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  1. #1
    toure Guest

    Default cross country camping?

    just a quick question, driving from new york to la for the month of november, will it be too cold to camp on this trip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default depends

    Sure, you can camp in November. But whether you'd want to depends upon a few different things.

    Are you ready for cold weather camping? Most people's camping gear is great for summer camping, but is not very comfortable once the temperature dips below 40 degrees. If you've got a good cold weather sleeping bag, a good sleeping mat, and you don't mind spending time outside in the cold, you can keep camping all winter long.

    What part of November are you going? In many parts of the country November starts out as autumn, but ends as a winter with snow on the ground possible in many areas.

    What route are you taking? Obviously, if you plan to take a more southernly route you're more likely to find warm weather than if you take a more direct route through middle america. Just remember, in many areas even if you are to the south it gets much colder at night this time of year. So even if its a comfortable 60 degrees or so during the day, its still quite possible to dip to near or below freezing.

    Personally, I've got cold weather camping gear, and I probably wouldn't plan to camp every night this time of year. I'd plan to spend some time in motels, because I can only spend a few nights in the cold before I want a nice heated place to streatch out in.

  3. Default Not just cold and snow...

    November can be a rainy month too -- and that's even worse than just cold. It's no fun to camp in a constant rain. I think for a November trip, I'd keep my options open. Take some basic camping gear along, but be ready to beat it to a motel when things aren't nice! That way when you find days and places that are pleasant, you can camp, but you won't HAVE to. One suggestion -- Big Bend Natl Park in Texas is a great place to explore and camp in November. Bob

  4. #4
    toure Guest


    thanks for the replys and suggestions, one further question if you dont mind, i was thinking of maybe renting a 7 seater ford dodge type deal instead of a car and just sleeping in that, its about $1000 more expensive initailly but i'm sure we'd save that not staying in hotels and such. what do you think about this idea? rain wont be a problem i suppose but the cold might?
    also, would it be easy enough to find somewhere safe to park up at night & somewhere to take the occasional shower?
    thanks alot
    Last edited by toure; 10-20-2005 at 07:32 PM.

  5. Default A Van?

    Do you mean a mini-van type of vehicle? I suppose you could -- and the cold may not be too much of a problem. You can purchase sleeping bags that are rated right down to zero or better. And you can ADD warmth by tucking a blanket inside a bag -- fold it in half length-wise, then tuck the foot under, and slip it inside the bag and use it as an additional liner. I've found you're better off not wearing extra clothing to keep you warm in a bag -- wear little and allow the bag to do the warming.

    You can usually find a place to camp in most areas with little difficulty -- state parks, national parks, private camps, etc. A campground guide can be a valuable resource for a trip of this type.

    Showers can be found in many state (or national) parks (if open year-around), or in private campgrounds and even truck stops (for a usually reasonable fee of $2 to $5 or so). $1000 is about 13 to 20 motel rooms. Think of this like a backpacking trip -- make sure you pack everything you need to get by (and nothing you don't need, as it'll just get in the way and be a bother), and set things up so you can get on the road quickly and without much fuss. Simple comforts, simple food, that sort of thing. My "kit" for car camping is very spartan and designed for quick getaways. Bob

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    A mini-van can make a decent camping rig to sleep in. They usually get fairly good gas mileage so your fuel expense should increase too very much. However, if you're talking about one of the much bigger full-size vans, I don't think it would be worth it. The much higher fuel expenses will offset any money you'd save by camping.

    Remember, you will still have expenses for camping. Campground fees for one person are generally about $15-20 night. More if you stay in some of the nicer campgrounds and KOAs. Sometimes a bit less in state or county parks. Free camping can be found in National Forests. Since you can find clean, decent motel rooms at places like Motel 6 for usually about $35/night. So, camping vs. budget hotels will save you maybe $20/day. A gas-guzzling rig can easily suck up that $20 savings pronto.

    Of course, if you don't mind sleeping in the vehicle, you can always camp for free by sleeping in the parking lot at truck stops. One of the regulars here, Gen, does this a lot. But I still think you can comfortably do this in a smaller vehicle than a large, full-size van.

    I'm big on camping. I love popping up my tent and the atmosphere of campgrounds. I'm a big advocate for camping while on a roadtrip for many reasons. The cost savings is just one of them. However, I'm also a weenie. I don't camp when it gets cold and wet. At least not on purpose!

    Another place to save money is on food costs. Eating out of a cooler saves you big bucks over restaurant meals. Saves you time as well if you're covering a lot of miles fast.

    So, my advice would be similar to Bob's...take your camping gear and camp when it makes sense, find budget lodging when that makes sense, and, if you're up to it, sleep a few nights in truck stops, and keep your cooler full of good, healthy food. This combination will keep your costs down but still give you a fun trip! You can do this in any size vehicle. I do it in a New Beetle and I have plenty of room. However, this also depends on how many folks are going on your trip. There's usually just me, or me and the husband. Anymore than that, and we'd need a bigger vehicle.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Thats Too Much

    If a van is going to cost you an extra $1000, I think you'd be much better off just staying in hotels.

    You can almost always find a motel for 30-50 bucks a night, so even if you spend the entire month on the road, you wouldn't have to spend much more than $1000 and get to sleep on a mattress every night. Not to mention, as Judy said, that you're probably going to spend quite a bit more in gas with a full sized van at 10-15 mpg compared to a minivan or car that gets 20-30 mpg

    I'll also point out that while you can sleep in a van without too many problems, personally if I'm on a roadtrip for a couple of weeks, spending every night inside that same car would get to me. Whether its a campsite or motel, at the end of a long day of driving, someplace to walk around and stretch is always nice.

    I'd still say if you camped on nice nights and found a cheap motel other nights, you'll have a trip thats more fun and while spending less than $1000 on lodging.
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 10-21-2005 at 02:46 PM.

  8. Default One other thing...

    To add to Midwesterner's ideas, sleeping inside a vehicle for several nights in a row, the interior begins to get a bit "sweaty" and isn't pleasant odor-wise after a while. Not to say you couldn't air it out and freshen it up by cleaning, but sometimes that's difficult to do if the weather isn't cooperating. Bob

  9. #9
    toure Guest


    thanks for all the replys, i'll try to clear up the details.. were 4 guys (students) backpacking en route from europe to australia so cheap as possible is what were after, the two possible cars so far are: for 2500

    -or- for 1500

    Much difference in fuel consumption between the two? I'm guessing there probably is. Getting a little screwed on the $500 drop off fee for one way, is this standard?
    Picked these two because were gonna have 4 backpacks etc, so want a bit of comfort, but other suggestions for a vehicle are there a car out there I could rent that could take 4 guys & backpacks?

    Really dont know what to do after reading your replys. When you say for example "Motel 6 for usually about $35/night" is it cool to just get one room or would they insisit on 2 twin rooms for 4 people?

    Also, I hear what your saying about the interior of the vehicle after a week of living out of it, I'm leaning toward cheaper car & hostels/motels/camping.

    thanks alot for your help!

  10. Default

    Much difference in fuel consumption between the two?
    Yes, you'll find the conversion van gets horrible gas mileage -- probably between 15 and 19 on the average. The Voyager would do a bit better than that -- you might even get better than 20 on the road with it. A drop fee, particularly for a specialized vehicle like a van is going to be pretty much a standard, although amounts may vary widely, so shop around.
    is there a car out there I could rent that could take 4 guys & backpacks
    There are other choices, but the least expensive models aren't going to do the job for you in any event -- the other choices are also "specialty" vehicles, so you'll probably find them to be in the same ballpark, price-wise. You might look at the light SUV's that are available and see if any of them would work, but a mini-van like that Voyager might end up being the most economical choice. You might check if a full-size sedan would work for you -- they often have cavernous boots/trunks so you could probably get 4 packs in there easily, as long as there wasn't a lot of other baggage to accomodate -- and one of these WOULD probably cost you less.
    is it cool to just get one room or would they insist on 2 twin rooms for 4 people?
    Sleeping 4 to a room isn't unusual, so you won't run into any resistance to that idea anywhere as long as they have rooms available with the required number of beds. This time of year, it is easier to find bargain rates on rooms too -- Mom and Pop's and the less expensive chains will often have rooms available between $30 and $40, as mentioned elsewhere in the thread, and this time of year there's also no need to fret about reserving space ahead of time.

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