View Full Version : OT-Driving Cross-Country in an RV!

04-16-2006, 12:15 AM
DH and DS's just told me that they would like to rent an rv and drive cross-country next summer! :eek: Now I know this may sound great to many people, but I am a "take a plane to a 5-star hotel" kind of girl! princess: Has anyone here done this? Does anyone know where to go to get info on how to even begin planning something like this?

04-16-2006, 04:27 AM
We looked into it and foudn it expensive . Here is a rental site:


04-16-2006, 06:37 AM
It's going to be excruciatingly expensive. My sister and BIL had thought about buying an RV, and just wanted to "try it for size", so they rented for a long weekend from Cruise America, drove with the kids from NJ to DC and back.

A few notes--the RV was NOT clean at all. In fact it was downright skeevy. My BIL got them to knock about $100 off the rental because they had to go to a store and buy cleaning supplies to clean it--the bathroom was gross with hairs all over the toilet, etc.

At any rate, their trip in the rental was fairly short in time and distance, and it still cost them more than driving their own car and staying in a very nice hotel would have.

In the long run, they did determine that it was a good way for them to travel, and they bought a "Rolling Hilton"--a gorgeous 40' RV with slideouts and an onboard shower. (I'm envious!!)

Now that they have their own RV, they drive down to FL to see us in it--just kind of meandering along and stopping at various educational sites along the way, battlefields, museums, etc. My sister homeschools, and they research "sidetrips" with content relevant to the current curriculum. (And for you anti-home schoolers, she's got a PhD in psycology and her disertation was on cognitive development in children. She's also an experienced educator, and the children all participate in "extra-curricular activities" with other kids, karate, Scouting, dance, soccer, riding, etc.)

Driving their own RV makes it much more affordable than renting one, even though it only gets about 6-7 mpg.

R/T from their home in CT to my home in FL costs them about $1000 in gas alone. Going cross country would probably be at least couble if not triple that or more in gas, plus the rental costs for you. They charge milage after the first 800 miles, at $.25/mile if I'm not mistaken. That's going to end up being a $10,000 trip if you take three weeks to do it--don't forget the cost of campgrounds which can add up in some areas, and driving/parking in some cities will be almost impossible. And doing it in less than three weeks is not going to be feasable.

Here's my advice. Don't try it. I've driven cross country about a dozen times, it's exhausting, even doing it over an extended period. When you drive cross country there are a LOT of times that you'll spend hours looking at cornfield after cornfield, desert after desert, or just rolling nothing after rolling nothing. You'll get excited to see a billboard or a dead armadillo in the road. You'd be better choosing one geographical area, say California and Nevada, and flying there. Once you are there you can pick up the RV and spend a week to ten days exploring that area. You can keep you milage/gas costs much lower that way, and really have time to see and do things.

In all honesty, you just couldn't do much more than wave as you drove past to see the entire country in three weeks time. You'd need more like six weeks, and if you were going to be gone that long, you'd be better off simply buying an RV.


04-16-2006, 10:08 AM
I agree with Anne. My friend's husband was given a luxury RV for 10 to reward him for a job well done. They drove it from Texas to WDW and parked at FW. They spent a FORTUNE for their "free" RV!

04-16-2006, 10:20 AM
With gas prices hitting over $3.00 this summer it will cost almost $100 and above to fill the gas tank. To save on campgrounds you could stop at waysides and Walmart parking lots. My family loves rode trips, but it is really getting out of our price range.

04-16-2006, 10:36 AM
My father was a "live aboard" Basically the RV was his home. He recently bought a house to live in when not RVing.

Now it is very nice. (HUGE thing with slideouts and all that stuff, but still) However, gas prices are killing them.. THey did the cross country thing a few summers ago, but they took MONTHS to do it.

A nice RV is a five star RV (don't know if you can rent these monstors), but be sure to figure gas prices.

04-16-2006, 10:49 AM
I considered it but it was ruled out by my family. We drove our own car and stayed in hotels instead. It was a good compromise. We still saw the country but had the comforts of 5 stars at night! But, one thing I did actually notice on my month on the road.....I saw a LOT of broken down RV's along the interstate.

04-16-2006, 01:07 PM
A couple things to think about:

The cost of renting/maintaning and gassing up the RV.

The ability of yourself or your DH to troubleshoot & repair minor problems that may occur with your rental.

The cost in time & aggravation if a major repair is necessary.

Your previous camping experience--have either of you either towed or driven a larger rig? There is a learning curve when it comes to driving, cornering, turning into tight spots and backing up (esp into camping sites). Do you know how to operate the equipment on one of these rigs like lighting the pilots, working to keep the fridge cool, etc...

ITA that doing a X-country trip sounds very cool. As experienced campers though, we do trip to specific areas or parts of the country not all the way across it.

Lots of great RV sites to peruse, join & ask about other people's experiences too:
RV Usa.com (http://www.rvusa.com/forum/main/)
RV Net (http://www.rv.net/forum/)
RV ZONE (http://www.rvzone.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi)
Escapees RV Forum (http://escapees.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x)


04-16-2006, 01:55 PM
My mom has had an RV since 1975. She is now telling me that with gas prices, it's cheaper for her to drive her car and use hotels. So this summer, she will store it somewhere. She goes south for the winter, and she is thinking it will be cheaper to buy a place down there, than it is to drive her RV and rent a spot to park it. I never thought I would hear her say that!!!!
We looked into renting at one time, and it is very expensive!!
My dm is a member of the Good Sams club, and I think she gets discounts on campgrounds. KOA sells a card for $14 a year for a 10% discount. There might be other camping groups where you can get discounts, too.
She also uses the Walmart parking lots at times (most will allow RV's to stay overnight for free I believe).

04-16-2006, 01:56 PM
Here's another thread about renting RV's:


We own our RV, but the only way I'd go cross country is if I had at least 2 months to do it, probably longer. What will get you with a rental, besides gas, is the mileage and the "extras" -- special insurance, costs to run the generator, costs to outfit the thing (sheets, towels, cookware, etc. can all be rented if you don't want to stock it yourself), etc. Plus your rental is likely to be "stripped" of things like awnings and antennas to prevent damage -- so it won't be as nice as those you see on the lots. Renting is a great way to see if you like RV'ing if you're considering a purchase but for longer hauls you'd do better price wise to fly and stay in a hotel.

Deb & Bill
04-16-2006, 06:12 PM
Don't forget about the smaller car you'll have to drag behind when you park the RV in the RV park when you want to go shopping or whatever.

04-16-2006, 06:19 PM
Don't forget about the smaller car you'll have to drag behind when you park the RV in the RV park when you want to go shopping or whatever.

Most RV rental places won't allow towing.


04-16-2006, 09:35 PM
A co-worker did this last summer. He took his minivan though and said it was good bc the kids could easily look and see the sites. In an RV, there are lots of other things that kids could be doing. He Pricelined hotels and was able to do it pretty cheaply.

My DD informed me (when she was 5) that we WILL be doing this to go see "Old Fateful" and the "big hole in the earth" (aka the Grand Canyon) one summer. Luckily for us I'm a teacher and have that kind of time in the summer. I figure we'll drive and DH will fly and meet us somewhere. Now I just have to cut back on the Florida trips and start saving for "THE Road Trip." DS is only 2 so I have a few years. ;)

04-17-2006, 08:17 AM
This is something our family has talked about for the last several years. I actually got some prices last year and I couldn't believe it! With gas hitting an all-time high this summer there is just no way we could afford it. We still want to see the country but will do it another time and another way. There have been some excellent points brought up already that I hadn't even considered. Good luck with your decision!

04-17-2006, 08:42 AM
I think this would be sooooooo much fun to do, but I could never afford it..

04-17-2006, 09:06 AM
Most RV rental places won't allow towing.


On the needing a car thing: since most rentals don't allow towing, you can rent small cars when you get to your destination. Since you'd probably be staying in touristy areas you shouldn't have any problem renting from someplace like Enterprise that'll pick you up. If you do decide to rent the RV this is an option, but it's also an additional expense you'll incur. On the other hand, if you rent a smaller RV, you can use that as your town transportation, although it's a pain to hook and unhook from the campsite when you want to go somewhere.

04-17-2006, 12:36 PM
DH and I love road trips and looked into renting an RV last year to drive down to Ft. Wilderness. We wanted to see if we liked RV'ing with the thought of possibly purchasing one ourselves one day.

I was SHOCKED when I saw how much it would cost us to rent an RV. I forget the exact amount now, but even just rental fees (excluding gas) would have ended up costing us more than flying and staying in a hotel.

I think a trip across country sounds wonderful, and I hope to do it myself next summer, but unless you're considering buying an RV someday and want to try one out to see if you're cut out for camping, I'd suggest taking your car and staying in hotels. It will end up costing much less money, and it also seems like less of a hassle than hooking up and breaking down camp every day if you're not experienced with the process. I know that's a major issue for me aside from cost. Due to all the work involved in setting up camp, RV'ing doesn't seem convenient if you're only planning on staying in each place for a night or two as you would on a cross country trip.

04-17-2006, 01:49 PM
Thinking back to my childhood, the very best vacation I ever took was a cross-country driving trip. My husband and I are planning to take our children on a cross-country trip in a few years -- we think the teen years would be ideal for such a trip.

Originally we were planning to rent an RV, thinking it'd be convenient to be able to cook our own meals and avoid moving in/out of hotels. When we looked into the price of renting, however, coupled with the cost of gas, we decided that we'd be better off driving our own vehicle and staying in hotels. The rental cost will be a nice downpayment on a new van, which will be ours to keep. Also, we don't like the idea of being slowed down by driving a mobile hotel room through the big cities. While there are some positives to the RV idea as a cross-country vehicle, I think it's not as practical as it appears initially.

If we were interested in buying an RV for ourselves for the long-haul, it might be a better deal, but that's not an investment we plan to make.

If you decide to do the RV thing, I think you'd be wise to do a "test trip" ahead of time. See for yourself how much time it takes to start out each morning. See how you like driving the big thing. See how many gallons you get to the mile. Then you'll be able to make an informed decision for your family.

Also, I don't think 5-star hotels are practical for a cross-country trip. The fun in being in a nice hotel is being able to relax and take advantage of the services and amenities. If your goal is to drive cross country and see the sights, you're not going to have time to lounge by the fancy pools or visit the spas.