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Help me plan our Great American Vacation

 
 
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:14 am
That's right, we're going to do it. Next summer we are planning to either rent an RV or a mini-van and see the country. I will have 5 weeks of vacation and may take more without pay so that we can really take a good look around. We'll be starting from Atlanta and some of the places we like to see are:

Boston
Yosemite
Yellowstone
The Redwood Forests
The Pacific Ocean
The Mighty Mississippi
The Grand Canyon
The Hoover Dam

I've never actually seen most places in this country and would be hard pressed to find some of these places I've listed on a map. But hey, that's what google maps is for, eh? So I'll be keeping up to date here as we get our trip planned. I know it's a year away but I think now is the time to start planning.

The first question we are wrestling with is: van or RV? We could take a van and keep a tent in the back, thereby saving money by using the many camping spots along the way. But part of me really wants to do the RV thing because it IS the Great American Vacation after all. Next question is which direction to head to first? We'll probably start moving lat May right when the kids get out of school, so maybe that would be a good time to go West before it gets too hot?

Please drop your thoughts here. Any and all advice is appreciated.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 31 • Views: 19,072 • Replies: 165

 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:17 am
Mini-van! One with the best mileage you can get.

Given your list, Boston seems quite a bit out of your way. But, if you do come up, would like to have an a2k meet?
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Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:17 am
The average RV gets 6 miles to the gallon...
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:21 am
I hear you on the mileage. I'm hoping Toyota comes out with a hybrid Sienna by the spring, at which point we will immediately trade in both of our cars for one.

I'd love to do an A2K meet if we make it up there. I've always wanted to see Boston. You're right though, it is a tad out of the way compared to everything else. I'm sure we could find something to see in Vermont and Connecticut, though. And the kids have never seen New York City. So much to see, so much to see.

See why I need help?
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:23 am
Rockhead wrote:
The average RV gets 6 miles to the gallon...


Yeah, I know.

But it has a bathroom and a kitchen in it!

I haven't done the math yet, but I think if gas stays the way it is that it'll be cheaper to do a mini-van plus hotels/eating out. I need to find a way to estimate.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:24 am
Given gas prices now (and likely then), van.

I'd go low, along the waterline so to speak. Head for the gulf coast, cross to the Pacific at the narrowest part of the U.S., head north (redwoods etc.), then head east and then back down along the Mississippi.

Boston seems like a separate trip.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:29 am
Another thing we thought about doing was introducing a train ride in there somewhere. Maybe parking the car/RV somewhere and catching a train somewhere that we wouldn't need a car. Then coming back and picking up where we left off. I just love trains and think it would add to the adventure.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:31 am
ehBeth wrote:

Boston seems like a separate trip.


Boston, NYC, and New England does seem quite enough for a separate trip of around 2 weeks, maybe.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:33 am
Re the train - I think train travel is still expensive, but may be coming into line with other forms of travel. What about a train ride up to NYC and Boston. From there rent a mini-van and take a cooler Northern-ish route to the West coast.
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Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:33 am
FreeDuck wrote:
Another thing we thought about doing was introducing a train ride in there somewhere. Maybe parking the car/RV somewhere and catching a train somewhere that we wouldn't need a car. Then coming back and picking up where we left off. I just love trains and think it would add to the adventure.


There are some REALLY cool steam train runs through parts of the Rockies and the Northwest.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:37 am
That's a possibility, littlek. If we get a one-way rental from up North and drive it all the way back. There is also the auto-train but, unfortunately, it starts in Florida. We took it before from VA to FL and it was fun but we had only one kid at the time.

We could also make our westward trip and come back around to DC. We still have many friends there and could leave the van there and catch a shorter, less expensive train to NYC and Boston. We'd be limited to the cities, though.

We may have to do a different trip for northeast corner. I have to stop myself from trying to cram everything into this one trip. We still want to actually enjoy ourselves and go at a semi-leisurely pace.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 10:40 am
I'd pick van for maneuverability.
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farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 11:16 am
A good diesel RV gets about 8 to 10 mpg depending on you as a driver. If youve never driven one, dont learn on a trip, go out and try one for some OJT. Ive seen first timersreally wreck a major rig by taking corners or not correctly estimating overhead branches . Youll need to stay at camps with "Pull through" spots so you dont spend a lot of time just trying to park.

A fifth wheel trailer is actually a better deal

1more room
2you can drop it at a spot and drive the truck
3they handle much better

We had a very tricked out RV that I sold before the gas price rise so I got a good worth, I then bought a 5th wheel Holiday Rambler and we love it. However, we only go to a single spot and then parkit for a length of time. I dont like "exploring" in anything big, too tense in areas where shoulders are soft and desert like or beach like.

Vans are ok I suppose, they usually turn into garbage traps before the trip is 1/4 in. Anyway, they dont get great gas mileage when all loaded up with crap and people.

DO NOT use roof rtop carriers, they arent very aerodynamic and can cost you mileage(if thats one of your concerns)

YOu could consider a CLASS C RV. They are like truck bodies with a larger camper on back. They can be made up to 30 ft with slideouts and they get better gas mileage (maybe 11 to 13). These are a nice in between ( BUS or a VAN)
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 11:38 am
Wow, thanks for all that info.

I've never driven an RV but the husband is the designated moving van driver so I was thinking he'd have a clue. Mileage is a concern because cost is a concern.

The only trouble with a trailer is that we don't have a truck, so that would be something else we'd need to buy/rent. I'm going to look into that last option you mentioned as that sounds kind of doable.

So many variables to consider...
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 11:39 am
Is this a Class C, farmerman?

http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/our_vehicles/compact_rv.aspx
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 01:37 pm
Yes thats a Class C and so are the other ones they show up to 30'. These are ideal for getting in an out of tight areas and low overheads. (Something the bigger Class A's cant do and can be a pain in the ass for fist timers).

I knew a guy who bought a really neat Eurobus (Dont even ask how much he paid). He had it for less than 4 weeks when he tore his back quarter out from hitting a big rock on the roadside. The repairs were about 10 G's.

Many campgrounds are made for stuff taht only 35" or less and lessthan 10 ft high.

There are a number of rental outfits that dont have RENT ME splashed on the sides like a U Haul.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 04:19 pm
I wonder if you could arrange something like what we did when I was a kid. My parents and their friends arranged it as follows. We drove their car and camper from PA to CA. We flew back. They flew to CA, picked up their car and camper and drove them back. While we had their car, they borrowed ours. While in California, we met at Disney World (they had kids). That way no one had to worry about taking anything back.

I doubt you'd want to let anyone drive your car but there might actually be the possibility of doing a drive-out. I bet that's something you could find on Craigs List.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 05:28 pm
That's brilliant, Jes!
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 05:50 pm
I was, looking back, a lucky kid re travelling the US, and even now I consider that of major import to my life, re how I think and see and feel. I was eight in 1950, and that began the decade of travel by car, plane, and train from coast to coast, I dunno, ten to sixteen times, speaking of each way. I think the train on the tracks is embedded in my feet. The plane rising is still a joy. The car, I loved that too. Motels back then were often small cottages among the trees, in Pennsylvania, in Indiana, and sans trees, usually, on highway 66.

We towed a car across the continental divide in Colorado. We had "compartments" in trains. We bought me cowboy boots in Flagstaff, by car.

What am I saying? Consider life as more than one trip, more like a series.

Not that I'm opposed to a general scouting tour, exactly, but I think I might not do that by vehicle all at once. Fly to a place, rent a car/van/C-rv. Cover, oh, six or ten states, fly back.

The trouble with doing this in an organized way is that life intervenes, you may fall in love with one area and want to go back and back and back.
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Aug, 2008 07:24 pm
I would take this route starting from Atlanta, going into Arkansas into
Oklahoma (visit Eva) then through the Texas panhandle (boring) into
New Mexico and ABQ (visit Dys and Diane) go up to Santa Fee (beautiful)
and continue to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.
From there you'll head out to Los Angeles and up Highway 1 to San Francisco. From there east into Yosemite Park, through Nevada into
Salt Lake City and up to Montana/Wyoming to Yellowstone Park. Head
over to South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, go down to Chicago
(visit with the Chicago crowd there) down to St. Louis (gotta see the
arch), and via Kentucky back home to Atlanta.

http://img523.imageshack.us/img523/4528/usaqc5.gif
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