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  1. Default Aussie Girls Road tripping the mighty USA - Advice needed

    Hi Everyone,

    My sister and I are planning on coming to the USA (from Australia) late September, most of October this year. We will be picking up an RV in Las Vegas and driving south east. I'll be back later with specific questions about that route, but initially we need some advice as to the best way to manage our time on the West Coast.

    We don't particularly have a desire to see LA, but it would be nice to visit San Francisco, Yosmite National Park, Death Valley,etc and the visit Grand Canyon out of Las Vegas before heading out onto the open road. Coming from Australia we have the ability to fly directly into either LA or San Francisco, but we just can't seem to work out the best itinerary. (We can change our plans to pick up the RV in San Francisco if needed)

    So my question to all of you wonderful people - how would you recommend we spend a max of 6 days visiting the places listed above? I'm thinking picking up the RV from SF and driving from there is the best option? We'd originally expected to do Grand Canyon out of Las Vegas as part of a tourist tour, not sure we want the RV while there...


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd certainly start in San Francisco, spending 2 or 3 days there. (You'll probably want to keep your first day very light to adjust to the jetlag anyway). Pick up the RV when you're ready to leave SF, and head for Yosemite for a night or two. Drive over Tioga Pass to Death Valley, and eventually Vegas.

    Most trips to the Grand Canyon from Vegas go to the West Rim, located on Indian Tribal Lands, instead of going to the National Park. Since you're planning on driving across the country, it would seem to just make a lot more sense to make the Grand Canyon one of your first stops after leaving Vegas.

    I am a little concerned about what your thinking is in terms of using an RV. When you say you don't know if you'd want an RV at the Grand Canyon, and you aren't even sure if you were going to use it for the other National Parks to start your trip, then I don't quite understand why you'd want one at all. RVs are a great lifestyle choice, and they are at their best when you are exploring natural wonders, like the Grand Canyon. Otherwise, they tend to be much more expensive than cars/motels and they are actually quite cumbersome when you're trying to explore urban areas.

  3. Default

    Thanks Michael,

    I probably didn't explain myself very well about the RV. We're planning on using a (small) RV for our trip - We'd initially planned to pick it up as we leave Las Vegas. My little pea brain isn't sure how one parks an RV and keeps it secure when we decide to stay in a hotel (as we plan to do in LV)- hence why we'd thought picking it up on our way out would be easier. But perhaps picking it up as we leave SF is a much better idea (after all if we don't, how are we going to get to LV lol)

    We've done a fair bit of 'google' and 'talk to friends' research into a RV vs Car and hotels and we think an RV with a couple of push bikes would suit us best. We like the idea of the freedom to explore at our own place, sleep wherever and most importantly cook our own food. :D

    But any advice you have to share will be accepted with gratitude!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    A lot of it will depend upon what the rest of your trip is going to look like, and where you'll be focusing your time on your trip. RVs can have some great advantages, they're just not a great option for every trip.

    I will give a bit of a warning about the idea that you can "sleep wherever." While there are some places where you can just park overnight, for the most part, if you want to take advantage of the RV and enjoy yourselves, you're going to need to be staying at campgrounds. If you want a full service campsite (with electric and water service) you can often end up spending nearly as much as a budget motels. That tends to be one of the bigger expenses people tend to overlook when planning out an RV trip.

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


    Another thing about the 'Freedom to explore' in an RV is that to camp in the National parks, which is exactly the places you would want to enjoy it, means having to book campgrounds in advance if you want to secure a spot, although you may be OK travelling Sept into Oct.

    What are the rest of your plans/thoughts ? Doing a round trip in an RV is much cheaper than a one way rental as there would be a big surcharge for dropping it elsewhere, unless you can find a 'One way' special deal such as a relocation. An RV at the Grand canyon ?!? Heck yeah this is exactly the sort of place you should be taking it.

    On thing you should keep in mind is that if you are thinking of RV'ing as a cheap alternative as camping maybe in OZ, you will have to think again. By the time you add all associated costs it will be more expensive than a car and Motels. If it's a Lifestyle choice and you are not too concerned about budget, then go for it !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A few more resources to see if the RV is really your thing.

    Just to follow on from what Michael stated, you can't , like at home, "just park anywhere to sleep". If you have travelled around OZ with something like the Camps book, then you best forget about all that. Nothing like that exists in the US. The only places which could be regarded as anything like that are truck stops, but there you cannot šamp', you can only park and sleep. No BBQ outdoor, not even bringing out the seats and enjoy the meals.

    Campgrounds are what you will need to look for, and as stated, full service camp grounds cost around the same as budget motel. If you are thinking of a 'small'RV, do you mean, a campervan? Because these are few and far between in the US, and the best ones I have seen are restrickted to the sough western states.

    Cheaper campgrounds are mostly on public lands - State forests, National forests, State parks and BLM lands - and these typically do not have any services, other than "long drop"toilets. They are typically a long way from most rtourist attractions and well away from the main routes. I tend not to let that worry me, as I like to wander all over the place, most of the time without a definite destination in mind.

    Before you go much further, I must ask, do you actually have a good sized wall map of the US? Do you have other really good detailed maps to refer to? If not, that is the first thing you should do. Get hold of a good wall size map - most map stores have these, I like the national geographics one best. For more detailed maps, which are generally more difficult to get at home, I suggest you order yourself a Rand McNally road atlast (there's none better) 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 show you so much more than you will ever be able to see within the confines of a small screen.

    On the wall map start marking up the places you have so far picked out you want to visit, and check out the routes between them.... not just the super highways, but see what other options there are. When the atlas arrives you can check to see where the budget camp grounds are (usually shown by a small green triangle), and research will show you where the commercial campgrounds are. You can then start to plan your route, depending on where the campgrounds are.

    At this point it is extremely important to check how often you will be camping out in nature, as in away from cities, and how often you will be going to cities. Checking out the cost of the campgrounds and budget hotels in along the way will give you a good idea if the RV is for you, or if you can do this more economically with a car and budget hotels.

    Most hotels and motels I have stayed in have both a fridge and microwave in the room (I always ask for a room with them) enabling you to cook a basic meal in the room. If you go to an op shop you can often pick up a small electric frypan or grill and use that to cook in the room. One of my favourite ways to eat is to purchase salads in the supermarket and cold cut meats such as ham, chicken, turkey, etc. A piece of fruit or two and you have a healthy meal. You don't have to eat out for every meal just because you are not travelling in a camper or RV.

    As for bicycles - the problem there is that you would have to have permission from the rental company, be it RV or car, for permission to carry them. Not many rental companies will allow you to have a bicycle rack. On the other hand, bicycles are often readily available near the major tourist attractions. You might also like to check out hostels, as they often have these for use or rent, and also organise discounted tours to major attractions. Though hostels charge per person, and not per room, you can often get two dorm beds and all the kitchen facilities (as well as meeting lots of other travellers) for less than a hotel room. Your research will show you where this is the case.

    If I were you, I would first get the maps and atlas, then check as to which route you may want to take, check to see what there is in the way of campgrounds, both public lands and commpercial along the way and how the cost of all those compare with budget hotels. Only after that, decide if the RV/camper is what you really want.

    You might also like to check out Escape Vans. One member from Sydney has used them twice with good reports. Another one to check is Adventures on Wheels.


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