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  1. Default Planned trip through the deep south in an rv in august

    Hi All.

    My wife and I along with our 2 youngish kids are planning a road trip in a hired RV. I was hoping some of you lovely people may be able to help me out with a few practical questions.

    Are there laybys you can park up in overnight? Over in the UK truck drivers have set hours they can drive and all the major roads and freeways have places for them to pull over. i was hoping that we could do the same and save money on RV parks. I have heard that you can park in shopping malls and wall mart carparks. Can we do this and how safe is that?

    How many miles do you get from the tank of a C25 standard motor home?

    How long can you go without having to an RV park to change/refil the water etc. I have seen that these RVs come with generators. I assume these are for lighting/ac when you are not hooked up. Are there any hire companys that have solar power for these things?

    We are coming over for the total eclipse this year and would like to see it in the smokey mountains. We are flying in/out of Atlanta and want to go down to New Orleans. Are there any recommendations on routes to take, places to see etc?

    My final question is with regards to dos and donts. Im afraid that all i know about the states is what the media tell me, which over here is either mom's apple pie and thanksgiving or meth and semi automatic weaponry. Oh, and Burt Reynolds in a trans am (which is why ive wanted to do this trip since i was 7). I have travelled fairly extensively in other parts of the world and am pretty clued up on how to stay safe but all local knowledge is gratefully received.

    Thank you in advance.
    Chris

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default Some RV info.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    You can't just pull up in a Lay-by and sleep in your RV the night unless stated otherwise. There are truck stops and some Walmart's etc have allowed overnight parking but it's by permission of the manager on a one to one basis. The thing is [in my opinion] it's not going to be a whole lot of fun, you can't set up camp, get out the table and chairs and light the BBQ and the Kids won't be able to let off steam running around, it's purely somewhere to rest. Whereas you can get good value State park and private campgrounds with the amenities and generally in nice surroundings, for me that's surely worth a few extra dollars each night.

    Water will depend on how sparingly you use it, we [4 adults] have gone a couple of days without topping up and emptying out with no problem, but am not sure how far we could have stretched it. You can use dump stations where you are not a guest in many places but a charge is normally made.

    Generators are for use when not hooked up and are charged at an hourly rate for usage. You should only need it on briefly at peak times if you are using extra power like the microwave etc as the 'house' battery is recharged while driving and can run lighting for a while. There are usually quiet hours so that you do not disturb others with noise from it. It operates off the vehicle fuel tank and will not operate if you are under a qtr of a tank to ensure you don't run out of fuel.

    Figure on a fuel return of 9mpg on the RV, I can't remember the size of tank but it usually tells you on the rental website. Don't let it run too low though because they guzzle it quick and as said it will not operate the generator if it runs low.

    I've not experienced anything other than kindness and helpfulness when travelling in the States, but just like anywhere on the planet, you have your bad neighbourhoods/areas. As a tourist you normally have to go out of your way to find trouble and the simple thing to do is use your natural instincts as you would at home and if some place don't feel quite right, it usually isn't so just move on.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,941

    Default To Answer Some of Your Questions

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Since I am not, nor have I ever been, an RVer, I'll leave detailed responses on gas mileage (not great) and tank flushing/refilling duty cycles to others. What I can tell you is that no, it is not typically legal for you to simply park in a layby (called Rest Areas over here) and 'camp' for the night. That's partly due to safety concerns as it is quite easy for someone to break in, rob you, and be dozens of miles away in just a few minutes. You can park in some Walmart parking lots overnight, but only with the permission of the individual store and only if you do not make it obvious that you're camped (no lawn chairs, no pop-up or pull-out portions of the RV extended, no outdoor cooking, no generators running or solar arrays deployed, etc.).

    As a general rule-of-thumb, your best (cheapest and usually available) camping options are in state parks. National park RV spaces are reserved months in advance. There are commercial RV 'campgrounds', but these tend to be more glorified parking lots than quiet camping experiences.

    On a loop trip that is basically Atlanta - Great Smoky Mountains - New Orleans - Atlanta, some of the sights and sites that you should be considering include Nashville, the Natchez Trace Parkway, Vicksburg and/or Natchez (plantations), and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are of course numerous other attractions in that area, but we'd need to know a bit about your interests to know which ones to recommend. One other thing you should know, for your own peace of mind, is that we have nothing here comparable to your 'B' roads. If a highway is on the map and carries an Interstate, US or state designated number, it will be more than adequate to handle your RV and, in fact, let two of them pass each other in opposite directions without much difficulty at all.

    AZBuck

  4. #4

    Default "Dry camping" or "boondocking" in the Deep South, in August, other RV musings

    Overnighting in an RV without "hookups", meaning without electric, water, and sewer connections is generally referred to as dry camping or boondocking. As a lifelong resident of North Carolina and having worked in Mississippi and East Texas during the summers a few decades ago, I can assure you that dry camping/boondocking without running the generator (gennie) in order to power the air conditioning can be somewhere between brutal and near-fatal. It's not the least bit uncommon for temperatures to remain in the high 80s to low 90s all night long. With humidity in the 70-80% or greater range, it can be next to impossible to get a good night's sleep, particularly if you're not accustomed to heat like that. I grew up in a home without a/c until around age 13 and my schools were never air conditioned, nor were our cars, but at age 61 I now have no idea how we managed. So, if as Donna suggests the RV rental firm charges for gennie use by the hour, it becomes of interest to contemplate how much that might cost vs a campground with hookups, as well as pondering where you may overnight which will allow overnight gennie operation (some state park and other campgrounds require gennies to be turned off from, say, 10:00pm to 7:00 or 8:00 am). I frankly cannot imagine camping in the New Orleans area without a/c. I overnighted in a New Orleans hotel for one night in August 2012 and it was 105 deg F when we checked in at 6:00 pm and it was still 96 deg F when we retired for the night at 2:00 am the next morning.

    I doubt there are any RV rental companies which offer solar panels on their units because that's another system requiring maintenance and repair and subject to failure. Solar on RVs used primarily in the South is close to useless, anyway, since most campgrounds are shaded--at least the campgrounds where you'd choose to overnight will be shaded. See the above regarding oppressive heat. Since the camper's batteries cannot power the a/c whatsoever, battery recharge really only keeps interior lights on and perhaps the refrigerator and a microwave, and not for long, at that.

    I assume the C25 unit you refer to is a Class C motorhome 25' in length. That's a small-ish Class C so Donna's estimate of 9 mpg is probably pretty good. But trying to run 75 mph with the a/c running wide open into a headwind might see your mileage drop considerably. In the mountains or during higher speed segments, you may see only 6-7 mpg. With that range of mpgs, you need only to determine tank size to determine range between fuel stops. I'd consider the last 1/3 of the tank is the reserve.

    As to dos and don'ts, I'd say the "rules" are pretty much universal. Being friendly, polite, respectful, and open will almost always bring you that same consideration in return, whether in the Deep South, the Maine North Woods, Texas, Montana, or California. August is a bit early for Thanksgiving, but you surely may see evidence of apple pie, meth, semi-automatic weapons, and Burt Reynolds in a Trans-Am. And you're about as likely to see any or all of the above in any place outside of the major coastal cities along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

    Last comment: It's a LONG way from the Smokies to New Orleans. If you were to ponder staying more in the NC/SC/GA/TN vicinity, you may find some much cooler (temperature-wise) attractions at higher elevations in the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains such that the kids and yourselves can be out and about during the daytime without suffering from the heat, as well as being places where neither electric hookups nor the gennie is needed to run the a/c at night. Did I mention it gets hot in the Deep South during August?

    Safe and enjoyable travels!

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,159

    Default Boondocking.

    For years now I have spent a good proportion of my nights at truck stops, and an occasional one in a shopping mall car park. I have never felt quite safe in the shopping malls. It makes for restless nights. Truck stops however are a different story. They are well lit, have people coming/going all night, and many have extra all night security roaming the grounds. Where no extra security is employed the local constabulary often do regular rounds through thre parking lots.

    Many of the larger truck stops (which are not necessarily in the area you will be visiting), have areas marked out especially for RVs. Often these are quite large, and slides are permitted. Outdoor cooking and generators are forbidden. I prefer truck stops, have always felt safe, and have all the facilities right nearby in airconditioned buildings.

    There are some rest areas which have overnight security, and which allow overnight parking. These are mostly in FL, and some in MS along I-55.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,471

    Default

    I will concur with everything that SWDave, AZBuck, and Lifey have said about rest areas, truck stops, RV fuel mileage, and overnights without air conditioners. Commercial RV parks will have the electrical hookup to allow you to run that AC, a place to dump the grey (dish/shower/bath) and black (toilet) water tanks, fresh water for your tanks, and most times, some sort of satellite building that will have shower facilities with a larger hot water tank than your rig may have. They will cost a bit more than the state park and national forest campgrounds, but they may be worth it to you to pull in every few nights or so.

    Truck stops are generally safe, but they will be a bit noisy as the trucks will run all night. Flying J/Pilot Travel Centers are very RV-friendly as a general rule, as long as they are not their smaller stations. It's usually polite to buy something there -- your meal, a tank of fuel -- as you are requesting to stay.

    Rest areas, as has been pointed out, are not for overnights as a general rule. Signs may be posted, "no overnight parking", "four hour parking only", or similar. In our travels, we've only seen a state or two where there is overnight security.


    Donna

  7. Default

    Thank you all for the help. I have no idea how to add another comment to this without replying to just one person. Is it better to book ahead for rv parks in august or is there usually space if you just turn up. It seems state forests seem to be quite easy to do. We would like to keep as free as possible and make the trip up as we go along, but I appreciate august is holiday season and there will be an eclipse so we may have to have some kind of schedule.
    Chris
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-19-2017 at 12:06 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,159

    Default It's easy, really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doov View Post
    I have no idea how to add another comment to this without replying to just one person.
    Chris, if you hit REPLY at the bottom of the post, instead of reply with quote, you will not get the quote up, and you can then say what you like. Respond to all replies or just to one. If you like you can start with the name of the person to whom you are replying.

    You can also hit reply to thread at the top of your thread, to get the same effect. It also helps if you then go on and hit advanced. It gives you much more room to type, and the ability to preview your post and give it a title.

    Lifey

  9. Default

    Thank you. I'm new to forums and any advice is welcome

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default

    Is it better to book ahead for rv parks in august or is there usually space if you just turn up.
    I prefer to book in advance when visiting a major attraction such as a National park but others 'wing it' and it usually works out ok. I guess it depend on what you are most comfortable with. If you want the freedom to roam you could research sites that appeal to you in the areas you are staying, make a note of the contact details and then call ahead while on the road to save the possibility of wasted miles and time.

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