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  1. Default Quick!!!!!! Need a trip planned FAST!

    My unemployed husband decided TODAY that maybe we should use this time off to drive across the U.S. And go....Monday!

    I am so overwhelmed and don't have much time to read all different blogs, etc. I'm trying as best I can, but don't know where to begin! I want to see a lot, but don't have much time to weed through "do this and not that". Your help is greatly appreciated.

    We live in NJ and are heading out to San Francisco, where we can visit his brother and family.

    We have kids 12, 11 & 9. We drive our minivan with no tv on long drives all the time. Our kids are great and don't mind it at all.

    We leave early in the morning and put hours under our belt before they rise. Usually people book this trip of a lifetime a year in advance, but I have 6 days.

    We are thinking of heading toward Notre Dame College, then Madison Wisconsin, on our way to Mount Rushmore. Drive down to Denver and then see the Grand Canyon for the first time. Then go through Vegas on our way to San Fran.

    We have NEVER rented an RV before and not sure if we would like it. Thoughts? A lot of work? Can it be gross b/c used by others? SUggestions??

    Also, places to see along the way....All VERY Much apprecaited! Thanks!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    An RV is of much more of a lifestyle choice than anything else, and if you're living on unemployment, then I'd guess you're trying to watch your budget very closely - and as such, it might not be a good choice.

    Leaving early in the morning works fine for a relatively short trip where you're only going to be on the road for a day or maybe two. Doing it on a cross country trip quickly becomes counter-productive because you'll be exausted when your kids are full of energy.

    How much time do you plan to take for this trip? I assume it will be a round trip. If so, you might look at focusing on northern attractions one way, and more southern ones the other, rather than bouncing from South Dakota down to Arizona and then back up to San Francisco.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome aboard RTA!

    I've been in your shoes before, planning a road trip on very short notice. You may have trouble renting an RV on short notice, but the worst thing that can happen on that score is "not available, plan B". So start calling Cruise America, Camping World RV (some rent rigs) and other rental places. Make sure that if you choose a local rent place, that it's okay for you to take it across country. Realize that it will cost you around $1000/week, though. It might actually be cheaper to go by car, stay at motels, and tote a cooler and some food along to supplement the restaurant meals. (I say that as one who RV'd for many years, but has now gone the car/motel route for awhile.)

    Is it work? Yes, but it's a trade off. With an RV, you lumber along a little slower sometimes than the average car. You pull into an RV park and then you have the work of leveling the rig, hooking up to electric and water hookups, and either sewer hookup or dump station later. This equates to lugging stuff into a motel room every night, in work comparison. Can it be gross? When we rented one, it was clean as a whistle inside and out. You have to keep it clean while you use it, but it's far less housework than you have at home. When you turn it in, you should be courteous and turn it in as clean as you found it.

    You have a great tentative plan there. Take good maps with you -- or at least a good atlas (easily purchased locally at a bookstore or at Wal-Mart). If you have a GPS, take it with you but use it for navigating the big cities. For the most part, you can wing either motels or RV parks on the fly EXCEPT at the Grand Canyon. You'd be best off trying to book something close to the Canyon as soon as you figure out when you'll arrive there. The Lodge might be totally booked (it usually is for most summer nights), but you should be able to find something outside the park boundary or at Williams (bearing in mind that Williams is about 50 miles or so from the GCNP).


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Get the kids involved.

    As I see it, on this short notice, all you need to do is plan the first few days... then add to that as you are travelling. If this were me, I would be giving the children maps of the US or of individual States, show where (roughly) you are going, and get them to see what there is along that way. And don't worry about what you'll miss. It's what you'll see that you want to make the most of.

    Each night could be an activity to plan another day... trying to always stay at least two days ahead.

    As already mentioned, an RV is a lifestyle choice, and definitely not a budget option. Car and hotel/motel would likely end up quite a bit more economical. There is a website that focuses on hotels which accommodate more than four persons in a room. You may like to search for that. Otherwise you could find yourself needing to book two rooms... definitely not a budget option.

    Pack a sandwich maker, a cooler, paper plates and some eating tools, and you won't always have to eat out.

    For the rest... just hit the road, and enjoy the trip. Not all roadtrips are planned!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The minivan.

    RV's can be a lot of fun and not a lot of extra 'work' by the time you offset tasks against packing and unpacking etc into Hotels every night, but as said they are not a budget option. If your Mini van is in good shape and ready to take on the trip then using your own vehicle would be a 'no brainer' for me. It' s a good family size, you are familiar with it and it's a lot cheaper than renting !

    I also agree with what has been said by others, where planning on keeping further north one way and more to the south the other would be beneficial, as well as keeping the planning 'live' and open to change as you travel. You might spend more time in places you didn't expect and less in some places you thought you would spend more time. Picking up good tips as you travel from the Locals and fellow travellers is also very rewarding. Definitely get the Kids involved in the day to day planning.

    Much will come down to how much time you think you might be on the road for. Of course if you have an Internet connection on your travels you can re-visit this thread and you can always ask "we are 'here' and on our way 'there', any suggestions?"

    Some of my favourite places are between Denver and San Fran and many of them are National parks, Rocky mountain, Black Canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce canyon, Zion, Grand canyon, Death valley, Yosemite, Sequoia National parks are some of the possibilities to choose from and all quite spectacular and linked by spectacular drives and other attractions !

    If you think you will be visiting 4 or more major National parks on your travels, then it would be worth buying the annual pass for entry to all parks, valid for one year and includes all occupants in the vehicle. You can purchase on-line or at the first entry kiosk you come to, cost $80.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Making it a grand adventure for the entire family

    Here are a few tips for planning great family road trips....

    An article I wrote about the tips I personally use

    Five Great Car Games

    Web resources for planning family road trips

    And Southwest Dave has posted some FAB trip reports about his loop trips from San Francisco and Denver in a RV, which you might like to read for inspiration...

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-12-2012 at 06:37 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Found it.

    Check out Room for 5, for hotels which accommodate more than four to a room.


  8. Default

    Thank you all soooo much for your time and effort to reply to me. WOW, I'm so thrilled there are good souls out there & for your kindness to share your thoughts and wisdom.

    I decided to NOT Do the RV b/c it will be just too much unknown on such a long drive and I also thought it would be MORE economical (which you advise it is NOT). So, thank you for saving me all the money and extra work! We were supposed to leave Monday, but now my husband has an interview. CRAP! I mean its good b/c he has been home and needs to find a job, however, I'm selfiishly annoyed b/c this cramps my trip plans! LOl

    Stay tuned and seriously, thank you all so much!

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