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  1. Default RV road trip from California to Florida

    Hey all,

    We are planning a road trip from San Francisco to Orlando in an RV (fly back for return trip). We have 2 weeks to cover the distance and would like to make several pit stops and have fun along the way. We have never done this. By that we have never gone anywhere in an RV nor have we gone on a road trip that long. I am looking forward to suggestions and advice from this forum for all my planning. Below are some of the questions I have to begin with.

    1. Where can I rent one-way RVs (rent in CA return in FL) for the best possible rate?
    2. What kind of RV should I rent? We are 2 adults and 2 kids (9 and 11)
    3. What route should we take to have most fun?
    4. Where all should I stop and what kind of activities can we do? (We like national parks, golf and water)
    5. Where do I stay? (RV parks? KOA?)
    6. What should I worry about? What precautions should I take? How do I prepare?

    I will probably have more questions. Any other ideas, thoughts, experiences you can share with me is greatly appreciated. If there are other similar discussions, please post the links so I can read them.

    Thanks in Advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default One by One

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    1) There are only a few nation-wide RV rental firms that will be able to accommodate you. The two largest are Cruise America and El Monte. Start with those two and make sure that they have depots in both the San Francisco and Orlando areas. But under no circumstances expect this to be anything but expensive.

    2) That's entirely up to you and what you and your wallet are comfortable with. If you'd like a bit of privacy on occasion but don't want to 'upgrade' the RV, consider bringing along a small tent or two and letting the kids rough it if the weather's nice.

    3) Besides being expensive to rent, RVs are expensive to push down the road, with gas mileage approaching or even hovering in the single digits. So you're going to want a relatively short route and, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively slow one. Remember that doubling your speed (say from 40 to near 80) in a typically boxy RV will increase the gas required to overcome air resistance (the main force you'll be fighting) by a factor of four. So something very much like I-5/CA-58/I-40/US-287/I-20/US-49/US-98/I-10/I-75 by way of Bakersfield, Flagstaff. Amarillo, Dallas, Jackson and Mobile should serve as the backbone of your trip. You could probably drive that in about seven comfortable days. From that basic route you can then add detours, side trips and back roads as time allows and your interests dictate.

    4) You should probably make as much use of the national and state park systems as you can. Some of the many possibilities include the Mojave National Preserve, Grand Canyon National Park (NP) (and several smaller national monuments (NM) in that area), Petrified Forest NP, Petroglyph NM, Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Golf you can find almost anywhere (even here in the desert southwest), but water will be hard to come by until you get into the South and particularly along the Gulf of Mexico and Florida's Atlantic coast.

    5) KOA and similar 'campgrounds' would be my last choice. State parks are a better deal and usually offer far more scenic and enjoyable surroundings. National forests are another resource to keep in mind if you end up with a smaller RV.

    6) First things first. Start doing your research on whom you're going to rent from. Then ask them to give you a walk-around of an RV that's the size you'll be using. They typically do this in detail when you pick up the vehicle, but learning early can't hurt. Once you know what you'll be driving, start getting serious about your route and how much you can fit into whatever time you'll have left after accounting for driving, fuel/food/rest stops, getting set up each evening and packed up every morning. Then you can start to apportion your time and make reservations where you'll be wanting to stop each evening.

    That's not all you'll need to know or will have to attend to, but it's at least an overview of the major items. Of course as you progress with your planning, we'll be here to answer further questions.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As Buck touched on, this will not be a budget friendly trip and will cost more than a car and Motels, but if it's just the Lifestyle you want in amongst nature rather than a city, it can be a great family adventure. To be perfectly honest I think you would be much better off creating a loop trip from San Francisco like this one here and 'lose' the one way drop off fee and flight costs. If you are set on going across country you could check Cruise Americas 'Hot deals' once in a while to see if any of their fleet need relocating, although a lot go in and out of Phoenix.

    As for a rental with young kids, a 25 foot class 'C' should be big enough for you (C25) and be more nimble than the C30.

  4. Default

    I strongly agree with the 25 foot recommendation.

    In my experience, the shorter class C RVs (25) ride more comfortably than a 32 foot one. It is also MUCH easier to maneuver a shorter RV in parking lots and other tight places. That will make a difference for a novice RV driver on such a long trip. Also, many older State Parks have an RV size limit of 30 or 32 feet.

    Allow several HOURS to pick up your RV, especially if there are other renters in line ahead of you. The orientation is extremely important, so ask plenty of questions so you don't feel helpless on the road.

    Cruise America has some great orientation resources including multiple videos. I highly suggest you look them over even if you go with another company. It will make your orientation and walkthrough much more informative. Right now, you don't even know what you don't know!
    Last edited by travelingman; 07-09-2017 at 07:12 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A couple of ideas

    I've driven a variety of different RV vehicles. While I agree that the 25-foot RV will enable you to park in more places, there is no question that some of the longer Class A RV's are better engineered and I would recommend looking those options as well. It takes a day or so to get used to how a Class A handles a road, but I can tell you it is MUCH easier to parallel parkl a 38-foot Class A than it is to park a 25-foot Class C.

    Generally there are more sleeping possibilities in Class C's but for my money I would choose the Class A style.

    And if you read nothing else, -- read this article originally penned by Mark Helmlinger that offers a checklist you should have with you when you pick up your RV.


  6. Default

    Cruise America only rents Class C while El Monte rents both A and C.

    Class A is way more expensive, but you DO get what you pay for. Class C is a bumpy ride in a truck. Class A has air suspension and is smooth sailing. Class A are often long but more and more are being built in the 30 foot range. If you have lots of money, consider the class A. If funds are tight then you'll have to settle for a Class C.

    Both Cruise America and El Monte offer reduced rates from time to time but CAs are much more generous. I have never paid more than $49 per day for a rental. I took a trip down the PCH for $4 per day. That is not a misprint. 95% discount on that one! But to snag these one-way specials you have to be flexible and act quick when they are posted. 50% to 75% discounts are much more common.

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