Looking for advice...
Three friends and I are leaving the suburbs of Washington, DC on March 1st. We don't have a finishing destination in mind. We have purchased a used conversion van and a used pop-up camper for the trip. We will be taking two vehicles. The first is the conversion van I mentioned above and the other is a '95 Jeep Wrangler which will hopefully be towing a pair of jet skis. We are all interested in extreme sports and are water rats. Our first destination is New Orleans for Mardi Gras. From there we are thinking about heading to Florida for spring break then heading to the south west before the heat gets unbearable. What I am looking for is any advice anybody has for embarking on this type of adventure. We are budgetting about $1000/mo per person but would prefer to not spend that much. We are looking for inexpensive lodging and inexpensive adventures. We have read that Wal*Mart is Camper/RV friendly. Does anybody have any experience sleeping in Wal*Mart parking lots? Thanks in advance for anything you guys can share. Also, any websites from people that have done similar things would be great. I'll be looking for suggestions on destinations to settle down after we are already on our way probably.
The first thing you should do is book a motel room in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I would do that ASAP, as they tend to fill up quickly (I hope you're not too late already). Camping in New Orleans during Mardi Gras isn't the safest or most comfortable of situations.
Ditto Spring Break in Florida (particularly Daytona), though if I had to camp in one of the two places, I would choose Florida over New Orleans.
Nothing gets that uncomfortable
If you have survived summers in Washington DC, I doubt that anywhere in the SW will seem uncomfortable. Instead of WalMart lots we recommend truck stops/travel centers. WalMart is "RV -friendly" and we have, stayed in a few, but truck stops are better in our view.
Campgrounds in New Orleans are in some iffy spots -- but if you are looking for adventure, shouldn't be a problem.
You might consider Spring Break on S. Padre Island in Texas.
Don't camp out in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
New Orleans that bad?
I have read that New Orleans is not always the friendliest of cities, but I didn't realize it was that bad. What about staying on the outskirts or maybe even farther from the city and driving into town for the festivities?
We have looked at S. Padre for spring break, but we have more options in Florida I think. We can go from Panama City to Daytona and Key West all within the month of March and catch all the different spring breaks. If S. Padre is really that much better though, we might re-think.
Thanks for the info. Any other insight you guys have would be great. Any small towns anywhere in the bottom half of the US that we definitely should not miss but might not be well known?
Bad Rap undeserved
There are some very nice places to camp in and around New Orleans. There are also some dicey spots. One thing about New Orleans, is that you can participate in parades and general fun nearly year-round. A parade list is on-line at http://www.nola.com/mardigras/parades/index.ssf?/mardigras/ parades/daycal.html
One of our best road trip experiences was the Jazz Festival (usually last week of April). Plenty of mud, great food and cool jazz.
General craziness abounds on S. Padre Isle. during the break season.
Apalachicola is one our favorite hang-outs.
One of our consultants, Curt Jazwiecki, has been on the pro jet ski circuit for a while. For hot boatin' action, you might want to look at his site: www.jazzmotorsports.com
Have a good time on your trip, but don't throw all caution to the wind. Pace yourself. Mardi Gras is enough to put away the most seasoned party veteran for a solid week of detox and relaxation.