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  1. Default Cross the US, A Chinese family need your recommendation

    Hello everybody,

    My wife and I had a long term plan ten years ago,we planed to across a continent every five years , ten years ago we crossed the Far East, five years ago, we passed through Europe, this year we plan to cross the United States.
    We’d love to drive through Australia in five years,then Africa, fifteen years later, hope to Antarctica.
    We thank you for your patience for my broken English, I will try to explain anything confuses you. This summer, we will spent a month with our 3 years old daughter,driving a van,start from Los Angeles, all the way to New York City, then returned to Los Angeles through the southern line.

    Please give us recommendations in the following areas:

    1) Vehicle
    We tried driving a friend's van for free, it is toyota van with one hundred thousand miles of mileage.My friend told me this car has been just turned up and in very good condition.

    Or should we rent a better car with $1200 per month?

    2) Accommodation
    With a 3 year-old girl, we can not camp in the wild just like before,Is it ok just stay in youth hotels or Budget Hotels.

    Is there any way to reduce the cost?

    3) Route
    We plan to Highway 15 to Highway 70, through the Great Lakes, to the east coast.
    Then we are driving to south,to Atlanta ,through Louisiana to Houston. in Houston we will have a break, and then continue the trip, through New Mexico and Arizona, back to Los Angeles.

    The total trip can be one month, Is it ok for 30 days?

    Instead the round trip, we can have a one way trip so that we can have more time to stay and have rest.

    4) food and water
    Do we need to prepare any additional food and water?

    5 ) Insurance
    We have prepared a AAA insurance, and ready to fly back to for any kind of unexpected situation. Do we need any other insurance? Such as travel insurance, medical insurance?

    6 ) Gas Station
    I do not know whether there is sufficient gas station on the highway . We will have to prepare a t-mobile phone with data plan so that we can use google map, but not sure if we can find a gas station every 200 miles in the planing trip line.

    7 ) CommunicationIs t-mobile’s signal good in the central United States?

    8 ) Budget
    Our budget is $10,000 for this month. Included hotels(motels), meals , fuel, tickets for the national parks and museums, parking fee and the car’s maintenance. It is what we can afford now.(flight is not included)

    9 ) Cities/Towns to stay
    Because we are very familiar with the United States, all of our knowleges are come from the books.Would you please suggest some appropriate cities, towns or places we can have a rest. My wife like art muesum and I am very Interested in
    the natural landsape.
    Best

    Timothy & Yao

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default great adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Timotheus View Post
    We tried driving a friend's van for free, it is toyota van with one hundred thousand miles of mileage.My friend told me this car has been just turned up and in very good condition.

    Or should we rent a better car with $1200 per month?
    The van sounds like a great deal, however, you do need to understand that you are also putting your friend at a fair amount of financial risk. If you were to get into some kind of crash, where the damages exceed the limits of the insurance policy, your friend could be found liable since it is his car. At the very least, he needs to talk with his insurance company about the best way to make sure you are covered, and his liability is limited.

    With a 3 year-old girl, we can not camp in the wild just like before,Is it ok just stay in youth hotels or Budget Hotels.
    I have to ask, why can't you camp with a 3 year old girl? If anything, there can be advantages of camping, as most campgrounds have a good playground and places for her to run around at the end of a day on the road.

    Otherwise, certainly you'll have no problems finding budget hotels. Hostels wouldn't be an option I would choose with a small child, and while many hostels have private rooms available, they typically cost as much or more than a budget hotel.

    3) Route
    The total trip can be one month, Is it ok for 30 days?

    Instead the round trip, we can have a one way trip so that we can have more time to stay and have rest.
    A month is enough time for a loop around the US, and it can work very well, especially if there are things you want to see in both the south and the north. That said, you will have to keep things moving, and won't be able to linger in any one place for too long.

    4) food and water
    Do we need to prepare any additional food and water?
    It's always a good idea to carry some food and water with you, but you'll find grocery stores in nearly every town in the US, and most gas stations also have a limited (although typically expensive) grocery selection.

    5 ) Insurance
    We have prepared a AAA insurance, and ready to fly back to for any kind of unexpected situation. Do we need any other insurance? Such as travel insurance, medical insurance?
    The biggest thing is car insurance, as mentioned above. I'm assuming by AAA you are talking about roadside coverage to get you a tow truck in case of a breakdown - that will be a good idea, if you borrow the friends van (not really needed if you rent a car). It will be very important to know what your medical insurance covers in the US - Hospitals in the US are very good, but VERY expensive.

    6 ) Gas Station
    I do not know whether there is sufficient gas station on the highway . We will have to prepare a t-mobile phone with data plan so that we can use google map, but not sure if we can find a gas station every 200 miles in the planing trip line.
    There are very few places in the US where you'll go even 50 miles without finding gas. Remember, people live pretty much everywhere in the US, and if there wasn't gas available - they wouldn't be able to get around either! There is a stretch of I-70 in Utah that is about 100 miles without gas - that's about the biggest section you'll find anywhere in the country, and there are plenty of signs warning you about it.
    7 ) CommunicationIs t-mobile’s signal good in the central United States?
    T-Mobile is ok, but not the best in terms of overall coverage. I use them myself. Phone coverage is solid most places (keep in mind, there will be areas with no coverage, with any provider), although T-Mobile's data offering can be very limited outside of cities. I do find them to be by far the cheapest of the major providers.

    8 ) Budget
    Our budget is $10,000 for this month. Included hotels(motels), meals , fuel, tickets for the national parks and museums, parking fee and the car’s maintenance. It is what we can afford now.(flight is not included)
    That should be a quite healthy budget, and you should have no problems, as long as you are working to keep your expenses at a reasonable levels.

    9 ) Cities/Towns to stay
    Because we are very familiar with the United States, all of our knowleges are come from the books.Would you please suggest some appropriate cities, towns or places we can have a rest. My wife like art muesum and I am very Interested in
    the natural landsape.
    Books are a great place to start. Looking around this website is another good place. Really, there's just too many possibilities for us to narrow things down on a trip that covers nearly the entire US.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Agreed.

    What a great trip you have planned here. And what a good idea to travel accross the continents. When you are about to come downunder, let me know and maybe I can be of some help to you.

    I have to agree with Michael, there is no reason why you cannot camp. We camped with our children as soon as they were out of nappies. As mentioned, they have more freedom to run around, and often have a playground to keep them happy.

    BTW, your English is very good.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    I'm so thankful for your replies, Thank you Michael, thank you Lifey.
    Most of the Michael's suggestions is so helpful for us and we read it one by one. The friend who give us the mini van is a very close friend, however we will make sure he won't have any risk.

    I am becoming the kind of person I used to hate: backward-looking and overcautious. : ) I am afraid my daughter getting cold,mosquitoes or begs, wet ground... But your suggestion for the camping brought me back to my good Memories. I'd love to talk with my wife and do some research in the coming month, probably we can try some camping places. However I need to let you know what camping in China means: no water, no electric, no food and even on restroom.

    I just searched few camping websites, and they all looks incredible “luxury”,

    Chinese camping style: 20060322-pic001.jpg

    American camping style:camping_koa2014.jpghockinghillskoa2.jpg

    If we can, we will keep posting the updated info. and photos, When we get our cell phone, we will post the number, I'd love to know America deeply, not only the outward appearance, but also the inward spirit and soul.]

    Timothy
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-01-2015 at 01:00 AM. Reason: Removed e mail adress as per forum policy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default it can be both

    Camping can be a pretty wide range of things in the US.

    For some "camping" is staying inside a giant RV, that's nicer than my house, at a resort campground with all the amenities of a 4 star hotel.

    For others, camping is much more like what you are used to. Setting up a tent in the middle of the wilderness, with no services at all. This is often referred to as dispersed camping.

    Something in the middle is much more typical. Campgrounds in state and national parks typically offer a place to set up a tent or park and RV, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Electricity may be available for an extra fee. Usually there are a few shared water faucets. There will also be toilets, although they may be waterless "pit" toilets - although, some places will have modern bathrooms and showers.


    As an aside, it is never a good idea to post your personal email or phone number on a public forum such as this. It's basically an invitation to be contacted by spammers and scam artists. Please just post any additional questions you may have here on this forum.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    My husband and I, and our girls when they were growing up, have done some of the types of camping that Michael described, above.

    When we were backpacking into the wilderness, we took everything with us: our own food, water, tent, sleeping bags, water filter (so we could clean up creek and river water). It was camping like the photo with the blue tent. It was a lot of fun, despite having to figure out the toilet situation.

    Most of the time, we stayed in a campground in our slightly larger tents. Nearby was a water spigot containing clean water. Not far off was a pit toilet, though in some campgrounds we were lucky and got flush toilets and showers. However, after 3-4 days in a campground with pit toilets and no showers, we took a cheap motel room.

    That was used for sleeping on a real bed, taking a good shower, and being a bit luxurious for one night. Then the next day, it was back to camping.

    After several years of camping, which had started when our daughters were 4 and 3, respectively, we moved up to a tent camper. All the luxuries of a trailer but with a cloth roof. That lasted two years, till we got the right combination: a pickup and a 5th wheel trailer. It wasn't luxury like some of the RV's I've seen (and our neighbors own and use one), but it was a hard roof overhead, an onboard toilet, and the shower was okay. (We would usually stay in a campground with showers available, as a 6-gal water heater was too small.)

    When in the campgrounds, we found that people were far more friendly than when staying in motels. It's something we miss a lot about camping.


    Donna

  7. #7

    Default

    Ni hao,

    My wife is Chinese (family from Beijing and, originally, from Harbin), and I can tell you that, having driven in both countries, the US roads for the most part you will find much easier than driving in China... Especially in the Southwest of the US, I think you will enjoy the open road and the experience.

    I just wanted to say that me and a friend drove from NYC to SF and took 21 days, one way, and we felt that we could have done with more time. While it's certainly possible to do the whole LA to LA loop in one month, I just wonder if with your stated likes of 'art museums, natural landscape and camping' you might find the trip a bit rushed. Plus you're travelling with a small child, in which case I would not want to be doing very long driving days. (I have two kids, and 300 miles a day for us is more than enough...)

    If I were you, and if budget wasn't a big issue, I would just go one way with a rental car. I know this would be more expensive, but it would allow you to slow down and see stuff - natural landscape = the National Parks and other scenic places, especially in Arizona/Utah/Colorado; and also the 'spirit and soul' you mention, which you can sometimes experience in the cities and the smaller towns.

    But whatever you and your family go for:

    Zhu nimen hao yun!

    Subman

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