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  1. Default Summer rv trip - help from the pros please?

    Desperate for advice and good route!

    We are planning summer 2015 4-6 week rv trip through national parks of the west? Which ones are a must? Anyone have an awesome route already in place tried and true? We will have 8 and 11 year old along for the ride (hoping to accomplish while they still are ok hanging with us :) ). Love outdoors hiking and biking.

    Looking to purchase or rent rv???

    Help and thank you!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think the first thing the "pros" would tell you about planning a roadtrip is to get the idea of "bests" and "musts" out of your head, and also get away from the idea of trying to copy someone else's plan. The beauty of a roadtrip is you get to decide which roads you take, which places you go, and how long you'll be there. It takes an act of congress before an area is declared a National Park, so in many ways, they are all "musts." As for which ones you'll see on your trip, that's completely up to you. Once you have a better idea of your own trip and where you want to go, then others will be in a much better position to help you with the details of your trip.

    I would never recommend purchasing an RV for a one time trip. If you think this is the only trip you'll take, then you should certainly rent. If you are interested in making RV travel part of your lifestyle long-term, then looking to purchase might make sense. Of course, an RV is hardly the only way to do a roadtrip - and while they have lots of positives, cost is not one of them. It will nearly always be cheaper to travel by car/hotels.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    As far as "awesome route already in place tried and true", yes, probably. For us. Whether it's great for you and your family is up to your tastes. There are so many national parks of the west, and all of them are a must at one time or another for my husband and myself. What I'd suggest -- get out the atlas, or a paper map of the USA, and have all of you look it over and see what you'd really like. Get the kids on the computer and have them research places that sound interesting to them. You do the same. Where are you starting from? Will it be a loop trip or one way? That will help you.

    Purchase or rent RV -- well, if you are a USA resident, that's up to you. Renting will cost you about $750-1K per week and you can probably bring along your favorite cooking stuff and linens to save renting those too. Purchasing is a different ballgame, as you will be paying for it however you can, plus finding a place to store it when you are not using it. If you are flying in from overseas, then renting is about the only way to go, as it is very difficult (and time-consuming) for a non-resident to register and insure a rig and then try to sell it again. With that rental, you'll need the linen and cook packages.

    When you are trying to plan, make your driving days no longer than 400-450 miles per day, hopefully shorter. RV's are slower, take longer (and lots of $$$) to fill up with fuel, sometimes longer to park as well while you try to find a spot.

    Once you get an idea of what parks are of interest to you, we can help you fine-tune your plan, make other suggestions, etc.

    Donna (former RV'er)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default National Parks and so much more.

    The advise rendered above is of course, spot on. Only you can design your road trip. "pros" can then help you refine the minor details. The initial research is up to you, based on you and your family's likes and wants.

    While you are researching National Parks, don't overlook the State Parks and forests along the way. In the same manner, when you are looking for routes, check out to see what scenic routes there are binding all these attractions together. Some scenic routes in the southwest almost deserve to be National Parks themselves. SPs and Scenic Routes are marked on all good maps, such as AAA (free to members) and Rand McNally.

    ... while they still are ok hanging with us.
    Plan this right, taking their wishes into consideration, you could find that they will be bitten by the roadtripping bug along with you, and want to share many future trips together. Having them help with the research will not only help you, but, the more they have invested in the trip, the more they will get out of it.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default You have a lot to look forward to...................

    .....including the planning !

    As has been mentioned, everyone of the parks are spectacular in their own unique way and is the reason they were given National park status. At this stage of your planning the website is a good place to visit to get an idea of what each one has to offer. National parks of the west are plentiful and the most concentrated area of parks are in the Four corners region, but of course there are many more north and south, such as Olympic National park in WA to Big Bend NM with over 2000 miles seperating them, but both could be considered 'west'.

    Have you any idea where you will be starting out from ? If you rent then a loop trip is favourable as it saves paying a one way drop off fee which can be quite significant. If you are a US resident and plan on future trips, buying is an option but have you tried the Lifestyle yet ? It might be wise to try before you buy as it's a big commitment. If you are non-residents then buying isn't an option. Although an RV gives you a certain amount of freedom, the National parks have limited RV sites which are very popular so you really need to book in advance and as close to the booking window opening as possible.

    You also need to consider how much driving you want to do compared to how much time you want to spend in any one place. Some like to spend a day or two and move on, others spend multiple days in some parks and parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, are certainly worthy of time. You need to do a little research and get the maps out and start working on the basics of your plan and once you can share more info we can be of much more help. My immediate thought would be to look at a loop trip out of Denver, Las Vegas, San Fran, LA or even Salt lake city depending on your plans and which offer the best value.

    Enjoy the planning !

  6. #6


    I'd suggest renting the RV if it's your first time out and you're not sure how you'll all like the experience!

    Tips on renting:

    1. Know your mileage limits and overage costs - a big loop is a lot of miles and you want to know what it will cost you if you exceed your mileage allowance.
    2. Understand you're taking care of the bathrooms and grey water throughout the trip and know if you're totally up for it because no one else is going to do it for you
    3. You need to know clearance limitations on roads you'll travel and if any places have construction with width limits in place
    4. Many national parks have length restrictions on some roads with sharp curves, you need to know them
    5. Driving an RV in a city sucks eggs, especially the larger ones - do you have contingency or other plans to get around to do basics, like grocery shop?
    6. Bring your own carbon monoxide alarm - the ones in the units only sound if you're going to die within minutes and won't alert you to lower level (still deadly) long-term exposure
    7. Know your generator allotment for time/use, know how much it'll cost if you exceed that
    8. Remember to factor in your costs to stay in campgrounds with hook-ups - boondocking is possible, but I don't recommend it for a novice with kids!

    I hope I don't sound like a negative-Nancy - an RV can be an awesome trip and adventure with your kids - they are work though. Driving an RV is nothing like a car, SUV or even light truck/pick-up....they're heavier, taller and you'll cover less miles per day, especially if it's windy out.....plan conservatively, not aggressively for miles per day!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Timely.

    Quote Originally Posted by RahRah View Post
    I hope I don't sound like a negative-Nancy ...
    Not at all.

    Far too frequently the advice given on forum by experienced members, overlooks the fact that the person asking may be very inexperienced. I've fallen for the same trap myself.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Really ?

    Far too frequently given on forum by experienced members, overlooks the fact that the person asking may be very inexperienced.....
    I have to say I'm a bit surprised by this comment Lifey. More often then not, we all go the extra mile to make sure that inexperienced (as well as experienced) roadtrippers get all the help and answers they need to get a safe and enjoyable trip and to let them know in great detail of all the Pros and cons behind their plans.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A few more time-tested tips

    RahRah created a good list of things to think about when considering renting a RV. We published a checklist of things that you ought to ask about and check when picking up a RV and it is a good idea to read this now -- it helps stimulate other ideas as you move down this plan....

    Overview about renting RV's

    The checklist referred to above.


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