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  1. Default August California Road Trip Los Angeles to Burning Man

    Hello,

    I am a 22 year old student from uk and me and one possibly two friends plan to do a California road trip for all August this summer. We were planning to start from Los Angeles go through the state and end at Burning man festival in Nevada. I have never done a road trip before some I have a few questions and I was hoping for some advice.

    First off, we are 22 year olds and we want to make this trip as cheap as possible. We do not plan to stay any nights in hotels, mostly we would like to do camping and such, so we are not that needy and looking forward more to something of an adventure instead of a comfortable vacation.

    The main problem is the car. Do we buy a cheap car or rent one for an entire month? The buying option would end with us hopefully selling it at the end of the month. Luckily I am a but flexible with dates so despite the road trip lasts all august I can arrive a little earlier and leave a little later in order to buy and then sell the car. Is this something doable? has anyone do something like this? We were initially thinking of maybe even a camper and so that would solve all our sleeping/showering problems, but I do not know if campers end up being very expensive in the long run, although my instinct tells me that a camper option is probably more expensive.

    We were currently thinking of about a budget of 2000 uk pounds which is about 3300 dollars. Is this too little?

    Also please be kind, for I might be completely naive with this road trip stuff.

    Glad to join this forums and thanks for any advice and help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Not really an option.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Trying to buy and register a car as a non US resident is very difficult and fraught with problems. If it were possible it's barely worth it for a 3 month trip never mind a 4 weeks trip, by the time you have bought a reliable car at retail price and sold it at trade plus the insurance costs and registration etc it just wouldn't be viable. You could then end up with a 'lemon' that ends up leaving you abandoned in the desert and a huge tow and repair bill.

    Renting is really your only choice and that can be more expensive because of your ages, the normal in the USA is to charge any drivers under the age of 25 a premium, known as a young drivers fee. As you mention camping you might want to look at the Escape campervan site as a possibility and they do not charge extra for anyone over 21 years old. Keep in mind you can't just finish at the Burning man festival, your vehicle needs to be returned and if you do this at the point you got it from you will save on one way drop off fees, so you should plan on creating a loop trip.

    As for your budget, it depends on whether you mean per person and if so, whether it is to include flight costs and car rental.

    Escape camper vans link.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Cheap Doesn't Seem to Be in the Cards

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Unfortunately, almost everything you've laid out about your proposed trip screams 'expensive'. I'm not sure what the £2,000 is meant to cover, but airfare for three between Los Angeles and London will eat up almost that much on its own. Even in a best case scenario, where you have £2,000 each for a month, you'd end up living pretty close to the bone just arranging a car, and buying food, petrol, and a place to park each night. And no, you can't just pull off on the side of the road.

    Let's deal with the car first. It is very difficult (read: next to impossible) for a foreigner with no fixed address or drivers license in the U.S. to buy a car and get it registered and insured. And even if you could, you would have to own the car for a minimum of about three months before the economics of purchase/resale make it a better deal than renting. Remember that you're buying retail and selling wholesale and, as noted, there are many more expenses involved than just the purchase price. One good example - insurance is generally sold in 6 month increments so you'd be paying for 5 months you wouldn't use. OK, so that leaves renting. But you are all under 25 and presumably not related so there will be significant additional fees for each extra driver and for each underage driver. If there were three of you and you all drove at some point during the trip, you could be looking at as much as an extra $3,000 on top of the nominal rental cost. You might be able to get some of those fees waived by going through a European consolidator such as carhire300, but you need to get a firm commitment to a price based on your particulars and not just look at the price quoted for a generic rental.

    Next, daily expenses. Now while you will find food to be quite reasonable compared to British prices, you will be eating many meals at restaurants, and/or going to the expense of getting a cooler and keeping it supplied with ice to keep perishable grocery items from spoiling. Similarly, petrol is cheaper here relative to what you're used to, but the cars are bigger (especially something that can hold three grown men in comfort for a month) and get fewer miles to the gallon. And you are going to be driving a lot of miles. The area you're proposing to cover is roughly the same size as all of Great Britain. A camper is simply not a way to save money. By the time you add even more additional fees for kitchen equipment and linen supplies, the additional rental fee for the camper itself, the fact that you'd have to buy 2-3 times more fuel during your trip, and the cost of even occasional full hook-up campsites, this is an option that is more about the lifestyle than any hypothetical 'savings'. Finally, you will need to find someplace to camp each night. There are many facilities, including state and national parks, national forests, and commercial campgrounds. Very rarely you can find something for free, but more often you will be paying fees that can be only slightly less than a motel room - again it's about the experience, not about saving tons of money over the long haul.

    So, those are the major cost obstacles standing in your way. I don't want to say you can't do this trip, particularly if your budget is £2,000 each after airfare and car hire are taken care of. But you need to be realistic about what even a bare-bones 'adventure' will cost. Also keep in mind that a lifestyle (three men in close quarters and roughing it) that can seem fun at first will wear mighty thin after a few weeks.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Hehe,

    ok well thanks for the replies, just to clear up a few things.

    Ya i was saying 2000 without counting airplane tickets, guess I should have said that. And I guess both buying or having a camper now seem out of the question. About daily expenses, well hopefully we were planning to do mostly camping so most meals should be as cheap since we would be doing most of the cooking. Lucky I am working so i can increase my budget, it just involves spending less in the next few months.

    Also, its kinda funny how you assumed it would be just men on the road trip.

    Thanks for the information though, it has been very useful.

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

    Default Maybe not.

    You might like to check. But last time I read/heard, there was not one rental company which would allow you to take a vehicle to the Burning Man Festival.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    And I guess both buying or having a camper now seem out of the question.
    Just interested as to whether or not you looked at the Escape campers that I linked to and what makes them out of the question ? It would save having to buy camping gear.

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

    Default

    Buying camping equipment -- well, you might be able to get a couple of small tents and a sleeping bag into your luggage. But then you'll need something to cook on (either a one or two burner stove), a pan to cook with, and you might want to carry a few cooking utensils with you in your luggage, too. If you were thinking about cooking with an open fire, by July and August it is quite a possibility that much of the US West will be in a "no open fires allowed" mode, because it's been so dry here this winter. Stoves are usually acceptable in this mode, though, because they are contained.


    Donna

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

    Default The least of your worries.

    Camping gear will probably be cheaper to buy than excess luggage charges. In fact, it will probably be the cheapest aspect of your trip.

    One trip I bought (and sold) camping gear on Crailslist. I had it all lined up before I came over, (just before!), and advertised it for sale before I had completed my trip.... stipulating the place and date where it would be available. Recouped all my money that year.

    As for cooking and eating provisions. Much of this can be bought in the first charity shop you stop at. All of it is likely to cost you less than the cost of eating out once. No! you won't have matching cutlery or crockery, but hey! it won't affect the nutritional value of your meals. Pots and pans can usually be got for a couple of dollars. At the end of your trip, donate it back.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    You might like to check. But last time I read/heard, there was not one rental company which would allow you to take a vehicle to the Burning Man Festival.

    Lifey
    I just read a few threads on other forums. It's not difficult finding a car that can be taken to Burning Man, but RV's are another story. Be prepared to be hit with a substantial cleaning fee when you return it. No matter how much you clean it, they will still find dirt and dust, the site is VERY dusty and dirty.

  10. Default

    Wow thanks everybody for the reposes, they have been quite useful.

    Southwest Dave: Ya what i meant was proper big campers, the link you sent me seems to be a possible option.

    glc: did not think about that at all, wow I guess that is just another thing to look out for.

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