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  1. Default 2.5 month adventure


    Myself and a friend are planning a 77day road trip around the US from the end of Oct-Mid Jan (Not the ideal time of year we know but that's the time that we've got). I'd really appreciate any advice on whether our route sounds feasible/any glaringly obvious mistakes that we've made or advice to make our lives easier. We'd be hiring a camper from San Francisco and return it back there at the end to avoid 1-way hire costs. We're working on an average of 3 nights per place (we'll probably end up doing more in some and less in some) with some extra days of just driving.

    San Francisco - Yosemite
    San Francisco - Chicago (with stops along the way we just don't have a fixed route for this section yet, we're still working out some options)
    Chicago - Detroit
    Detroit - Boston
    Boston - NYC
    NYC - Philadelphia
    Philadelphia - Washington DC
    Washington DC - Nashville (over 2 days, any suggestions for a stop off points would be appreciated)
    Nashville - Memphis
    Memphis - New Orleans
    New Orleans - Houston
    Houston - Austin
    Austin - Phoenix (over 2-3days? again advice for stop off point would be much appreciated)
    Phoenix - Grand canyon
    Grand Canyon - Las Vegas
    Las Vegas - Death Valley
    Death Valley - Sequoia
    Sequoia - San Diego (if time)
    San Diego - LA
    LA - San Francisco.

    This is going to be a budget trip (as budget as we can get) and we are looking at hiring a converted minivan camper rather than a full RV as they work out a similar price to car hire and then try to stay in basic campsites/freedom camp where possible. Even then I know that in the cities it's going to be a pain to have the van but we might look at camping just outside and then taking local transport or if anyone has idea's again they would be much appreciated.

    I used the gov's fuel economy website to estimate average fuel costs, has anyone used this before and if so did you find it accurate?

    I've used google to calculate mileage, again does anyone know if this is accurate? I know that the timings it gives are often wildly inaccurate but in terms of calculating the additional mileage we would need to pay on the van and fuel costs etc we need an estimate of how many miles we would travel. Obviously google only gives a very rough estimate based on putting two cities into the route planner. Does anyone have any experience/advice on how many miles approx to add for local travel/national parks/going off route on this kind of trip (e.g. 10% more, 25% more, 50% more?).

    Any advice on any of the above would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Rough guide.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums, that's quite some adventure !

    With such a basic outline over a long period of time it's impossible to say how much mileage to add until you are further down the road with your planning. You can 'Drop and drag' the blue route line on Google to include detours to places you wish to visit, although you can only do this a certain amount of times so it may be worth creating different maps for different legs of the journey. Once that's done I would add another 10% for driving around National parks and in and out of places. If you are not wandering too far and want a 'Ballpark' figure then add 20%.

    We have a fuel cost calculator which you will find in the blue header below on the top right hand side. You will need an idea of overall mileage, the fuel return of the rental and gas prices. Of course fuel prices can go up or down so you will have to keep an eye on them, but you can check with Gasbuddy

    A rough example. Trip 9000 miles. Vehicle 18mpg = 500 gallons @ $2.50 per gallon = $1250

    Another. 9000 miles. 15mpg = 600 gallons @ $3 per gallon = $1800. I would say a safe[ish] ballpark figure to start with for your trip would be $1500 but you need to check all factors.

    From Yosemite through Southern Utah and Colorado you have a number of National parks, small towns and amazing scenery you could check out. If you look around the RTA site you will find all kinds of planning tools and tips and you can see what others got up to in the 'Field reports' section of the forums. You need good maps to help with your planning and they are essential when travelling so if you haven't any I would start by getting some.

    As you continue with planning we can help you with any specific details that you would like to know about, so enjoy the planning. It's a great part of the adventure !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    For budget, my husband and I always take the higher amount for gas price and the lower mpg, so that we've got some leeway. (Our budget this summer was $3.00/gal at 15mpg, and we never had to pay $3/gal, though we did get down to 14mpg at one point, as a "for instance"). For mileage, we figured out how many miles we'd put on our truck just in going from place to place, then add 25% to that. It's usually been fairly accurate.

    You'll be paying anywhere from $10 up to $35 for a campsite, depending on what you require. That's per night. Occasionally you may get by with staying in a truck stop overnight, but that's for just sleeping - no chairs outside the rig, etc. - and it's polite to buy your fuel there, or have a meal in their restaurant, etc.

    If you're talking Escape Camper Vans, you'll have to ask what their policy is for servicing the vehicle on the road. It's common when you rent a vehicle for more than a month, or plan to put more than 5000 miles on the rig.

    For your national parks, be sure to pick up the America the Beautiful passport at the first park you pull into. Yosemite, Sequoia and Grand Canyon are each $30 parks, so the $80 you'll spend on the pass will more than pay for itself.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Dealing with the camper in big cities.

    In Boston, you would do well to look for a campground near a railway station, as you will not want the vehicle in the downtown area. Boston in particular is difficult to find your way around, and even more difficult to find parking. When you finally do it is very expensive.

    The same goes for NYC and DC. Depending on how long you plan to stay in NYC, you could either find a long term parking garage in NJ, and take a hotel in NY. Or you could park in one of the parking facilities where you can take public transport direct into the city. None of these options are budget friendly.

    For DC, it is the same. Parking is expensive and limited. Public transport is efficient. So look for places which are close to public transport.

    To some extend this also applies to Chicago. You are best off finding a place near public transport, despite the cost, and take the train/bus into the city.


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