A year in a camper seeing the USA

Old Oct 12th, 2012, 11:10 AM
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A year in a camper seeing the USA

Wll I have finally decided what I want to do starting may 1, 2013. I am going to put all my belongings in storage, and tour the USA for 1 year. I am able to work from pretty much anywhere.... And since I just turned 40.... Thought, why not?
Then I realized how much work goes into this sort of thing. The budget is clearly to spend less than I earn per month....
Things I am taking into consideration are
1. The seasons. I want to avoid being caught in the snow too much, so touring the northern portion of the USA from may til November.... I am starting off in Florida. And if I can see some of Canada, that would be great.
2. Where to stay. I am planning on getting a tear drop camper.... Unless I can find something better. I have a vw beetle convertible, and might have to something more drastic like a true camper.... Or would a pop up work?
3. Where to go. I want to see a lot of nature. I love camping... Love parks, monuments, historical sights....and I really want to see Montana, I understand there are some dinosaur digs there! Would really enjoy getting in on that!
4. Safety. I am traveling with my dog, who is all of 6 pounds. I have to consider that when choosing places to stay too.
5. Budget. I can understand that I won't be paying rent for a year... But I will have to pay for camp grounds....and my sister says, worst case scenario, you stop at Walmart for a free night.
6.sites. What should I see.....

So I think I have a starting point...l. Care to help me out?
Holly_Cameron is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2012, 11:35 AM
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Where are you now? The dog can present several travel problems if you are coming from another country. You won't be able to go many places in our National Parks with a dog even on a leash.
For solo travel in the US, I like travel by Amtrak train and renting a car once I am near my destination. You can't travel on Amtrak with a dog unless you are handicapped and need one to get around.
Since you like VW, the Westfalia camper might work for you instead of a tow behind trailer.
Check into the Amtrak USA Rail Pass which come in 15, 30 and 45 day Passes. This only works if you don't have a dog with you.
There are several places to see dinosaur tracks etc. in Utah.
Good luck on your great adventure!
tomfuller is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2012, 04:12 AM
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What an adventure you are planning! I can't think of any camper you would would be able to tow with a Beetle. We have a Aliner pop up, with a dry weight of 1200 lbs. The first year we towed with a 4 cylinder Mazda Protege and managed to get where we were going. However, it was a struggle on very steep hills, and in Fundy national park in New Brunswick I spent our whole stay worrying that we would not be able to get out again We left a day early so we could get ahead of the rain. That being said, if you enjoy nature, there is no better way to travel than camping.

Long ago we camped in converted VW vans (it was the hippie era, after all) and longed for a Westfalia but could never afford one. Then several years in a canvas top pop up with tents for the kids, then rented camper vans, now our Aliner, so we've tried then all. Something you tow is a little more work with set up, (and backing up!) but there is an advantage of being able to leave it behind if you are going into town. Also in many parks now where there are bears you are not allowed to leave anything that might have a food odour outside if you are going to be away from your campsite --not even a dishpan. Something to consider if you are going to be off at a job.

Canada has some fabulous national parks, and the provincial park system in Ontario is among the best in the world. They are more spacious, less crowded and more natural than the state parks I have visited in New York and Michigan. So if you can make it up our way, I don't think you will be disappointed. Camping season is generally from May 24th to late September, but be prepared for chilly/wet weather at any time, especially before July, after August. September is beautiful in southern Ontario, and campgrounds practically empty. You will require reservations at the more popular parks during the peak season, although most hold some sites for first-come first-served same day arrivals.

Let us know when you have a better idea of your itinerary and we can give you more specific suggestions.
ELiz_Travels is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2012, 04:18 AM
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Links for parks info:


ELiz_Travels is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2012, 05:11 AM
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Lots of full-time RVers in the US, especially retirees.Good idea to do it earlier! The advice may be a bit different depending on whether you are living in the US already.

You may find this blog helpful, especially the "how to" section: http://everywhereonce.com/

It's easier to have an RV that can tow a car, rather than the other way round. A friend of mine is a full-time RVer, and she tows a Smart Car. I'm not familiar with a "tear drop camper", but I think you would find a pop-up too small and vulnerable for full time RVing.

For info on travel in the US you'll find more help on the US board.
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Old Oct 16th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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I love tear drop campers, but even as a very small person (I am 4'10" tall), the idea of staying in one for a year does not sound appealing. They are just too small. Consider not being able to stand up inside your lodging all year long. For this long of a trip, I would get something larger, if possible.

I believe you can tow a tear drop behind a VW Beatle though and a convertible Beatle and a tear drop would be a hoot. I am just not sure about the length of the trip in one.

Other logistics - working. I assume that your work is done by computer - do you need internet connection? Some parks have them, some don't - depends on the infrastructure. You will probably have to go "into town" to find wifi in coffee shops on a regular basis. You'll have to do that to work in inclement weather too since the tear drop is very small - unless you can successfully sit on your bed and work.

I think you are on the right track to go north initially to spend summer at higher latitudes, then come south for the winter. Be prepared for a fair amount of rain though, wherever you are in winter - unless you spend it in the desert areas.
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Old Oct 17th, 2012, 03:49 AM
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You might want to look into Aliner trailers. Super easy to set up; it takes literally less than a minute. The peak roof allows standing room to get dressed, cook, etc. An RV that can tow a car does not sound like what you are after both for budget reasons and your love of camping. Many of the parks these days are filled with so many huge RVs that they are not much more than parking lots by a lake. If you have something smaller you have a greater choice of campsites.

I'm sure you can make a year in a camper work if you want the adventure. Camping one time in Australia we met many families who had taken their kids out of school for a year and were circumnavigating the country in all kinds caravans, tents, trucks, and SUV's. It was interested watching and seeing the various ways they made it work. Of course the weather there is more conducive to year round camping.

No reason you have to do the whole year non stop if it isn't working out. Have an emergency fund for a flight home if you need to get back for a break from travels, or just call it quits and head home early if you like. You'll never know unless you try. Talk to seniors like me, and you will hear that they don't regret any of the adventures they had when young, but they do regret not having more of them.
ELiz_Travels is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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Did you forget about Fodor's Holly?
Instead of pulling around a camper, think about getting a Hosteling International membership and staying at 20 or 30 HI hostels in the US and perhaps Canada. http://www.hihostels.com/
HI hostels are generally better than independent and Backpackers hostels.
I like cooking at a hostel kitchen which has a real refrigerator and range.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2012, 07:12 AM
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I think it all sounds wonderful, except the towing anything with a VW part. I think it would be a lot more comfortable for a year on the road if you invested in or rented a used camper. Like the type that sit on the top of a truckbed, with a reliable truck to drive underneath. Camper van or the smallest size of an RV would be worth considering too.

That said... the beauty of towing is you can separate your car when you are stopped for awhile. I'm curious what kind of work you think you can do along the way? And would you need a car to get from the campgrounds into town to do it in various places? One reason why a small RV might not work for your idea.
suze is offline  
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