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Old 08-07-2009, 01:21 AM
 
Location: In the sticks, SC
1,642 posts, read 4,521,298 times
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I am thinking about buying a mid size suv, taking out the back seat and rigging it as a makeshift camper, putting an air mattress in the back and driving cross country as a vacation.

All thoughts and opinions are welcome. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:20 AM
 
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Totally dependent upon what your interests are for the trip, so it's impossible to give a "best" answer.

Perhaps you'd like to give us some clues as to what your interests and motivations are for your "cross country" trip? area of the country you'd like to see or explore? type of places you want to camp at?
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:50 AM
 
Location: In the sticks, SC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Totally dependent upon what your interests are for the trip, so it's impossible to give a "best" answer.

Perhaps you'd like to give us some clues as to what your interests and motivations are for your "cross country" trip? area of the country you'd like to see or explore? type of places you want to camp at?
Well, it's been something I've wanted to do since I was little.
Most of my road trips have been up and down the east coast ( from NY to FL) so I would like to see the west as the furthest west I've been is Pittsburg

Right now I'm thinking of driving to FL (I'm in SC) and taking I 10 straight out to LA.

I think I would mix it up......stay at campgrounds, motels, Wal Mart parking lots along the way.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
3,040 posts, read 10,444,463 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mongoslade223 View Post
Well, it's been something I've wanted to do since I was little.
Most of my road trips have been up and down the east coast ( from NY to FL) so I would like to see the west as the furthest west I've been is Pittsburg

Right now I'm thinking of driving to FL (I'm in SC) and taking I 10 straight out to LA.

I think I would mix it up......stay at campgrounds, motels, Wal Mart parking lots along the way.
If you're planning to drive I-10 to California, you'll probably not want to do so in the middle of summer, as most of that route is through areas that get very hot during that time of year. For example, Phoenix, AZ regularly sees temperatures of 115 degrees in the summer. I would suggest a more northern route in the summer. In the winter, I-10 would be good, though parts of it are boring, because it's not particularly scenic.

One of the most scenic routes that I am familiar with is I-70 West from Denver, CO until it ends at I-15 in Utah. From there, I-15 will take you South into L.A., if that's someplace you'd really like to see. It will also take you through Las Vegas along the way. East of Denver I can't really help you with since I haven't traveled much beyond there.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:16 AM
 
Location: In the sticks, SC
1,642 posts, read 4,521,298 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdavid93225 View Post
If you're planning to drive I-10 to California, you'll probably not want to do so in the middle of summer, as most of that route is through areas that get very hot during that time of year. For example, Phoenix, AZ regularly sees temperatures of 115 degrees in the summer. I would suggest a more northern route in the summer. In the winter, I-10 would be good, though parts of it are boring, because it's not particularly scenic.

One of the most scenic routes that I am familiar with is I-70 West from Denver, CO until it ends at I-15 in Utah. From there, I-15 will take you South into L.A., if that's someplace you'd really like to see. It will also take you through Las Vegas along the way. East of Denver I can't really help you with since I haven't traveled much beyond there.
Thank you!

This is the type of information I am looking for, as I am in the embryo stage of planning this. This trip would be at least 2 yrs from now.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Texas
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You can get great deals on SUVs now cause everyone is trying to get rid of them as gas prices once again are trying to get to $5. You do not want one of these turkeys. I highly recommend buying a used RV conversion van instead. You will still get decent gas milage but now you have cooking, bathroom, real bed, heat, AC, TV and all the other modern luxuries.

A stupid SUV with the back seat taken out offers crude living conditions and little comfort. Do you really want to depend on highway rest stops to go to rest rooms and truck stops to take showers? I doubt you would even qualify as a trucker for them to let you use those facilities.

With a RV conversion van you can stop in an RV park every other or every 3rd day to empty the tanks, get to stretch out your limbs and take a good shower and use the other park facilities. With an SUV you will have no modern conveniences and will end up needing a hotel every night or every other night. Maybe you can sleep in the back floor of an SUV in a noisy truck or rest stop one night and maybe even 2 but at some point you will need a damn shower.

As for time of year, you have to choose spring or fall with an SUV. You will have no heat hot water, or AC should the temp change overnight. You can not run your SUV engine all night long so you can run the heat or AC. With an RV conversion van you will have heat, hot water, running water and AC which would give you way way more flexability should you find the night gets real hot or cold.

I kept saying RV conversion vans. You could even get an old Toyota class C which there are stil lots of on the road. Before you go, replace all tires, rubber hoses and fan belts even if they look ok. You could even buy a cheap popup travel trailer. You will not even know that thing is behind you they are so light and comfortable.

Finally my last advice is "JUST DO IT". I been planning something special for my 30th birthday. then 40th, then 50th.....which all passed me by. Some day I will take that kayak trip from Vancouver Island to the bottom of California while living off the land............some day.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Miami, FL / Raleigh, NC
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RVER, Just do it seems like a good advice if one can afford it.
I myself will like to do something like that but it seems that for whatever reason I don't. Yes, I have traveled a week or 2 at a time, but not a long road trip.

This is what I would like to do next summer or the summer of 2011. If I convince myself to "JUST DO IT", I will probably do it next summer.

I would like to take 4-6 weeks and hit the road. Particularly the Pacific Northwest (WA) and the neighboring states like Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and possibly Wyoming. If time permits go even further. Since I live in Miami I would fly out west and then drive.

Talking with a friend of mine and estimating cost of a trip such as that by myself not including airfare and it could be done under $5,000. We came up with that number by estimating a little high on expenses such as gas, hotel, etc. I think I can definitely do 4 weeks for considerably less than 5K.
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:17 PM
 
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If you are just doing the drive to do the drive ... then whatever you've got now for a dependable vehicle is fine, you don't need a special vehicle for the trip, especially if you're willing to do a little tent camping or find some of the motels near or in the woods/national & state parks along the way.

A very modest investment in a few hundred dollars of camping gear at your local Wal-Mart will suffice ... a tent, folding camp table, propane stove, electric lantern, an air mattress and a modest sleeping bag, your pillow, a folding camp chair, ice chest, and camping tableware and cookware will easily do the trip. Of course, you can easily invest in higher quality more durable stuff ... but it doesn't sound like you've been into that much camping up until now. Try it on a more modest scale, and if it works for you ... then it may be worth it to get "better" stuff. Don't forget that "sun showers" are cheap and very efficient at giving you hot water for a lot of uses while on the road ... mine will heat water in the back area of my subaru station wagon while driving down the road if it gets some direct sunlight.

You'll have lot of opportunities enroute to stay at state or federal campsites for nominal fees, with many amenities. And, if you want to stay in some of the cabins around National Park areas, that will be an opportunity to find a room with kitchen and bath ... perhaps even more amenities ... for nominal money and an opportunity to not camp.

A conversion van, as RV'er suggested above, can be a very handy way to have your "base camp" with you at all times and still stay at motels from time to time. But, even with the very low prices I've seen on these lately, you're still looking at a larger vehicle that is more expensive to run down the road (fuel, tires, etc). From what I've seen, these vehicles don't tend to get very long engine life, either ... it's not uncommon to see a nicely kept 100,000 mile van with a worn out motor and worn transmission. They simply have to work harder all the time to pull the load than a van without all the stuff and holding tanks and equipment and extra A/C and generator .... But if you can find one that's still serviceable for $1-2,000, than it may yet be a viable alternative ... although I wouldn't buy one just for this major trip.

With all the hills and mountains around the Western USA, I wouldn't buy an "old Toyota Class C" unit. They don't handle the curves and grades very well around here, especially at altitude where the marginal horsepower is further degraded. And they're not especially a fuel efficient vehicle compared to your car .... add in the potential for major repairs and breakdowns, and it's not a great option compared to the conversion vans that are out there. You can almost use a sundial to time Toyota camper 0-75 mph time ... which is the speed limit on a lot of western interstates.

OP, you still haven't mentioned what it is you'd like to see ... cities, towns, forests, national parks ... what is it you are seeking to see and do besides the drive out West?
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:27 PM
 
47,573 posts, read 60,610,897 times
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I think autumn. The country isn't so hot then, there isn't snow yet in most places anyhow. You might get to see the autumn colors. Plus the gas prices tend to go down after summer is over and they've squeezed out as much as they could from families trying to take a vacation.
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:31 PM
 
Location: In the sticks, SC
1,642 posts, read 4,521,298 times
Reputation: 1080
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
If you are just doing the drive to do the drive ... then whatever you've got now for a dependable vehicle is fine, you don't need a special vehicle for the trip, especially if you're willing to do a little tent camping or find some of the motels near or in the woods/national & state parks along the way.

A very modest investment in a few hundred dollars of camping gear at your local Wal-Mart will suffice ... a tent, folding camp table, propane stove, electric lantern, an air mattress and a modest sleeping bag, your pillow, a folding camp chair, ice chest, and camping tableware and cookware will easily do the trip. Of course, you can easily invest in higher quality more durable stuff ... but it doesn't sound like you've been into that much camping up until now. Try it on a more modest scale, and if it works for you ... then it may be worth it to get "better" stuff. Don't forget that "sun showers" are cheap and very efficient at giving you hot water for a lot of uses while on the road ... mine will heat water in the back area of my subaru station wagon while driving down the road if it gets some direct sunlight.

You'll have lot of opportunities enroute to stay at state or federal campsites for nominal fees, with many amenities. And, if you want to stay in some of the cabins around National Park areas, that will be an opportunity to find a room with kitchen and bath ... perhaps even more amenities ... for nominal money and an opportunity to not camp.

A conversion van, as RV'er suggested above, can be a very handy way to have your "base camp" with you at all times and still stay at motels from time to time. But, even with the very low prices I've seen on these lately, you're still looking at a larger vehicle that is more expensive to run down the road (fuel, tires, etc). From what I've seen, these vehicles don't tend to get very long engine life, either ... it's not uncommon to see a nicely kept 100,000 mile van with a worn out motor and worn transmission. They simply have to work harder all the time to pull the load than a van without all the stuff and holding tanks and equipment and extra A/C and generator .... But if you can find one that's still serviceable for $1-2,000, than it may yet be a viable alternative ... although I wouldn't buy one just for this major trip.

With all the hills and mountains around the Western USA, I wouldn't buy an "old Toyota Class C" unit. They don't handle the curves and grades very well around here, especially at altitude where the marginal horsepower is further degraded. And they're not especially a fuel efficient vehicle compared to your car .... add in the potential for major repairs and breakdowns, and it's not a great option compared to the conversion vans that are out there. You can almost use a sundial to time Toyota camper 0-75 mph time ... which is the speed limit on a lot of western interstates.

OP, you still haven't mentioned what it is you'd like to see ... cities, towns, forests, national parks ... what is it you are seeking to see and do besides the drive out West?
I just want to see stuff I've never seen before.
I grew up in the inner city and always fantasized about traveling the country in a car or van, just seeing different citites, meeting different people, and taking pictures of the scenery. Also I always wanted to see LA and instead of flying I want to see the sights of the countryside as I go.
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