A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by marstrings, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Hi folks.

    I'm from the UK and am planning the trip of a lifetime with my musical partner in crime for next year. The basic idea is to tour for most of next year, hitting the festivals in the summer and gigging as much as possible in the spring and fall and tying in visits to radio stations as often as we can swing it as we go. It's a kind of adventure, so we'll be doing a lot of sightseeing too, if possible. :) :cool: :laugh:

    We've decided we can probably cope with a class B (van) camper, but as the trip will be so long, we'll be wanting to buy. Does anyone know anything about restrictions/requirements for buying a vehicle as foreign nationals? Also how to do the insurance?

    Does anybody have recommendations for what would be a good camper? Our budget will probably be in the area of US$16,000.

    Thanks in advance.

    Martin.
     
  2. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Hey marstrings, welcome to the forum. I don't want to rain on your parade, but $16,000 won't buy much except for old and troublesome (mechanical trouble). Most Class B's are pricey. I think you could possibly find a good used pickup($10,000) and tow a small (18 to 21 foot)used travel trailer ($6000) in that price range. :)
     
  3. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Thanks for the advice and the welcome DL.

    I was hoping the budget would get me a used, but not too troublesome camper. Too optimistic though, huh? The class B thing appealed to us, as it would be a simpler thing to drive through towns etc. What would be a realistic budget for a servicable class B?

    Going the pick-up route, there are those things that look like they slide onto the back of the pick-up. Do they really, or do you buy the whole thing pre-assembled? I'm a bit wary of having to tow anything; never been that good with steering/backing stuff joined at a hitch. At some point I'd be certain to take a gatepost out in reverse or something. (What am I saying at some point? Most days would be closer!)

    Martin.
     
  4. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Martin, actually the things that slide in the back of a pickup are called Campers. The trailers and motorhomes are called RVs. Except the Big Rig drivers (18 Wheelers) contemptuously call all RVs campers. You may be able to find a used slide-in-camper for around $6/8K, however, they are kinda pricey too (new $20K to $25K). You may be able to find a used Class B for $16K, however I doubt it will be reliable as new ones sell for $60K to $120K. :(
     
  5. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Are you planning to live in this RV for the whole year? Or travel for a week and then stay in a hotel/motel for a week?. If the former, let's keep in mind that all the options mentioned so far are SMALL, and most people will find it very cramped for long periods.

    I would say a good used van camper would probably cost at least $30,000. These are great for getting from here to there, and getting around once you get there. However, they are rather cramped to live in once you get to a place.

    The slide in campers are separate from the truck and just slide in. They are even more cramped than the van camper and are at their best for weekend trips off the beaten path. Note that for a good one, you will need a heavy duty pickup truck, which will add to the cost.

    Probably your best bet would be a medium trailer. We had 2 people and 7 cats in a 24.5 foot fifth wheel for 6 weeks at a time with no problems. Yes, backing up is a pain, but if you plan ahead you can keep the amount of backing you need to do to a minimum. I think the only time I ever backed my trailer was when I put it in storage, but I sometimes had to pay extra for 'pull through' camp sites.

    The ultra light trailers you can pull with a light duty truck are generally too flimsy to live in full time. So, I think a good heavy duty (3/4 ton or 3/4 HD) vehicle and a reasonable 25 foot trailer (both used) again would cost at least $30,000.

    Now we are throwing around what seems like a large sum of money here, but keep in mind that with care and luck, you ought to be able to get perhaps 75% or even more of it back when you go to sell the unit.
     
  6. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    If you stay in reasonably priced or cheap motels, you will come out far better than purchasing a new RV for a year. Maybe even a used RV considering the maintenance possibilities.
     
  7. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Thanks everyone for your advice. Lots of food for thought. I'm glad I decided to come here and ask.

    Does anyone know who I could talk to to find out about the legalities of buying a vehicle as a UK citizen? I asked at Trailfinders (major adventure holiday agents) and they said there was no problem. It worries me though, and I don't want to get to the US, only to find I can't buy or insure a vehicle (if we decide to go that way). As you can imagine, this is a major thing we're planning. Having to completely re-organise our way of doing things because of some problem with vehicle ownership would be very depressing!

    Martin.
     
  8. Texas_Camper

    Texas_Camper New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Go to www.yahoo.com once there, in the web search spot, type in rv dealers. That will show you several dealers to contact about any problems concerning selling to a non-resident.
     
  9. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    I'll do that, thanks TC.

    It looks like we're going to have to revise our budget somewhat. $30,000 is going to be a lot for us to find in a year. The upside is that when we sell at the end of the trip, we will get a good chunk of our money back.

    Thanks for the suggestion about motels TexasClodhopper. I think that in the long run, it will be cheaper for us to buy a vehicle that we can live in for the year.

    Showing my ignorance again, but I've just had a thought. If we get a 5th wheel or a class C RV, we'll have to park up in campsites every night won't we. We'll have to figure that cost into our budget also. Does that apply to class B campers also? Is it OK not to park overnight in a campsite in a class B?

    Martin.
     
  10. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Not really. Most Cities have ordinances against overnight parking. Wal-Mart will allow it if the City doesn't preclude it. However, a year in Wal-Mart parking lots is even more than I could handle and I love Wal-Mart. There are some places like Truck Stops that will allow free overnight parking and some city parks are fairly reasonable. There are books that tell you where you can overnight/camp reasonably. Bottom Line: Class B's are treated as RV's (same as Trailers, Class C's). However, they don't draw as much attention and look more like a van so you could possibly get by overnighting on a city street. If you want to take a chance, safety wise. :(
     
  11. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Marstrings,
    Let me suggest that you start with a visit to this link http://www.1tree.net/adventure/full-time/visit_the_usa.htm where you will find a page that was written by a citizen of the UK who does pretty much what you have in mind. He has now made several trips over here, storing his RV when he returns to the UK for a visit.

    One thing that I have not yet seen is mention of the need for a visa in order to visit the USA. They do not renew them automatically any longer so you might have some problems staying for longer than six months. I strongly suggest that in addition to reading that page, use the email address listed there to contact the author as he would be happy to help you learn just what to do and how to do it.
     
  12. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    OK, that's good advice DL. And you're right - a year in Wal-Mart parking lots, doesn't sound very attractive :)

    Martin.
     
  13. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Thanks for the link Kirk - I'll definitely follow that up.

    As for the visa thing, the limit for UK residents is 90 days visa free travel in the US and twice that for Canada. What we intend is to head out to the US for 90 days and return home briefly, then travel out to Canada for 180 days, returning home again at the end. Finally, we'll head back out to the US for the last 90 days. This resets the clock for us, and allows us time to sort out stuff back home on our hops back to the UK.

    Martin.
     
  14. SnowbirdInFlight

    SnowbirdInFlight Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada



    Don't forget to check out the state parks. Most are very well kept, secure, and quiet. We love to stay at state parks too for the price.





    http://www.iloveparks.com/park-stateparks.htm







    And the Federal Parks are great too. http://www.nps.gov/archive/parks.html
     
  15. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Besides the legality of staying overnight in places not designed for it, is the question of hookups. A RV has sewage tanks and a fresh water tank and batteries. This means you can live in it overnight without hooking up if you don't use much power. Most motorhomes and some trailers have a generator, which will allow you a longer time between hookups but burns fuel. But at some point in time you will need to hook up to water (to refill your tank) and a dump station (to empty out the sewage).

    One option is Passport America. For $25 to $45 a year, you get to stay at member parks half price. My experiance is that this works out well in the south west and less so in the north east.
     
  16. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    I'm beginning to see that our idea of getting an RV and roaming around was a little simple!

    Thanks SnowBirdInFlight and hertig. I'm not sure about how common RV sites are in the US and Canada. We'll probably be making up our route quite a bit as we travel. Can we expect to find campsites every day, or should we be planning our travels around sites?

    Martin.
     
  17. marstrings

    marstrings New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    I'm beginning to wonder whether this isn't the better way to go. In my innocence, I was thinking that once we'd bought the vehicle, we would have covered most of our travel expenses, and what's more, by selling it at the end of the year, get a lot fo our money back again.

    But if we're going to have to pay out cash each night for campsite/facilities anyway, perhaps we should get a car, and stay at motels as you suggested..

    Gonna have to do some calculations.

    Martin.
     
  18. RVMills

    RVMills New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Don't forget your food/meal costs will be a lot cheaper the RV way. We planned a short trip and figured it out 3 ways - car. truck or RV. Even with the gasoline costs - the RV was cheaper - figuring a few nights Wal mart, a few state parks and a few campsites. Good luck 9- it sounds like a lot of fun.
     
  19. Roadtreker50

    Roadtreker50 New Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    Martin, there are some very good and valid responses to your query. I own a Class B - Roadtrek. They are small and do not offer much in the form of additional space for instruments, amps, etc. I only bring one guitar when I travel and it often is in the way. If interested in a Class B - check out Roadtrek (or other brands) to see the floor plan. Roadtrek.com My '94 Roadtrek is the same floor plan as the 2007 model. I also agree that $15,000 won't buy much, especially when you figure in the "break-down worries" factor.

    Good luck in your travels and your gigs. Maybe there is a way for you to keep the forum posted on your travels. We get a great number of musicians passing through our town and its always good to hear new artists and meet and chat awhile.

    Paul
     
  20. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: A Grand Tour of the US and Canada

    I don't know anything about campsites in Canada.

    I generally go from Arizona to Illinois and RV parks are all over the place. When hookups were an option, I could usually find a place to stop (even if it was only a rest stop with no hookups) within a half hour of deciding I wanted one. Now that at least electricity is a must, I can usually plan for a Passport America campground within an hour plus or minus of a "day's travel". Cost for PA in the Southwest is generally between 10 and 15 a night.

    As you go North East from Illinois, the campgrounds start getting a bit more spread out, further from the highway and more expensive. Still, by planning ahead I was able to find one pretty much anywhere I wanted it (but fewer were Passport America members).

    You can often save money by getting less than full hookups. Some Motels have RV hookups also and these tend to be cheaper than a 'real' RV park. If you plan to stay a different place each night, it will be the most expensive. In many cases there are weekly or monthly rates which can be considerably cheaper than the overnight rate. This is true of both the RV park and the motels. Of course, you have to watch out for special events, when the vacancies drop to zero and the prices approach infinity :)

    The last time I looked at hotels, they were 50 to 150 a night (for the cheap but not trashed ones). Probably higher in the North East. Plus a lot of places have a high 'motel tax'; I've been hit as hard as 13% (talk about unlucky :) ) They tend to be priced 'by city', so planning ahead can save you a bundle by going to town B rather than town A. If you can get an AAA membership, you can get free books with many of the hotels/motels listed and rated, with prices. Also a discount for AAA members. This makes picking the best/cheapest place to stay much easier.

    Of course, cars are not free, do break down, and don't carry much stuff. And schlepping your stuff into and out of a motel is a pain. On the other hand, they generally get better gas mileage, have cheaper maintenance than a RV and go places a RV can't.

    Food in resturants is usually unhealthy and almost always expensive. Staying at motels with free breakfast, carrying a cooler with sandwiches for lunch, and using care at dinner, you might be able to eat for 8 to 10 a day. Or it could easily approach 20 to 50 a day depending on your tastes and appetite. With a fridge and stove/microwave, you can carry good food you get cheap (on sale at a grocery store or even better Super WalMart/KMart). But I suspect the fridge and cooking capability of class B's are limited. so this might not be the advantage you hoped for.

    So I'd say that you should plan on at least 60 worth of fuel a day while travelling (assuming 400 miles and 20 MPG), and 40 a day for food and RV space or 90 a day for food and motels. You can cut this down by 1) getting vehicle which gets better than 20 MPG (but it will probably carry less stuff) 2) 'boondocking' in the RV up to 1/2 the time 3) staying put more, travelling less 4) Going to 'fleabag' motels 5) Eating junk and not enough of it, 6) Having someone go with you to share the cost of the high ticket items (fuel and shelter).
     

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