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Roadtrip from NewJersey to California with an RV

Roadtrip from NewJersey to California with an RV

Jan 22nd, 2011, 08:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 3
Roadtrip from NewJersey to California with an RV

I would like to plan a road trip from New Jersey to California. It has been a difficult two years for us since I am presently fighting to win my battle against cancer. I have never traveled this far and have never been in a motorhome. I live in Montreal Canada with my husband and 3 small children. My sister lives in New Jersey with her family and we would like to make this trip together. Has anyone ever done this? Any suggestions would be greatful.
I would love to see Washington, the Grand Cayon, San Francisco....
My worries are where do we leave the motorhome is it easy to park on the street or in a parking lot, if we want to make a quick visit. Also would anyone know how how it might cost and how long it would take?Money is an issue since I have not been able to work its been two years. Any suggestions on where to rent a RV would also be helpfull.
Like I said I've never done anything close to this, it may be crazy but you only live once.
Thank-you so much for any help given
samivi is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:19 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,014
I've looked into renting an RV several times and the cost estimate has always come out significantly higher than renting a car an using hotels.

Cruiseamerica.com is one of the big rental companies.

A standard size RV that sleeps 4-5 will cost you around $900 per week, base rate. You pay extra for kitchen utensiles, pots, dishes, etc. You pay extra for bedding. You pay extra for mileage. (32c/mile). NJ to CA round trip will be over 6000 miles, or about $2000 in mileage fees.

So let' assume a 4 week trip, round trip NJ to CA and back.

base rate $3600
mileage $2000

Many people love RVs, and many people find they hate them after just a few days. You need to be prepared to fill up with potable water almost every day, and dump sewage and grey water just as often. Nobody cleans the towels or sheets for you - you need to find a laundry to do that.
J62 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,014
sorry - hit enter too fast.

So let' assume a 4 week trip, round trip NJ to CA and back.

base rate $3600
mileage $2000
gas 10mpg, $3.50/gal, $2000
extras (linens, dishes, etc) $500

and those are just the costs you'll pay cruiseamerica. Add on RV lot rentals at $20-40 per night and you see the costs add up very quickly.
J62 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,356
If you lived in the US I would first direct you to CruiseAmerica.com, which has rental outlets all over the US; whether they or someone similar operates in Canada I cannot say. Go to their website anyway to see some FAQs that apply to RV rentals in general. Or use a search engine for RV rentals.

RVs get miserable gas mileage, and the cost of fuel is increasing in the US...your proposed trip will be very expensive, over and above the cost of rental.

Parking is always a problem. You will see many RVs with one or more bicycles hanging on the back...there is a reason for this. You will also see RVs with cars in tow. The take-away message is that you will be parked away from city centers and will have to use alternate modes of transportation if you want to explore.

My suggestion is to rent a van or something similar, large enough to hold everyone plus baggage, and stay at motels overnight. You will be able to park in cities and have easy access to tourist venues.
Bobmrg is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,316
You will have more fun (IMO) and save a lot of $$$ if you either rent a van or two cars and stay in hotels/motels. Many have kitchens/kitchenettes so you can still meet any special dietary requirements and you have tons more space every night than in a motor home.

If you already owned one -- that is entirely different.

Also maybe consider driving one way and flying home. There will be drop off fees but that would let you stop for longer at some places and not have to rush back across the country.
janisj is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,830
also consider flying into a region, say Denver for the Rockies, renting an RV for a week and return it,then fly on to, say Seattle, and repeat the process. Give you the RV experience without as much expense or driving time.
boom_boom is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,173
If you are talking 4 adults plus your 3 kids plus any kids your sister has - you are talking a big RV. This will not be easy to park in any city. And I would practice driving one that big to see if you are comfortable and safe doing so.

Interesting that you mention wanting to see things on each coast, plus Grand Canyon. Lots to see between - but also lost of boring miles to travel. Consider that.

But this sounds like something you want to do, especially with your cancer diagnosis. So there are also experience and lifestyle considerations - I think you are starating out right considering these plus cost before you make a decision. Good luck.
gail is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 03:53 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
It will be hard to park on the street.

If you go during the school vacation season, you will be competing for good camping spots with everybody and his brother.

Motorhomes require a good deal of practice, to park in such a way that the appliances all work, and they are not at all flexible.

Janisj's suggestion of two cars is a great idea if you really want to drive all the way across the country. You can divide the travelers differently every day or even at lunch every day, so that everyone gets to travel with everyone else. If one group has seen all the gardens that they ever want to see and the other group can't wait for more, you can split up and meet later. Costs of cars and lodging will be cheaper than a motorhome, and you can still make lunch a picnic everyday for better nutrition and to save money. We have done this with friends in France and Italy, and it has worked really well.

Of course if you already have a car and your sister has a car, you don't need to rent. But the idea of driving one way and returning by plane or train (Canadian Rockies?) is a good one. If you have been fighting serious illness, a round trip could be very tiring.

But you know what? Don't give up on the idea of a big trip with those you love!
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,173
Another money-saving and perhaps fun wrinkle would be the 2 car/camping equipment approach. Tent-camping is not all that much fun relative to the work involved for one-night stays. But you could stay in cheaper hotels while on the road and then mix it up with some tent camping at places you will stay at longer than 1 night. If you ask around you probably could borrow a lot of the stuff you need - and even if you had to buy a tent, it would be cheaper than an RV. But even if camping is not your thing, agree that cheaper hotels can work well.

As far as hotels, once you have the sleeping bags, etc you can save a lot of money and by "camping" in hotels. You could get adjoining rooms or even larger 2-bedroom suites (and suite hotels usually have breakfast included) - most of which also have at least m/w and refrig. Depending on max occupancy of hotels, kids could camp out on the floor in sleeping bags - "camping" inside and likely have a great time while the adults would get real beds. Bring a cooler for lunches - and you would save lots of money and have a similar experience in some ways.

When our kids were younger, we would often stay in less expensive hotels - as long as there was a pool we were thrilled. Dinner could be picking up a rotisserie chicken, a big salad, loaf of bread - that sort of thing. Saved money, time - and the prospect of cramming kids into a restaurant after they were trapped in a car all day.

While an RV may increase your options in some ways, it can also decrease it in others - in some parts of the country there are cheap places where you can just park it, in others it requires far more planning for input and output of water, waste and utilities - than just checking into a hotel when you have had enough driving or stop longer to see something.
gail is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,149
Since you want to try the RV experience, I would fly from NJ to a city with a cruiseamerica location near a National Park with campground and rent for no more than 3 days. Return to the same location to avoid dropoff fees.
Where they are available, I like staying in HI hostels. The other hostels are sometimes lacking in quality.
MY DW and I enjoyed a week stay in a cheap motel in Green River, Utah and saw several great National Parks from there.
There are several HI Hostels in San Francisco and one inside the Muir Woods National Monument which you would enjoy.
Another option to consider is a USA RailPass on Amtrak.
They are hidden under Deals on Amtrak.com
Every day/night you spend on the train is another you are not piloting a big RV and spending lots of money on gas.
tomfuller is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 10:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 3
Thank you so much for all your help.
With your help you've made me realize that I would be getting myself into something very expensive and although I wanted to do something different I don't want to end up hating the trip.
And have everyone around me saying when is this going to end.
I will have to think about another adventure, if anyone has any ideas I welcome your experiences. Like I mentioned I have 3 small children from 2-8yrs old. I was planning a budget from $2-3k if possible. Thank-you so much once again for taking the time to answer my questions.
samivi is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,732
Perhaps this year you could do a smaller trip with your group, say head down to Cape May NJ from your sister's house, take the ferry to Lewes, DE then go down to Assateague National Seashore, MD. You could try the RV thing or use 2 cars and a tent, or rent a cottage either there or just over the VA border at Chincoteague. Or head for Skyline Drive in VA or up to the Pocano Mts or have them go north while you go south and meet in Vermont at one of the ski areas that do summer activities.
emalloy is offline  

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