Flying and then a camping road trip
I am in the DC area and have two weeks vacation coming up end of this month. I am toying with the idea of a TX/NM camping trip, but will take me 3-4 days of driving just to get there, which is a waste of time.
So flight seems to be a better option. Has anyone gone on a similar trip? where they flew into an airport, rented a car and then went camping? I need to figure out how to ship my camping equipment etc. Maybe I can ground ship to a UPS store in the destination city. Any ideas which website gives the best deals for flight+car rentals?
Shipping costs to use outfits that specialize in baggage forwarding can be prohibitive, even if you can do without your equipment for several days and have an address to send it all to. Even UPS ground would charge around $60 for me to ship a 50 pound package from here in Tucson to the east coast. Such figures start to make the $15 or so that the airlines charge for a 50 pound bag seem reasonable, especially given the extra time required to ship the equipment, pick it up, repack it, and ship it home. As far as searching for the best deals, there are several excellent sites that you can use including Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, etc., etc. My general experience has been that it's highly unusual to find a package deal that's any better than what you can do by booking the flight and car separately. And remember, car rental reservations can usually be changed or canceled on 24 hours notice without penalty while cheap airline tickets cannot.
working on it
As it would be, I'm actually working on a way to do the exact same thing right now. I'm leaving next week for a week long trip, and am still trying to figure out if it will make sense to pack up any of my gear.
Right now, I'm really leaning towards simply stopping at a Walmart and just buying cheap gear at my destination. I figure I can buy a new generic tent for $40, and a couple of cheap sleeping bags for $20 each - so almost the same cost as shipping an extra bag. I'll probably bring a basic cooking set, and possibly a camp stove (sans propane of course, although I still want to check with TSA on the legality of that), since those are small enough that I can probably fit in with my other luggage.
Having said that, I've also got a small tent that I may see if I can fit into a bag without taking up too much room. If I could get it back into six of the original box, I'd certainly go that way, but I don't think that's going to be physically possible at this point!
I will say that I'm going to be camping in a tropical climate, so I won't need any serious winter gear, I'm planning to get by without any sort of air mattress, and for this trip I'm expecting to do more eating at restaurants than on a typical trip. So that is playing a role in my decision.
The only other time I've done something like this, was when I flew to a destination and met some friends who were already on the road. In that case, I just purchased a sleeping bag at a Target, but all of the other gear was already in the car.
Not just the weight, but the dimensions, too
Yes, the days when my wife, 2 sons, and I could pack camping gear in large plastic storage bins and 50qt coolers and check 8 pieces of that as luggage for a 2 week fly-n-drive to Montana, with no extra charge, are over.
A year ago I agonized over the then-developing baggage rules as related to our annual ski trip. I was looking at purchasing a hard case for skis/snowboards. Delta had (as I suppose most carriers did and do moreso today) rules concerning the aggregate height x length x width of checked baggage in addition to the 50 lb weight limit. Fortunately, we'd purchased our tickets far enough in advance that we still fell under a fairly obscure "sports equipment" exception which allowed 1 bag per person (and each was allowed just 1 bag to begin with) to be oversized in terms of dimensions (but not weight) so long as it was designated as a "sports equipment" carrier. Perhaps the carrier will allow such for you. That being the case, you can possibly get enough gear into a bin or hardcase or cooler and just pay the fee for a second "standard" piece with clothing, toiletries, etc, and carry on the biggest carryon allowable, plus a bookbag jammed with stuff which is allowed to be carried on board. That's what I do with my Utah ski trips nowadays: My ski clothes, goggles, and helmet (items difficult and expensive to replace) go into a barely "legal" carryon, some regular clothes and business items in my bookbag, and my sole checked bag has other clothes and toiletries.
I also looked into the "baggage forwarding" services and was aghast at their charges. Perhaps that service industry has matured somewhat and is now more reasonably priced. Until then, it's not for me.
I'm looking forward to your RoadTrip report and your excellent images.
Check with Greyhound for shipping costs. You may be able to time it so you will be able to both put the stuff on the bus and take it off at the other end.
I have booked a flight to Tuscon, AZ and booked an economy car. I am flying on the 20th and will be back on the 1st.
I have decided to check in additional baggage (seems to be cheaper and more efficient). That will cost me $50 extra (2 pieces). Now, I am just trying to figure out how to pack efficiently and take all my camping gear. Am feeling a bit nervous as this is the first time I am going camping without my awesome car :).
Will update as soon as I fill out all the blanks.
Ideas for a trunk for the camping gear
Any suggestions on a trunk/plastic container that I can use to pack my camping gear? This seems to be promising, but a bit pricey.
Any cheap alternatives?
Just a plastic box
Wow, that looks like a cool box -- but I agree for a trunk location that would be a bit extreme. I just use one of those larger cargo plastic boxes (I really need to the write the trunk-packing-article I keep threatening to write) -- let's see it's about 42" long by 30" by 24" and it holds all of my gear.
Looking forward to seeing your trip photos this year!
I was contacted by a baggage forwarding service this year -- another phone call -- I'm behind on -- maybe there's something there that will work for future trips.
My road trip report
I am back from my fly/drive camping trip to the southwest. This was absolutely the worst trip I ever took.
I had two checked baggage pieces on my flight to Tucson. I wasn't charged any excess baggage fee. So that turned out to be good. I went to the following places in the same order:
a) Saguaro NP
b) Organ Pipe cactus NM
c) Anza borrego SP
d) Joshua Tree NP
It was extremely cold at night. In Saguaro, the temps were in the mid 20s. Brr. My highest temp at night (in my entire trip) was 40. After spending so many nights out in the cold, I think my blood has become thicker!
I was racially profiled and harassed out of the Organ Pipe park. Every time I would stop to take pictures, Border patrol would show up and treated me like a criminal. Orders would be barked at me to stand in front of them, take my hands out of my pockets etc etc. and they would run checks on me. Then they would say that taking pics is ok and I am free to go. I had done nothing illegal and would just be harassed. I was planning to spend 3 nights there but left after one night. Rest of my trip was completely spoiled by this experience. In Anza borrego and Joshua tree, the ones I visited after, I was always looking over my shoulder when taking pics.
The more I travel in this country, the more I realize that I will be an unwelcome second class resident. People are pretty bad here.
All in all, I found that fly/camping trip is doable. But probably won't do this for a very long time. I am processing my pics, but not many pics are good. Oh well.
Update: Link to pics
Just been processing a few pics from the trip. Here are the links:
There are just a few more pics to be processed and I should be done fairly soon.