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  1. Default Chicago to LA October 2016

    My husband and I are from Australia and will be in the U.S. this October, we want to hire a camper van and drive from Chicago to LA... There are a few stops on the way which we would like to make.
    We will have approx 3 weeks to do the trip. Here are the places we would like to see....

    Chicago
    Nashville
    Memphis
    Dallas
    Houston
    Austin
    New Mexico
    Phoenix
    San Diego
    LA

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated. What should we do in each place, the best camper van hire company, is 3 weeks enough time, is there anywhere else we should see on the way?

    Thank you :)

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

    Default For starters.

    Hi, and Welcoime to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    A few suggestions to start with. See if you can get yourself good maps of the States through which you will be travelling. If these are not available locally (you don't say where you are) I suggest that you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas - probably the most used in North America - from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks.

    Good maps have so ,much detail, from all the roads and routes, including scenic routes and back roads. All the towns and cities along the way, and numerous attractions along the routes, including historic, natural and touristy attractions. Good maps are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. You see so much more than you ever will on a little screen.

    Besides, a lot of satnavs have a notorious reputation for leading people astray.

    Campervans as we know them at home are few and far between in the US. There are a couple of companies who rent them out, one such is in Las Vegas. Other than that it is all large motorhomes, or simple vans converted into simple campers, such as Escape We have heard good reports about them, especially from a member in Sydney - john waters. You might like to check out some of his experiences.

    And here is another of his trips.


    Some things I like to do, which you might find useful. I always have a flag in the rear window of my vehicle to let them know I am not a local. Hopefully they will forgive any small traffic indescretions. Carry small souvenirs, such as fridge magnets, keyrings, pins, pens and postcards to give to those you meet along the way. Even to someone who helps you find your route. It is so appreciated.

    Again, you don't say which State you are in, but if you are a member of RACV, NRMA or similar, be sure to bring your membership with you. It will give you access to tourism information and maps from the AAA anywhere in North America.

    As to what to do in each city, check their tourism page. Probably much closer to your travel dates if you are looking for specific events, such as festivals. If the national parks are on your agenda, you would need to book accommodation very very soon, if you want to stay within the park. Especially for places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

    Lifey

    Edit: Your automobbile club membership may also entitle you to a discount wherever AAA discounts are offered. I simply say that I am a member of an organisation which has a reciprocal arrangement with AAA. Sometimes I get it. Sometimes I don't. But it is always worth asking.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-17-2016 at 04:48 AM. Reason: extra information.

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

    Default Further thoughts.

    If you are planning on going the campervan or motorhome way as a budget option, there are a few things to consider.

    Firstly - the cost. A campground for the night, other than State parks and forests, is likely to cost as much or more than a cheat hotel/motel. Other than the vans, the notorhomes also use much more fuel and have lots of extra costs for the essentials. Many companies have a mile limit, above which you pay a fee for extra miles..

    Secondly it can, and will start to get cold as you get to the higher elevations,in the west and most are not all that well insulated. Most campgrounds limit the hours generators can be run.

    Thirdly, and this applies to all vehicles, whether cars, vans or motorhomes, is the one way drop fee. It can be very expensive to pick up a vehicle in one place and drop it thousands of miles away. I have heard of fees of more than $1K.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-17-2016 at 02:25 PM. Reason: correction

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

    Default

    Lifey gave you an extensive reply, saying almost everything that I would have said. I am going to add this, regarding a "camper van".

    If you are staying mostly in the cities, an RV will be a pain-in-the-neck to park. It will be either too tall or too long for many parking garages. An RV is nice if you are planning to stay around national and state parks, but not in the cities. Honestly, we've run into problems with our pickup truck with similar issues, and it's considered a passenger vehicle: too tall for many parking garages, or too weighty, or so long (almost 21') that we have to park in the back of some parking lots.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Limitations with vehicle size.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    If you are staying mostly in the cities, an RV will be a pain-in-the-neck to park. It will be either too tall or too long for many parking garages.
    Donna is so right. I had forgotten because I try to avoid cities, preferring the beauty of nature the US has to offer. But I too have found the same thing. My vehicle is regarded as a passenger vehicle, though converted to a simple camper in wyhich I can stand up. I too have found that parking garages and even some parking areas where they limit the height of vehicles are out of bounds for me.

    Lifey

  6. Default

    Hello

    Fellow Aussies that will also be doing Chicago to San Francisco in October, also going to Memphis and also route 66 by car. Wish you well and you never know might see an Oz flag on your vehicle

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Flags.

    Hi Rich and Sue, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichnSue View Post
    ... you never know might see an Oz flag on your vehicle
    It has happened to me. Always great to meet someone from home. (I leave in less than 4 weeks, but by October will be thinking about heading home.)

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Thank you Lifemagician, we are so excited. Done a few trips travelling around Australia now this will be something different for us. We're there from 4th Oct to 5th Nov would be happy to catch up with any fellow Aussies whilst there

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

    Default I'll be heading home by then

    By that time I will be heading to Boston from California, spend a week or so with family before flying back BOS > LAX > MEL

    I take it you are aware of the importance of getting hold of good maps before you go and the benefits of taking your RACV, NRMA or similar membership with you

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 04-24-2016 at 11:59 PM. Reason: clarification

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