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  1. Default Across the Continent in 10 days?

    This is a trip to move from FL to CA. Hardly enough room for me in this car when I take off. I want to save on gas, and lodgings so I need the most direct route with campgrounds along the way. I'm brand new to this site and did not see camps, just hotels. Any suggestions out there. I'm trying not to pay $126 for AAA and their triptiks. I think 10 days is doable, never done this before. Passed my half century mark and find myself partnerless...here goes nothin'! "California is the place you oughta be, so they loaded up their ..."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    As you plan your trip, you really need to keep in mind that campgrounds are completely different animals from hotels. There are dozens of hotel chains, and even many of the independent motels out there are still locked into the various nationwide search systems.

    Campgrounds are much more individualized. With the exception of KOA, there really aren't chains. And really, as a tent camper on a budget, your best bet for camping is generally going to be publicly run campgrounds - like state parks, national forests, and the like.

    Having said that, there are campgrounds everywhere, so that really shouldn't impact which way you go. You may have to drive a few miles off the highway to find them, but there will always be there. The easiest place to start is to pull out a map - which will tell you exactly where you can find many campgrounds. From there, you can also simply start searching for campgrounds in areas you think you might want to stop.

    When it comes to a route, If anything, you might want to give more concern to the weather, as camping in extreme heat isn't much fun. Without having any idea where in FL you're starting or where in CA you're going, we can't provide much more in the way of specific route help.

    I'm not quite sure what a Triptik has to do with anything, but you should give some thought to AAA for their roadside assistance program. They aren't the only option for roadside assistance, but you should have a plan for what you'll do if you have a breakdown (a tow will almost always cost more than $126).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I am highly recommending that you join AAA or similar roadside assistance program. ONE assistance call will more than pay for your membership. We've already used two this year: one was a battery call for a dead battery in our truck, and the other was when our car wouldn't start IN our garage. We're now on the road, and it's good peace of mind because in most areas, they will not only tow you to the nearest place to fix your vehicle, they will make sure you are in good hands rather than dump you off.

    TripTiks are a benefit/bonus for the membership, as are the maps. Frankly, I could do without the TripTik, since I can read a map and we carry a book called The Next Exit (which only helps on interstates). But the maps are important, and the Tour Books are really really helpful in planning.

    Campgrounds come in a variety. You have your commercial places, most of which cater to motorhomes and travel trailers/fifth wheel trailers rather than tents. They almost always have a good bathroom/shower facility, and many have washer/dryers (coin op), convenience stores. The only real chain is KOA and they are very expensive as far as camping is concerned. Then there are public campgrounds: county parks, state parks, state forests, national forests and national parks are the most common, with BLM campsites less common. These are varied in what they offer, but tents are more accepted. Then there are very few company run campgrounds. If you are military, there are some government run recreation areas, too.

    "...truck and they moved to Beverly....Hills, that is....swimmin' pools.....movie stars..."

    Well, it's not ALL like that in California. But from a current resident to a newbie, welcome to CA!


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default More accommodation options.

    Your AAA membership will be cheap insurance and peace of mind, just in case you have some problem along the way. Like above, I too have had to call on AAA to the extend which well and truly made the membership worthwhile. The maps and information are extra benefits. As well, may I suggest that you take out your AAA membership while still in Jacksonville and keep renewing it in FL after you have moved to Redding. From information I have from AAA, it is the cheapest State in which to take out a AAA membership. (Next year I definitely will.)

    When it comes to camping, as Michael said, the Public Lands campgrounds would be your best bet. Here is a site which may help, albeit for the Western States only. I have recently stayed on, and checked out quite a few public lands campgrounds, and find them to be quite acceptable for what you pay. Some are free.

    On previous trips I spent quite a bit of time camping in summer. When summer camping I have always coped by sleeping on top of the sleeping bag. An alternative on very hot nights could be hostels, if there is one along your route.. These vary from cheap to expensive, from fantastically organised to downright disgraceful. Always ask to see the place before you commit. Hostels are no longer for the young only. One stay in Seattle there must have been 50% of the guests who'd completed a half a century. Another time I was speaking with a lady in her sixties who was hostelling with her 92 year old mother. Read the reviews carefully, and note when they were written. Often a change of management can change a place.

    This is the most comprehensive site for hostels.


    BTW, I have never paid anywhere near $100 for a hotel for the night. At the interstate rest areas, welcome centres and some truck stops, you will find hotel / motel coupon books. These are normally for walkins only. To get some idea of what they look like and what they offer, why not pick up some at a rest area just down I-95, before you get to exit 329. I thought I saw some there. Rarely ever do I pay more than $50, and that includes all fees and taxes.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-21-2014 at 07:24 PM. Reason: clarification

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    An AAA membership also gets you hotel discounts.

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

    Default Not if you are on a budget.

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    An AAA membership also gets you hotel discounts.
    Rarely, and then only when not using coupons... or in highly priced establishments.

    Lifey

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

    Default

    My experience has been quite the opposite, Lifey....the Wyndham and Choice properties always offer a AAA discount, even for their lower-priced chains like EconoLodge, Super 8, Rodeway, Travelodge, and Quality Inn. We just got AAA discount at two separate Super 8's, and will get another one at EconoLodge. It's usually accepted when there's no coupon involved. Use a coupon, though, there's no further discounts. Motel 6 only takes AARP cards for discount, not AAA.

    More on campgrounds: like some hotels look to get the AAA branding on their signage, some commercial campgrounds/RV parks try for the Good Sam branding. That indicates that certain things are available and that certain needs are met.


    Donna

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

    Default Those are not 'my' idea of budget motels.

    Donna, none of the brands you mention are anyhere near budget establishments. I have never seen it offered at the cheap motels. It certainly was not offered at the (coupon) $39.99 motel (with fridge, microwave and free wifi) this week. The AAA discount does not reduce the cost to anywhere near that of the true budget motels.

    As for the discounts at commercial camp grounds.... On two occasions, at campgrounds which offered Good Sam, I have been told that they would have to charge considerably (something like 25%) more if I wanted the discount. To me it sounded like a big fraud.

    Lifey

  9. #9

    Default

    rv.net is a great website for camping info. Ten days should be easy to get to California.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default For tent campers?

    Quote Originally Posted by 32vld View Post
    rv.net is a great website for camping info. Ten days should be easy to get to California.
    Few, if any of those mentioned are on public lands, and many barely tolerate, let alone cater to tent campers. Besides, they are not a budget option when tent camping.

    Lifey

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