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Western US, Baja California

Travel Forums Travel Companions Western US, Baja California

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1. Posted by Allen (Inactive 7 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hello: I am planning a road trip through the Western US, Baja California then possibly on south. Camping trip, probably minimum 6 months. About the 6th time I've done this, but now with the internet I thought I'd see if there is any interest in this sort of travel. Last time I spent $450US/month average, gone for 9 months just to Western US/Baja California, traveled 10K miles, camped whole time. If you like solitude/scenery for reading/writing, hiking, fishing, eating, long term camping, might be something to think about. Roads can be rough, 4X4. Thanks, Allen

2. Posted by zachary (Respected Member 471 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

man that sounds like fun man, wish i could join in on something like that, unfortunately my job requires me to be online every single day tho :(

have fun man

and that part of us & mexico is 1 of my fav areas in the world

3. Posted by tfafara (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi there

I’ve got very similar plan on my own. I want to do the coast to coast trip together with three friends of mine. We will be on the road from may to august, starting in New York, then Washington, Jacksonville, New Orlean, Houston, Austin, Carlsbad, Socorro, Santa Fe, (almost) all national parks in Utah, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, nat. parks in California and finally Los Angeles where we’ll stay till mid December. We’re going to buy 4x4 car in NY and stay away from highways as long as possible. And here is my request, if you know some roads (made for 4x4 vehicles) with great sights let me know. Touring “off the beaten path” is always better idea then highways. For the time being, I try to estimate expenses and I could use some help here. For example I have no idea how much we’ll spend on food (per day). We’ll be on tight budget so soup kitchen and supermarkets will be a necessity. What other expenses should I expect besides camping fees (I guess $10 average would be ok) and gasoline?
I’ll appreciate any help.

Thanks in advance
Tom, 21 years old, Poland

[ Edit: sorry, no personal e-mail addresses in the forums please! ]

4. Posted by RonRaley (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

If I were you I would consider $20 as the average cost per night for a camping fee..... This way you are covered, Park fees vary quite a bit from state to state, If you can get a bed in a hostel that might run you $15 to $20 bucks per night, If you are looking to purchase a 4x4, why not get a Van so you can stay in it.. When I had my VW campervan it was great to hang out in and more fuel efficient than my current one ton truck with silverfox camper on it and I didn't have to always stay in parks. I would suggest secondary roads or state highways versus Interstates. As far as New Orleans.... No point in going there Now, it will take some time before that city recovers and can handle any tourist business and who knows what will be left once they start to realise that they many have to tear down big chunks of the area and rebuild.

5. Posted by tfafara (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Is this ($20) average cost on national campgroud? Or private like KOA? I was considering a Van but I’m not sure if a Van can handle some of the “rough” side roads that I found on and would like to check them out. Last thing I want is my car being broken in the middle of nowhere. But if camping fees are double to what I assumed then Van may be the only option. Visiting New Orlean is called into question right now, but there is a lot of time for making decisions.
Thanks for answers.

Tom, 21 years old, Poland

6. Posted by Allen (Inactive 7 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I suppose that everything is a compromise. You could buy a little Subaru 4x4 and save on fuel ($3.00/gallon right now) but be limited in what you can carry, so you'll end up spending more on food, hotels, etc. If you have a larger, full size automobile you can carry a little Coleman stove, a few old pots and pans, a little easy to make food, better bedrolls and save money there, but spend more on fuel. The van idea is good. Unless you're well equiped, it's a drag to camp in inclement weather (wind, dust, rain). The key to driving something like a 2x4 van on back roads is to take it easy, slow. I've done lots of real back of back road trips in 2x4 vehicles. With care you can get them into almost anyplace a standard 4x4 will go. You will pay a premium when buyng a 4x4. In the west I find a place to stay up in the hills, that's the main thing about the back roads, lots of places to camp. I very rarely stay in a campground, but I am very well equiped. In the west you can plan average $15/night in the less popular campgrounds, $20 or more in popular national parks. For four people you are going to have to pack a lot of gear to be comfortable camping. I think the van idea is best. Lots of nice places to go out west, unknown east of Rocky Mountains. I like Utah and Nevada. Buy good maps, carry water.

7. Posted by tfafara (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Well, $3.00/gallon is not that bad. Yesterday I paid (almost) $5.00/gallon (in Poland). ‘Little’ car is out of the question (hotels too) but Van sounds reasonable. The thing is I always liked 4x4 cars. Something like Toyota 4runner was on my mind (got really big trunk:). But I guess that’s what compromise is all about.
Thanks for good tips.

Tom, 21 years old, Poland

8. Posted by RonRaley (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Here in Washington state a lot of campgrounds run around $20 plus per night to stay in the state park system.... many of them offer showers and bathroom facilities, electrical hook ups and on site water. They cost about the same in Oregon, the BLM (Bureau of Land management) has camping locations thru out the US that are Low to no cost to stay in for a few day but usually no ammenities. If you look around when you are Buying a vehicle, you could find a GMC Safari Van with 4X4 out there, they stopped making them years ago but there are always some up for sale for a fairly cheap price and they have a small V6 that is fair on fuel economy. if you can get a hold of some really good topography maps, you can find places off road to park and hang out for a night or two. I never like to go to places that are considered " touristy" It'll take me years to see "The undiscovered America"

9. Posted by tfafara (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I've just checked a few of GMC Safari Vans on and all of them had 4.3L engine. I wouldn't say it's small unit :-) Toyota 4Runner has got "only" 3.0L engine. Besides, I do like Toyota's cars, find them very reliable, even old ones with high milage. I dont't like overcrowded turist attractions too. But sometimes it's an only option to see something. I guess Las Vegas (for example) is just what we'll need after several weeks in secluded national parks in Utah.

Tom, 21 years old, Poland

10. Posted by Allen (Inactive 7 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Fuel will be the least of your expenses: $3.00/gal/4people=$.75/gal/person. Trip of 10K miles @ say 15 MPG average=666.66gal/4 people=166.66 gal/person* $.75/gal=$124.50/person total fuel expense for 10K mile trip. Fuel is usually not the big expense on a long road trip, even though fuel in the little, remote town can be $1/gal or more over average. Accomodations are the big expense, so a big rig that can hold lots of gear will be a lot cheaper in the long run. You've got to treat yourself well on a long trip. If you don't, you will be miserable after awhile. Also, buy a vehicle that is common. Odd or foreign vehicles can be hard to get repaired in the smaller remote towns, and can be VERY expensive, as they know you have no other option. So, my recommendation is eat well, sleep well and be happy. That's why I like the west: plenty free places to stay, beautiful scenery, not much traffic. I don't want to bore with long posts. If you wish leave me a message in the "message center" I can really get into specifics about the west and road trip logistics/economics in general. Don't have a clue about the big cities though: I've never been to Las Vegas except to a gas station and a supermarket there.