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  1. Default Scottish Honeymooners - Need some Help!

    Hi all,

    My fiancée and I are planning our honeymoon in the great US of A! We're hoping to fly in/out of Atlanta in spring 2016 and road trip for about 7 weeks. We've got a huge list of places we'd love to see, but obviously understand we won't do it all. Most of the list is quite rural; a lot of the National Parks etc, but we also are both quite big fans of country & blues music so I'm sure Nashville, Memphis etc will get a visit! Our main route is looking to following the southern and western states.

    We'd like to keep the cost as low as possible, so was just wondering if anyone had any tips on the best places to rent RV's from for such an extended period? I get the sense that a lot of rental companies charge per mile. Considering we want to visit everywhere from Tennessee to California to Montana... this could end up being quite a big extra cost.

    It seems there is a fantastic wealth of experience on this website so any help would be really appreciated!
    Thanks,
    David.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default RV is the least likely to save any money.

    Hi David, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Since the trip is still a ways off, the best thing you could do right now is get hold of a large wall map of the USA. My favourite is the large National Geographic map, for all the detail it shows. Get some post it notes and place them on all the places already on your list.
    I would also recommend that you get hold of some detailed State maps of the States you wish to visit. If these are not available locally, the best is to get hold of a Rand McNally road atlas, from the RTA store link below.

    Travelling in an RV is not exactly a way to keep costs down. In fact it can be the most expensive way to travel. Car and hotel/motel will always be cheaper, even if you do not get budget motels. In many places an RV park costs almost as much as a cheap hotel room. Then there is the low mpg count, and all the other extras. You'd be surprised how much luxury you can afford for the same cost by using a car and hotels.

    The other thing I would recommend you consider as a money saving exercise, is looking at doing a loop trip, flying in and out of the same airport, and returning the car to the place where you picked it up. Both those will end up being considerably cheaper than doing a one way trip. Dropping a car in the west after picking it up in the east could add as much as a four digit figure to the rental price.

    Maybe these are things you could research before we consider discussing routes. Frequently we find that knowing the party's interests and the places already on the list, it can be changed into a loop trip, without missing too much.

    Lifey

    Edit: Here are a couple of discussions about RV vs car+ motel.

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

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I will agree completely with Lifey -- a car+motel will almost always be cheaper for a couple than an RV. The only way that a rental RV ends up being cheaper is for a larger family that would require two motel rooms every night, or two couples that want to share the expense and the living space.

    A loop trip is also the way to go. Unless there's a reason why you are choosing Atlanta to fly in/out of, you might find better rates flying in/out of a different city.


    Donna

  4. Default Don't forget your GPS and software

    Quote Originally Posted by downupdown View Post
    Hi all,

    My fiancée and I are planning our honeymoon in the great US of A! We're hoping to fly in/out of Atlanta in spring 2016 and road trip for about 7 weeks. We've got a huge list of places we'd love to see, but obviously understand we won't do it all. Most of the list is quite rural; a lot of the National Parks etc, but we also are both quite big fans of country & blues music so I'm sure Nashville, Memphis etc will get a visit! Our main route is looking to following the southern and western states.

    We'd like to keep the cost as low as possible, so was just wondering if anyone had any tips on the best places to rent RV's from for such an extended period? I get the sense that a lot of rental companies charge per mile. Considering we want to visit everywhere from Tennessee to California to Montana... this could end up being quite a big extra cost.

    It seems there is a fantastic wealth of experience on this website so any help would be really appreciated!
    Thanks,
    David.

    With Atlanta as a starting spot, and concentrating your trip on rural areas, along with wanting to enjoy some music in Nashville and Memphis, you might consider getting a connector from Atlanta to Knoxville, and effectively starting your trip from there. Rental cars in Knoxville in the spring are very reasonable, with the clerks willing to bargain with the customer to get some cars out of their lots. you could visit the Great Smokies and after the long flights you might want to rent backpacking gear at bargain prices because of the time of year and do a nice circuit hike that would allow you to sleep in the real woods, on top of a mountain, for a night or maybe two since you have seven whole weeks. Remember, you can't get lost if you have a GPS, and when you are relaxing in the woods before bedtime, you can use the GPS and software to refine your trip. Although the area is rural, lots of tourists come here in the fall to see the leaves change color, so the Garmin maps are perfect. Also, the spring is the best time in the Smokies because the weather is great and you should have the trails to yourselves. The mistake most people make on their first hike in the Smokies is to bring the wrong footwear. Get a real pair of medium weight Backpacking/Hiking boots, and break them in for a few months. Why go to national parks if you don't take the time to see what the country looked like hundreds of years ago, and that will allow you to enjoy nice hikes in the wilderness as well as stays in nice rural motels that have a charm all their own.
    Although I used to use large wall maps and map booklets, I've relegated them to the reference section of my library. With a budget laptop or tablet (although I prefer a convertible laptop so I have a real computer with a real touch screen), and Garmin mapping software, you can integrate your maps in a way that allows you to connect the wilderness, rural, and city parts of your trip into a custom map that can be zoomed down to the level of a gas station and then view pictures of the zoomed item. One of my favourite rigs is a small netbook loaded with GPS software and an integrated GPS card. It allows my navigator to follow the trip in real time while killing the boredom by looking for interesting places to visit. The primary GPS will monitor your location and notify you when you need to prepare for a turn. As someone who has traveled my whole life, almost constantly, planning your trip using GPS is really the only modern way to go. It can also save you lots of money because instead of paying to stay in motels in larger cities, you can pick a small town off of the beaten path, google the town and look for a nice funky, rural motel where your room is decorated with a stuffed black bear, and the kitchenette looks like it materialized from a 1950's Life Magazine add, and not have to worry about the place being full because of a convention. If you decide to change your criteria, the GPS software automatically recalculates your route. If you find an area to which you are particularly enamored. you can find a motel or cabin and use it as your base of operations if you decide to explore the area more fully. The GPS is invaluable for planning side trips. Just planning the trip is very enjoyable, and although some people have told me that the learning curve to use the software was somewhat steep, the Web is loaded with sites that can teach you everything you need to know.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    As someone who has traveled my whole life, almost constantly, planning your trip using GPS is really the only modern way to go.
    Here at RTA, we have a couple of warnings about the use of GPS to plan a trip.

    First, a GPS will not give you the detail that you will see on a paper map, for things to see and do.

    Second, what happens if the GPS dies? How do you navigate? Don't say it won't happen -- ours died when we were in mid-trip.Fortunately, I had plenty of maps and know how to read them, so I would navigate without it. People have been doing that for years; it's only recently that people let electronics do their thinking for them.

    Thirdly, how do you know when to blindly follow the GPS's directions, and when not to? You have to think. As I said above, you can't let the electronic machine do your thinking. People have died trying to follow their GPS's directions. Don't be a statistic.

    Talking about the GPS on your phone? What do you do if you can't get a signal? There are plenty of places where you can't.

    In short, rely on your brain and on paper maps. Use your GPS, or your phone's GPS, to find places within cities. But don't try to plan an entire trip on a 5" screen.


    Donna

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

    Default Human brain vs. electronic brain.

    Hi rrodscott, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    To continue along Donna's lines, all of which are my experiences too. I am yet to see any software which shows the exact same detail as a good quality map.
    If you decide to change your criteria, the GPS software automatically recalculates your route.
    Why would you follow the route of some electronic gadget, instead of choosing your own from the myriad available, all of which are shown on the map.

    The GPS is invaluable for planning side trips.
    I am yet to see a side trip on a gps. Sure they show major roads and side trips, but try to go off the beaten path where most of the interesting sites are... it won't be there.

    I too have had my electronics send me - onto the off ramp of an interstate in the twin cities; send me down an unkept forest road to a campground in WY; and tell me to do a U turn on a one way road in VA. I have heard of people being sent the wrong way down a one way street, and even been advised to turn onto a railway track.

    Maybe you should google 'death by gps'.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default If it's what you want.

    Hello from the UK David, sounds like a fantastic honeymoon ! As has been said, an RV won't keep the costs down but it can be a great 'Lifestyle' choice and if it's what you have decided on, there are ways to keep costs down but they don't always fit in with your plans. For example Cruise America often have 'specials' where they need there fleet shifting around the country, Phoenix being a main hub where they go in and out of for refurbishment and they have other deals you can check out that are constantly changing. If you go to their website and click on the Hot deals link you can see the current specials, however during the quieter winter months there is usually more on offer for the following Spring, they have to keep their money coming in somehow ! These can include one way specials or local deals [meaning return to same depot] where you can get half price nights after so many days renting for example. Still shop around though as other companies come up with specials, just make sure they are transparent in all the costs involved and read the 'bottom line'. Sometimes private rentals work out cheaper but I always wonder what would happen if you had a serious mechanical breakdown or accident and you don't have the backing of a company behind you to get you going again, even a small issue could become problematic without back up.

    We love RV'ing in the States and if you want any other help or suggestions with your trip then show us what you have planned and ask away !

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