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AdamKPL

HELP! 8 Weeks in the US - Buy vs. Outdoorsy vs. CruiseAmerica

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Hi everyone.  I've been based in Europe for work for the past 7 years with 5 kids (4 of which were born overseas).  As you can imagine travelling with our pack is quite expensive so we've taken all of our vacations here in Europe to also enjoy what we haven't seen before growing up in New England and save some money at the same time.

We're planning next summer already and I'd like to take the family for 6-8 weeks during July and August to visit the west coast specifically Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Olympic and Yosemite; ~5k miles starting at LAX.  We'd need to rent a car and then stay overnight so the RV option (class c min 7 seater)  is certainly the way to go.  However, I'm debating between these three options and could certainly use your advice:

#1 - Buy an older RV between 20 and 35k and use it for our trip then possibly return to the dealer or sell.  Cost $1-5k (excl. fuel).  Concern is possible mechanical issues and time wasted fixing unexpected issues (limited time and 0 RV knowledge or know-how).

#2 - Rent an RV from someone privately via Outdoorsy or some other place.  Cost $10-12k.  Concern is having mechanical issues and time wasted fixing these things on such a long trip with kids and no alternative since we have no family on the west coast.

#3 - Rent from CruiseAmerca.  Cost $13-15k.  Concern is cost since this is the most expensive option.  Pros are minimal stress even if it breaks they will just replace but that is a hefty price tag.

Appreciate your advice and thanks all in advance!!!

Edited by AdamKPL

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I would go with Cruise America since you have kids to worry about.

#1-You are way low on your price for those miles and the probabilty of needing work, and to start tires is very high.

#2-not that much difference for peace of mind between 2 and 3. Maybe less for a longer term rental, there are other companies out there. Google.

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Rent. There are several outfits to rent from. I know nothing about Outdoorsy, but beside Cruise America, is Roadbear, El Monte and to some extent Juicy. If you were to buy, you must remember that you will be responsible for repairs or breakdowns thus deducting time from your vacation. If the rental quits, the rental outfit will bring you another unit.

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Another thing to consider with CruiseAmerica is that they have the most basic of everything, the materials are all terrible (even when new) no awning, no slides, nothing.  I'd look at RoadBear, El monte as they have better options.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! I must agree that #1 is a very bad idea. In order to do that you must first establish an address somewhere in the USA in order to title, license, and insure that RV. All of that takes up valuable time. Then you buy something that could very well be one failure after another and wreck your entire trip. I would look at the major rental organizations like Cruise America and El Monte RV Rental.

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Trade-offs all the way around just be aware that to my knowledge major rental chains like Cruise America only offer gassers. If you plan on pulling any grades, a diesel is better especially with a lot of weight. We rented a 19 foot class c gasser from CA for a trip to Yellowstone. Two people, two dogs and it was a snail in the hills. You can buy a used diesel but you never know what problems you are inheriting.

So, if speed is not a problem and you don't mind crawling up grades, I would probably opt for renting from a nation-wide chain, you will have the support to cover any issues in case you need it.

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1 minute ago, TravellingCircus said:

Trade-offs all the way around just be aware that to my knowledge major rental chains like Cruise America only offer gassers. If you plan on pulling any grades, a diesel is better especially with a lot of weight.

We lived in a gasoline powered class A for 12 years and went everywhere we wished, even while towing a vehicle. It is true that we didn't win any races, but then racing was not a part of our plan. There may be a few diesel powered rigs for rental, but they are sure to cost significantly more. Thousands of people rent from those companies and are successful in traveling anywhere that was mentioned in the first post. 

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15 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums! I must agree that #1 is a very bad idea. In order to do that you must first establish an address somewhere in the USA in order to title, license, and insure that RV. All of that takes up valuable time. Then you buy something that could very well be one failure after another and wreck your entire trip. I would look at the major rental organizations like Cruise America and El Monte RV Rental.

Kirk, I have an address in Connecticut so would likely register there.  Last time the dealership was able to register a car for me which I shipped here with a power of attorney I signed and sent in.  Again that would limit options but I have some family which could help out even if I bought an RV in California (i.e. they would send paperwork to CT, I would send POA to CT, family would register and send plates to Cali).  A bit of a hassle but if I could save money why not.

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Thanks all for the thoughtful replies.  I was hoping someone would say option 1 (buy) as I'm trying to believe that is the best way to go.  Spending 200-250 per night for the camper plus the campground fee if not parked at a Walmart from time to time will certainly add up.  Obviously the camper experience would be appreciated by the kids (not to mention the pros of not having to haul suitcases from place to place and finding a hotel/motel/airBNB that accommodates all 7 of us).  On the other hand a 7 seater rental is probably circa $50 per day so not that easy to justify the RV rental option for so long 😕

Edited by AdamKPL

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If you can save money and if you do not mind spending your time. You asked for opinions of experienced RV owners. Mine remains as stated above. 

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To me, the hassles of buying then selling would make it not worth doing even if I had no mechanical problems along the way. We rented a Class C for our first trip and it was a good way for us to go.

Linda Sand

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5 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

If you can save money and if you do not mind spending your time. You asked for opinions of experienced RV owners. Mine remains as stated above. 

:) I know you're right but still I'm still in the denial phase!!!

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26 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

We lived in a gasoline powered class A for 12 years and went everywhere we wished, even while towing a vehicle. It is true that we didn't win any races, but then racing was not a part of our plan. There may be a few diesel powered rigs for rental, but they are sure to cost significantly more. Thousands of people rent from those companies and are successful in traveling anywhere that was mentioned in the first post. 

All comes down to personal preference which is why I ultimately suggested going with a rental. If I were to do it again as I am one of those thousands of people who rented from CA and relaying my experience, I would try to get a diesel and is the reason why I bought a diesel truck to tow my 5er. That's my preference and it's personal just as yours is.

Happy trails Kirk

Edited by TravellingCircus

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Do you have a very trusted person in the U.S. who knows RVs that could look for a RV to buy; have it checked over thoroughly?  Do you have the time to look for one?  That's the only way I'd consider buying.

Renting that long of a time is certainly expensive but I'd go with #3 or El Monte.  They are very popular in the national parks.

If you want the 'camping' experience for your children, some RV parks and even national parks have cabins to rent.  You'd still be living in the 'wilderness' but it might be cheaper than buying or renting.  You'd have to rent a car to get around.  It would be less cost if you could find something with a mini-kitchen or at least a refrigerator so you could save $$$ on breakfasts and food to pack to take along for lunches.

Good luck with whatever you choose!  Sounds like a wonderful trip.

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When we flew in then rented a car we bought a cheap styrofoam cooler to keep sandwich makings and milk for cereal on hand. When left left we left the cooler behind.

Those rental cabins don't always come furnished so be sure to find out about things like bedding and kitchenware if you decide to go that way.

Linda

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Koa's and others have rental cabins. I don't now how many they sleep. You could rent a van and stay at CGs that have cabins. That way you could travel and have the camping experience. Another option is buy several tents and camping supplies. I am not sure you sill find anything that can sleep 7 from a rental but I haven't looked.

I would also rent something in Europe and try it for a week to make sure this is what you want to do.

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Here's a local dealer with a nice inventory of rental units... (Twin Cities MSP MN)

https://www.brambillasinc.com/default.asp?page=xRentalInventory

The Winnebago 31G has bunk beds and a bed over the cab for the kids. Maybe they have monthly rates, not sure.

I would avoid LAX and fly into Minneapolis, it's a beautiful drive out to the parks you want to visit and only takes a couple of days to get out to Yellowstone.

Sounds like a fun trip, my parents took us (5) kids on a 6 week camping trip when I was 13...we packed tents and sleeping bags in a station wagon and mixed in a few cabins/motels in between camping.

 

Edited by ToddF

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Winnebago is a good brand and Brambilla's has been around for decades. I would be willing to rent from them. The 31G Todd recommended looks like a good layout. My only concern is about child seat anchors if any of your kids need those. The USA has some fairly strict laws about children in vehicles and I don't know how old your kids are.

Linda

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2 hours ago, ToddF said:

Here's a local dealer with a nice inventory of rental units... (Twin Cities MSP MN)

https://www.brambillasinc.com/default.asp?page=xRentalInventory

The Winnebago 31G has bunk beds and a bed over the cab for the kids. Maybe they have monthly rates, not sure.

 

Wow! That's more expensive than the OP was hoping for - $21,000 for 8 weeks!!

I still say "stay in a cabin".

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The problem with going local, even if less money, is if the rig breaks down hat happens. At least with a national dealer you have national support. I hope.

Are you planning to rent a rig and a van?

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The more I think about it the more I think you'd be money and stress ahead to just rent a vehicle and use AirBNB for your stays.  But that's just one man's opinion

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After reading all the posts here I think I've agreed to go with jpcoll's advice and go the car and hotel route. Looks like my rv adventure is over before it started but appreciate all the posts. 

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I think outdoorsy has breakdown coverage ect included, but as you say it would be time consuming.  A cheaper option to consider would be to rent a mini van & buy a v large cheapish tent or two lol! And basic camping supplies, sleeping bags, propane stove. If you are planning on camping in parks you will have access to toilets, showers, bbq's, fire rings (depending on fire status). Also a car will get you places an RV can't..... You can always throw in a couple of nights in a hotel if camping gets too irritating. When you're finished put an ad selling it on Craigslist if you've time or put it up there for free it'll be gone in no time! Or drop it off at goodwill store. Maybe check out REI i think they may rent gear but i suspect it'll be almost same price as buying. Whatever you decide have a fantastic time!

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On 8/8/2019 at 12:04 PM, Kirk W said:

We lived in a gasoline powered class A for 12 years and went everywhere we wished, even while towing a vehicle. It is true that we didn't win any races, but then racing was not a part of our plan. There may be a few diesel powered rigs for rental, but they are sure to cost significantly more. Thousands of people rent from those companies and are successful in traveling anywhere that was mentioned in the first post. 

 

Access to gasoline has been a problem for me while towing my car trailer with my Super-C. I'm so tired of hearing truck-stop people tell me "it's out front for the cars".

I want to start a database of places where one can get gasoline as easily as diesel.  If there is already such a database, please point me to it!

At least I know that I can get gasoline at the Stockman's Truck Stop just off I-494 in South Saint Paul Minnesota.

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