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  1. Default East-Coast - Vancouver June/July 2007

    during my research for our roadtrip I came on this great site.
    Our road trip seems to get a bit complicated and I would be happy to get some advice etc.

    We are a german family of two adults and 6 children from 10 to 18.
    We have to go via Casper,Wy. to pick up one of our children and proceed to Vancouver to leave another behind.

    We are thinking of starting at the East-Coast, because airfares are cheaper to get there( about 150$ each). As we have friends in Toronto, we thought of starting there.Will mid of June to end of July be enough time for this distance?

    If time is too short, we thought of starting near Casper (the nearest,I think, would be Denver ) and going to Vancouver.
    Or even thought about a round trip Denver-Casper-Vancouver-Denver.
    If you have another suggestion for the roundtrip I would be happy to hear about it.

    All of us want to see Yellowstone. As everything will be new and eksiting (sorry, my eks does not work) and there is such a lot to see we will think about the eksact route when the following questions are solved:
    Will mid of June to end of July be enough time for this distance?

    I´ve read (in other threads)about special family rates in motels. We´ll only need three Queen Size beds, because the kids are used to sleep together. Will there be any problems with the manager? (I´m asking, because we have often come across this:You are eight people, you need eight beds, you pay for eight beds. Even if three to for beds are unused the necst morning)
    If our car will be big enough, we´ll be able to take camping gear.

    That leads to our biggest question: Transport.
    We cannot afford a Motorhome because it has to be quite big (and therefor will be too ekspensive).
    That leaves us with buying/renting a car which seats7- 8. Plus luggage. Which won´t be much, but in the end....
    Would I (German) be allowed to buy a car ?
    What kind of car would you suggest? Sorry, but I really don´t know anything about the kind of cars you have in America.

    What about the Insurance? Does it depend on the number of people being transported in the car?
    I do hope that my( german) english is understandable and there are not too many mistakes..
    I´m looking forward to your ideas and suggestions.
    Regards from hilpi
    Last edited by Mass Tim; 10-18-2006 at 03:47 AM. Reason: Added whitespace

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    A month-and-a-half is plenty of time to make this trip.

    Despite what may be said about Americans and our well-documented preference for land yachts, you will be hard-pressed to find one that will seat eight comfortably AND also carry gear for those eight people.

    This search shows many threads where people have debated renting or buying a car for their trips. Insurance options are also discussed.

    Make it a point to see Yellowstone. While the time of year you have planned for is generally the busiest there, it is definitely worth seeing, crowds or not.

  3. Default Rooms and camping

    Hello hilpi

    It is possible to get a variety of vehicles that seat 8 people -- but they are not the most common. For example, I have a Toyota Sequoia SUV which seats 8 (with seatbelts for all). Other large SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) can seat this number of people, such as the Chevy Suburban, and Ford Expedition. Some vans will also seat this many, particularly the extended passenger vans, as will some of the larger Recreational Vehicles (RVs).

    I'm not sure what it would take to buy a vehicle for someone from overseas, but there are several threads on this board discussing that, you might want to read through. A couple of notes on this though -- in the US (as in many other places) passengers are required to wear sealt belts in the car. So make sure the vehicle you are considering has enough for everyone. You will need to get insurance on the vehicle in both cases if you rent or buy one. Its typically priced per vehicle -- and you might check with your local insurance broker where you live if they offer coverage in the US as an option for the limited time you would be driving in the US.

    For staying or camping -- I suspect you would be better off getting 2 hotel rooms with either 2 "queen sized" beds in each room, or one with a single queen bed in it. The 2 queen sized beds is a standard set up in US hotel rooms, and given some warning the hotel or motel can set up adjoining rooms (two rooms next to each other, usually with a connecting door -- the connecting door needs to be opened by a key from both sides, but if its available it opens up both rooms to each other). I've seen hotels which move in additional "rollaway beds" but those are typically not very large.

    If you want to camp, you can save significant amounts -- but you'll need to carry basic camping equipment in the car -- tent(s), sleeping bags, pads, etc. With 8 people in the car this could be challenging from a storage volume standpoint. Your options on this would be to add some additional storage -- either on the roof top of the vehicle (depends upon the vehicle as to what is achievable here), or renting a small travel trailer. You can get some relatively inexpensive soft storage bags for the roof of a vehicle -- these are soft sided waterproof bags which strap onto the top of a vehicle and allow you to put things like tents, sleeping bags, pads, etc on the roof. They are quite a bit less expensive than hard storage containers, but aren't as durable or aerodynamic. Depending on the vehicle, you might be able to fit up to 2 of these storage bags on the top of the vheicle, and might give you up to a cubic meter of storage. (I do encourage putting light things on top of any vehicle just from making the vehicle more stable in emergency maneuvers -- you don't want to increase the chance of a rollover by loading the roof with heavy items).

    You can rent small travel trailers from a variety of places in the US -- U-Haul and Ryder Rents are some of the largest. You'd only need a small enclosed trailer to load in sleeping bags, clothes, and the like. But you'll have to maneuver with this trailer behind the car, which may be an issue parking the car in a cap site. However, if you are comfortable/ familiar with unhooking/ rehooking the trailer, with 8 people you can just move the trailer by hand after unhooking it from the car.

    FYI -- I support a local Boy Scout Troop and sometimes carry up to 8 in my SUV on camping trips involving 3-4 hours drive time each way, towing a trailer with all the camping gear for the troop (up to 20+ boys and adults). So I know its doable.

  4. Default

    Good Morning Mass Tim and Larrison,
    thank you for your encouraging reply - it is very reassuring to at least have enough time for the trip. What do you think would be the best route to take with the kids? I don´t have eksact (sorry-still-non-working-eks) road maps yet, but in my Atlas it looks shorter to go via Detroit. On the other hand-Ontario looks very interesting ,too.
    I tried the link ´searches` but I´m sorry - somehow it does not work.
    Larrison, do you think an SVU is absolutely necessary? Or would something like an old VW Bus would do instead? The trailer seems to be a very good idea to me. It means, we could do both, camping and motel. Would it be possible to get a one-way-rent?
    As we have friends and relatives in Toronto and Vancouver buying and selling a car seems to be the best option.
    Renting one way sounds really ekspensive .
    I´m very happy to have found people with this knowledge-I don´t want this trip ending up in chaos for the kids and us. There is such a lot to see and we do need a good frame for it to be able to enjoy it all. Thank you again for your help. Regards from hilpi

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Variables

    Your transportation situation is really tough, and I really don't know of a perfect option for you.

    Buying would certainly have some advantages. You'd really be sure everything could fit, and you could purchase a small trailer to tow behind without any problems. However there are also some significant disadvantages to buying. There is a very large upfront cost - and no guarentee that you'll get a fair price when you go to resell the vehicle later. Insurance, Taxes, and Licensing can all ad lots of money to your costs, and can be difficult to deal with when you don't have a North American Address. Most importantly, when you purchase a vehicle, you are responsible for all of the repairs and maintenance, which makes it more important to buy a reliable vehicle, like a modern SUV or Full Sized Van. I would not recommend a VW Bus for that reason.

    If you rent one-way, I would recommend flying into Toronto. I suspect you'd have a difficult time finding anyone who will allow you to rent in the US and return the car in Canada, or vice versa. Even International border crossings can be a difficult thing in a rental car, but I think you'd be a little more likely to find a rental company that will allow cross border travel in Canada than the US. The downside of couse is that one way rentals can be very expensive, and you most likely wouldn't be able to tow a trailer, so luggage could become problematic.

    The cheapest rental option would probably be doing a Denver based round trip. Your flying costs would increase, and you'd have to make sure you can take the vehicle into Canada, but you wouldn't have to worry about one way drop fees. While renting any full sized truck or van is going to be expensive, you wouldn't have to worry about repairs, reliability, or the other hassles of dealing with a purchased vehicle.

    One other option might be to rent 2 cars. With only two drivers, you'd probably have to keep your driving days shorter, and the adults would never get to ride together, but I'd say it is very likely that the rental cost of 2 mid-sized cars would be significantly cheaper than the cost to rent one large van or SUV.

    Honestly, I really don't know what option would work best. But I'd probably start by at least seeing what rental costs are and if you can afford them. While purchasing a car might seem cheaper, once you actually figure the costs and red tape associated with buying a car, you might find that it really is cheaper to rent.

  6. Default Vehicles and trailers

    Hello hilipi

    Routes -- There are a number of routes which you could take. There are internet mapping sites at or or at the Yahoo Maps site which you can use to look at potential routes. Most of these zoom in or out so you can look at different options. From a quick look at one, it looks like the route through Detroit and west on I-94 is the fastest -- but even so, that's over 2700 miles (4500 km) so you're talking some serious miles to travel. The US interstate highway system is typically very good, similar to the autobauns in quality, so driving can be rapid for long distances. But it looks like it would be at least 4-5 days to do this route just driving straight through. *Grins* That's what road trips are for -- taking some extra time to explore things, and it looks like you have enough time to enjoy the trip. Depending upon what you and your family like, or are interested in seeing, or where you might want to visit, you have numerous options.

    Vehicles -- No, I don't think a SUV is absolutely necessary. I talked about that as they are very common, and one of several options. You might also look at some of the larger "mini-vans" or "Family vans" which are available, or a larger RV, or even a used or rental passenger van. I've ridden or driven all of the above, and they are all available on the market or through rental agencies. You really do have an advantage if you have family in Canada which can help you buy the vehicle and then sell it at the end since that removes a lot of the hassle and time constraints in the purchase & sell option. Particularly if you can arrange for them to locate or buy the vehicle as a native, and then either resell it to you or "loan" it to you for the trip.

    I think a used VW bus would work (its one of a number of different makes of family vans available on the market). My concern for a VW bus is its ability to tow a trailer long distances -- the VW buses I've driven have not been known for their power. Other mini vans can seat up to 8 people, and have more power. For example, a Toyota Sienna mini-van can seat 8, has a 215 horsepower V-6 engine, and can tow a trailer. (This is from a description of a 2006 new minivan, so you'd have to check specifics on other years and manufacturers).

    There are also a number of "full sized vans" available, which can seat up to 12 or 15 people, and which may have engines of significant size (up to 6.0 Liter Diesels!) . These are made by Ford, Chevy (or GM) or Dodge but are not as common as SUVs or mini-vans. You'll need to check to see what is availble on the market where you want to start and what typical prices are.

    You might want to look through one of the internet car sites and see what is available in the areas you would be looking to buy or rent a vehicle, and check out the prices of a used vehicle. Most newspapers have a web site which includes classified ads for used autos or vans, or you can look at sites like (as an example). All the major rental companies have web sites as well for vehicles and costs. Check out what is available, and what it might cost.

    The major issue I can think for a trailer is you'd have to get a vehicle equipped with a trailer hitch. Most SUVs have them, but for other vehicles you can typically have one installed for around $100-200 and a few hours of work. You should check, or have your relatives check who in the area does this work (U-Haul Rentals does in my area, among others), and what vehicles they keep standard parts on hand for. You can get trailer hitches for just about any vehicle -- I had a trailer hitch put on a Lexus GS300 (not a car typically seen with a trailer hitch), but that was a special order requiring about 3 days lead time for the part to come in.

    You can get one way rentals of a trailer from a number of companies -- U-Haul Rentals and Ryder Rentals are the two big ones I believe. There are others, but I'm probably just not aware of them.

    If you want to talk more about this, there are folks on the board with much more experience than I on different things including specific routes, attractions/ places to visit, or even camping equipment and places to stay.

  7. Default

    Hello Larrison and Midwest Michael,you´re right, it does sound complicated. But thanks to your contributions it does not sound as if things cannot be solved.
    Larrison:Particularly if you can arrange for them to locate or buy the vehicle as a native, and then either resell it to you or "loan" it to you for the trip.
    This seems to be the best idea.
    I´ve read in other threads that there are people who want there cars transferred from East-to-West or else and it might be the best solution "insurancewhise" if we could arrange it looking like a transfer. Any eksperience (by the way:my eks will never work again)there ?
    As for the size: We´re driving a VW Bus here and although it always looks weird, we always manage to fit everything in and on the roof, when travelling.The children don´t mind.They think it´s "gemutlich".
    So we would not need a trailer at all, if we could manage to buy van/bus.
    Renting two midsize cars would be a good option but for sure half the fun.
    And the more information I gather the more I really want to start in Toronto and drive across America and Canada. What a trip! Sorry I get carried away...
    So, Denver will be still an option, but we think, we´ll concentrate on Toronto-Vancouver.
    Thank you for the map-links. I´ll try them.
    As for speed-I´ve done New York- Chicago with the allowed 45 to 50 mph (and everybody else at the same speed)and enjoyed every minute. I was able to notice things. Here you have to look constantly at the road before and behind you - because everybody else is having a race.

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