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  1. Default 3mnth loop - LA > Vegas > Calgary > Vancouver > Portland > SF > LA

    Hi all,

    My girlfriend and I have decide to quit our jobs in London (UK) and 'live the dream' by doing a USA road trip!

    Here's the route we have planned so far (3 months):

    LA to Vegas: - Start in LA and drive a muscle car across to Vegas
    Vegas to Banff: - Hire an RV and drive from Vegas all the way up to Banff (and check-in on all the national parks on the way)
    Banff to Vancouver: - Drive west to Vancouver and see the Vancouver Island
    Vancouver to Seattle/Portland: - We've heard good things about these places and the coast
    Portland to SF - Down the coast to SF & Yosemite
    SF to LA - Couldn't go without seeing the Big Sur

    Here's a link to a (very rough) route:

    Roadtrippers Route

    Questions!

    - Is the route long enough/too long for 3 months?
    - We're planning on staying in an RV for 3 months, then maybe staying in some hotels/airbnb's every now and then - does this sound sensible?
    - How much should we plan before coming over? Do we just need to book flights/camper and go for it?
    - What should we budget?
    - Any recommendations on the route, what we should see, change etc.?
    - Any tips, websites, blog posts please forward them our way!

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Lot!

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by roker_lad
    What should we budget?
    The first thing you have to come to grips with is that this trip is going to be fairly expensive. It's almost to the point where "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." So first let's take a look at your major expenses.

    "Start in LA and drive a muscle car across to Vegas" Well, of course that's possible, but you're looking at renting a 'specialty' car (expensive) and doing a one way drop-off (expensive). A quick search gives me a cost of $236 for a two day rental of a Mustang convertible and that's much less than I would have thought!)

    "Hire an RV and drive...for three months" Again, this will be a one way rental with pick-up in Las Vegas and return in Los Angeles. I couldn't even find an RV rental firm willing to quote me a price on-line for either a three month rental OR a one way rental! But a one month 'local', Class C rental from Las Vegas would run you around $4,500 with kit (kitchen ware and bedding) and an estimated mileage. You'll be driving farther, I suspect, than their estimate and you'll also have the drop-off fee, so you should plan on at least $15,000. And that doesn't include gas (petrol) which, while it's cheaper here than you're used to, your RV will burn a ton of - another $1500.

    "Maybe staying in some hotels/airbnb's every now and then" You can get a modest motel room for $50 and up, or rent an entire house (airbnb) for $150. Call it $100 in round numbers. But that's not that much more than what you're going to be paying to park your RV every night with hookups for electricity, water and sewage. You may occasionally be able to 'boondock' on public lands (national forests or BLM) but don't count on that too often, and no you cannot just pull off the road and park wherever you will. Call it $75/night on average for your three months and add another $7,000 to your budget

    I assume you'll also want to eat. Even eating most of your meals from your own larder and RV kitchen, plan on a total budget for two people for three months of around $4,500. And you'll need round trip plane tickets for two, another $2,500. So your grand total so far is pushing $30,000 for the basic necessities. Then there are the extras: Price out the ferries onto and off of Vancouver Island for an RV, as well as the added expense of transportation within major cities where your RV will prove ungainly at best, entrance fees to parks and other attractions, and I'd say you should have £25,000 in hand before you commit to this trip. The rest can all be worked out in due course, but first make sure that your basic premise is sound.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Folks from overseas often believe that it's cheaper to come to the US and rent an RV for sightseeing, than it would be to rent a car and stay in motels. The fact is, it's a lifestyle choice, not a budget choice. Yes, renting an RV would mean you're sleeping in the same bed every night, you can eat what you want pretty well whenever you want (as long as you can find a legal place to pull over and make a meal), and it's very handy to use the onboard potty rather than rely on rest areas, fuel stations and restaurants. However, that convenience comes with a hefty price.

    IF you can find an RV rental place willing to rent one for 3 months, it will cost roughly $1000/week. (Our local place will only rent for a month, then you HAVE to bring it in, and that's what they charge.) Unless you want to bring your own bed and bath linens, and your kitchen necessities, you'll have to pay for a linen package and a cooking package. This will be added to your charges. (Our local place wanted $100 for each package.)

    Then you have to pay to put fuel in the thing -- maybe 10 mpg (if you're lucky). Then you have to pay for your overnight, which can be anywhere from $25 to $85. Sure, you can pull into a truck stop overnight, but you'll have to give them some business, like getting your fuel there, eating in one of their restaurants -- it's only fair.

    Contrast this to renting a car ($250-300/week for a normal sedan, round trip), staying overnight in motels ($50-up), eating in restaurants ($60/day). A car rental place will most likely allow you to rent one for three months, but you may have to agree to bring it in to one of their service areas once a month, or exchange the car at a local dealer once a month. (That's what is required at Enterprise, Alamo and National.)

    Oh, that $236 for two days with a Mustang, may not have included the one-way drop off fee, which could possibly start at $250 and work its way up, depending on demand. Some rental dealerships will not rent a specialty car one way, only a loop.

    If you would choose to go either way, RV or car, you do need to ascertain that it's permissible to take the vehicle into Canada.


    Donna

  4. Default

    Thanks for the feedback guys. Apologies if I sounded like I had considered budget - we absolutely have and so far have budgeted about £15,000 (about $20,000) based on the following:

    Travel:

    Flights - We've found for about £974 return for both of us (roughly $1273)
    RV - $7300 CAD (£4k) (We're now looking to start/end in Vancouver for the weather) for the 3 months - that includes unlimited mileage, bedding, cutlery etc.

    Daily Costs (about $100 a day):

    Fuel - We're budgeting about $50 US a day
    Propane - $4 a day
    Campsites - $12 a day
    Food - $30 a day
    Activities - $10 a day

    The classic car is a bit of a pipe-dream (maybe something we do in the future!) and not 100% essential to the trip.

    Does this seem realistic or have we drastically under budgeted? Would love to know your thoughts!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-20-2016 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Removed quote of entire previous response

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    I can tell you you've severely under budgeted for campsites. It's hard to find any campsites for just $12 a night. In most National Parks, you're going to be paying at least $25 for a site, and if you look for private sites or sites that have electric/water hookups, it's not uncommon for sites to cost $50 or more.

    Food for $30/day for 2 people is basically a "beans and rice" budget. You can probably do it, but you're cooking all of your own meals, being very careful with your grocery costs, and never eating in a restaurant.

    C$7,000 for an RV for 3 months, including unlimited miles? That would be an incredible deal. I would make very certain that you're not either missing some of the fine print, with fees you're not expecting, or make sure you're not getting a "too good to be true" deal where you're are setting yourself up for some big problems.

    You've posted this in the spring section. When do you expect this trip to take place? Spring comes very late to many of the areas you are planning to go (Yosemite, Yellowstone, Banff), so some areas may not yet be accessible or too cold to comfortably visit with an RV.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 08-20-2016 at 03:49 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    Hi. That's quite the epic trip you have going on !

    I think your daily budget is a bit optimistic. You should allow $25 per night for RV sites and your food and activities budget is going to be tough to stick to, you are going to want to eat out and have a treat now and again. It also doesn't allow for the occasional Hotel etc, although I don't see the point in that if you have your room in the RV already paid for. Fuel prices are hard to predict but at $3 per gallon, fifty bucks should average you out at 150 miles per day so you may have a bit of change there.

    For your routing, well you are missing out on some amazing National parks in southern Utah, Zion, Bryce canyon, Capital Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. The latter two are near Moab from where you could head to Yellowstone using 191 past Flaming Gorge Res and through the Grand Tetons. Near Seattle is Olympic NP and Mt Rainier and as you head further south past Crater Lake you could look at staying inland but going through Lassen Nat Volcanic park to Lake Tahoe and on to Yosemite, or you could head over to the coast for the Redwoods National and State parks.

    You will find thousands of options as you continue with your research and you will find the annual National parks pass a budget friendly option at just $80 for entry to all parks, but that does not include camping fees. If you start in Canada I would recommend you head to Cali and do Yellowstone towards the end of your trip as summer comes late. Also note that if you reached Yosemite before mid May to Mid June the Tioga Pass [CA120] over the high ground might still be closed due to winter snow accumulation.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,937

    Default A bit of clarification.

    From what I have read above, and seen on the road in Canada, am I correct in assuming you are renting a camper. Something not much bigger than a VW? I doubt you would get a full RV, as is understood in the US for that price.

    What is the overall length of the vehicle.

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I can tell you you've severely under budgeted for campsites. It's hard to find any campsites for just $12 a night. In most National Parks, you're going to be paying at least $25 for a site, and if you look for private sites or sites that have electric/water hookups, it's not uncommon for sites to cost $50 or more.

    Food for $30/day for 2 people is basically a "beans and rice" budget. You can probably do it, but you're cooking all of your own meals, being very careful with your grocery costs, and never eating in a restaurant.
    Thanks Michael! I think on the camping front we were thinking of spending (for example) every other night on a campsite and slip in some boondocking, but we may still need to adjust our costs just so we're covered. As for cooking our own meals/restaurants - I think we're happy to 'slum it' for a while, after all we're there for the beautiful countryside (again, we may up it slightly so we can afford some luxuries!)

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    From what I have read above, and seen on the road in Canada, am I correct in assuming you are renting a camper. Something not much bigger than a VW? I doubt you would get a full RV, as is understood in the US for that price.

    What is the overall length of the vehicle.

    Lifey
    We've been looking at going with Cruise Canada and one of their truck campers
    which seems like a good balance for us (and a good price!)

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hi. That's quite the epic trip you have going on !

    I think your daily budget is a bit optimistic. You should allow $25 per night for RV sites and your food and activities budget is going to be tough to stick to, you are going to want to eat out and have a treat now and again. It also doesn't allow for the occasional Hotel etc, although I don't see the point in that if you have your room in the RV already paid for. Fuel prices are hard to predict but at $3 per gallon, fifty bucks should average you out at 150 miles per day so you may have a bit of change there.

    For your routing, well you are missing out on some amazing National parks in southern Utah, Zion, Bryce canyon, Capital Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. The latter two are near Moab from where you could head to Yellowstone using 191 past Flaming Gorge Res and through the Grand Tetons. Near Seattle is Olympic NP and Mt Rainier and as you head further south past Crater Lake you could look at staying inland but going through Lassen Nat Volcanic park to Lake Tahoe and on to Yosemite, or you could head over to the coast for the Redwoods National and State parks.

    You will find thousands of options as you continue with your research and you will find the annual National parks pass a budget friendly option at just $80 for entry to all parks, but that does not include camping fees. If you start in Canada I would recommend you head to Cali and do Yellowstone towards the end of your trip as summer comes late. Also note that if you reached Yosemite before mid May to Mid June the Tioga Pass [CA120] over the high ground might still be closed due to winter snow accumulation.
    Amazing advice Dave, thank you. The route is very rough at the moment, and we'll definitely be looking to get the $80 pass and see Utah, Zion, Capital Reef and the others.

    We'll be arriving around late March and heading south from Vancouver and 'chasing the sun'. That way, as we head back north towards the Rocky's, Banff etc, it should be around early-mid June. Originally we were going to start in LA but realised the weather might not be favourable in some of the national parks.

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