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Old 08-27-2006, 02:38 AM   #1
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I am playing with a perhaps crazy plan for "the trip of our life".
Which means: touring North America for some months (max 6) with our own rig.
The costs of (return) transportation of the rig from the Netherlands to your east coast are something about 6000 dollars (1/3 for the car, 2/3 for the trailer).
First questions:
- do you think it is worth working out the idea?
- can you see major problems?
- is there a cheaper way to cross North America for lets say 4 months?
- do you think it is possible to sell the trailer in the US?
- what would be the best period of the year?

This is all in a very preliminary state.
The "if-question" is not answered yet, let be the "when-question".
First I have to tackle my fear for flying.
Thanks for your concern.
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Old 08-27-2006, 05:24 AM   #2
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Lex: I think it a great plan.. .. Although I can not say for the majority of the U.S. but the New England Sates, Maine & New Hampshire & Vermont should be planed to be seen while in full bloom of foliage ( Mid October.)
America is such a large country that one can plan the trip as to be in relitively warm climates all times of the year, South in the winter and when it's too hot down there head North.
As far as being worth it, don't be sitting home 20 years from now saying "once I had planed a trip across America in my camper, But.....,"
I had a dream of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley but before I took the chance and went out there, I got into a car wreck and broke my hip, which put an end to my climbing days.
Wish I would have went out there earlier to do that thing I always wanted to do. NOw I sit and watch them climb.
If your ever in Central Maine make sure you look me up and if it's fishing season I will take you out to some of the best trout spots I know of, or E-mail me Noreater@fairpoint.net
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:03 AM   #3
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So Lex, you're thinking about bringing a BIOD into the U.S. and selling it when you're done? THAT shouldn't be a problem at all, shoot there's a number of members on this forum who would be interested in purchasing the trailer.

Bringing a car into the U.S. is a different story and one you need to thoroughly check out. There are only a few vehicles manufactured around the world that meet U.S. standards. If you bring a vehicle that doesn't meet certain critera into the U.S., you wouldn't be able to drive it...customs impounds those.

Or, are you thinking about purchasing BOTH when you get here, use them for a few months then selling before you go home?

I think what we'd like to know, is what you want to see while you're here and what kinds of temperatures you're interested in. For instance, if you like rain, come to the Pacific Northwest...November through April. I guess what I'm trying to say, if you know what you want to see and the temperatures you'd prefer, we can tell you what time of the year you may have the most success.
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:36 AM   #4
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I would look into buying a used car and renting a trailer. A member of this group rents them out, I think. The $4000 cost of transporting your camper would buy a decent one and you could probably resell for close to the same amount when you leave. Don't hesitate to take the trip. Let everyone know when you are coming and your route, some of us may join you for a day or two and show around the areas where we live. Free local guide service by a bunch of FGRV people. We are extremely friendly and don't bite (much.)
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:59 AM   #5
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First, Lex, let me compliment you on your plan. That you're even considering it is fabulous! It's something most of us contemplate silently and dismiss immediately. That you've made it this far is way commendable!

Second, bring your Biod. You're comfortable in it, and there would be an immediate market for it here when you're done travelling. I'd even offer to store it for you after you're done and help with the sale if you didn't have a sale pre-arranged before you left. There are undoubtedly others here would offer to help as well.

Third, tow vehicles here are plentiful and inexpensive. Probably the easiest to find, most comfortable, reliable, most practical, and least expensive are the Chevy Astro AWD vans. They can be found used in excellent condition on almost every car lot in the country. For example, here's a listing from Cars.com of Chevy Astros for sale within a hundred miles of me:

Chevy Astros on Cars.com

Fourth... flying... the airlines sell medicinal anesthetic for $5 USD onboard from carts that they wheel up and down the aisles. It comes in small bottles, and when mixed with 7up or even taken straight, can be quite tasty and effective in quantity.

Good luck with your plans! I hope the work out!

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Old 08-27-2006, 07:50 AM   #6
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It is about 3500 miles to cross the country east to west, and about 1500 north to south. So in six months you could expect to drive 10,000 just to make one loop, add another 5000 for seeing things. That makes 15,000 miles.

At 15 miles per gallon of gas, that consumes 1000 gallons, or $3000 fuel cost.

Concerning food, camping, entertainment costs, there is no limit . . . . . But going on the cheap, figure $30 per day for two people X 120 days is $3600. So it looks like if everything went just right you could get through it for about $10,000. I always add about 50 percent for incidentals, which I've never spent yet, but it is nice to have available.

When my wife and I were first married, we twice did such a trip, once in 1975 and again in 1977. We towed a Compact Jr with an old Peugeot 404 Estate (Station Wagon). The trailer worked just fine, but the Peugeot was not a common vehicle in the U.S. Twice, we needed a repair part that wasn't available, a U-joint for the drive line and a water pump that cost us a lot of time and money.

So, I agree with others here. I would definitely not attempt the trip with a tow vehicle that is not real common in this country. Also, most European vehicles are outfitted with small, high revving engines that aren't real suitable for towing heavy loads on American roads. If I were purchasing new, I would strongly consider a pickup, since the depreciation is low on those -- perhaps a Ford F-150, or a Chevy, Toyota or Nissan equivalent.

Concerning the trailer, you might consider selling it here. In fact, I believe you might be able to pre-sell it. How about giving it a try on e-bay. "Unique European BIOS camping trailer to be delivered October 2007 after a round-the-country trip of a lifetime by the original European owner."

Otherwise, buy one here and sell it when you leave. The problem with this approach is it takes up precious time; buying, outfitting and selling in a market that you don't have experience with.

Another idea -- trade trailers for a summer with an American that would like to do the same in Europe.

Just some ideas. Good luck.
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Old 08-27-2006, 09:37 AM   #7
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Lex,

You plan may not be a crazy as you think. When I was in Alaska back in 2002, I met a man, Roland Gueffroy, who was just starting a solo trip from the Arctic Ocean to the southern tip of South America. I followed his exploits at www.gefi-travel.ch for more than a year and was relieved when he finally made it back to Switzerland. That link is now a dead end but when I Googled “Roland Gueffroy”, I came up with several sites that tell his story. This one, http://www.parque4x4.com.ar/preparaciones/...cana/index.html ,
had a link to his e-mail address: gefi-travel@gmx.ch
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:21 PM   #8
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I looked at doing something similar a few years ago and, Donna, I think the restrictions you describe are if an American wants to import a vehicle. Foreign tourists can bring their own vehicles into the US as long as they re-export them afterwards and they are not required to meet anything but basic road safety standards. I seem to remember that if I had wanted to stay more than six months, it might be difficult - but it seemed the usual trick of taking a day trip to Canada or Mexico would work.

Craig, if you want to see sites that are no longer there, or have changed, there is a wonderful web-wide archive, the Wayback Machine. It isn't guaranteed to have everything you want - for example, it only saves web pages, not databases - but it often gives you something. Here is their record of Roland Gueffroy's site - some of the graphics haven't been saved if they weren't changed from previous copies of the site, but if you use more than one date you should get the whole lot.

Andrew
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Old 08-27-2006, 02:56 PM   #9
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I agree with Andrew as to import for touring purposes -- During my travels, I have run into numerous Europeans in RVs (motorhomes, pickup campers, trailers, motorcycles, etc) that they shipped over with the intention of shipping back -- I know that many of these, if not all, did NOT meet US specs with regard to EPA, lights, door reinforcements, etc., but since they were wearing their home license plates I presume that there is some sort of reciprocity (and it works the other way if you want to ship an American/Canadian vehicle over for an Euro.

I expect it would be a lot simpler to sell the trailer than to sell the motor vehicle -- Buyer, of course, has to pay the import duty/fee if any.

I don't know what it will cost to ship the vehicles (surprisingly, it is usually less expensive to ship one way than the reverse trip), but if you want to feel better about the cost, look into renting a motorhome in the US for the same period (BTW, lots of Euros do this, esp in Alaska).

Automotive fuels in the US are dirt cheap compared to Europe and even Canada, and I expect you'll find food to be inexpensive as well.

One problem you'll find is that the most common electrical hookups in the US will be only 120VAC@60Hz, compared to the Euro 240VAC@50Hz (Note: The 50Amp socket at large, upscale, RV parks is actually 240VAC@60Hz, so it is possible to make a connector to adapt this socket to your Biod's cable.

Another problem is that the US propane/LP connectors are different, so you will have to hunt down an adapter to fill your tank or replace your tank with a US model (have to do that anyway if you're going to sell it).

I met a Swiss couple who came to the US/Mexico/Canada for a year -- They had friends in New York State who helped them find a used van camper (Chevrolet) which they drove for the year and then sold before departing -- This meant that all their automotive equipment was US-compatible as far as fittings and repair.
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Old 08-27-2006, 05:24 PM   #10
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Okay, I've got egg on my face, here's a couple of sites that help explain the process of importing a vehicle (if less than a year):

Temporary Importation

Non Resident, Military, etc.

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Old 08-27-2006, 05:34 PM   #11
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I thought there are a least two less expensive methods to RV in the USA for a non-resident. First, list your house and RV on one of the home exchange sites with the idea that you will use theirs here in America. I've not seen a RV listed, but it may be worth a try. Second, purchase a new RV and a used tow vehicle here. Use them for 6 months and sell them before returning home. A 6 month old Casita would resell for almost the same price as you paid for a new one. You would lose some money on the tow vehicle, maybe $2000 if you added 20,000 miles to a 3 year old truck. With an American trailer you would avoid the problems that Pete mentioned. Best of luck with your adventure.

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Old 08-27-2006, 06:19 PM   #12
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Lex, gazillions of Europeans travel our continent with their native equipment. Perhaps their secrets revealed on some web site? I've encountered folks from Germany, Switzerland, Spain, England and France in some very remote areas of Mexico and Canada.
Gensets and AC adapters will take care of most any situation.

It's not crazy Lex.......live your dream while your health is good!

Best of luck, and of course it goes without saying you have a lot of support here!
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:28 PM   #13
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Another idea -- trade trailers for a summer with an American that would like to do the same in Europe.
Now, that's a good idea! Hubby was talking about bringing our Boler to England but I said, No way! I want one of those cute European trailers -- and a car with the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle!
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:40 AM   #14
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Thanks to all feedbackers

Gerry: Thanks for your advice and invitation.
Donna: We prefer dry, sunny weather, moderate temperatures (20-25 Celsius = 68 - 77 Fahrenheit), no wind
Bob: Thanks for your hospitality. If I can sell the trailer in the US, the transport costs reduce to $ 4000
Roger: Thanks for the offer. Probably to connections between a US car and a Euro trailer are a problem. For flying I prefer the BA-treatment
Loren: Thanks for the info. My Renault consumes 1 liter / 13 km = 1 gallon / 30 miles (diesel) when towing. I think we can afford the costs for 'living and spending' for some months. You mention a real problem: the Renault Maybe a swap is an option.
Craig: We are not adventurers of his kind
Andrew: why didn't you do it?
Pete: Do you know the costs of hiring a decent motorhome? Or a (tow)car? The compatibility problems are for the next step.
Tom: I am afraid it is more complicated to arrange buying from here. The swap idea I 'll keep in mind.
Mike: I read a story of a fellow countryman who made an 8 weeks trip with his own car (Volvo). He states it was the best option.
Charlynn: I can imagine that you want a cute European car , but don't choose one with the steering wheel on the right (in fact wrong ) side. I did it once on a daytrip to Jersey (English Channel island). You can't use your normal 'reflexes'. You 'll miss the 'feeling of the car'. It is much more tiresome, especially on narrow roads.

Thanks again, and don't hesitate to spout your ideas

My conclusion till now: our car is a major problem. Perhaps we can borrow our daughters (and inlaw) Volvo
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Old 08-28-2006, 06:43 AM   #15
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- do you think it is worth working out the idea?

Absolutely! If you pass it up now, you'll regret it all your life. In the 1980s, while in our 40s, my wife and I sold our house in the US and moved to the Scottish Highlands for 3 years. The adventure consumed all of our savings, but we have enjoyed the memories for 25 years and have never had a moment's regret.

- can you see major problems? - is there a cheaper way to cross North America for lets say 4 months?


I think it would be much easier and less expensive to buy a used tug and trailer when you land on the east coast, and sell it on the west coast when you're done. Otherwise, no problems once you get used to American-scale distances.

- do you think it is possible to sell the trailer in the US?

Yes, but title registration might be a bit of a hassle.

- what would be the best period of the year?

I'd suggest starting the journey in the northeast in late August, and working southward and westward through the autumn, reaching sunny southern California or Mexico before winter sets in to the north.

Best advice: just do it. Problems will resolve themselves as you go.
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Old 08-28-2006, 06:52 AM   #16
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You might try the folks at El Monte RV rentals. Seems that they offer lots of one-way rentals from airport to airport. Have met several Europeans that flew into Denver, camped through the American southwest, and were leaving from Los Angeles. Looks like their rates run about $40/day. Tom Trostel

http://www.elmonterv.com/
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Do you know the costs of hiring a decent motorhome? [b]Or a (tow)car?
I don't think "hiring" a tow car/truck is a viable option.
My first car / trailer combination was a 1991 Toyota Camry V6LE Wagon / 1971 Compact Junior. The crankshaft bearing seized up on the car during a time when my finances were very tight. I was advised to buy a small commuter car and rent a tow vehicle for vacations. When I researched doing that, I was informed that towing a privately owned trailer with a rental truck was NOT ALLOWED by the rental companies.

In 1995 I inquired about renting a RoadTrek 190 in San Diego. It was $150 per day then.
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:53 PM   #18
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There certainly have been many Europeans who have brought their vehicles over to tour. I would be less concerned about the tow vehicle's suitability than some of the other opinions here, if it is driven as it would be in Europe. That presumably means the 1100 km one-day drive I did with my Boler/Sienna would be out, but on such a long journey I don't see a need for that kind of drive anyway. I would check diesel fuel compatibility, since low-sulphur diesel is just arriving here, so the current fuel may not be suitable for the Renault.

I would not consider selling the European car here (Canada or the U.S.), but then I don't like dealing with massive government bureacracy. While some people would look forward to the opportunity to buy the trailer, they might be discouraged by the conversion issues when it's time to close the deal. How much time on this trip do you want to spend buying and selling vehicles?

The compatibility issues for RV equipment would concern me, both for temporary operation and for resale. As Mike T said, the answer must be out there somewhere. I saw a Pinzgauer with a camper on an RV dealer's lot (in storage) recently; the owners had toured for some time here, apparently successfully, but I don't know what they had to in order to make it work.

I found the same problem with the idea of towing my trailer with a rental as Frederick. Even towing with a borrowed or purchased (to be later re-sold) vehicle would mean some conversion work, since the ball/coupler match won't be quite right (2" versus 50mm) and tow wiring would need a converter. If a suitable vehicle really can be borrowed here, perhaps the owner can handle this setup ahead of time?

I suspect that renting a motorhome would be prohibitively expensive for that period, although there might be good long-term deals from someone such as the guys linked by Tom. I met a Dutch couple in Jasper National Park who were touring with a rental (and headed to the Yukon), but not for 6 months; they were happy to have something which was well-suited to local conditions. Motorhome rentals normally include substantial "mileage" charges, in addition to that hefty daily rate, and it looks like El Monte RV has lots of "extras" even on their one-way specials. Regular rental rates could make the overseas shipping look cheap.

1 liter / 13 km is 7.6 L/100km (the standard way of representing fuel consumption in Canada), which is decent for a compact car without a trailer. Must be nice...

I didn't notice any route recommendations which included any of Canada - I think it would be a shame to spend half a year in North America and see only one country. On the other hand, people are fundamentally the same everywhere, natural geography ignores political borders, and any route should be a great trip.

In the end, I see five options which I would consider:
  • ship over and back, only if I could find proven answers to compatibility questions
  • buy or borrow a tow vehicle and ship the trailer over and back, only if someone will obtain and prep the tow vehicle first
  • buy or borrow a tow vehicle and and rent the trailer, only if someone will obtain and prep the tow vehicle first, and a suitable rental is available
  • trade, as Loren and Tom suggested, if someone you trust can check out the deal
  • rent a motorhome, only if a good deal including all costs can be found
Maybe it's apparent from my list that I'm not a big fan of uncertainty, but maybe that's just part of the adventure for others.

Lex, I hope this works out, and that you enjoy your visit.
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:43 PM   #19
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I was advised to buy a small commuter car and rent a tow vehicle for vacations. When I researched doing that, I was informed that towing a privately owned trailer with a rental truck was NOT ALLOWED by the rental companies.
In the last year U-haul has been renting F-150s for towing. The going rate is either $35 or $50 a day depending on outlet and 35 cents per mile for local towing only. All ot the other rental places that allow towing charge a minimum of $100 per day plus gas. Most other rental places do not allow towing and will not honor liability insurance if you break their rules and tow.
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:37 PM   #20
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Lex, nice to see your post here, it's been awhile!

How about a swap? I'll let you use my Lovebug and when I'm over there, as we talked before, I'll use yours?

I may even find a vehicle for you to use, if you like.

You would be very welcome to stay with us, too. There's many Dutch people in the area and lots of celebrations. You would be a celebrity!

Well, I have to go, it's been a long day of packing. We sold my design studio last week and are closing this week!

Take care, email me if you want to chat!

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