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Old 07-27-2010, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Not where I want to be.
1,189 posts, read 1,352,162 times
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Hello everyone,
I am hoping you all can help me, I have lots of questions. We are planning on moving out to California from the East Coast in June of next year and want to take about a month and see the country in an RV. We will have our three children with us ages 10, 7 and 18 months. We have never done this before and most likely not ever again so we want to get the most out of this trip as possible. I have researched some on what to pack, insurance and emergencies that may pop up, but I really need to know a lot more so that we have a safe and enjoyable trip for all of us, so….

*Do any RV companies rent one way? I have looked online without success, but you all may know where to go to do this or if there is anyone that does private rentals that would be fine too.
*What is the average cost of a monthly rental?
*Would our car insurance work as coverage for this just as if I was renting a car?
*Can we tow our car on the back?
*We will have our dogs and cats with us for the journey, unless you could offer us a better suggestion as to what to do with them and how to get them to us when we get to our new home.
*Please tell me what along the way we absolutely cannot miss. We are planning on seeing Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. Visiting friends in Idaho, and making stops along Route 66. But what between here and the middle of the country should not miss? My husband would like to drive down the coast from Northern California to our destination in Southern California for the final part of our trip. We don’t mind zigzagging and were planning on doing so anyway.
*We would also like info on some inexpensive things for our kids along the way. They will need to run off some energy and I want them to enjoy the trip as much as we will.
*Can anyone provide me with where is safe and inexpensive to stay for the night? I have read that people park in Walmart parking lots, but this doesn’t seem safe to me…or legal. Don’t the police have a problem with this?
*As far as cooking, showering and bathroom…do you need to be hooked up to something in an RV park to have running water for these? We were planning on staying in the RV at night and showering in it as well. But what if we need to use the bathroom along the way? Can we use the one in the RV or do we have to stop at a rest stop and use their bathrooms? Is there a generator we need to do this?
*We are planning on eating most of our meals on board. We are bringing cerals,etc for breakfast, pb & j and some lunchmeats(we will just grab some along the way)for lunches, and I am bringing some frozen foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and some meals I will have prepared that will just need to be warmed up, mac and cheese, pastas. Just easy, inexpensive meals. We are planning to eat out once or twice per week. So any suggestions of good places to eat would be appreciated as well

Any other helpful tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. As I said we know NOTHING about doing this but are excited for our children especially to be able to see this beautiful country.

Thank you all so much!!!
Maureen

Last edited by Flamingomo; 07-27-2010 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:49 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
17,804 posts, read 33,170,644 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamingomo View Post
Hello everyone,
I am hoping you all can help me, I have lots of questions. We are planning on moving out to California from the East Coast in June of next year and want to take about a month and see the country in an RV. We will have our three children with us ages 10, 7 and 18 months. We have never done this before and most likely not ever again so we want to get the most out of this trip as possible. I have researched some on what to pack, insurance and emergencies that may pop up, but I really need to know a lot more so that we have a safe and enjoyable trip for all of us, so….

*Do any RV companies rent one way? Cruise America: RV Rentals, Motorhome Rentals, Wohnmobil Mieten, Camper Hire
RV Rentals, Recreational Vehicle, Motorhome & RV Rental by El Monte RV
RV Rentals America | FREE RV RENTAL QUOTES | Discount RV Rentals | Rent a Motorhome Camper Travel Trailer
USA RV RENTALS - RV / MOTORHOME RENTALS
*What is the average cost of a monthly rental? Lots
*Would our car insurance work as coverage for this just as if I was renting a car? you can get a temporary binder for MH from your car insurance company
*Can we tow our car on the back? Probably not on a rental (if the company knows)
*We will have our dogs and cats with us for the journey, unless you could offer us a better suggestion as to what to do with them and how to get them to us when we get to our new home. Probably best to take them
*Please tell me what along the way we absolutely cannot miss. We are planning on seeing Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. Visiting friends in Idaho, and making stops along Route 66. But what between here and the middle of the country should not miss? (here are some hints: http://www.city-data.com/forum/15151268-post3559.html
My husband would like to drive down the coast from Northern California to our destination in Southern California for the final part of our trip. We don’t mind zigzagging and were planning on doing so anyway. Welcome to the Historic Samoa Cookhouse - Since 1890 on California's North Coast
*We would also like info on some inexpensive things for our kids along the way. They will need to run off some energy and I want them to enjoy the trip as much as we will. We home schooled and took several month field trips, our kids planned the route, made the budget, paid for goods and fuel, cooked, and played
*Can anyone provide me with where is safe and inexpensive to stay for the night? Free Campgrounds for RVs
*As far as cooking, showering and bathroom…do you need to be hooked up to something in an RV park to have running water for these? We were planning on staying in the RV at night and showering in it as well. But what if we need to use the bathroom along the way? Can we use the one in the RV or do we have to stop at a rest stop and use their bathrooms? Is there a generator we need to do this? Most RV's are full self contained (can operate w/o hook ups). I prefer to use showers in public pools, truck stops, and campgrounds. (humidity in RV can become a problem) I use RV toilet as little as possible. I really like the outdoor shower in our RV, it is hot after 10 minutes of driving, no indoor mess.

*We are planning on eating most of our meals on board. We are bringing cerals,etc for breakfast, pb & j and some lunchmeats(we will just grab some along the way)for lunches, and I am bringing some frozen foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and some meals I will have prepared that will just need to be warmed up, mac and cheese, pastas.

Make it simple...freezer space is extremely limited, no need hassling with dishes / cookware / TIME to do all this. Each kid gets a bowl, and it is their job to keep track of it and to clean it up. Our kids had to get used to cheese and crackers (breakfast lunch and supper) ESPECIALLY while traveling in Europe.
America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online
Where We Eat: The Splendid Table
Roadfood.com Discussion Board
Amazon.com: Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine! (9780375751400): Chris Maynard…

Renting MH may be the least hassle if you have adequate $$ (it will be spendy)

Being a 'shoestring' traveler... I would buy a decent RV during off season, and sell when you get done with it. Towing a car can be a hassle, (and hard on fuel / Motorhome) but having a little car can be good and handy.

Do stuff early in the morning and late in the day. Mid-day can be a hassle in crowded places (Yellowstone / Black Hills). Do take the Beartooth Highway into NE Yellowstone, see the Tetons (Must see). Look to places with hot springs (Kids love it). Do an all afternoon and evening there, then drive a LONG ways while the kids are sleeping. (I used to transport kids to Mexico for Mission trips, we would take a busload of kids to a water park during the day, and drive all night.)

Have a good time, there is lots to see. Be sure to see the Columbia River Gorge ! that will get you to Oregon coast (which is spectacular and 100% public access).

Consider joining a private Guest Home Directory. These places really have made our trips special, and they are CHEAP and family friendly. The 'profile' of listing descrobes the hosting family and services available. Many are on farms / rural property and have RV hookups AND the kids will have farm kids to play with (Horse / cow / sheep riding) + exploring and working. It was always good to get my kids up at 4AM to help with milking while staying on a dairy farm. It made the kids appreciate home, and also gave them a more rounded education.

Consider taking some Spanish language courses and materials with you, this is good project for kids, let them quiz parents ! (Even more fun for them ) + this will be very handy to know in CA + future NA economy.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 07-27-2010 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, Nebraska
137 posts, read 524,309 times
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Some trip you have planned. Not too sure how you plan on including any of Route 66 while going north through South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho.

You mention following the California coast south... just an FYI, the road for the most part is very scenic, winding, slow, and for many RVers just plain scary. Heading south will have you on the drop off side if that sort of thing bothers you. You might consider heading south along US 395 instead as that takes you along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Very scenic and historic route. You could get to Death Valley and part of Route 66 if you go that way.

Long before you get to California, I'd recommend a full day at the US Air Force museum in Ohio... National Museum of the USAF - Home

As mentioned before, Pioneer Village in Minden Nebraska will take most of a day... there is a campground (free I think) across the street... Pioneer Village. In North Platte Nebraska, the worlds largest railroad yard offers an observation deck manned by volunteers that can explane the process. It is really something to see... UP: Bailey Yard

If you are that far south, going through Denver could include a trip through the US Mint... Tour The United States Mint. If you choose this route, I'd be sure to find a way to go through the San Juan Mountains of SW Colorado, take the steam train between Durango and Silverton, and head back north through eastern Utah to see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks on the way to see Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Now... let's talk RVing!

First off, we traveled full time in our 36' motorhome with a dog and cat for 5 years. I'm not sure the cat is over the trip yet... the dog loved it.

Some RV rentals allow auto towing, but there are some real issues here. First off, different states have different laws about towed vehicles... specifically requiring suplementary braking. We flat towed our Jeep, and I have to say it created a few nightmares over the years. You can not back up a flat towed vehicle more than a few feet, and then only in a straight line. A full car trailer with brakes or a car "dolly" is the way to go so you can back up.

We hated RV parks. There is just something about paying $30+ a night to be right next to somebody we didn't like. Check into state, federal, and community parks along the way. If you want a noisy nights sleep, stay at Wal-Mart. Most of these stores allow overnight RV parking but some local communities have passed ordinances prohibiting overnighting. Ask the courtesy desk at any Wal-Mart where you can park and they will direct you to the area they wish you would park, or let you know it isn't allowed.

Truck stops are another possible idea but they too are noisy. Cracker Barrel restaurants are in the same league as Wal-Mart as far as allowing overnight RV stays. Many small towns, especially in the midwest offer free camping in their town parks. Here is an example... RV Camping - Cambridge, Nebraska

Did you know you can camp for free on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) managed lands throughout the western US as well as National Forests? This is called "dispersed camping", and is encouraged. By stopping in the ranger district offices and asking about dispersed sites, you will often get directed to some really great free and scenic places. The last time I asked, here is where they told us to camp in South Dakota... Free RV Camping - Wall, South Dakota

If you plan on sticking to the freeways as much as possible, the book "The Next Exit" is a good resource to find services you likely will need now and then... like fuel. Not every town has easy access and especially if you are towing, it isn't fun to be wandering around unfamiliar territory looking for a place to get gas... especially if the warning light is on!

A website with RV and travel information for the whole country is RV Camping. It has links to everything mentioned above and a whole lot of stuff there really isn't room for in a forum post.

As said in the movie Michael... "The miles will fly, and the kids won't cry, if you play... car bingo." Extended travel with kids should be very interesting keeping them entertained. I'd spend some time well in advance having them doing some of the research about the trip. It will give them something to do in the mean time, but when travel time comes, you will be amazed how much stuff they soaked in doing their research. They will be the ones to let you know what they want to see if you follow this plan.

Have a GREAT trip!

PS - To see some of the worst possible problems you could run into, rent the movie "RV".

Last edited by Off Pavement; 07-27-2010 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:09 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
8,536 posts, read 15,021,780 times
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Consider skipping the Grand Canyon and Route 66 for this trip. That kind of zig-zagging is going to double your miles and make it a rushed trip instead of a pleasant vacation, and the northern route would be good for June. Get on Mapquest and check the routes. I think you'll agree that Route 66, the Grand Canyon, Rushmore, Yellowstone and northern California are just not going to work well for one trip. If it was a round trip and you had three months to do it, yeah.

Lots of vacationers spend a week in the Black Hills and another week in Yellowstone. At a minimum you'll want to plan on 2-3 days each. The Black Hills is especially great for kids -- lots to do and see. I love Yellowstone, but I think for youngsters the Black Hills might be even better. Google it and make a list of things to do.

I'm partial to Forest Service and state campgrounds, but most don't have hookups of any kind, and most don't allow generators to run all night, so if you want AC you might need to plan on commercial campgrounds, at least now and then. Many of them are also great for the kids, with swimming pools and playgrounds where the kids can blow off a little steam after a day of travel. KOAs are usually good for kids, but you might find a few campgrounds in certain areas that are just way better than any KOAs. One very popular one in the Black Hills is RafterJ. At any rate, you'll need to dump your holding tanks every couple days if you're taking showers and using the bathroom a lot. Most tanks only hold 30-50 gallons of water, and most fresh water tanks only hold 60-100 gallons.

I'd find your rental first. Shop around now and you might find one that'll rent one-way. A class A diesel should tow your vehicle fine if the rental company will allow it. Again, if they don't, shop a little more and you might find one that will.

Go to RV.net and log into the forums there. I think it's the biggest RV site on the internet -- it's free. You should get lots of suggestions.

Good luck, and have a great vacation next June!
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Not where I want to be.
1,189 posts, read 1,352,162 times
Reputation: 2008
Thanks so much for all this info!!! I knew I was in the right place

We are still planning on doing some zigzagging, just because there are things we really want to see along Route 66 and who knows if we will have the opportunity again anytime soon. We have friends to see up north in Idaho, and my kids really want to see the Grand Canyon, although that is a one day drive if we ever decide to do it again but, who knows. So if it takes a little longer than a month its okay. We are not in a rush. We just planned on a month as a guide. We are only planning on staying at one place for 2 nights max if that. Most will be just one night. Our friends that live in Idaho travel with their five kids in their minivan all the time back to the East Coast and take a different route each time, so they will also be helpful to us in where to go and what to see. They ahve seen it all amny times over as I'm sure you all have!

As far as renting, I was astonished at the prices. When I looked not too long ago I was getting quotes up to about $5000. Now they are into $7800! Somone I know suggested maybe buying a used RV and it would pay for itself in a few times we used it, so I looked up some last night. What I found was a 1998 Winnebago Brave, Class A, 31ft, 104,000 miles, gas, sleeps 6, $15,995. It looks brand new on both the inside and outside and says it was garage kept. Also says needs no repairs and maintenance is up to date. Looks great and seems like a really good option for us. Costs the same as my current car did. And since we were planning on selling one of our cars before we move, this would work out perfectly for us. Of course we would check it out thoroughly before purchasing. We also were thinking that since those friends of ours travel back this way quite a bit, they would be able to use it, and we also have another set of friends that would love to travel cross countryand it would be perfect for them as well. So it would be getting used by many. And if we ever decide to take a vacation, we would just use that and save money on hotel rooms and food

So, I don't think I got an answer as to if I need to be hooked up to something in order to use the shower or the water and the gas stove, or if this is workable if say we just pulled off somewhere to eat or wash up or whatever. And the whole shower thing with it making the unit humid and moldy, wouldn't having the AC on or the windows open prevent that from happeing?

What is KOA? And what is going in the Black HIlls? Sounds great!

Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:30 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
17,804 posts, read 33,170,644 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamingomo View Post
...I found was a 1998 Winnebago Brave, Class A, 31ft, 104,000 miles, gas, sleeps 6, $15,995. It looks brand new on both the inside and outside and says it was garage kept. Also says needs no repairs and maintenance is up to date. ...We also were thinking that since those friends of ours travel back this way quite a bit, they would be able to use it, and we also have another set of friends that would love to travel cross countryand it would be perfect for them as well.
I would look for something with lower miles, (stuff shakes apart in RV) and potentially a diesel (economy, longevity, resale). There are plenty of inexpensive gems out there.

Renting / lending to friends is tough (liability and cleanliness) I would SELL it to them (transfer ownership, no maint or storage hassles). or buy it in an LLC and potentially transfer use to different members, divide costs by # days used with a premium for miles used (maint and depreciation).


Quote:
So, I don't think I got an answer as to if I need to be hooked up to something in order to use the shower or the water and the gas stove, or if this is workable if say we just pulled off somewhere to eat or wash up or whatever. And the whole shower thing with it making the unit humid and moldy, wouldn't having the AC on or the windows open prevent that from happeing?
No need to be hooked up, limiting factor is 'on-board' water storage (Fresh and waste). Usually good for a week or so. I think 5 showers / day would be 'overload' for water supply, heat source, AND indoor humidity would be unbearable. Showers for family are a hassle in the 'closeness' of RV, I prefer other options (Your mileage (desires) may vary). I have often paid for showers at hotels, especially in Yellowstone, even while in Class A RV. ($4, is well spent for me), thus the kids might enjoy running through the sprinklers at a campsite. Stay at Army Corp or Bureau of Reclamation Dam sites for proximity to MUCH lawn sprinklers! (found that while tent camping). I frequently bathe in mtn rivers (even in Yellowstone , we had a 'group' camp and 75 kids needing showers...). City parks are good for sprinklers too. (I have used cemeteries to ). Basically, you are driving on a hot summer day, you see a 'mirage' of water on the prairie and you say, "hey, let's run through the sprinklers!!" Kids will welcome the break, and free showers too.

Quote:
What is KOA? And what is going in the Black HIlls? Sounds great!
KOA = campground franchise... i.e. Holiday Inn of camping.
Camping and Campgrounds - KOA Kampgrounds of America, Inc.

Black Hills is a 'region' of SD, it includes state parks, national park, national forest, and several quirky cities. It is very nice (I like Custer State Park and Wind Cave, The kids will love it.) It is good for several days, minimally 2-3 days.
Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills Travel Guide | Fodor's Travel Guides
South Dakota Tourism

Devil's Tower is nearby, don't miss that!!!

I too would save the Grand Canyon for a CA escape. It is really HUGE to drive around (i.e. days), And the kids would remember a trip via Grand Canyon Railway - The Official Site Or RAFTING (better yet, make reservations YEARS in advance))

This region is really worthy of concentrated time.

Also there are tons of great things nearby (Utah National Parks; Bryce and Arches are my favorites) + Valley of Fire (NV), red rock canyon, (LV)

Maybe you can trip on over to Durango, CO on that trip (railway / Mesa Verde). It is somewhat on the way to Arches

Agreed, this is seriously out of your way from WY / ID. It would take lots of time / gas / hassle.

Hint: Don't kill yourself with HUGE plans, enjoy the journey, and smell those 'unexpected' roses. (contrary to what I practiced at your age ).

Kids will be very happy and have fun wherever they are if parents are not stressed. It is a good thing kids are resilient. My kids fondly remember the 'crazy' things of our journeys, and they are still trying to forget 'the quest'. (My 'driven' plans) (My excuse... born of a 'Double type A' Dad and a 'Triple A' mom) My kids are seeking 'triple B' compensation.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 07-28-2010 at 12:48 PM..
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Full time rver somewhere on the road
1,450 posts, read 4,278,745 times
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Do not and I mean DO NOT even consider buying a used motor home with out hiring a rv mechanic to go with you and check out the unit. Simple things like tires to old to recalls not completed correctly can end up costing you more then what you paid for the motor home. What you have to understand is that buying an rv is not like buying a car but more like buying a house no matter if you are paying 15K or 750K for the coach because there could be and many times are hidden issues with the coach that can be very costly to repair

I could write you a book on how a motor home works and you still would not understand properly until you phyically went though the motions yourself and turned everything off and on....If this is something you really want to do I suggest you find a local RV dealer that rents RV's and rent one for a weekend and take it to one of your local campgrounds and experence it first hand before you jump into somethiing blind you may regret
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
8,536 posts, read 15,021,780 times
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No, you don't need to be hooked up to anything to take a shower or use the stove. Motorhomes have fresh water tanks (50-100 gallons) and batteries that run a water pump, among other things. They also have propane tanks for the furnace, water heater and stove/oven. Most also have generators that provide 110v AC power to run the air conditioner, microwave and coffee maker (which batteries won't run) and recharge the batteries. Generators run from gas, diesel or propane. If you have electric hookups you don't need a generator.

KOAs are a chain of campgrounds. Some are company owned and others are franchised. They're the McDonalds of campgrounds -- usually okay if a bit overpriced for what you get.

You mentioned in your first post that you wanted to see Mount Rushmore. It's just one of many tourist attractions in the Black Hills -- a small mountain range in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. They include the highest peak in the U.S. east of the Rockies, but they're dwarfed by the Rockies, which begin 150 miles west of them (Bighorn Mountains).
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
8,536 posts, read 15,021,780 times
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Since other have mentioned the humidity in the RV caused by showers, I'm going to say that I've never noticed it. My wife and I use our RV shower every day we're in it, 'though very briefly. Showers usually have exhaust fans above them, and we don't take a shower without first turning on the fan. And our showers don't usually last for more than a couple minutes at most. We turn it on and get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it back on to rinse. We hang our towels in the bathroom to dry and leave the bath vent open all day if not driving. Some people hang their towels outside to dry. That said, we live and usually camp in a dry climate, so that might be the difference.
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:51 AM
 
Location: Full time rver somewhere on the road
1,450 posts, read 4,278,745 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WyoNewk View Post
Since other have mentioned the humidity in the RV caused by showers, I'm going to say that I've never noticed it. My wife and I use our RV shower every day we're in it, 'though very briefly. Showers usually have exhaust fans above them, and we don't take a shower without first turning on the fan. And our showers don't usually last for more than a couple minutes at most. We turn it on and get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it back on to rinse. We hang our towels in the bathroom to dry and leave the bath vent open all day if not driving. Some people hang their towels outside to dry. That said, we live and usually camp in a dry climate, so that might be the difference.


I have to agree, I have never had any problem with humidity in my RV either, and the wife is known to take 20-30 minute showers...LOL

That is the whole reason why many people travel in an RV so they have their own shower, their own toilet, and their own bed to sleep on and not have to worry about who was there before them....
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