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Anyone rented an RV to drive across country? Or done it in their minivan?


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#1 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:24 PM

So we are discussing driving across country to attend an event on the East Coast in July. DH can take a month off work.
It would cost a LOT for all 6 of us to fly. Tickets (per person) right now are running $400+ right now to our destination (in PA). Plus we would have to rent a van there, plus place to stay.
The event lasts 8 days and driving we would need 4-5 to get there and I hoped to take our time coming back and show the kids some of the USA.
So we are talking about driving a minivan (we are in the process of shopping for a new to us van). Then I had the thought of renting a small RV.
Anyone done this? Or even taken your own RV across country?
Where do you stop at night? How much does it cost each night?
If we take our minivan, we would stop at motels along the way and eat out a lot, obviously.
We have not traveled since the twins were born and I'm concerned they might here "6 people" and want us to rent 2 rooms?? Even though we only need 2 queen beds.
I thought that an RV might allow us to pack breakfast and lunch along (still will be convenience foods, but less costly) and just eat one big meal "out". Also my DS3 is not a good sleeper, so naps might be easier??? Do you use car seats in RVs??
We could maybe do some "car schooling" a bit easier in the RV? DH wouldn't have to listen to the audiobooks if he didn't want to maybe? Might be easier for me to supervise twins with coloring, etc. (please tell me if I am off on that idea. Maybe it is not easier?? LOL)
Really any info would be great.
If you rented, did they have a plan in case you broke down (like rental car companies do)??
Any favorite websites to find places to stop with an RV?
Or blogs of someone who has done this?
We were thinking of stopping in DC to go the Smithsonian on our way back, but not sure about driving an RV in DC??? That is why I was leaning towards a smaller RV.
If you made it this far in my rambling, thanks...I just figured the hive might have 1 (or more) person who has tried this ;)

#2 NotSoObvious

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:38 PM

We are doing a trip like this from east to west and back this summer. Renting an RV is VERY expensive. I checked. Then add on the gas and the fact that you won't have a car when you get to your destination.
I still think hotels will be cheaper. Unless someone knows a magic RV fairy.;)

Once here, you could camp or rent a furnished vacation rental.

Let me know if you find a cheap way to RV. I haven't.

#3 rdj2027

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:38 PM

This coming summer will be our third trip across country in a minivan (3 children). We stay ay hotels (1 room) that serve breakfast and have a pool. Lunch is out of the cooler. In our younger years we threw up the tents at a KOA overnight. Lunch and breakfast came out of the cooler.

As to DC, downtown DC is the only place we ever hit a deer. I bet it would have thought twice about jumping out in front of us if we had been driving an RV :tongue_smilie:

#4 NotSoObvious

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:40 PM

If you do the RV thing, check out Families in the Road for a list of blogs.

#5 tots2teens

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:46 PM

We rented an RV from Cruise America a few years ago to drive from Florida to New York. We took 6 kids ( ages 2, 6, 9, 9, 11, 11). The kids (and dh and I) still say it was the best vacation we ever took! We stopped at campgrounds along the way. Ate in the RV. The kids could get up and walk around, use the bathroom, etc while we were driving. I did keep the 2 year old in a carseat while on the road. It was so much fun! I think it worked much better than a minivan because we weren't on top of each other the whole time. The kids could play board games & put together puzzles.
Cruise America was great to work with. They have specials all the time. Check their website.
After that experience, the whole family cannot wait for the day that we sell everything & explore the country in a RV!

#6 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:49 PM

We are doing a trip like this from east to west and back this summer. Renting an RV is VERY expensive. I checked. Then add on the gas and the fact that you won't have a car when you get to your destination.
I still think hotels will be cheaper. Unless someone knows a magic RV fairy. ;)

Once here, you could camp or rent a furnished vacation rental.

Let me know if you find a cheap way to RV. I haven't.


Ok, I just did the math from one big rv renter on line and the cost with mileage was...... $10000.....AHHHHH
I think I can buy an RV cheaper used off craigslist...LOL
I hadn't done the math yet...yikes..
ok so I think we are back to doing this in a minvan..I'm just worried it might break down. Especially because it will be a new to us van. We do have AAA, but if 1000s of miles from home, that doesn't help much.
Renting a mini van would run $1200 for a month. And if it breaks down, well they will bring us a new one right? And we go on our merry way...
Ok, now off to see routes and costs of motels....

Maybe we should have a meet up of all WTMers going cross country this summer LOL

#7 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:56 PM

We rented an RV from Cruise America a few years ago to drive from Florida to New York. We took 6 kids ( ages 2, 6, 9, 9, 11, 11). The kids (and dh and I) still say it was the best vacation we ever took! We stopped at campgrounds along the way. Ate in the RV. The kids could get up and walk around, use the bathroom, etc while we were driving. I did keep the 2 year old in a carseat while on the road. It was so much fun! I think it worked much better than a minivan because we weren't on top of each other the whole time. The kids could play board games & put together puzzles.
Cruise America was great to work with. They have specials all the time. Check their website.
After that experience, the whole family cannot wait for the day that we sell everything & explore the country in a RV!

See this I thought it would be like that. And DH would appreciate not having to stop for potty breaks LOL.
Cruise America is where I got the quote..

#8 whitestavern

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:01 PM

So we are discussing driving across country to attend an event on the East Coast in July. DH can take a month off work.
It would cost a LOT for all 6 of us to fly. Tickets (per person) right now are running $400+ right now to our destination (in PA). Plus we would have to rent a van there, plus place to stay.
The event lasts 8 days and driving we would need 4-5 to get there and I hoped to take our time coming back and show the kids some of the USA.
So we are talking about driving a minivan (we are in the process of shopping for a new to us van). Then I had the thought of renting a small RV.
Anyone done this? Or even taken your own RV across country? We looked into it for an upcoming cross country trip. I think the RV was $4000 for 8 weeks, which I thought was fairly reasonable, but then I found out the RV campgrounds were around $50-70 a night. At this point we'll be trying to find some cheap hotels in the locations where we'll be staying only one night and camping the rest of the time. We are hoping to purchase an SUV by that time.
Where do you stop at night? How much does it cost each night?
If we take our minivan, we would stop at motels along the way and eat out a lot, obviously. We are p lanning on purchasing one of those coolers you can plug in to your car. I will stock it with easy breakfast/lunch items to help save some money. Camping dinners we'll just shop for at local stores, but I'm sure we'll be eating out quite a bit.
We have not traveled since the twins were born and I'm concerned they might here "6 people" and want us to rent 2 rooms?? Even though we only need 2 queen beds.
I thought that an RV might allow us to pack breakfast and lunch along (still will be convenience foods, but less costly) and just eat one big meal "out". Also my DS3 is not a good sleeper, so naps might be easier??? Do you use car seats in RVs??
We could maybe do some "car schooling" a bit easier in the RV? DH wouldn't have to listen to the audiobooks if he didn't want to maybe? Might be easier for me to supervise twins with coloring, etc. (please tell me if I am off on that idea. Maybe it is not easier?? LOL) RVs are smaller than you think; with almost no storage. And we were looking at fairly big ones. Our idea for school was to purchase a couple of iPads and do what we could with them.
Really any info would be great.
If you rented, did they have a plan in case you broke down (like rental car companies do)??
Any favorite websites to find places to stop with an RV?
Or blogs of someone who has done this? Here's one I bookmarked along the way: http://bounderbeast.blogspot.com/
We were thinking of stopping in DC to go the Smithsonian on our way back, but not sure about driving an RV in DC??? That is why I was leaning towards a smaller RV.
If you made it this far in my rambling, thanks...I just figured the hive might have 1 (or more) person who has tried this ;)


I'll be keeping an eye on this thread to glean some info for myself. We're hoping to go this fall!

#9 rivendellmom

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:03 PM

We've done both. We rented a full size rv and took our then 4 kids ages 9,7,5,2 and my fil from chicago to disneyworld.We paid $2500 for the rv. It was 2001 and gas was still 99 cents a gallon. We ended up buying a van and popup camper the next year. When we have driven cross country with 6-7 of us we just get 1 room. I don't bring the whole gang to the check in desk. ;)

My boys would sleep their sleeping bags. Now everyone is big so we get 2 rooms.

I highly recommend the trip no matter which way you decide to do it. Driving across country is very fun with kids.

#10 whitestavern

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:03 PM

See this I thought it would be like that. And DH would appreciate not having to stop for potty breaks LOL.
Cruise America is where I got the quote..



LOL, the whole not stopping to pee was one of the main reasons I wanted to rent an RV!!

#11 K&Rs Mom

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:04 PM

We drove from MI to Seattle, down to Colorado Springs, then home a couple summers ago, in our minivan. It held up fine, was about 6-7 years old at the time. AAA should cover you anywhere in the country. They're awesome for maps & travel guides too, as you plan your trip. I drove the first part with dd's, and met dh in Seattle (he flew there for a conference). We mostly stayed at campgrounds & cabins along the way, took our time exploring and minimized hotel bills that way ($40/nt for cabin instead of $100/nt for hotel). I packed a ton of food and entertainment for the kids. I had a stack of boxes hidden in the trunk and would pull out a new one after every multi-day stop, because that's when we were doing the 12-14 hour drives. We mostly drove a really long way to somewhere, stayed there 2-3 nights, drove a long way to somewhere else, stayed again....

#12 Kinsa

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:13 PM

I've made more trips across the country with kids than I care to admit. We've done it in a minivan, in a 15 passenger van, in tents (didn't like that one), in an RV, but never flying. Just for kicks, here's our blog covering our upcoming adventure: www.coach-and-six.blogspot.com We meet with the realtor this coming week.

Incidentally, RVing in state/national parks (or military famcamps, if you have access to them) are MUCH cheaper than, say, a KOA or other luxury RV resort. Usually $20/night or less, even when paying for the extra people/occupancy.

#13 Kinsa

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:19 PM

Here's another thought: Buy a used RV and save a ton of money. PPL is the nation's largest preowned RV dealership, located in Houston. You can get "$$$$$ RV's" down to "$ rv's". We sold our old used RV through them last summer. It was a 2002 bunkhouse travel trailer. Sold it for a mere $5000.

http://www.pplmotorh...vs_for_sale.htm

#14 KungFuPanda

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:20 PM

When my sister PCSed from Hawaii to Maryland, she started in CA and drove cross country with 6 people and 3 dogs in a dodge caravan. I think they had a small luggage trailer attached and maybe a tent. I thought she was crazy, but apparently there were more good times than bad. Her 4 kids were all between 9 and 15. The oldest, a teen girl, was the least amused by the adventure.

#15 tots2teens

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:20 PM

I don't remember how much we paid but I can imagine it would be much more expensive to go across country than just up the coast.
Space was limited but you just have to pack smart and do laundry along the way.
I'm on my phone & can't figure out how to quote but I will try to respond to questions :)

#16 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:22 PM

We drove from MI to Seattle, down to Colorado Springs, then home a couple summers ago, in our minivan. It held up fine, was about 6-7 years old at the time. AAA should cover you anywhere in the country. They're awesome for maps & travel guides too, as you plan your trip. I drove the first part with dd's, and met dh in Seattle (he flew there for a conference). We mostly stayed at campgrounds & cabins along the way, took our time exploring and minimized hotel bills that way ($40/nt for cabin instead of $100/nt for hotel). I packed a ton of food and entertainment for the kids. I had a stack of boxes hidden in the trunk and would pull out a new one after every multi-day stop, because that's when we were doing the 12-14 hour drives. We mostly drove a really long way to somewhere, stayed there 2-3 nights, drove a long way to somewhere else, stayed again....

Awesome Ideas! about the boxes and staying 1 place for a couple days then 1 long day of driving.

#17 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:26 PM

Thanks everyone! Keep the ideas coming ;)

#18 sgo95

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:29 PM

I've never rented an RV but we have taken a 3 and 1 year old on a cross country trip (CA to PA) in a sedan (it took us 5 days driving about 8 hrs a day). If I was making a choice between flying and driving, this would be my cost comparison (assuming you're going to buy a minivan either way):

Flying: ~$2500 for tickets
+ ~$600 for minivan rental for 8 days
= ~$3100

Driving: ~$1500 for 10 nights hotel (we would stay at a Homewood Suites or Residence Inn along the way because they regularly allow 6 people/room and we like the kitchenette)
+ ~$700 for gas (assuming 4000 mi roundtrip at 20 mpg at $3.50/gallon)
+ ~$250 depreciation of van for driving 4000 miles (based on KBB pricing of used 2008 Dodge Caravan at 60000 miles vs. 64000 miles)
+ ~$300 in extra food costs for 10 days since you're eating out more
= ~$2750

If you extend the driving to take a leisurely trip across the country, you'd add more hotel and food costs. Of course, your specific costs may be different from my comparison, but I just wanted to point out that purely on a $$$ basis, you won't necessarily save much over flying. The RV sounds like a lot of fun, but again cost-wise may not make sense if that's the main criterion.

#19 NancyNellen

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:30 PM

We love major road trips in the minivan! We have done Boston to Colorado Springs and back, Los Angeles to Boston and back, Los Angeles to eastern Tennessee and back, and many other smaller trips...all in the minivan with five kids. We actually really, really enjoy these long trips and love spending the time together.

I do recommend rationing water/drinks so as to not be stopping so frequently. We can easily go 4 hours without stopping now that the kids are older. We also take lots of high protein snacks for the car so we don't have to stop for lunch: nuts, granola, Greek yogurts, beef jerky, trail mix. My husband does a lot of traveling, so he has a bazillion Marriott rewards points, allowing us to stay for free quite a bit. This is a double blessing because we can almost always get a free breakfast. Spring hill Suites and Fairfield Inns are our favorites, because we can usually fit the whole family into one room.

Good luck with your planning!

#20 MyLittleWonders

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:31 PM

We've gone roughly 2700 miles in a minivan with four kids (at the time 8 months to 9 years). We'll be doing it again this summer. It was a fantastic experience and we still talk about "remember on our trip ... ". We're going a different route this time to see more of the US and we decided that we needed a skybox on top of the van as it was pretty crowded. But, between audio books, music, and some ipods/ipads to pass around, we did fine with about 7-8 hours of actual driving (plus any stoppage time).

#21 LostSurprise

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:38 PM

We took 4 boys (6-12) from WI to OR (and back) in a van. We bought kind of a van fanny-pack, which we filled with sleeping bags. We stayed at KOA cabins all the way. We ate breakfast (and often dinner) from a cooler, and we bought lunch at grocery stores.

KOA cabins cost from $50-80, depending on where they're located. High traffic areas (like Yellowstone) are pricier. You can also buy a membership which takes 10% off each rental. The 6-person cabin contains a double bed and 2 sets of bunks. Some have yurts and other shelter.

The boys had a great time.

I couldn't find an RV rental which was as cheap as doing it this way.

#22 Amira

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:40 PM

We've driven across the country quite a few times. We always work out a combination of camping, visiting friends/family, and a night in a hotel right at the end. We also cook our own food along the way instead of eating out. It definitely saves us a lot of money, but it takes some work. It's nice to be able to stop when we want to and see interesting things.

#23 sparrow

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:50 PM

$50-70/night for an RV site?! Wow. We own a campground and full hook-up sites (that's water, sewer, & electric) are $28/night.

#24 Pawz4me

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:54 PM

Or even taken your own RV across country?


We're in North Carolina and own an RV. Our longest trips have been to the Florida Keys and to Nova Scotia.

Where do you stop at night? How much does it cost each night?


We prefer to stay at full hook-up campgrounds. That means you have hook-ups for water, electricity, sewer and usually cable. Sometimes wifi. Some campgrounds have full hook-up sites and other sites that are just water and electricity (and maybe cable). If staying at one of those sites you have to dump your tanks on the way out at a dump station. Campground costs can vary widely depending on location and amenities. Anywhere from $30 for just a place to stop not far off the interstate with few amenities to over $100 a night at Disney's Fort Wilderness. If you stay at state parks and Corp of Engineer parks you can often stay for less per night, but more often than not those won't have full hook-up sites.

If you want to save some money you can overnight at many WalMarts and Cracker Barrels. It's considered courteous to go in and check with a manager before settling down for the night, and even more courteous if you buy a few things (or have a meal) while there.

Do you use car seats in RVs??


Our boys were well past the car seat stage when we bought our RV, but I do know that many RV'ers use car seats. It really depends on the particular RV and where seat belts are located. They will very likely only be lap belts. Typically the only place that will have forward-facing and rear-facing seat belts will be the dinette booth.

We could maybe do some "car schooling" a bit easier in the RV? DH wouldn't have to listen to the audiobooks if he didn't want to maybe? Might be easier for me to supervise twins with coloring, etc. (please tell me if I am off on that idea. Maybe it is not easier?? LOL)
Really any info would be great.


It really depends on the layout of the RV how much room you have to spread out. Most rental RV's are Class Cs (on van chassis). But in general yes, you'll have more room than in a regular vehicle and it'll be easier to keep young ones entertained.

Any favorite websites to find places to stop with an RV?


As far as campsites? --

Woodall's

RVParkReviews.com

KOA

Or blogs of someone who has done this?


I don't know about blogs, but as far as message boards I'd recommend RV.net.

We were thinking of stopping in DC to go the Smithsonian on our way back, but not sure about driving an RV in DC??? That is why I was leaning towards a smaller RV.


Unless it was a very small RV (like not much bigger than a van) there's no way we'd attempt to take it through D.C. From researching for a potential future trip, I found most RV'ers who go to D.C. seem to prefer staying at Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, Maryland, and taking the metro into D.C.

#25 Lucidity

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 07:17 PM

We have done both and we own an RV now. I much prefer traveling in our RV to a van for all the reasons you stated: room, don't have to pack/unpack constantly, food, memories, things to see along the way, etc. As a PP said, campground fees will varely immensely but we really prefer state parks as they are cheaper and really cozier in a way. The people we've met while RVing have been fantastic - you wave and say hello to everyone. Definitely avoid an RV in large cities (ask me how I know). For our D.C. trip, we state at a campground right next to Prince William National Park and it was awesome. We just drove to the metro each day and took it in.

I like having our own things and know that any dirt is our own dirt. :)

Good luck either way and make memories - that's the most important rule.

#26 Cera

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:32 PM

We did it in an suv and had a great time. We stayed in budget friendly hotels (comfort inn/hampton inn mostly). We called ahead each night once we decided where we would be staying and then one of us went in to check in. We never said how many kids we had and took along an aerobed and set of sheets so we had plenty of room for everyone (we requested extra pillows and blankets at the front desk).

We stopped in a lot of national parks along the way and hit some fun attractions (dollywood was actually a blast). The kids still talk about it two years later).

#27 WoolySocks

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:48 PM

We've taken a number of long trips in our own mini-vans. We've driven as far as 27 hours one way (over several days). We stay in hotels. We chose hotels that have a continental breakfast and we always have sandwich stuff, raw veggies, fruit, snacks ready to go. On the road we ate WAY too much Subway (when it's a choice of greasy fast food or subway, we always go with Subway).

It is always fun. If there are any national parks or monuments on your road, they've always been worthwhile! The jr. ranger programs are usually great and are really fun for kids.

#28 higginszoo

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:49 PM

We've always found that the reduced speed required of an RV as opposed to a minivan to be a factor, as vacation time for dh from work is an issue.

www.sixsuitcasetravel.com is a great search engine for hotel rooms that sleep 6 (or more) people. We can usually find rooms on that site that are cheaper than getting two rooms.

#29 datgh

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:16 PM

We just booked with Cruise America. There are coupons out there. I found one that got us half price on mileage which is saving us quite a bit. We like to stay in the national or state parks. They often don't have hook ups and only dump stations but we are used to tent camping when closer to home so lack of hook ups doesn't bother us to much.

#30 Koerarmoca

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:39 PM

We just moved across country in a mini van with 4 kids and a dog, no hotels just rest stop napping. It was actually a lot of fun. The kids slept a lot. We had to do a lot of potty breaks for both kids and dog. It wasn't all ideal or anything but we lived to tell the tale.

#31 Amira

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 10:25 PM

We've always found that the reduced speed required of an RV as opposed to a minivan to be a factor, as vacation time for dh from work is an issue.

www.sixsuitcasetravel.com is a great search engine for hotel rooms that sleep 6 (or more) people. We can usually find rooms on that site that are cheaper than getting two rooms.


That website is so helpful! Thanks for posting it.

#32 Cera

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 10:38 PM

Another thing to consider, if you go the hotel route it is often a better deal to stay at a "better" hotel (hampton inn or such) and pay a bit more as they have a hot breakfast buffet. On our trip we would all eat a big breakfast and then stop for a large lunch and give the kids a break. Dinner was usually sandwiches in the hotel because by the time we stopped for the day everyone was too restless to sit nicely through a meal (plus lunch out is cheaper than dinner).

Also, when we could we let the kids stay up very late to play in the hotel pool which wiped them out completely and made the next day's drive much easier on all of us.

#33 creativish

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:47 PM

Obviously this site won't be a guarantee but I have it bookmarked and like to check it every so often as I daydream, hoping for the planets to align... http://www.campingwo...entals/Specials
$7.95/night...any takers?!

I also like to dream about converting an RV to WVO to drive around the country for freeee smelling of french fries ;)

#34 Um_2_4

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:57 PM

Awesome info folks..... Thanks, I'll be back later to read more ;)
I would love to RV I think, but right now I think we may go the van route. But I will keep my eyes open gor some RV deals.

#35 Mesa

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:22 AM

I have a full size conversion van, and just sold our RV. (a newer model diesel, 39 ft long) I bought the Rv for reasons you stated.. bathroom stops being a huge factor lol. I prefer to take the van on longer trips... yep.. the van.. The rv for one is SLOWER, especially on windy days. It's horrid in the wind. It's exxhausting to drive, my arms get sore from fighting the wheel for hours. The convenience isnt worth the hassle IMO. The gas is a huge factor as well... 5 mpg RV vs 18 mpg full size van. Also, most rv's are basically a plywood box on a commercial truck chassis.. not safe at all in a wreck. Once I found the couches seat belts were just bolted to a piece of plywood I freaked out. I didnt feel safe having my kids in it anymore after that. I did enjoy the times we had in the rv.. but I dont miss it for the road trips. I adore my van!

#36 transientChris

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

We do lots of driving vacations and moves. Our moves have often been cross country and a few of our vacations were long distance too. I have looked into RVs a few times. They are just too expensive. I would like to note that there are some hotels that not only serve breakfast but also dinner, at least some nights. We just stayed at a Staybridge Suite and had a baked potato bar plus chef salad for our dinner Thursday night. We stayed in the smallest rooms they had, since we only have one kid living at home now. But this hotel came with two rooms, and a small kitchen with a full size fridge, microwave, and two burners plus pans and dishes. I think HOmewood suites also does this same deal.

#37 Bonkers247

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:25 AM

We spent 6 1/2 weeks traveling across the country and back a year ago. We're still talking about the trip. We took our minivan because the RV rental was very expensive. I was just very careful with hotel reservations along the way. We saved $4000 using the minivan and hotel rooms instead of an RV. We loved it so much we are planning another trip sometime in the next few years.

#38 Clarkd

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:33 AM

I don't have rv experience but do have other travel tips. We are a family of 6 and yes, almost all hotels make you get 2 rooms. For a place to stay when you get to the event, instead of a hotel try vrbo.com and rent a house. For us it has been great to rent a house! Then we have a nice full kitchen, room to spread out, laundry, it is cheaper or equal to a hotel. We often get a place with a pool too! There are many options available. No, I don't have any relationship to this site other than previous use. Fwiw.

#39 MissKNG

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:47 AM

We are taking the minivan for a trip out west. There are only four of us and plan on packing our camping gear. We would rotate tent camping with motels to save money. I can't sleep well in a tent, so I would need motel nights to sleep nicer.

#40 Cinder

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

We did an RV vacation once. Not cross country, just from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and outlying areas (Mesa Verde, Durango, North Rim, etc). Yes, it was expensive. We still had to buy paper products to eat off, sleeping bags (or sheets and blankets), towels, cleaning products. You'll have to clean the RV before you turn it back in. And don't forget you'll have to visit the dump station daily. It takes time but it's all part of the experience. It was kind of fun but I don't think we'll do it again.

The biggest thing I have to add that I didn't see mentioned (I only skimmed, though) is that dh said driving the RV was much more exhausting than driving a car. (He did all the driving on our trip.) It's huge and the steering is just not the same so you have to focus a lot more.

Enjoy your vacation, whatever you decide!

#41 Um_2_4

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:13 AM

Ok, Lots of good info. How about ideas for keeping kiddos occupied in the car?
So far I've got: DVDs, MP3 players loaded with audio books and headphones, nook, coloring (with colored pencils due to heat), hot wheel cars and maybe I can make some felt "roads", sticker books (like melissa and doug), books obviously (but some DC get carsick and books always made it worse for me?), ........and ????
I want things that will not make messes. (DH is a bit OCD about the car....umm...like not spilling, etc) and things that don't have a million pieces to lose under seats etc. I have lots of "tot bags" I made for school time, but most have tons of pieces, so not ideal.
DS9 will take his camera to make a scrapbook, maybe some activity books about US geography.....
DS3 is my challenge. He is a mover. Keeping him in his carseat for 8 hours (with breaks obviously ;)!) will be a challenge.

As far as destination, we will be camping in cabins at the event, so I think along the way we will do hotels. It will be a busy 8 days and I want DH to arrive rested, not exhausted.
Does anyone know of those sites based on those magazines you pick up along the highway that has deals for hotels along the road? Know what I'm talking about? Last time we drove to the midwest, we picked one up at a fast food place (yes we will eat there occasionally LOL) and it grouped hotels by exit and highway # and had "coupons" for really great rates. We used to call ahead once we had a good idea where we wanted to stop and book a room using that guide.

I am absolutely looking for places that offer full breakfasts, as DS9 does best when he has eggs/cheese for breakfast and not a bunch of carbs(muffins/panckaes/cereal etc), so that is important. So favorite hotel chains???

And this may be a silly question and kinda out there, but when I was little my parents drove from the midwest to the west (not quite to the beach) and we stopped at a really cool place and I would love to take DC if it is still around. It was a Flintstones village based on the cartoon. It had the rock houses, the whole thing. DC still love to watch that cartoon with me so I would love to share this. Anyone know where it is????

#42 Um_2_4

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:24 AM

Good point about the RV being exhausting... DH drove a moving truck (the smaller one) from MO to CA and it was tiring. He was much younger then also LOL!

5mpg on an RV???? WOW!
So ya, DH and I discussed it last night and it looks like we will take a van. Either the new to us van we hope to buy soon or rent one ($1200 for a month).
We are discussing doing the drive 12 hours, stop, sleep and spend the day there, sleep, wake up early and drive 12 hours, rinse repeat. He kinda liked that idea. It will take 3 1/2 days of driving That would take us a week to get there, but DH would be rested.

#43 Random

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:45 AM

Just one more option....last summer, we were able to get a deal from Cruise America on a one way rental. Sometimes, they need the RV moved from one city to another, and you can have it for free (basically) if you do that. We were able to find inexpensive one way flights on Allegiant Airlines and Southwest Airlines. You could also check into Spirit Air.

We did not find driving an RV to be more tiring or more difficult than a minivan. It was *so* much better!! It's the most comfortable way to travel with children, I think. No bathroom breaks, full kitchen and the kids could play cards and games at the table on long driving days. It was our best vacation ever. The gas was expensive, but with a free RV rental and not having to eat out, our expenses were really small. Plus, we found inexpensive campgrounds, instead of staying at expensive KOAs. (But, I love KOA!)

We've gone cross country in our SUV, as well. We got up super early and drove for a few hours before stopping for breakfast. We'd drive again for a while, then stop in the afternoon for a few hours at a park to let the kids run and play. We found that by taking a long break in the afternoon and then driving until later at night, we were less restless and could sleep better. Besides, what fun is it to sit in a hotel room all evening?

#44 Random

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:54 AM

We did an RV vacation once. Not cross country, just from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and outlying areas (Mesa Verde, Durango, North Rim, etc). Yes, it was expensive. We still had to buy paper products to eat off, sleeping bags (or sheets and blankets), towels, cleaning products. You'll have to clean the RV before you turn it back in. And don't forget you'll have to visit the dump station daily. It takes time but it's all part of the experience. It was kind of fun but I don't think we'll do it again.

The biggest thing I have to add that I didn't see mentioned (I only skimmed, though) is that dh said driving the RV was much more exhausting than driving a car. (He did all the driving on our trip.) It's huge and the steering is just not the same so you have to focus a lot more.

Enjoy your vacation, whatever you decide!



Just another perspective...we did not buy paper products to use while renting our RV. We brought sleeping bags and towels and plastic plates, bowls and cups, and silverware from home. It didn't seem like it was more trouble than packing for any other camping trip.

We needed to use the dump station once on our week-long trip (6 people).

We didn't find driving the RV to be exhausting.

And, we did not get 5 MPG with our RV! We rented a 28 ft motorhome from Cruise America, and it was more like 10 MPG. Definitely expensive, but that meant no hotels or restaurants or disgusting gas station bathrooms.

#45 NotSoObvious

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:27 AM

I just saw you are from So Cal. We live south of DC and will drive to Santa Barbara and back this summer. We should high five along the way! Ha! We are going to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell first, so we are taking the southern route. Then we want to go to Oregon and make a lot of stops on the way home, but we'll see how much money we have. We are planning on taking three months in between jobs (long story).

#46 Um_2_4

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:45 AM

I just saw you are from So Cal. We live south of DC and will drive to Santa Barbara and back this summer. We should high five along the way! Ha! We are going to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell first, so we are taking the southern route. Then we want to go to Oregon and make a lot of stops on the way home, but we'll see how much money we have. We are planning on taking three months in between jobs (long story).


Santa Barbara is gorgeous! Last time I went though was pre-kids LOL! We really want to hit DC area for the museums, plus we have some friends in the area we could visit. Although DH and I agree that we will stay in hotels, as dropping us plus 4 kids on them would be too much (both are young, small apt, with 1 small kid).
I totally have not decided what route to take..Maybe northern going and southern coming back.
I want to stop here though (I found it from my childhood!): http://travel.yahoo...._grand_canyon-i
It's near the Grand Canyon.

#47 itsheresomewhere

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:12 AM

The only bad thing to using a driving RV is that it is a hassle in certain places to drive/park.

#48 J-rap

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:53 AM

We spent two summers traveling halfway across the country: so one summer to the east coast and one summer to the west coast. We did it in our minivan. We are 7, so I wanted to book our accommodations ahead of time so that we didn't run into hassles about being 7 people. For the most part, we were able to stay in one room. Granted, I didn't always "tell" -- I would have if they asked. We found the deals with 2 queen beds and a sleeper sofa whenever we could, or maybe 2 queen beds + a rollaway. We brought 2 sleeping bags and the kids took turns sleeping on the floor if necessary. I think Expedia lets you search for motels/hotels that sleep 6. (Not all travel sites let you do that.) We tried to find hotels where breakfast was included, and we would have picnic lunches every day. We'd usually eat out for dinner, but not always. Some hotels have little kitchenettes and then we'd make our own meals.

Sometimes little independent motels have creative room arrangements, like 3 double beds all in a row. :) Those are often not on the main travel sites, but if you google motels + the city, you can sometimes find the smaller motels. Little cabins often sleep bigger families too.

KOA camper cabins are really nice. You can get ones that sleep 6, but you do need to bring your own bedding.

#49 lovinglife

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:32 PM

Hotel coupons.com is the site linked to those great little coupon books. I also found La Quinta inn worked well for our family with 4 kids when we did this a few years ago.

#50 Um_2_4

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:57 PM

Hotel coupons.com is the site linked to those great little coupon books. I also found La Quinta inn worked well for our family with 4 kids when we did this a few years ago.


Thanks THat is the book. They even have an app :)


What's with the ads?