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  1. Default Buy or rent for three month trip

    Hi, there's lots of great info here. Sorry that this question has been asked so many time. I'm planning my epic three month roadtrip to thirteen national parks out West in September, but I don't have a car. There's lots of threads on renting vs. buying, but they're mainly by visitors to the USA under 25. I'm a 40-year-old US citizen, but I sold my car after moving to Boston. It would have come in handy now.

    I did some calculations estimating the full cost of buying (insurance, title, emissions check, depreciation, etc.) and renting for three months. Budget Rent A Car is only $1,300 for a compact with unlimited mileage. After adding a non-owners liability policy (my credit card provides free collision), this is actually a bit less than buying and selling when I'm done. And there will be no worries about maintenance with a rental car. Also there's no inconvenience of having to find, test drive, and sell a car.

    It seems like renting is the way to go then. Am I missing something? I guess the thing that makes me hesitate is it would be nice to be able to sleep in the vehicle. Motels and campgrounds will get expensive for one person over three months. It would be nice to have a van I could sleep in.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Might this fill the bill? (Click)

    Note that the only places where you can generally park overnight and sleep in a vehicle free are truck stops. Campgrounds are generally not free. Rest areas are not safe unless there is nighttime security and generally not legal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The use of public lands.

    I would definitely not sleep in a vehicle unless it is set up for sleeping. Getting changed at night and dressed in the morning, is difficult, and sleeping on a seat rather than a bed is extremely uncomfortable. It will not leave you in good shape to drive again, the next day.

    That said, I think the link above is an excellent option. There are State Parks and Forests as well as National Parks and Forests, which are your best option. There are also BLM and other public lands campgrounds, some of which are free, others at a small cost. This link might be useful. Many of them can be reached on paved roads, as rental vehicles generally are not permitted on unmade roads. Check your rental contract.

    Truck stops are great when on the road just going from one place to the next - I use them all the time - but campgrounds give a much more enjoyable ambiance.


  4. Default

    Those vans are really nice, but way too expensive for one person. I think renting a compact is the way to go. Sleeping in it would be pretty crazy, so I'll have to figure out camping on public land. This will be an adventure!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Here's another thought.

    My first two trips to the US were for 15 and 19 weeks. The two trips totalled some 45000 miles. Yet all I did was relocate cars for the Autodriveaway company. Unfortunately many of their offices have closed and the number of cars available for relocation has dwindled considerably. The choice of cars is no longer there. There is however, as they say, a new kid on the block. Worth checking out all the terms and conditions.

    This will only work if you are willing to be flexible, and have, as you do, the time available. Here's how I did it. I would check up to see which cars were available, where they needed to go and when. I would then contact the company to make sure the car was still available and register my interest. Next with maps in hand I would see what there was to see between pick up and drop off point. All would be noted in a list, from which I chose a couple, depending on how much time was given to relocate that particular vehicle.

    If you are short of funds, and not too set in your ways, throw away your current plans, and see where the relocating vehicles lead you. I would call the destination office days before I got there to see what vehicles were available and where they were going, so I could continue my journey.

    You may not get to see all the places on your current list, but you will get to see places you may not even have known existed.

    I do not have any experience with iMoova, but have heard good things about them, including a member of this forum who used them to get from one place to another. I recall she was recommending them to another member.


  6. #6


    Just curious if you checked on pricing on a van from Budget? When I was still working I rented from them many time, and their equipment was always well maintained. A van would certainly be easier to "camp" out of vs. a compact car.

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