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  1. Default Chicago to San Francisco road trip - what route matches our interests!

    Hi all!

    My girlfriend and I are planning a road trip with a small RV (20 feet) from Chicago to Los Angeles and San Fransisco. We are not sure what route would be better to take so we would like some advice!

    Who - Two 25 year olds, both just started working.

    When - We fly from Amsterdam to Chicago 21th of March 2016, pickup the RV 22th of March. We have to hand it back in on the 11th of April 2016 in San Fransisco and we fly back 12th of April to Amsterdam

    How - We will travel by a compact RV of 20 feet. We already booked the RV pick up (Chicago) and drop off locations (San Fransisco) and cannot change this. This is because we found a very cheap and good deal.

    Main interests - We like both nature and cities so we want to combine these two sceneries. We like nights out, we are foodies so love culy hotspots, we like historic sights and we also like nature parks, scenic drives and a hike here and there. As we like all of this and really want to explore more sides of the USA, we need a good balance between these interests!

    We know RV's are not the easiest ways to explore cities, but know it is possible. We do not mind to take some transits into the city or pay a bit more for expensive RV parks in big cities (this will still be cheaper than renting a car and book motels in cities, taking our RV deal in mind).

    We have planned two routes but cant decide which one we should take because of two reasons. First of all, we can not use our sanitary/plumbing facilities in our RV with freezing temperatures, so we want to avoid sleepovers in freezing areas as much as possible. Secondly, although we know route B will be a much more beautiful and scenic drive, we are not sure if this takes up too much of our other interests (city seeing, partying, food hotspots).

    Route A (Route 66 style)

    Day 1, 2: Chicago, Illinois (actual RV pick up location is Middlebury, Indiana so day 2 starts there)
    Day 3: St Louis, Missouri
    Day 4: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    Day 5: Amarillo, Texas
    Day 6 & 7: Santa Fe
    Day 8: Flagstaff, Arizona
    Day 9 & 10: Grand Canyon (South Rim), Arizona
    Day 11 & 12: Zion, Utah
    Day 13 & 14: Las Vegas, Nevada
    Day 15: Death Valley, California
    Day 16 & 17: Los Angeles, California (Found a good RV park Balboa RV park, north-west of Hollywood)
    Day 18: Santa Barbara, California
    Day 19 & 20: Pacific coast between LA and SF, California (Morrow bay, Cambria etc. not decided exact stops yet)
    Day 21, 22 & 23: San Francisco, California
    Day 24: Fly back

    And:

    Route B (Colorado/Utah style)

    Day 1, 2: Chicago, Illinois (actual RV pick up location is Middlebury, Indiana so day 2 starts there)
    Day 3: Iowa City, Iowa
    Day 4: Lincoln, NE
    Day 5: Denver
    Day 6: Colorado National Monument
    Day 7 & 8: Moab
    Day 9: Escalante or Kodachrome Basin State Park via Capital Reef NP
    Day 10: Zion via a drive through of Bryce
    Day 11: Zion, Utah
    Day 12 & 13: Grand Canyon
    Day 14 & 15: Las Vegas
    Day 16: Death Valley, California
    Day 17 & 18: Los Angeles, California (Found a good RV park Balboa RV park, north-west of Hollywood)
    Day 19 & 20: Pacific coast between LA and SF, California (Morrow bay, Cambria etc. not decided exact stops yet)
    Day 21, 22 & 23: San Francisco, California
    Day 24: fly back

    We have found RV parks in or close to all cities and obviously in nature parks of both routes, so that wont be a problem.

    We would really like some advice on the two things we cant figure out yet:

    -Which route would be the best for our interests?

    -Will route B be still too cold in end March through half of April or not much difference with route A?

    Furthermore, other suggestions are of course welcome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default In your mind

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Both of the route's you've listed are perfectly good, and you know your own interests better than anyone else in the world ever could. Personally, I'd probably lean towards Colorado, but that's based on my interests as much as anything else. I think you'll find the things you are looking for on both routes.

    There is a higher danger of seeing freezing conditions on the more northern route, although that's not to say you don't have the chance of seeing below freezing conditions on both routes. You're going to be at the mercy of weather forecasts that won't be available until days before you travel.

    The warning about that is that not only can you not use the pumping when it is freezing, but you need to make sure you don't have any water in the lines that could freeze. That generally means having everything drained and winterized. If temps drop just below freezing, and you're camping at a spot with full hookups, you can probably be ok by taking advantage of the RVs heater, but you really need to talk to the RV company about how they want you to deal with it - and what you'd be responsible if things do freeze.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurens4790 View Post
    We know RV's are not the easiest ways to explore cities, but know it is possible. We do not mind to take some transits into the city or pay a bit more for expensive RV parks in big cities (this will still be cheaper than renting a car and book motels in cities, taking our RV deal in mind).
    I've got to tell you, the RV being a cheaper is really something that is only in your mind. RV rental trips are typically much more expensive than car/motel trips. Not only are RVs more expensive to rent (especially with extra fees you'll often find for outfitting the RV), they use much more gas, and RV campsites often cost just as much as budget motels. If you want to take an RV because you want to do an RV trip, that's fine, but when you think you're doing it to save money, you really should take another look at the numbers - especially when traveling at a time of year where it may not be that comfortable to be using an RV.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    It sounds like you have snagged a one way relocation deal for a very good price. I too would prefer option B, but you have two great options to choose from. We have camped in temps well below freezing so it is doable, you just have to be careful and if your hooked up you can run the heating on low, plus draining and refilling the tanks is easier and quicker than going to the dump station and fill points. Even if you are hooked up you should disconnect the city water supply before turning in for the night and connect back up the following morning if it is actually still flowing. If you check the weather and know you are going into an area that's likely to be below freezing then just part fill your tanks in the day so it's quicker and less wasteful to drain them out again.

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

    Default

    Coming into this thread a little late, but if this were me, I would probably not do an RV trip at that time of the year. Frankly, the insulation in most of them is for one season: warm waether. A few are built a bit better and can stand spring and fall too, but only the full-timers models are four seasons (and those are typically not on the rental lots).

    Cheaper? Hardly. Let's say, $1000 a week to rent. Add to that the Linen package, Cooking package, Grill package (or Outdoor as some of the companies call it), plus mileage, and your costs have just jumped. Figure on 5-8 mpg, as MMichael said, and then RV parks costing $30-40 a night, and you could buy 7 nights in a nice hotel and you don't have to make your bed!

    Even food isn't a big savings, as you won't have all the staples to do any real cooking. You can get microwave mealsk and nuke them at the motel just as easily.


    Donna

  5. Default

    We pay $550 for 21 days in a brand new RV including all miles for these trips, full assessory kits (linnen, cooking etc), gps, and wifi. We pick it up at the factory and have to relocate it at the aranged date and place. Taking into account that this deal also includes very cheap tickets from Europe to the USA, this wil defenitly be
    cheaper :)

    We are both 25 years old healthy people so we can stand some cold :)

    Thanks for the practical tips on the winterizing!

    We will probably go for route B indeed and would love some more advice and tips on things we shouldnt miss!

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

    Default The information to help you choose the route.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurens4790 View Post
    We have planned two routes but cant decide which one we should take because of two reasons. First of all, we can not use our sanitary/plumbing facilities in our RV with freezing temperatures, so we want to avoid sleepovers in freezing areas as much as possible. Secondly, although we know route B will be a much more beautiful and scenic drive, we are not sure if this takes up too much of our other interests (city seeing, partying, food hotspots).

    *******

    -Which route would be the best for our interests?
    Are you planning this with good maps, or just electronics? This trip is still some time off, and you would be wise to get hold of good detailed maps such as a Rand McNally road atlas. If you cannot get them locally (I am not familiar with the Hema maps of the US), I suggest you get an atlas from the RTA store on the blue bar at the bottom of this page. An atlas will show you all the roads and routes available to you, especially the scenic routes. You will also see all the other attractions along the route you choose, and the towns/cities through which you could pass. [You can then research all those on the internet.] Good maps are invaluable during the planning stage, and will be essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your gps, especially not in the areas you will be travelling. Gps is likely to show you a forest track as a passable road - which most are not, especially in an RV.

    Lifey.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    This trip is still some time off, and you would be wise to get hold of good detailed maps such as a Rand McNally road atlas.
    Good suggestion! I found a Rand McNally Road Atlas 2016 here in Holland, so will be ordering one of those then.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    You seem to have a good handle on things and with plenty of time to spare, but here are a couple of ideas. Instead of Denver with an RV, I would head to Estes Park, a lovely little town and from where you could explore some of the Bear lake area of Rocky mountain NP, even stay in the Morraine park campground, yep that could be chilly !

    When you head west on I70 you can take a scenic detour over the continental divide at Loveland pass which tops out at almost 12000ft ! Great views at the top.

    In Fruita, close to the Colorado National monument, you will find the James M Robb Colorado State park campground. A nice place to stay the night especially by the riverside.

    On the way to Moab don't go all the way to 191 before turning off. Take UT128 through Castle Valley, it's a great little scenic detour that won't cost you any significant time. Try and stay in the Devils Garden campground in Arches NP.

    When you visit Bryce canyon, drive to the far end first and stop at the viewpoints on the way back up. They will then be all be on your side of the road and you won't have to pull across traffic each time.

    Watchman campground for Zion is lovely, really liked the riverside sites.

    Don't forget to book an Alcatraz tour in San Fran. This is best done in advance and through the National parks website.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Alcatraz.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Don't forget to book an Alcatraz tour in San Fran.
    Consider the night time tour, which is fantastic.

    Lifey

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