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  1. Default Nashville to California and back.

    Hi

    I'm planning a road trip in Spring, flying to Nashville then south-west/west through Texas to California, a little of Oregon, back through Colorado and flying home from Nashville. My main interest's are: country music, seeing traditional America, cruising through the country side, smaller towns and the scenery, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park, Death valley, Billy the Kid and Kit Carson's territory, any other places of interest that may come up plus the odd city I've heard about in song and read about in the 'westerns' in my young days. I'm not big into cities .

    I'm retired, therefore not restricted to time, except money! I'm allowing about 6 to 8 weeks for the trip. I wish to visit before the crowds but also avoid any late winter which seems to run into spring in some of the north western states. I will probably be travelling alone. I don't think my friend would put up with me 24/7 for that length of time. One can always be hopeful! Got to get there before age catches up with me entirely!

    I own a camper here in Ireland and love that way of life. Naturally my first intention was to rent a camper for the trip. On checking the internet the most suitable is a 2 Bert - Compact C19 having a Ford V8 gasoline engine and seems to average 10 MPG. There isn't a 2 Bert available in Nashville. Only place Denver or Salt lake City even then I couldn't drop it off in Nashville. I considered picking up in Denver then doing a loop from there.

    In theory that would be a lovely tour but would take a long time in a camper and would cost a small fortune in fuel. I estimate I will cover 5000 plus miles. Alternatively a car would be faster, less cumbersome also more economical. I realise I have to consider the extra hotel costs as against campsites... I don't want to race around America but it would be useful to be able to get from A to B fast then cruise/stop at my leisure through the nice places.

    Now, the outline plan is to fly into Nashville in early April, spend a week or so there then rent a car, explore some of Tennessee and doing the same trip perhaps dropping the car off at Denver early June and flying home from there or perhaps back to Nashville then home. There is a drop off fee of around $500 - I might as well spend it on fuel, lodgings and enjoy a little more of America.

    In the process I stumbled across your website and gleaned some useful info from it. I would appreciate your opinion of my plan? Also if my timing (weather wise) is right? Is the distance in that timeframe over-ambitious? I don't have a problem with long hours driving so far ! Also which size car would you recommend for that journey? I think a small engine is OK for short runs but for longer a minimum 2 liter might more economical and comfortable. Max two people (if I'm lucky). Would I need to book a car in advance or will I be able to rent in Nashville whenever I'm ready to leave? From reading your forum there seems to be no need to book lodgings in advance. I prefer it that way as then the trip can be more flexible. I have never been to the States before. Anymore advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

    Best Regards
    Lorcanor

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Generalities

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    At this point your plans are fluid enough, and expansive enough, that specifics are a bit hard to pin down. A six week tour through the Southern, Central, and Western United States would allow you the freedom to see much of those areas. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost 'Spring' comes very late to the northern Rockies. For example, many of the roads in Yellowstone National Park typically are snowbound until well into May.

    Even if there were a small camper available for rent, such vehicles are not about saving money. They can cost more to operate than the combined cost of a car hire and a warm, comfortable motel room. If you're seeking to save money, a small 'compact', 'intermediate', or 'mid-size' car provides the best value. A decent four cylinder engine should suffice. Don't worry about the car's ability to stand up to the rigors of the trip, that's the car-hire firm's problem. If you run into trouble, just take it to the nearest outlet of the company and have it repaired (at their expense) or replace it with another.

    Although the U.S. is roughly the same size as all of Europe, including Russia west of the Urals, our road system is considerably better and the western portions of the country are much more wide open than anything you might be used to. So, even on some of the more 'local' roads you'll be able to cover considerable ground on any given day. Just a couple of specifics to get you started. "Billy the Kid Territory" is mostly southern New Mexico where he was one of the 'Regulators' in the Lincoln County Wars. His grave is in Fort Sumner NM. "Kit Carson Territory" would include Taos NM where his home still stands, and Navajo country in northeastern Arizona where they will have a decidedly different take on him since he forced them to take the "Long Walk".

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-26-2013 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Fixed link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Some specifics.

    For car hire, have you checked out European consolidators, such as carhire3000.com? Most travellers who hire that way report finding much better deals, especially when it comes to one way drop fees.

    If you have not already, I would advice you to get a good detailed map of the US, or a road atlas, such as the Rand McNally. See just how much there is to explore in the western States - Zion, Bryce, Arches, Moab, Rocky Mountains, etc. In Colorado alone one could spend weeks, and not see anywhere near all of it.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Have you looked into Escape Campervans? They have a fleet of conversion minivans that are quite fuel efficient.

    Our fuel prices here are a fraction of what you are used to - even something that only gets 10 mpg will cost you less than $2000 USD for a 5000 mile trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Here's a report.

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Have you looked into Escape Campervans? They have a fleet of conversion minivans that are quite fuel efficient.
    Jay!! Why didn't I think of that. One member here has rented one of these on at least two trips - here's his latest - and has been very happy with the vehicle and the service.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default This and that.

    I don't want to race around America but it would be useful to be able to get from A to B fast then cruise/stop at my leisure through the nice places.
    Whereas over here on the 'small Islands' we tend to set up camp some place to explore the surrounding area, it's a little different in the US where you can have to cover vast distances to visit places of interest that don't seem to far away when first looking at the map. It's wise to plan on spending time in one spot to explore each National park and other places of interest, but it's the 'nice places' between A and B that turns the journey into a Road trip. Sometimes you may find a day when you want to clock up some serious miles, but generally speaking I take it a little easier as there always nice places just around the corner. It's sometimes easier to keep moving rather than set up in one place and go out and back for several days.

    I wish to visit before the crowds but also avoid any late winter which seems to run into spring in some of the north western states.
    It's not just in the north western states that this is an issue. You will be fine travelling around on a daily basis, but mountainous areas may still have some restrictions into June, such as the high ground in Yosemite and Rocky mountain NP in Colorado. The Tioga Pass in Yosemite typically opens between Mid May and end of June and you would have a better chance of places like this being accesable if you started out later in April.

    As for bookings, yes you will get a better deal booking a car in advance and a much better deal dropping it back at your start point. Lodgings are usually OK but popular National parks such as Yosemite and the Grand canyon can and do get booked up well in advance if you wanted to stay within them. You will find alternatives in surrounding towns but woud involve travelling in and out of the parks which adds time and mileage.

    We recently hired a car through rentalcars.com and found them to have the best deal for what we were looking for, although it's important to shop around as deals are always changing and can even vary between different locations of the same company. We rented an Intermediate class of car that had a 2ltr engine and was a good compromise between economy, size and comfort when compared to others. You can only book a class of vehicle, the exact model will usually be decided on when you arrive but given a choice we took a Japanese model which offered better mpg compared to the Dodge Avenger that was used as an example in the advert of the type of car you should expect in this class.

    If you want a good value camper than the Escapecamper mentioned is a really good compromise between cost and the camping experience and would afford you a few nights in a motel room if you wanted a few home comforts from time to time. Fuel on the US is very cheap compared to what we are used to paying.

  7. Default

    Thanks everyone for your prompt replies. Very helpful pointers. I have looked at Escape Campers. John Waters report is very appealing, the best of both worlds, not sure if I would be up to 'wild camping' in unfamiliar territory. Seems Escape do not have an onboard toilet - wouldn't suit my age group. AZBuck helped me make up my mind. Overall - car is best…

    Right now, it is just an outline plan. All your helpful and information will help me to refine the plan somewhat. I am conscious of the distance involved; your comments have underlined that. I am now considering dividing the trip - Tennessee & Texas, then the West for another time or vice versa. Or else leave out California and (Oregon reluctantly). Perhaps don't start trip until late April or early May starting in Tennessee, by the time I get to the Northwestern states the snow or most of it should be gone. Will have to ponder for a while also check out the car hire.

    Thanks again for now.

    Happy New Year

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Toilets? They're everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorcanor View Post
    Seems Escape do not have an onboard toilet - wouldn't suit my age group. AZBuck helped me make up my mind. Overall - car is best…
    My van does not have any plumbing either. A septuagenarian grandmother, I travel solo, in between visiting family and friends.

    I of course do not know what it is like in Ireland, never having been there. But downunder it is rare to find a toilet anywhere, even at regular fuel stops and occasionally at roadside rest areas. The US is totally different. Every large store, department store, supermarket, fast food outlets, rest areas and truck stops as well smaller fuel outlets have public toilets. On the whole these are kept incredibly clean.

    Never have I had to stop overnight when there was not a toilet available. Truck stops, security supervised rest areas, State Parks, etc. Showers are available at most truck stops and State Parks.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Worst case, you can always carry a portable toilet for emergencies.

  10. Default nashville

    I visited Nashville a few months ago. It's a lovely city, but I'm not convinced you have to allow an entire week for it. I guess it depends on your pace. The Parthenon is interesting. I visited the newly opened Johnny Cash museum and it was a bit of a disappointment considering the price of admission. It's small! I suggest using the UrbanSpoon app, if you have a smartphone, for restaurant guidance.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lorcanor View Post
    Hi

    I'm retired, therefore not restricted to time, except money! I'm allowing about 6 to 8 weeks for the trip. I wish to visit before the crowds but also avoid any late winter which seems to run into spring in some of the north western states. I will probably be travelling alone. I don't think my friend would put up with me 24/7 for that length of time. One can always be hopeful! Got to get there before age catches up with me entirely!


    Now, the outline plan is to fly into Nashville in early April, spend a week or so there
    Lorcanor

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