature tend to be in rural areas. They also don't tend to be franchises. There are some exceptions, with KOA being about the biggest. Of course, the problem is that the franchise campgrounds typically are among the most expensive options. If you want the best value, typically your best bet is at public campgrounds, at places like national forests and state parks. Even there, you're typically looking at $15-25 a night, especially in these days of dwindling funding.

    How many people are in your travel group? Have you done any hosteling before?

    If you've got more than 2 people, hostels typically won't save you much if any money. Hostels charge per person, typically about $20-25 a night to stay in a shared dorm. So, even with 2 people, it typically costs about as much as a cheap motel. The big advantage often is location, as they typically are found in the heart of a city, where you'd have to stay in the suburbs to find a cheap motel (and even farther out to camp). Again, these are nearly always independent, although many are members of the Hosteling International organization. Here's an article that provides more information on this form of lodging.

  3. Default

    I haven't done any camping while on the road or stayed at a hostel ever but just from doing research on the trip I found those are probably our best bet. It will be 2 people me and my girlfriend and we have 6k for this trip to cover gas, lodging, sights etc. You mentioned about camping a national parks and I saw that also but a lot of their sites say first come first serve so with them saying that I kind of figured it must be hard to get a place to camp in there. We were going to go in my Honda Accord wagon and sleep in the back but we don't really feel comfortable with that, so we're really looking for another route and trying to gain knowledge about hostels and campgrounds.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would strongly suggest that you try out a little camping near home before you plan to do it as the backbone of your roadtrip. I'm a huge fan of camping on roadtrips, but its not for everyone. Doing a couple of test trips will let you get a feel for what you like, what you don't like, and what you'll want for gear.

    I would not recommend trying to have two people sleep in a sedan.

    National Parks typically have both reservable and first come sites, and it depends upon the park how easy it is to get a site. However, note that I actually did not specifically mention National Parks, I talked about National Forests and State Parks, which often are a little less expensive and a little less busy - although there are still plenty that will fill up at times. Those aren't the only public options either. There's also BLM (bureau of land managment), County Parks, and other more locally run camping sites that can be a great value and can be underused.

  5. Default

    Oh I didn't even notice you said forest and state parks we'll have to look into those then, but in your opinion camping is the way to go? And we have alot of National parks on our map but there is stops in between these parks that we would probably stay at, because not all of our sleeping has to be in campgrounds, for cities we would probably do hostels here and there, and occasionally get cheap hotels and I mean the absolute cheapest we can find. About campgrounds though, that is a good idea to just go and find one close and test it out I like that idea. And are campground signs on the highway like a upside down V kinda? Are those signs for state parks and national forest camping or just a simple campground? Also one more thing I'm not trying to overload this but I'll try to send a picture of the map with our route on it to kind of give you an idea on where were headed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Camping can be a great way to go. As I mentioned, it works very well for me. I took a big trip last summer around the west and stayed in a tent every night for about 2 weeks. But I really enjoy camping, you'll need to decide if its something that you and your girlfriend enjoy.

    Public campgrounds typically are pretty simple campgrounds, but the signs you are talking about could be fore pretty much any kind of campground, from a simple one to a full scale resort.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    What worked for us, once upon a time, was to camp for 2-3 nights in a row, and then stay at a cheap motel or cottage someplace. That way we could get showers and sleep in a real bed.

    Some state park campgrounds are a bit expensive, especially in California. National forest campgrounds are usually less expensive, and a lot of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campsites are close to free.

    But earlier advice was to try it before you leave. It can be a "shake down cruise", per se, where you decide what you need. MAKE A LIST, so you remember to bring things that would be nice. (On our first camping road trip, we forgot a dish pan! We had to look all over a strange city for someplace like a hardware store or Target that would have such a thing.)


  8. Default

    Yea that is exactly what we were talking about, staying 2-3 nights camping and then cheap hotel

  9. Default

    Yea we don't mind camping really but quick question every time i try putting a photo up it don't let me it says invalid file its a .png if that helps?

  10. Default

    You should be fine with an Accord wagon for camping. Our family of 4 used to go camping in a Saab 900. It is important to know your preferences. We just didn't have space for folding chairs and were fine without them. The dishpan story made me smile. We take two (one just fits inside the other for packing) for washing, rinsing and drying.

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