PDA

View Full Version : If you simply must wildcamp, you'll hate this post - USA 2011



maureenandtom
26-05-2011, 22:47
Icelandic volcanoes permitting, we're off to the USA on Monday. It's entirely possible we'll be doing some wild-camping but we've planned some stays at RV sites and we might not wildcamp at all. We going to have a long journey but we've got a month to do it in, New Mexico to Florida, 2000 miles about, and we've booked some RV sites on the way. Also, we've booked RV sites both at the start of the holiday and at the end of the holiday. The rest of the time, we might book into other sites, or stay longer at these and some others; who knows? We know we'll be staying more than one night at some of them.

I thought I'd show you some of the RV sites we've booked and the prices we've been quoted. If you look up some of the clubs I've indicated you'll see that the prices aren't unusual. The people I talked to were universally friendly, helpful and amenable to chat about discounts. At first I did things by email but I found people so friendly I enjoyed the phone calls.

We pick up the rented van in Albuquerque and have booked in here
Home (http://www.enchantedtrails.com/) $17 which is about £11.42 a night.

And a few on the route
Amarillo RV Ranch - Home (http://www.amarillorvranch.com/Home.aspx) $16.50 or about £11 a night.

Treetops RV Village Review and Rating (http://www.texasoutside.com/txorails/public/reviews/show_campground/134) $19 or about £12.50 a night.

http://www.riversedgerv.com/ $12.50 or about £8.30 a night

and before our flight back from Orlando, which is where we hand the van back.
Ponderosa RV Park: Kissimmee Camping, near Central Florida's theme parks. (http://www.ponderosarvpark.com/index.htm) $15 or about £10 a night.

Only one site wanted payment at booking; the others are trusting and we've made bookings for about half the holiday and the rest we'll decide over there. With some sites we were given a discount by joining a camping club called Passport America and there are other clubs too. One in particular looked to be valuable – Happy Camper – I think; but just google camping clubs USA and there are a few of them. Both those I've quoted have a route finding service. Like Google Maps you just put in your start and destination and it comes up with a route and locations of sites within so many miles of the route. You tell it how far off the route you're prepared to travel and it puts push pins in the route map for you.

Remarkable, well worth a look.

vwalan
26-05-2011, 23:05
cant even start to imagine how i,v managed to live with out it . other than a map from cepsa i usually use a kulman &fry map i bought in 1974. for spain and portugal. dont have sat nav but have had a few sad nav,s . the last one said it didnt matter as i was a twat nav. we have mystery tours very often. but campsites hoooooo. better to have flue you can get tablets to ease the pain. i,m glad they enjoy it .they wont be where i go so we shant fall out. have fun i do . cheers alan.
best park on carparks with no camping signs ,run the diesel genny. let the dog run wild .and the kids. have a big bonfire on the carpark throw litter every where . loud music even big jambay drums etc . scrap a few cars around you and bust a few fridges . much better than a campsite and you get a nice group of fellow campers to talk to. if lucky free leccy from the lamposts. and nobody bothers you. oh thats my mates i,m talking about .

MartianTom
06-10-2011, 14:35
Just out of interest - how much is the van hire working out?

Sounds like a fantastic journey. I envy you...

cooljules
06-10-2011, 14:48
cool. if i had the chance i would go fossil hunting in the US, and spend time out in no mans land with the snakes and inverts.

donkey too
06-10-2011, 14:57
cool. if i had the chance i would go fossil hunting in the US, and spend time out in no mans land with the snakes and inverts.

You can do that here in UK. Go to any council meeting or sit in the house of commons public gallery.:mad1:

maureenandtom
06-10-2011, 16:45
I know I should have reported back a bit but I didn't think that people would be all that interested. There's probably so much I can't put in one post so I'll put a few snippets in from time to time.

This was our van:

http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6230/pic0002sq.jpg

This might give you a better idea of what it was like.

Cruise America: Standard RV Rental Model (http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/our_vehicles/standard_rv.aspx)

The total cost of hire was just about $3000 which at that time was just under £2000. The firm are amenable to talking about discounts – very easy people to deal with. To that we had to add flights to get there and spending money, of course. I think we spent 30 nights in the van. I kept full accounts which I haven't bothered to get out right now but when we got back our expenditure had been easily within what we planned.

A pretty expensive holiday but, though not a once in a lifetime thing, not too bad for what is a pretty rare treat.

We had some lovely experiences and I'll think of a few and post them.

The question of would I do it again has only one answer and that's yes. Next time, and I do intend there to be a next time, I'll do it a little differently. Not substantially differently but I'll go for a smaller van next time and I'll look for a cheaper rental.

maureenandtom
06-10-2011, 19:58
http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/1575/petrolglyphs.jpg

Tigatigatiger
07-10-2011, 08:31
I know I should have reported back a bit but I didn't think that people would be all that interested. There's probably so much I can't put in one post so I'll put a few snippets in from time to time.

This was our van:

http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6230/pic0002sq.jpg

This might give you a better idea of what it was like.

Cruise America: Standard RV Rental Model (http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/our_vehicles/standard_rv.aspx)

The total cost of hire was just about $3000 which at that time was just under £2000. The firm are amenable to talking about discounts – very easy people to deal with. To that we had to add flights to get there and spending money, of course. I think we spent 30 nights in the van. I kept full accounts which I haven't bothered to get out right now but when we got back our expenditure had been easily within what we planned.

A pretty expensive holiday but, though not a once in a lifetime thing, not too bad for what is a pretty rare treat.

We had some lovely experiences and I'll think of a few and post them.

The question of would I do it again has only one answer and that's yes. Next time, and I do intend there to be a next time, I'll do it a little differently. Not substantially differently but I'll go for a smaller van next time and I'll look for a cheaper rental.


I'd be very interested to hear all about it as we are planning a "jolly" to the USA (mostly california) next year.

John plans to cycle the pacific coast (or at least the california coast all 1038 miles of it) while I meet up with him on route from time to time and sod off to yosemite and lake tahoe, go surfing/diving/kayaking/whale watching-meeting up in san diego where we'll stay with friends and do more kayaking etc.

How many miles per gallon did you get out of it? and how did that workout as price per mile? And where would you get a cheaper rental??

maureenandtom
07-10-2011, 12:11
I'd be very interested to hear all about it as we are planning a "jolly" to the USA (mostly california) next year.

John plans to cycle the pacific coast (or at least the california coast all 1038 miles of it) while I meet up with him on route from time to time and sod off to yosemite and lake tahoe, go surfing/diving/kayaking/whale watching-meeting up in san diego where we'll stay with friends and do more kayaking etc.

How many miles per gallon did you get out of it? and how did that workout as price per mile? And where would you get a cheaper rental??



This was a big comfortable engine - I think four and half litres, but not sure, big anyway - and we were getting 12, 13 or 14 miles to the gallon. Remember though that American miles are the same as ours but their gallons are smaller. You can maybe work it out but at a reasonable guess I'd say that's 16 to 18 miles to our gallon. Petrol price was variable between a bit more than three dollars and three dollars 50. That's per US gallon which is 3.79 litres. So about 90 cents per litre which is about 60 pence per litre. Americans complain bitterly about paying such a high price. When we bought our dollars we got $1.60 ish to the pound from the Post Office.

Enough there to work out prices? Those prices above are near enough but not exact and maybe a bit dearer than they were in fact. Expensive enough but not as expensive as at home.

There are masses of campervans the size we rented but mostly bigger. However, there are quite a few smaller vans about and they must be rentable from somewhere. If I was to start planning another trip now I'd start with friends we made on the journey- your friends in San Diego might be able to help - then try American websites like our own Wild Camping site - there are plenty of them and you could start with this RVTalk Forum (http://www.rvusa.com/forum/vbulletin/forum.php) . Then local tourist offices and then maybe, local RV sites.

The American RV association I joined was Passport America at Campgrounds (http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds)
and, as I remember, their handbook of RV sites is free to download as a PDF document. As a member you get the printed volume - it's pretty hefty. Membership gets you 50% discount on participating sites.

There are other organsitions too; Happy Campers at http://www.camphalfprice.com/ and there's also KOA - Campgrounds of America but probably others too if you google the right question.

You'll have a high old time planning the trip and you'll have a wonderful time there. Our best wishes and hopes are with you and feel free to ask away. I'll put a few more posts in here until it becomes obvious I'm boring people.

Something about the little wildcamping we did and something about the RV sites maybe.

maureenandtom
08-10-2011, 16:22
Wildcamping in the USA.

Well, we didn't do much. When we did it was on the road in a residential estate outside the home of a relative. We didn't arrive particularly late or leave particularly early but at no time did we feel uncomfortable or at all insecure.

We were told of the possibility of staying overnight in shopping mall car parks and sometimes early mornings I would see RVs in, say, Walmart's car park which looked as though people were still inside sleeping late. My guess is that they had been overnighting.

Any height barriers that I remember were so high that I could wonder why they were there at all. Actually, I only remember one – in Louisiana – and it was high enough for our van to get under with plenty to spare. I've no idea why it was there.

I'm sure there's plenty of wildcamping or freecamping or boondocking or whatever you call it goes on. And why shouldn't it? I never saw, not once, a sign saying no overnighting, no Rvs, no sleeping, camping or cooking, or any such sign so I suppose we can ignore any worries we have of police or council officials. That leaves only the risk of violent attack involving robbery or worse.

We can take courage from a rather surprising discovery – the rate of violent crime in the USA is only a quarter of the rate of violent crime in the UK.

Violent Crime Rate in USA - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwmrWBJaBtI)

No wonder we never felt uncomfortable or insecure.

So, why did I overwhelmingly use RV sites? I'll tell you in my next few posts.

norman
08-10-2011, 16:34
We drove across AZ NM TX a couple of years ago stayed on small R.V. sites average 6/8$ a night with hook up but mostly boondocked most is government land that you can legally park on as long as you are fifty metres from the highway.Only had one problem when we were parked near Bowie near the Mexican border.when a state border guard warned us about Mexican drug smugglers and advised us to move very friendly.There were just so many Americans free parking parked in Walmart car parks.Parked outside Choppes restaurant in New Mexico and asked if it was O.K to park for the night and she looked at me as if I was crazy.America is the best place I have been to for wild camping and Motorhoming in general.

el-D
08-10-2011, 21:17
You clearly had a great trip! I can see that you would want to repeat the experience.

We did it rather differently some years ago. We bought a used RV in Florida for about $10,000 and drove by a very circuitous route, making it around 6,000 miles! to San Francisco. We travelled through 19 states I believe. Finally we left the RV with my sister and her husband to sell for us. All in I think the deal cost us around $2,500 with a little work needed before sale.

I think we may have stayed on a couple of sites. The rest of the time we wild camped. Walmart actively allow overnighting and the truckers use them too. MacDonalds was another carpark we used from time to time but most of the way it was wild for real. Never did we feel unsafe and we met some great folks while we were on the road.

maureenandtom
09-10-2011, 10:30
I think my little journey isn't a patch on what you two have done and I'd love to hear your own stories. I'm sure many here would like that too.

For my next trip then I think there's no doubt I'll wildcamp more – maybe entirely. There wasn't any single reason for using RV sites almost exclusively; it just seemed right to do with the particular set of circumstances we had. So I'll make a start as to why we made that choice. We hope it helps other people looking to visit the USA or maybe let people think a visit is possible especially if they thought it was out of reach.

First, like Norman says, the sites are not expensive. With one exception I think the highest price we paid was about $15 – say £10. That one exception should have been about $25 – no Passport America discount but even at that one it came down to about $20; I might tell you why later. Normally, we were getting half price through our Passport America membership;

We were told there are plenty of free sites. I've got a book for California, about ten years old, giving lots of free places in California and there's probably lots free everywhere. We paid a fairly substantial cost added up for 30 nights but not bad night by night. The cheapest probably was about $8 – say a fiver.

Tigatiger - the book is called “California Camping” by Tom Sienstra, published by Foghorn Press, ISSN 1078-957X. There's a website Welcome to Foghorn Outdoors (http://www.foghorn.com). I've checked that the website still exists, and it does, but I haven't delved through it to see if the guide is still available. If you try it let us know how you get on? I used it for a camping trip (with a tent around 2001) and there's plenty of pay-sites in there too.

At our sites, invariably, we had connection to water, electricity (50 amp or 30 amp) and a sewer connection. We also had WiFi which was almost always free. Twice, I think, it had to be paid for – I can't remember how much but it didn't feel like a rip off. A couple of dollars maybe.

That's one of the most memorable things about the sites; nowhere felt like a rip off. We spent a couple of weeks around Albuquerque, then a week or so on the journey and then a week in Florida – nowhere felt like a rip off. Every site we were on, even the largest, felt like a family business where we were welcomed and valued.

It's maybe 15 years since I used a campsite in Britain and about the same since I used one in Europe but can you imagine this:

http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/3078/dscf0062a.jpg

Can you believe that? We were there in office hours but we were invited for coffee anyway.

Or this – Out of hours, just slide the payment under the door. Does this happen anywhere except America?

http://img694.imageshack.us/img694/9341/pic0006resized.jpg

maureenandtom
13-10-2011, 08:33
A word about communications.

I have a quad band phone which I use with a global sim card. Mine is from 0044 and I'm very happy with it. I use it at home as well as abroad. Except in the USA. Call charges in the USA using that sim card are horrendous but I'd looked up the charges in advance and made other arrangements.

Actually, our daughter who lives in the USA was ahead of us and she'd bought us a GoPhone. You can google it. For an affordable fee, which we didn't pay – our daughter did - we had unlimited incoming and outgoing calls in the USA for $2 a day chargeable only on the days used. Or you can opt for a charge per call and you can change from one option to the other if the one doesn't suit you in practice. Google will make it clearer. AT&T Samsung Prepaid GoPhone Cell Phone A107, Silver - Walmart.com (http://www.walmart.com/ip/AT-T-GoPhone-Prepaid-Samsung-A107-Cell-Phone-Silver/15421486)

For calls to the UK, we had almost unlimited access to WiFi when parked up for the night. This meant that we were able to use Skype at 1.4 pence per minute back to the UK and Australia. It worked well and easily. So easily that I can't remember receiving any calls from the UK, people were probably fed up with us calling them. Anyway, that's how we kept in touch. GoPhone and Skype.

Because we had WiFi access that meant that we also had access to BBC iplayer etc. This needs a little explanation because the iplayers aren't supposed to be accessible outside the UK. The way this works, as my limited understanding has it, is that you connect to the BBC computer (or Ch4 or ITV) and it knows from your IP address that you aren't in the UK so denies you access.

If you google “Expat Shield” there is a way you can access iplayer. Expat Shield (http://expatshield.com/products/) The way it does this is that Expat Shield allots you a proxy server in the UK and gives you a UK IP address. Bingo, the BBC thinks you are in the UK and you can access these things supposed to be UK only.

Expat Shield for watching iplayer etc : British Expat Discussion Forum (http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=695954) gives a little information and hints that this is too good to be true – no such thing as a free lunch – but for the month we were away it worked perfectly and we had Eastenders and Corrie and all the rest of that stuff people seem to like.

All the above contributed to the decision to use RV sites – more later.

coolasluck
13-10-2011, 16:37
Glad you guys enjoyed the states, i went their years ago with my mountain bike,back pack and full panniers and loved it.I have to say we are determined to go their again but i am seriously thinking of ownership out there i could quite easily spend 3 months out there in every year.As we are planning to go fulltime i doubt that would be any problem for us,just the best way to go about ownership out there and storage e.t.c

maureenandtom
13-10-2011, 19:25
We made friends with an American couple who were doing almost that. They were investigating leaving their motorhome at this site below and travelling to Albuquerque by car to stay in the van. Have I said this right? They weren't doing exactly what you propose but a sort of half way house between being a static van on a permanent site and being permanently mobile. Sort of store it there for a month or so, use it for a while, then store it for a month or so again, you understand? Pretty well what you think of doing but not leaving it for nine months at a time.

They told me they were to be charged $50 dollars a month for storage and I've just looked it up now and they told the truth. The charge for storage is $50 a month plus tax which I think is 8%. Here it is: Rates (http://www.enchantedtrails.com/rates.html)

Doesn't seem a huge amount. It just seems a long time to leave the van on its own. I think it would be safe from vandalism and theft, just a long time to leave it alone. Flat tyres, brakes seizing up, that sort of problem, maybe. Just to exand on the idea a bit, have you thought, maybe, of group ownership? A sort of time-share. I should think if you really wanted to make it happen, it could be done.

I hope you succeed and I'd love to hear if you do.

coolasluck
13-10-2011, 20:56
Yes im looking into all avenues at the moment and my idea is on the list,its great if you can get a 6 month visa out there but i would have thought now it would be a pain in the ass,which was why i stated 3 months.I would be interested in your costings at some point.I suppose we could rent a van for a month but after that it would be too expensive which is why i would consider ownership and then going to and fro from europe to the states:idea-007:

maureenandtom
15-10-2011, 22:14
Yes, of course - any help I can give will be given gladly.

Why we used RV sites almost all the time.

I can't come up with a "one" answer. It seemed prudent to have the first and last nights booked into a site. We were a little worried about wild-camping - we thought wrongly that the USA was probably a risky place to wild-camp. We thought we would quickly run out of electricity if we wild-camped and the weather being very hot we would need air conditioning all the time. Other reasons too probably - all minor but maybe adding up.

Most of our negative assumptions were wrong.

But, when all added together it made sense for us to use sites. The ones we used were invariably of high quality with individual connection to water, sewer and electricity. The van had as standard equipment a combination microwave/convection oven (this meant we could continute to make our own bread). Free fast WiFi access. And, the sites were all inexpensive.

I've made this next point to council officials in England where my point of view is completely ignored. Not answered - just ignored. Some officials will freely tell you that they don't like wildcampers because there are plenty of campsites in their area and they want you to use them. My point of view is this:

If campsite owners want to sell to me then they have to sell me what I want.

In the UK, they don't. In the USA, they do. At a price I can afford.

So I used their sites.

Tony Lee
16-10-2011, 01:47
They told me they were to be charged $50 dollars a month for storage and I've just looked it up now and they told the truth. The charge for storage is $50 a month plus tax which I think is 8%. Here it is: Rates

Doesn't seem a huge amount. It just seems a long time to leave the van on its own. I think it would be safe from vandalism and theft, just a long time to leave it alone. Flat tyres, brakes seizing up, that sort of problem, maybe. Just to exand on the idea a bit, have you thought, maybe, of group ownership? A sort of time-share. I should think if you really wanted to make it happen, it could be done.

I hope you succeed and I'd love to hear if you do.

Not such a problem as you might think. We leave each of our motorhomes out in the open for up to 18 months at a time and haven't had any significant problems as a result. Oil change before, proper winterising, full fuel tank, slightly overinflated tyres, handbrake OFF and try hard to keep the bloody mice out - and have some way of keeping both engine and house batteries charged and the chances are excellent that it will start first time when you come back. We pay $60 US a month secure storage for one and 300 Euro a year for another and of course the others are in our driveway so no charge.

There are few places where you can't free-camp if you go about it the right way and certainly the US Western states and Canada are no exceptions. My experience is that if you can successfully free camp in England, you should be able to easily find plenty of places in the middle of New York or Paris.

maureenandtom
17-10-2011, 10:59
I think I've probably covered what's likely to be of practical interest for those trying a trip to the USA so I thought I'd just put in one or two pictures over a few posts of some things I thought worth keeping in my photo album.

Here's a wildcamping hazard not found in England, we hope. A motorway rest area in North Texas. Not far from Amarillo.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/9244/pic0034ip.jpg

maureenandtom
19-10-2011, 18:27
Conversation at an RV site in Florida.

We've been hoping to see some Alligators in Florida.

Yeah, sure. Over there.

Is that an alligator, looks like a log to me.

Yeah, guess you're right. Wanna go dip your toe in the water?


http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/2395/pic00601.jpg

Advice from this particular local:

"You don't bother the 'gator, 'gator won't bother you."

maureenandtom
25-10-2011, 22:33
This was my sixth trip to the USA but the first in an RV. I hope to have more such trips. There has always been something to surprise and delight me. I'd like to share this with you.

This casino is off Route 66 just west of Albuquerque. The reason we went was because, if you're a senior, which I am, you can get an all you can eat meal for five dollars. Good food it is too; high quality regional cooking. Lots of seniors in RV vehicles are there every day. I believe some of them overnight there but I don't know that for sure.



http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/4500/pic0002x.jpg


CLICK HERE TO REMOVE THESE ADVERTS