West Coast to East Coast On A Budget
You’ve probably heard people say, “If you really want to see the country, then do it by road because you miss it all if you fly”, or something along those lines.
So we decided to see it by road. We agreed to take a road trip from the West Coast of the United States, to the East Coast where the sea is warmer down in Florida where we were headed than it is around the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Although we knew there were plenty of cheap car rental options available, we figured we’d save our money by avoiding hotel bills and hiring a Winnebago, or RV.
This was a completely spontaneous idea, which for a family of 5, including a 6-month-old baby, was totally out of character or at least not the kind of luxury afforded to young families. I’m not talking about road trips being a luxury because we all know they can be hell, but rather the luxury of being spontaneous. If you have kids you will know that being spontaneous is no longer part of your vocabulary.
Our planned route would take us from San Francisco down to L.A and then up to Vegas where we were going to stay with an old friend I hadn’t seen for nearly a decade. From there, the plan was to tackle the desert and head down to New Orleans via The Grand Canyon, San Antonio, and Houston and on to Miami and Key West.
A few folks we spoke to thought we were slightly mad taking on the extreme heat we were likely to face across states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the middle of July, especially with a baby. This made us consider our plans in far more detail because we realized it would have to be meticulously planned if we were to avoid any disasters along the way.
Planning Our Trip
Sticking with the motorhome option, we looked at obvious factors such as fuel, food and the hire of the vehicle.
When we plotted our route we realized how much we had underestimated the cost and here’s why.
Our route was roughly 3,500 miles, yet we only got 1,400 included in the price of the RV hire for a 2-week period. At a rate of $0.25 per additional mile we were already looking at another $500 on top of the rental.
RVs are not particularly fuel-efficient either with a mere 10 miles to the gallon the accepted norm whereas a mini van like a Toyota Sienna gets around 20 miles to the gallon so we’re talking around a $600 saving on fuel.
So we compared other car rental costs and realized that even though we’d have to pay for hotels, we’d save a lot by hiring a car. Hiring an RV for 2 weeks was almost $1,500 more expensive without the added cost of additional mileage.
Add the cost of fuel to the equation and you’re looking at a saving of over $2,000.
When you consider that it’s pretty easy to get a family room for under $100 a night, the myth of saving on hotel bills by travelling in an RV is blown right out of the water.
The added benefits include hotel air conditioning and the ability to explore cities without a lumbering RV for transport!
Sam Price the author of the article West coast to East coast on a budget, is an avid traveller who has been working with cheap car rental company, Car Hire Market. His travels are exciting because he loves travelling by road rather than flying.