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  1. Default Non-US citizen, 21-year old trying to plan 8-week road-trip. HELP!

    Hi, i'm British (live in the UK) and am hoping to travel around the USA in July/August 2014. I am a student and need to start earning money to fund this holiday, which is why i'm trying to plan it so far it advance. I will be in a small group, perhaps 3 or 4 of us and we will all be aged 21-22. I have decided i think the most feasible way of doing the trip is to rent a campervan and drive ourselves, simply because even the cheapest accommodation in the US appears to be too expensive for this budget. Ideally i would like to have an 8-week holiday, coming to absolutely no more than $7500, or about $6500 excluding flights. I have quite a few questions regarding logistics and just generally what's plausible. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I have a rough route which is as follows: Boston --> NY -->Washington--> Philadelphia --> Chicago --> Mt. Rushmore --> Yellowstone-->(maybe Seattle but i might have to skip this out) --> San Francisco --> LA-->Las Vegas --> Grand Canyon --> San Antonio --> New Orleans --> Miami --> Charleston.

    This is very very provisional and is missing out some other stops in between these ones.

    It's an incredibly long route and i think almost 8000miles of driving (that figure might be completely wrong though...i was trying to figure it out!).

    Anyway my first question is: Is this far too ambitious to cram into 8 weeks? If i tried to would i just not be spending enough time in each place? Or is 8 weeks enough for this mammoth road trip? I just have no idea really. I might have to completely re-do the route if 8 weeks isn't long enough.

    2. As non-US citizens who are aged 21-22 how easy/expensive will renting a campervan be? Would be easier/cheaper to actually buy our own one out there and then sell it at the end of the trip (is that even possible?? I know my parents bought a car when they went out to the States when they much younger and then sold it at the end but that was about 40 years ago so it could be much harder to do that nowadays!)

    Is getting insured on a vehicle going to be an issue because we're so young? I found a website, turtle-travel, for vehicle rental which seems quite good and reasonably priced. Anyone have any experience with it?

    3. What's the best way to do a trip like this? If we're travelling in a campervan what should we do when we get to cities. Do cities in the US have many campervan sites that we can park at during the day and/or night?

    4. How expensive is living/travelling in the US. I was hoping to have a budget of about $40 a day for food and all other costs (EXCLUDING gasoline for campervan, i've been working out separate prices for that).

    I think that's all i can think of for now. Thanks for reading and please respond if you can give any advice!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-25-2013 at 09:21 AM.

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

    Default not for budget travel

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I've got to warn you, if keeping your costs down is your top priority, then going with an RV is not likely going to be your best bet. Once you factor in the extra cost to rent a the RV, campground fees, extra fuel, etc, it is really going to be cheaper to rent a regular car. I'll also say that an RV likely would be a poor choice, as it seems like you want to largely focus on cities, and such a vehicle is not usually a good choice for cities (as it is expensive to find parking, campgrounds, etc)

    I think one of your big miscalculations may be with campgrounds. You really can't plan on just parking the RV at night for free. There are places where you can "boondock" but most of the time, you're going to have to pay for a campground. Camping fees, especially those with hook-ups for water and electric, often run about $25 per night (and can be much more in some case). By comparison, you can often find budget motels for around $50 a night.

    Purchasing your own vehicle would not make sense for this trip. First, it can be quite a challenge for a non-resident to buy a car, and then also get it licensed and insured. Second, at just 8 weeks, it likely would not be economical anyway. You'd have to be gone closer to 3 months before you get to the break-even point vs. renting.

    Your $40 a day figure - what does that include? Is that per person or for the entire group? Similarly, is the $7500 for your total trip a per person or for the entire group?

    8 weeks is a nice amount of time for a loop of the US, although one of the easiest ways to reduce your budget is to shorten your trip, so if money becomes a factor, that might be something to consider too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Many Questions

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's get to the major ones first, and those have to do with your age and financial constraints, both of which are going to limit your options for this trip I'm afraid. Where your age will impact you the most is in the campervan (We call them RVs.) where, while you can rent at age 21, there is often a "underage" driver fee imposed if you are under 25. That fee, at $25/day typically, can get to be quite substantial - $1400 over eight weeks. Then there's any additional driver fees if you want anyone besides the renter to do any driving over the course of your travels. This is another $25/day, plus $25/day because she will be underage, or $2800 for each and every extra driver. Now those are typical fees and we often recommend that our European visitors book through a local consolidator. It appears that is what Turtle-Travel is, a consolidator that books the actual vehicle through an actual rental company rather than renting to you directly. Note that they are located in New Zealand. Unfortunately. I have no first-hand knowledge of them. They may very well offer you your best shot at getting an RV for your trip at a reasonable cost, but I would strongly recommend that you do a fair bit of research on them before committing to a third-party consolidator in yet a third country nearly half the planet away from your home.

    Now the money. Poverty level for a family of four in the United States is defined as ~$24,000 per year or $8,000 for two months. If the total you have for all four participants is only $6500, then you are not going to be able to travel extensively as well as feed yourselves. On the other hand, if that $6500 is what each person brings to the endeavor after paying for their round-trip ticket, then you should be in pretty fair shape. Some rough guesstimates of what I think you will need: $4000 for gas (petrol), $8000-9000 for the base RV rental (plus fees as discussed above), and $1700 for camping/parking fees for the RV each night. While you can try to trim some of those costs, they will generally end up pretty close to those figures. So that's around $14,000 just in fixed costs for your RoadTrip With four people each contributing $6500 to the pot, you'd have about $12,000 available for food, admissions, laundry and everything else entailed in being on the road for eight weeks.

    Right now, all your other questions and problems are comparatively easy to solve. Certainly the trip you've laid out is ambitious in that it lasts so long, but given that time frame the things you want to see and do will fit within it. Cities are not the best place to try to use an RV for getting around in or to park in. But typically they have excellent public transport systems which would allow you to park the RV outside the city and take either a rail line, subway, or bus into town, and they are compact enough that walking is probably the best way (with subways and busses as needed and available) to get around while visiting. You will need to check with whatever company you end up going with, but typically insurance on a rented RV is included in the price. Finally, one 'problem' you haven't brought up but which is probably the number one killer of plans such as yours is unconsidered differences between the participants, so I would strongly urge you to sit down with your potential travel mates and take this test.


  4. Default

    Thank you for responses!

    Just to clarify i had meant $6500 per person, including a budget of $40 spending money per person per day. All very helpful info. I was initially under the impression that renting an RV would certainly be cheaper than motels/hostels. The cheapest possible options are at least $50 a night but do you think that is still likely to be cheaper or at least no more expensive than travelling in an RV?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default All you need to do...

    ... is to get a price on the RV rental, figure you'll need to spend at least twice as much in gas, and still have to pay for a place to park it most nights, and the answer should become obvious: travel by RV is about the lifestyle, not saving money.


  6. Default

    Perhaps would it make more sense to stay it hostels in the North-East and travel by railway. Then pick up a vehicle in Chicago to continue the trip for the longer-distance travelling? Also because most of the big cities will be in that earlier part of the trip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Not railway in the USA!

    Quote Originally Posted by Samereira View Post
    Perhaps would it make more sense to stay it hostels in the North-East and travel by railway. Then pick up a vehicle in Chicago to continue the trip for the longer-distance travelling? Also because most of the big cities will be in that earlier part of the trip.
    Car rentals will be less expensive than rail service! Hostels are good choices, but generally more expensive for more than one person than a motel. A hostel charges per person. Look at the car rental deals RTA offers to get an idea of the likely costs...


  8. Default

    If we were using a car instead of an RV where would/could we park? ARe overnight carparks in cities cheap?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think for the northeast portion of your trip, you might do fine sticking with trains. Those cities generally work ok in terms of having mass transit to get around within the city. Other parts of the country, having a car will be really important for you to go where you want.

    Most hotels will offer parking, although it can be expensive if you are in the heart of a major city. Your other options include staying on the edge of a city/suburbs and then commute into the city during the day. Most suburban motels have free parking.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Bonny Hills , Australia

    Default Campervans

    Being a young group I cant see the need for a large RV.
    My wife and I rent small vans which are quiet comforable and could easily sleep 4 people.
    They are reasonably priced and dont discriminate against young people.
    They have depots aroungd the US as well.
    Have a look at theire website and get an idea on prices.

    A little bit from their site.
    Why Escape Campervans are the number 1 Campervan hire option in the USA

    Cheap daily Campervan hire rates.
    100 miles per day included for free and averaged over your hire.
    Unique hand painted artwork from top local artists with over 100 flavours to choose from.
    Explore Canada for no extra costs.
    Among the most fuel efficient Campervans in America.
    Free starter packs.
    Free picnic chairs.
    Free bedding and duvets/comforters.
    Easy to understand insurance terms and rental conditions.
    No compulsory insurance.
    No vehicle preparation fees.
    We rent to 21 years+ (no extra charges for under 25s)
    Reliable and modern Campervans with new 2009 to 2012 fitout.
    24 hour roadside assistance throughout the USA and Canada.
    Multiple drivers at no extra cost.
    We only require a US$200 deposit. You don't pay the balance until you collect your camper.
    Friendly, personal service and local knowledge and tips to help you and your camper get off the beaten track.
    We have a "No hidden costs" policy.

    We travel on a budget and doing an 8 week trip in may and will be at least 12000 mile. I will keep a good record on our expenses this year for reference.


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