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RV rental - west coast US
Old 03-05-2016, 03:38 PM   #1
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RV rental - west coast US

We want to do a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle during June, 2016. Pacific Coast Highway/101 - along the coast wherever possible. 10 days. I thought it would be fun to rent an RV for the trip. Just me and DW. Just by looking at maps, it seems that there are more campground options than hotels along the route.

Talked to Cruise America reservations and they said it's possible to do this one way, but they need to get approval for one way trips from their corp office. Assuming approval, it's approx $2300 for the RV rental. 19' 3 person compact.I see a lot of their RV's on the road, so I assume that they are ok.

I'm going to check the RV forum and other sources, but I thought I'd check the RV'ers and road warriors here for advice.

Questions:

1. Anyone have experience with renting an RV or with Cruise America?
2. Anyone travel this route by RV?
3. Do campsites along the coast need to be reserved in advance?
4. Anything about this west coast route that would make you want to travel by car/hotel instead?
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Old 03-05-2016, 03:46 PM   #2
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I can only answer one of your questions - yes, you definitely need reservations in popular areas unless you want to play 'find a spot roulette'. It is even more of a requirement (for me, that is) now that fuel is cheap, RVing has become far more affordable, and there are far more RV's on the road vying for the most popular camping spots.
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Old 03-05-2016, 03:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
We want to do a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle during June, 2016. Pacific Coast Highway/101

Questions:

1. Anyone have experience with renting an RV or with Cruise America?
2. Anyone travel this route by RV?
3. Do campsites along the coast need to be reserved in advance?
4. Anything about this west coast route that would make you want to travel by car/hotel instead?
Never rented an RV but drove that route with the one we owned. It's not an area of the country where you necessarily need an RV. I think you can find as many hotels and lodges along that route as you can campgrounds.

The road through Big Sur is a pretty difficult one with a motor home. If you don't have any other vehicle with you, you may want to opt for a smaller RV because that stretch of steep, windy, cliff-hugging road has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. You really don't want to have to drive around it.

We always booked campgrounds at least a little bit in advance. I'd think booking a spot in Big Sur is probably a must if you plan to overnight there. But if you're flexible with where you spend the night, you can probably get by without booking in advance everywhere else.

Happy travels.
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Old 03-05-2016, 04:46 PM   #4
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Before buying our class C, we went to Cruise America and looked at their rentals as people often suggest one do to see if he likes RV'ing before buying. The fee was high enough, and I thought I would like RV'ing enough to skip renting and to bite the bullet to get myself a used one. Five years and 30K miles later, no regret.

About that Hwy 1 and 101, we have driven that many times over the last 4 decades, from Central CA to Olympic National Park, though not the entire length every time. It is quite enjoyable, and each time we stopped at a different spot for overnighting.

The rental of $2300 for 10 days is high. You could just drive your car, and use that money for motels. When I take the RV out for a spin, I usually go for 1 month to 2 months to make it worthwhile. The RV is nice when you want to spend time in camping areas, such as the Redwood Park, the Olympic Park, the many coastal Oregon parks, but you would need more than 10 days.

But you still want to do RV, definitely need to make reservations for the busy summer months. Last year, we went in late April, early May and it was early enough there was no problem getting spots without reservations.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:04 PM   #5
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Take a picture of the gas gauge at the starting line, and of any imperfections, inside and out.

The drop off is way north of Seattle. You can Uber to a park and ride, take an express downtown, the get the train to the airport.

I boondocked at small airfields. Joined some tent campers at state park one night, but besides that, only the night before returning it did I get a site.

I drove South and the back to the starting point in 15 days and paid Cruise America $115 per day, all-in. This was a special rate from their web site.

Weird thing I found was that significantly better rates were available to non US renters. I tried to book through them at first, but they had some way to separate me from the international visitors.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:36 PM   #6
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I borrowed a cousin's Class C and went from S. Los Angeles to Monterrey and back. Then down to San Diego.

Let me just say we now rent cars and stay in motels. We move so much faster and see so much more via auto. It's also substantially cheaper.

At home, we're fifth wheel owner/campers, and we just love to get away from our normal lives.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:44 PM   #7
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I tow a car with my class C, and use the car for touring an area while I park the motorhome as a base.

In Yellowstone and other national parks, I often see Cruise America RVs. Even shorter ones are no fun driving around for sightseeing, as they are not as maneuverable as a car and finding a spot to park is a chore. Not at all fun.

I often wonder if a class B would work for me, as it is small enough to not have to tow a car. But then, for longer trips, my C works out way better. Adding a B to the fleet? No can do. I run out of parking space at home.

Oh wait. I do have driveway space, as we are now empty nesters. The missus will have a fit though.
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Old 03-05-2016, 06:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
We want to do a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle during June, 2016. Pacific Coast Highway/101 - along the coast wherever possible. 10 days. I thought it would be fun to rent an RV for the trip. Just me and DW. Just by looking at maps, it seems that there are more campground options than hotels along the route.



Talked to Cruise America reservations and they said it's possible to do this one way, but they need to get approval for one way trips from their corp office. Assuming approval, it's approx $2300 for the RV rental. 19' 3 person compact.I see a lot of their RV's on the road, so I assume that they are ok.



I'm going to check the RV forum and other sources, but I thought I'd check the RV'ers and road warriors here for advice.



Questions:



1. Anyone have experience with renting an RV or with Cruise America?

2. Anyone travel this route by RV?

3. Do campsites along the coast need to be reserved in advance?

4. Anything about this west coast route that would make you want to travel by car/hotel instead?

You should be able to find enough hotel options along the route. It's going to be easier than lining up campgrounds. There's a lodge in pfieffer big sur st. park if you want to stay in big sur. It's likely to be cheaper than rv-Ing.

driving an RV. Along highway 1 in the big sur area is not going to be much fun either I would think.


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Old 03-05-2016, 08:25 PM   #9
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Are you open to going north to south instead of vice versa? So much more scenic, and you will be properly positioned for the many, many scenic pullouts you will encounter.

We have made this trek the past four summers in a row as it never gets old, and there is so much to see and do along our spectacular Pacific coastline. Reservations are an absolute must, howver, as thousands of others agree with me on this.

Oregon State Parks are fabulous, California State Parks less so. Though scenic as all get out, the amenities and prices can't compare with Oregon. In addition, it will be close to impossible to find a beach-adjacent open California State Park campsite at this point. Private parks are definitely still an option for you though, as they tend to book out much later than the public sites do.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:28 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm definitely going with the rental car/hotel route after reading the posts. Lots of good reasons why in the posts - RV rental costs, distance from airport to RV pickup, difficulty in maneuvering RV on that route, Hotel availability is ok.

And a great point by ElizabethT - I'll reverse the route and go from North to South for better scenery and access to pullouts.
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Old 05-20-2016, 08:50 AM   #11
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The comments about RV traveling costs are very eye opening. We will retire this year and have researched the RV/trailer lifestyle to see if this is the direction we want to go in during our first 6 months or year in retirement. We will be selling our main house but have a small 2nd home we can live in next year if necessary.

We have come close to buying an RV three times in the past but always backed out. We decided we are not "RV" people. So five years ago we bought a tent and all the equipment needed for tent camping including a queen size air mattress for our old bones. The memories took us back to our younger tent camping years and reminded us how much we love nature. We enjoy hiking and cycling so tent camping fits our lifestyle more.

My DH is not a DIY or mechanically inclined so going the RV route would cost us more than someone who has RV'd for years.

This thread has reminded me again that we are NOT "RV'' people. This cemented our decision to take our Nissan V3500 van (used in our business) and tent camp until we decide whether to build or buy another house. Staying in hotels or VRBO during bad weather or when we need a break from camping.

Thanks to everyone for all the valuable feedback. I know tent camping is not for everyone but it is something we have always enjoyed.

Edited to add: I realized I posted to the wrong thread and meant to comment in the RV vs VRBO discussion. Oops. That is what happens when you jump around.
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Old 05-20-2016, 08:53 AM   #12
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littleb, I get what you are saying. We owned an RV for a number of years, but after spending time camping with friends over the past couple of summers of travel, I've grown more fond of the tent (and yes, air mattress is a must for these old bones, too!) and the simple rhythms of camping. And it makes those occasional hotel nights seem even more luxurious!
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Old 05-20-2016, 10:01 AM   #13
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The problems I have with tent camping:

1) No bathroom. So, you awaken to nature's call, drag your happy self out of the sleeping bag, get partially dressed, then wander out in the dark of night looking for a bush, or the campground restroom, depending on the "circumstance". Do this two or three times, since camping always involves consumption of liquid refreshment;

2) No climate control. Not so much of a problem in cooler weather, but I do not sleep well in hot, muggy weather.
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Old 05-20-2016, 10:06 AM   #14
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Saw somewhere on the Web that the US RV industry is expected to crank out 400,000 units this year. That's close to 1/2 million travel trailers and motorhomes of all kinds.

Yikes! All the campgrounds are going to be full. Maybe I'll go back to fly-and-drive.
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Old 05-20-2016, 12:14 PM   #15
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The problems I have with tent camping:

1) No bathroom. So, you awaken to nature's call, drag your happy self out of the sleeping bag, get partially dressed, then wander out in the dark of night looking for a bush, or the campground restroom, depending on the "circumstance". Do this two or three times, since camping always involves consumption of liquid refreshment;

2) No climate control. Not so much of a problem in cooler weather, but I do not sleep well in hot, muggy weather.
These are old man problems.
Get off that hedonic treadmill and join us down here in the swamps of discomfort, will ya?
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:50 PM   #16
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Get off that hedonic treadmill and join us down here in the swamps of discomfort, will ya?
"Misery loves company" is one of the primary reasons I am a loner.
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:55 PM   #17
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These are old man problems.

Get off that hedonic treadmill and join us down here in the swamps of discomfort, will ya?

Oh, I've spent my share of time in those swamps!
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:04 PM   #18
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The problems I have with tent camping:

1) No bathroom. So, you awaken to nature's call, drag your happy self out of the sleeping bag, get partially dressed, then wander out in the dark of night looking for a bush, or the campground restroom, depending on the "circumstance". Do this two or three times, since camping always involves consumption of liquid refreshment;

2) No climate control. Not so much of a problem in cooler weather, but I do not sleep well in hot, muggy weather.
I can see myself using a bottle inside the tent, being groggy in the middle of the night and spill it.

And about trying to sleep in the heat, my love of nature only goes so far. Even inside the RV, quite a few times I asked myself why I had to leave my perfect home to sleep in the middle of a noisy truck stop on a turnpike.
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:42 PM   #19
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Oh, I've spent my share of time in those swamps!
Next you'll be saying something like "that band starts too late for me to go hear them, and, and, it is SO LOUD"... see, slippery slope...


And REW, I feel sure that you can conjure up some misery EVEN WITHOUT company.
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:45 PM   #20
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My girlfriend wants to rent an RV and go to this cozy camp ground place that has a restaurant and some amenities so we can bring the dogs.

I've never been in an RV and it sounds like a plan just to see if we like it.
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