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  1. Default Looking for advice: DC-CA and back Roadtrip car vs RV

    I currently live overseas and will be returning to the US at the end of March 2014. I plan to take up to 6 weeks starting mid-April to road trip across the US and back. I will be starting from the MD/DC area. I want to go west across the southern states and east farther north (not sure how far yet). I've been wanted to do a road trip for a very long time. I'm very well traveled, but have not seen more than a handful of states in the US. This is my time to take a break. I will be traveling solo with my two small dogs (under 20lbs each). I'm still trying to work out all my stops, but I know I'll want to spend up to 2 weeks in CA/AZ because of friends/family. So that gives me up to 2 weeks each way for traveling.

    What I'm trying to figure out is how to travel. I've been considering a compact RV because I don't have to unpack each overnite, I can cook for myself and the dogs, I have a ready made place to leave the dogs if I want to do something on my own, I can pull over at a rest stop and take a short nap if need be, etc. I have no desire to tent camp! However, I've started reading various forums and am now wondering if it wouldn't be better in a car and motels. I will have to buy a car when I return to the US, but was planning to delay until after the roadtrip. But could buy and use for the roadtrip.

    I'd like to get thoughts from people on what's most convenient/comfortable with dogs, as well as what's most cost effective. This is something I've always wanted to do and I want to do it right. If its double the cost to do the RV, then I might reconsider. If its more expensive, but the benefits outweigh the cost, I'd probably still go with an RV.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Always a dilemma...

    Welcome to RTA!

    Car vs motel is often a lifestyle choice rather than a financial one. Reason being, with fuel prices being high and the extra consumption of said fuel taken by an RV, compared to the price of motels, there often isn't much difference. Here's a whole thread on the subject of RV vs. motels.

    Dogs do travel well in an RV. But when you are going to contract with a rental company, make sure that 2 dogs are accepted! (Check the contract, too.)

    It sounds like you are an American citizen currently living abroad, and are just returning to the States. If that's the case, buying a car is not a problem. However, if you are a non-US citizen, you will have a more difficult time purchasing a vehicle. We have a member here who knows about the biggest issues, and has managed to overcome them.

    BTW, we really don't recommend rest areas as places for sleeping in cars or RV's. During daylight hours, it usually isn't a problem, but in the evenings it can be the worst place. We recommend places such as truck stops or the occasional department store parking lot (with permission from either place, and in the parking lots watch for signs prohibiting it). If you use a store or truck stop, we recommend that you purchase something there like fuel, supplies, or (truck stop) a shower.



    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-02-2013 at 07:26 AM. Reason: sentence structure error

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default An expensive option for solo traveller.

    I can see the advantage of an RV with the dogs, but it would be a huge expense to rent one as a solo traveller over 6 weeks with the assosciated costs, such as high fuel consumption, mileage charges and campground fees. It's more expensive to rent an RV than a car and Motels unless there are a number of people sharing the cost, plus if you are spending time with family the RV will still be costing by the day even if not using it. As you plan on purchasing a vehicle on a permanent basis then it would make financial sense to purchase one prior to the trip and save on any rental costs.

    It might not be what you are looking for, but the Escape campers might be an option where you can mix 'camping' with Hotels and staying with family and be able to leave the dogs for a while. They don't have an office in DC but they do in NY.

  4. Default To Reserve or not to Reserve - RV Parks

    I'm planning a 6 week round trip cross country trip from MD to CA in April/May next year. I'd like advice on reservations at RV parks. I have a plan and a schedule, but I'd also like to be able to stop and do whatever I want. The planner in my wants to make reservations at RV parks along the way, so I'm not left without a place to stay. But I want this trip to be a bit about freedom of the road and doing what I want and I don't want to be so tied to arriving at point C on date X. I would think risk of RV parks being full up in Apr/May is probably small, since kids are still in school and most families wouldn't be doing road trips at that time. But I also know that a lot of retirees and foreign visitors may be doing road trips at that time.

    Thoughts? Should I be reserving places at the RV parks.

    Note: I will be traveling in a compact RV with two small dogs. The MD-CA route will be through TN, AK, OK, TX, NM and AZ. I'm still working out the return route, but it will likely be route-50. I had plans to go to a few national parks, but it seems in general national parks aren't too pet friendly. So I need to keep to routes that have state parks. Return route recommendations also appreciated.

    Mod note. Please keep all questions about this trip in one thread. Thank-you
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-13-2013 at 04:43 AM. Reason: Merged threads.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default No real need to book.

    I can't imagine that you would have any problems in finding an available site for the night while travelling in April/May and particularly as you are not heading to the National Parks. Having a compact RV also helps as you can put a small RV on a big site, but not a big RV on a small one.

    As you have a plan in mind, what I would do is look at campgrounds in the areas you are likely to be stopping at and make a note of names and telephone numbers of those sites that appeal to you and then you can always call earlier that day if it's going to work out.

  6. Default CA to MD Confusion

    I'm planning a round trip cross country trip from MD to CA and back. I'm renting a compact RV for me and my two dogs. I'm planning 6 weeks, but renting the RV for a few extra days, just in case. I'll leave MD mid-April and plan to be back in MD by end of May (next year). I want to avoid big cities. But I'd like a mix of urban and rural, so that I can get a bit of smaller city life, but have plenty of hiking and activities for me and the dogs. I've pretty much mapped out the MD-CA route, starting in MD/VA, heading through Tennessee, hitting parts of route 66 and then ending up in So. Cal. I'm trying to drive 4-5 hours a day, so that I"m not too tired from driving. I have friends/family to visit through most of AZ/CA. With the drive West and the family/friend time, I plan to start East again on/about day 30.

    My dilemma is the route. I've researched taking the lonliest road and just heading across the middle of the US. Going North and then taking the Oregon Trail. I could also take 80 across. I'm confused and can't figure out what route is the best for me. I'd like to stay mostly at parks or rural areas, so I can get some hiking in (State Parks, because of the dogs). I'd like to have a few stretches where I can drive 8 hrs, which would then let me stay 2 nites in some places. I could go on and one with my confusion. I'd just like to hear from people who have done the West to East drive and their impression of the various routes (keeping time and parks in mind).

    Thanks for the advice.

    AGAIN - keep all posts regarding this trip in this thread. Failure to do so will result in loss of posting privileges. - Mod
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-02-2013 at 03:43 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I've been across the country many times, but twice in the past 3 years. All of the interstate routes have their pros and cons, as do the other roads. It all depends on what you want from your trip.

    In 2011, we traveled from CA to NJ, mostly on I-40, I-81 and I-80. We returned I-80, I-76, I-71 down to I-70, across the country, and then I-15 to home. I-70 through Colorado and Utah is probably the most gorgeous interstate highway in the USA (IMHO). Between the Rocky Mountain views and tooling through Vail, Glenwood Canyon, and the San Rafael Swell area of Utah between Green River and Salina, it's breathtaking!

    In 2012, we went across the country from CA to FL on both I-10 and I-20, using US-49 as a connection between the two in MS. We went from there to NJ using mostly US routes, then up to Maine via a series of interstates. When we headed west again, we used mostly state highways through NH, VT, and hit the freeway again in Albany, NY. Tooling through NY state on US-20 was really sweet. We swung back down to I-70 again and came home via the same route as the year before -- our favorite interstate.

    I haven't done the Loneliest Highway, so others will probably tell you more about it than I could. One of these days, I'd like to do it just for fun.

    You could also look into staying in National Forest campgrounds, which are also more lenient about pets than the National Parks and often less expensive than state park campsites. However, they are less likely to have shower facilities.

    Hope this helps -


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    I would suggest this:

    Rather than worrying about routes and highway numbers, worry about what you want to see. There's no reason to get yourself tied down to a specific road, because, ultimately, its just a stretch of pavement with a number assigned to it. If you focus more on the things you want to see, then the roads you should take will become pretty obvious.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default On the other hand.

    Michael's suggestion is propably the most popular and efficient way to plan a road trip which goes to all the places on a personal list.

    However, I can relate to your desire to be able to stop whenever you want, and for the freedom of the road. It is very much how I travel a lot of the time. My current trip especially, I have mostly just chosen a route from where I was to where I had to go, and then checked out things I noticed along the way. This of course, is best done off the high speed highways.

    With a compact RV one of the ways to overnight along your route is to pull into truck stops / travel plazas. There are selected truck stops which make RVs welcome. But when wanting to check out a place or stay a few nights, I would recommend checking into a State Park, State Forest or RV park.

    Lifey

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