Travel in the United States

Old Mar 1st, 2013, 06:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 13
Travel in the United States

We are a couple of retirees intending to spend 8 weeks travelling around US. We have looked at using mainly train travel, not so good, the bus travel seems a bit better but still not good
I think we will look at motorhomes hire or buy, as we have owned one here in Australia
!. Sites for buying and selling.
2. Parking, camping areas.
3. Rules, regulations and any other comments welcome.
I am the other half of the duo (the driver)
We fly into LA and out of LA most likely
Would like to see San Francisco, Seattle , National Parks, New York, Boston and more if possible
montaya is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2013, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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I would rent a car. You will not save money in an RV, in my opinion. US doesn't have very good rail or bus situation.

I would just fly between east and west coast.
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2013, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Agree with Spiro. Fly from LA to NY and then you can take the train to Boston, or fly to Boston and train to NY.

On the west coast - rent a car and drive from LA to Seattle, and hey - don't forget to check out more laid back San Diego, 2 hours south of LA LA land. You can buy fairly inexpensive camping gear/easy to pitch tent at the Big 5's of this world/other outdoor stores and it will fit in a car. Or - pay a lot more for a motorhome.

Q: Do you have any particular parks in mind that you want to see?
Tomsd is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2013, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I am sooooo envious - 8 full weeks?

Yes please - this is a big country with lots of varied climates and experiences - some more likes would help. But having said that, you mentioned National Parks. I get the feeling you might have an eye on the western parks. I would expect you would want to see Yosemite, Yellowstone & Grand Teton, Glacier, maybe Olympic. Then for a different climate, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Saguaro, maybe Joshua Tree. Possibly Redwoods (California-Oregon border) or Crater Lake.

We have a poster here who travels via train quite a bit - tomfuller. Hopefully he will pop on here for some advice. I am thinking that Glacier might be an interesting stop via train. You would need to rent a car upon arrival, I think...

Although I live in the East (Florida), I don't usually think of National Parks so much out east, although of course they are here (we're into mountains and open spaces). What do you have in mind?
sludick is online now  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 04:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,883
You have two other threads going and I see we have convinced you that doing the whole trip by train is not a good idea. But neither is bus or motorhome (RV). I'm curious why you seem to be against renting a car? Like it or not, the US is a car country. That's just the way it is and you will miss a LOT if you don't have one at least some of the time. RVs are NOT going to save you money if that is what you are thinking. I did a price comparison a couple years ago and renting a car plus moderate priced motels were far cheaper.

Your itinerary above - San Francisco, Seattle , National Parks, New York, Boston and more - is very doable in eight weeks. And what makes sense is a combination of trains, car rental and flying. Forget the bus and the motorhome.

Fly into SF and see the city. Then rent a car and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway - spend a couple days doing this, then go on up to Yosemite. Then it would depend on whether the car rental was much cheaper to return it where you got it, or if you could keep it till Seattle. I've found all kinds of wierd things when renting cars. Sometimes it is much cheaper to do two short (few days, a week) rentals in two locations and take a train or flight between them, sometimes it's just as cheap to keep it and drive to your next destination. But either would work for getting to Seattle.

Depending on which National Parks you want to see the most sensible places to start are Las Vegas (you don't have to spend any time there, it's just a good place to fly into and rent a car from) or Salt Lake City. Then you rent another car and spend a week or two doing parks. For this portion you could rent an RV, they have tons of places in that area designed for short term RV rentals. But like I said, I found it cheaper to do a car and motels ( or in park lodging) and I am really glad I wasn't driving an RV on some of those roads. But if you do really like the idea of an RV, that would be the time to do it.

Then FLY to the east coast where you can combine NY and Boston by train, don't need a car in either, and finally rent a car to see rural (especially coastal) New England.
isabel is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,074
Rent a car. The motor home will be expensive to drive (gas) and to rent--and to park for the night.
There are inexpensive chain motels in the country--and there is the possibility of using Priceline for good rates.
Make your trip by areas, and probably fly between--make a western loop. Fly east or south or wherever and rent your vehicle again.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 05:59 AM
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A motorhome may make sense in the west - esp the National Parks - but it really won;y work in the East. The cities here do not have anyplace you can put one. You need to find a place an hour or more from the cities, pay $90 or $100 per night for a parking spot and hook-ups and then pay for transit back and forth into the cities.

Also in the east the more scenic routes are often parkways. These are roads that were originally built in the 1920;'s for the traditional family drive after Sunday lunch - and while they have upgraded so you can go more than 30 mph - you can;t take anything larger then a car on them. It's illegal to do so and fines are huge. Stone bridges over them are too low for high vehicles, lanes are very twisting and narrow (narrower than an RV) - and the shoulders are very narrow. They are a lot of fun to drive on, very pretty because usually following the path of a river or stream - but not doable in anything larger than a car. These roads are common from Massachusetts down past DC.

Separately, have you looked at costs for a one-way RV rental - not even sure if this is possible. While it may sound like fun - I don;t know if it's worth so much more expense than getting hotels/public transit in cities and rental cares in between.

Others can give you details of RV rental in the west - where it may make a lot more sense.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Isabel has some great suggestions. One site I use - at least initially - is, which lists a number of car companies/options.

I/we also like Vegas - and it's a great hopoff for Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon, etc. Check out some of the blogs/trip reports under Arizona, Utah, etc - and I/we had a wonderful whirlwind tour back in June, 2012. Would pull it up now but am on my wife's laptop and all thumbs. Just scroll down under Arizona/Utah states.
Tomsd is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You would have to rent the RV . . buying one as a non resident is almost impossible.

We had a smallish motorhome and never had any problems driving or parking in the east . . and there is nothing like one when visiting National Parks and touring in general.

It might make more sense to rent the Motor Home for the Western parts of travel and use the rail system for the eastern parts . . maybe a car inbetween.

But unless it is one of the huge MH's, I would have no reservations about using one for the whole trip . . particularly since you had one before
Rich is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:03 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Sorry- there are a lot of places in the east - primarily major cities - where you simly can't use them - also some of the older wo;t have access. And besides th ehuge cost of gas the cost of campgrounds can be $100 a night. Then the time and money to get into the city you want to see.
nytraveler is offline  
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