Would love some advice


New Member
Hi all

I am a Physician Assistant student who has to do seven 6-week clinical rotations around the western united states. We do not get paid while we are working/learning at each clinic or hospital. Nor does the school coordinate or pay for our housing while on the road.

So, in an effort to manage the costs involved in this year long adventure, I am thinking of going the RV/motor home route. Seems so nice to not have to pack all my stuff up every six weeks, or to have to hunt for a room in a house to rent (or worse have to go to a hotel and rack up a large bill).

My main concern is finding places to park that are not too expensive, but also close to where I will need to work. Here are some general questions

What happens if I get a rotation that is not close to a park?
Is there a good list someplace that has parks and costs listed?
Do parks ever cut deals?
Is it legal to park overnight on city streets?
Is it safe for a single female?
Do you think I am crazy?

Any advice would be great.

thanks, and have a great day


Senior Member
Re: Would love some advice

There are several campground guides published, the best is the one from Trailer Life. You can probably find a copy at a local RV supply store. They list most of the RV parks and the cost to stay there. They also have a rating system, which gives some idea of what they are like but the park buying an add tends to raise the rating a point or so.

Do parks cut deals? Not as a rule but most do have a weekly rate and many also have a monthly rate which are less than the single night rate. It is very common for weekly rates to be about the same as six nights cost for seven nights stay. Monthly would be on the order of 3 1/2 weeks rate.

It is not legal to camp on the streets for long term and in some cases not even for one night. On the other hand, it is quite common to be allowed to spend a night or two in a parking lot at a place like Wal-Mart or K-Mart or at a truck stop. Most would not let you stay there for six weeks.

There are many single women who live fulltime in their RVs. It is like anything else, it is cafe as long as you use good judgment in where you stay.

If you have the budget to buy an RV then of course you are not crazy. But remember that an RV is not inexpensive and especially not for a new one. You would probably be wise to get one that you tow so that you can use the tow vehicle for transportation while in an area because it would get very old to unhook the water, sewer and electric each day and reconnect each evening.


Senior Member
Re: Would love some advice

The idea has potential, but of course there are problems as well.

To begin with, RVs are not cheap. In order to get something which is comfortable, functional and reliable (for essentially 'full-timing'), we are talking an outlay of at least $50,000 and perhaps more. Of course, you can do it for much less, but you'll need to put up with worn, semi-functional units and have a large repair fund to deal with things which break down or wear out.

Motorhomes are more convenient to use when travelling, but once you have reached your destination they have some less desirable features. The biggest is that they usually don't allow you to transport yourself around the area. Thus you generally need another vehicle to tow behind it when travelling and provide transporation where the motorhome won't go (or not easily). Also, their maintenance needs tend to be rather bigger than a 'normal' vehicles. A trailer might be a bit more economical for the 'equivalent' comfort and function. They are a bit more trouble to use while travelling and to set up/tear down, but once they are set up they are at least as good as a motorhome and perhaps a little better. And you have the tow vehicle to get around in. And only one set of (usually lesser) maintenance and insurance.

So here are answers to your questions:
1) The short answer is 'you are screwed'. The long answer is 'Can you find out where all the rotations will be in advance?' If so, you can check out the parks in the area. If most of them don't have parks, you can scratch the idea. if only 1 or 2 don't, then you can come up with other options, such as a park near to some other form of transportation (train?) which goes by the place you are interning. Or renting a place where you can park the RV nearby and 'dry camp'. With care, all you really need is an electrical hookup, and a place to go once or twice a week to dump and get more water. Or leaving the RV somewhere and renting an apartment or other 'brick' living place.

2) There are several books listing 'all' campgrounds with their prices, dates open, amenities and restrictions. See a Camping World for a selection or look online.

3) Varies, depending on how busy they are and personal preferance. Some belong to 'clubs' like Passport America which provide significant reductions. Many have lower rates the longer you stay. Often they will offer discounts to other organization's members like AARP or Good Sam or AAA. And some will do 'unofficial' deals if they are approached right and have a lot of empty sites.

4) Depends on the the local laws and ordinances. I wouldn't count on it for 6 weeks anywhere, but for a night here or there, maybe. Wal-Marts and other big stores sometimes allow you to use their lot, as do most truck stops. Keep in mind that you will need to provide your own electricity (generator, solar and/or battery) and water (fresh water tank). And you will need to dump every now and again.

5) Being 'on the street' is not completely safe for anyone. Being in RV parks should be at least as safe as a rental and more safe than a hotel in an equivalent area. As with anything in life, take all due care; many victims get that status by acting like victims. One thing to consider is to have a dog with you for protection and companionship (unless you have to be away from the RV for more than a standard work day at a time or the dog can be 'litter box' trained).

6) Yes, to put in a year of work for no pay and to have to pay your own expenses to boot :) No, to consider an RV to do it in, if you have the money and skills to make it work. Have you ever RV'ed before?

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Would love some advice

The most economical choice is a Travel Trailer (TT), however, they are the hardest to tow and set-up. The 5th wheel trailer is a good choice, but you will need to purchase a good heavy duty pickup to tow it. You could get by being single with a small TT or 5th wheel. 21 to 25 foot in length would work as long as you know it isn't forever. If buying used you could concievably get by for an outlay of $30K or even a little less. The trailer could run $9/15K and a newer gas pickup for $10/15K. If you require bigger, then the $50K figure Hertig quoted is right on. TrailerLife is the best directive.


Senior Member
Re: Would love some advice

There is a hitch called 'Pull-Rite' which claims to make a travel trailer tow 'like a fifth wheel' and make it easier to hook up as well.