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Author Topic: RV travel in big cities  (Read 430 times)

indiebarjohn

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RV travel in big cities
« on: September 25, 2017, 07:37:09 PM »
I have never owned or spent a night in an RV but wife and I think we might like to try it. We are thinking about flying from our home in Florida to San Francisco, buying a Sprinter RV and then driving across the country mostly visiting lage cities like LA, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and New Orleans. We are very interested in live music and want to see show at arenas, theaters, and concert halls. My question is; In large cities, will we be able to find safe and legal places to park overnight while we sleep in the RV and how?

SeilerBird

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  • Everything I state is my opinion.
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 07:54:11 PM »
Well you have a lot to learn about RVs, especially buying RVs. It takes somewhere between three and six months to find the right RV to buy. It is nothing like buying a car. There are way too many brands and models. You cannot shop by the Internet, find the one you want and go pick it up. You also do not want to buy an RV and then head out on a three thousand mile trip. You need to do several small local trips and get all the bugs worked out before heading out. Plus you are going to have to learn how to operate an RV. Most all of here do not recommend buying new as a first purchase. Actually I never recommend buying a new RV. A five year old one is a better deal since all the bugs will have been worked out and a huge amount of depreciation will have happened. I think you really need to rent a few RVs for a weekend and start investigating buying an RV a lot more than you have already. It should not be an impulse purchase.
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Larry N.

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  • Posts: 4473
  • Westminster, CO
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 09:12:22 PM »
Quote
My question is; In large cities, will we be able to find safe and legal places to park overnight while we sleep in the RV and how?

Large cities are the least likely places to find RV parking, let alone a place to spend the night, even in a small RV such as a Sprinter. So you might, in many cases, have to park 20-50 miles out of town to spend the night, then drive in and see what you wanted.  There is an app for your tablet/phone called Allstays Camp and RV which can help you find campgrounds, truck stops, even some Walmart parking lots (not all), and more that will serve as places to spend the night.

It would actually make more sense to buy in Florida, where you live, simplifying vehicle registration, etc. then start your travels from there, rather than the hassle of getting one clear across the country. It's not like renting a car.

As Tom says, it would be wise to take a couple of short (perhaps weekend) trips near home to find out what equipment/supplies you need to get, and to figure out how to operate the various systems (water, sanitary, electrical systems, furnace, slides, shades, to name a few), and to learn the precautions you need to take to minimize the chances of problems. You'll want to take time to study the manuals that come with the rig, too. It's not intuitive.

We'd hate to see you with problems that would hinder your enjoyment of RV traveling, so you might also want to peruse the Library here (button above) to find checklist and all sorts of pertinent information about RVs, even buying and selling them.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
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JudyJB

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Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2017, 01:03:05 AM »
Ditto on big cities being good places to try out RV living.  Your list contains almost ALL of the big cities I avoid driving through with my motorhome.  (Boston and Atlanta are missing.)  You will not find places to park one or places nearby to camp.  Few city venues will allow you to drive into their parking lots with an RV, even a Sprinter.  You will need to camp on the outskirts and rent a car, if that is even possible, to travel to the areas you want to see.  Most of us who travel in RVs even make a point to drive as far around big cities as we possibly can while going past them!

I am a very experienced RV driver, and I would not even consider trying to drive one in San Francisco, by the way.  You will have constant horns honking at you as you block traffic trying to make turns and get stuck in heavy traffic.  And I doubt you would find an RV dealer within 50 miles of that city, so it is unclear where you would even buy one. 

MUCH better is to buy an RV in order to visit national parks and all the wonderful places for enjoying nature that our country offers. I also recommend renting one for a week or so and try traveling around Florida to decide if you like this kind of travel. This will save you thousands of dollars in making a big mistake.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 01:04:44 AM by JudyJB »
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vito55

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  • Posts: 156
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2017, 08:37:41 AM »
I guess if money is no object then chancing it by buying a new RV and heading out on the road is doable. I am on my second travel trailer now, and I still feel that I have barely dented the world of RV'ing. Looking at motor homes, new and used, is overwhelming. There seems no rhyme or reason and as I have found, even the more expensive RV's may contain shoddy workmanship and nightmares behind the wall panels. I have looked at comparably sized motor homes that roughly appear equivalent, with the major differences appearing to be the counter top materials and the bathroom fixtures, yet the price variation was several hundred thousand dollars. We chose to buy new, but it was a modest travel trailer that has been mostly trouble free and RELATIVELY easy to tow, set up, operate in a campground, take down and get back on the road. Not being totally sure that RV travel is what my wife and I really want we only put $18,000 at risk by buying the travel trailer, and even if we take a big percentage loss if and when we sell it, the actual dollars are not that great. FWIW, what we are finding is that the major benefits of traveling by RV is not having to eat three meals a day in restaurants; having our own bed to sleep in each night; and being able to travel with our dog and not be limited to pet friendly motels. We have found that RV parks are mostly used by friendly people, but that the parks themselves vary from excellent to dismal. One of our challenges has been the backing up with a trailer, something I am still very poor at despite some practice. I add this as just a way of saying that travel by RV sounds great, but until you do it you will not really know if it is right for you and your spouse. We have been using ours for a few trips a year for the second year now, and are still not sure if overall this is a better way to travel than to stay in motels, let alone deciding on what type of RV we would truly be most happy with. I write this on day 20 of what will be a 25-30 day trip that will likely end up as about 5,000 miles total. One other benefit I should note: I no longer worry about speeding tickets because I mostly keep it to the speed limit or 65 mph, whichever is slower and the police have no apparent interest in me when there are much faster fish in the ocean to catch.
Retired US Army; Honda Goldwing rider and former MSF Instructor, NRA Life Member

Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2017, 10:20:55 AM »
Quote
I have looked at comparably sized motor homes that roughly appear equivalent, with the major differences appearing to be the counter top materials and the bathroom fixtures, yet the price variation was several hundred thousand dollars.

With a price variation like that, there had to be a difference in engine, suspension and many other systems, even heating and lighting, in addition to the more obvious ones you spotted.

Quote
even the more expensive RV's may contain shoddy workmanship and nightmares behind the wall panels.

Unfortunately true, in many cases.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

Isaac-1

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  • Posts: 496
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2017, 03:20:12 PM »
My only comment on this, if you want to travel in an RV in a big city, get a small one, and a stealthy one that looks more like a passenger van than an RV (stealthier)

something like

https://leisurevans.com/wp-content/themes/ltv-wp/img/free-spirit/virtual-tours/vt-exterior-free-spirit-loading.png

vs something that looks a lot more RV like, but is on a similar chassis like


http://assets.interactcp.com/generalrv/images/brand-photo/winnebago-view.png.pagespeed.ce.cNODf_b_-g.png
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 03:23:08 PM by Isaac-1 »
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TonyDtorch

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Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 06:28:43 PM »
I want one of those Roadtrek or Pleasureway type Sprinters.   if it's under 20 ft. they don't care too much about where you park in most CA cities, and if it has no slides you can live in many places all along Highway 1 for free.

All along the highway from Ventura into Malibu there are 100's of smaller motorhomes with people living life in some of the most beautiful real estate in the world ...and it's mostly for free,  and again down by Del mar and Torrey Pines, many nice state campgrounds too.

I have a friend here in so. Cal with a small Roadtrek he and his wife like to go up and stay in the city of San Francisco all the time. 

all along the coast and in the crowded cities of Ca. ...smaller is better.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 06:49:51 PM by TonyDtorch »

blw2

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Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 10:57:20 AM »
OP said Sprinter, so they are already thinking smallish I suppose.

In our limited travels, we've made lots of urban stops in our 32ft which I suspect is quite a lot larger than your sprinter would be....

Just this summer we made museum day stops in downtown Baton Rouge, downtown Dallas, downtown Albuquerque, downtown Santa Fe, and downtown OK City....

A few years back we did Houston a couple times (museum district and zoo)....although that wasn't right downtown

Lots of smaller city stops too.

No big deal....sometimes a bit of stress but you can make it work if you want it.  I'm thinking of the time in Baton Rouge a few years back when DW directed me to an exit near the college....dumped onto a road with a no truck sign and barely room to turn around..... no stress (just some yelling  :o), then I regrouped and proceeded to make a 13 point turn around

Finding places to overnight a bit more tricky.  I find that most urban walmart type free places don't allow overnights and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable there anyway... but there are apps you can use to help find places, and there are RV parks lots of places....
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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Larry N.

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  • Posts: 4473
  • Westminster, CO
Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2017, 01:09:19 PM »
Quote
Finding places to overnight a bit more tricky.
This was the OP's original question, which is why so many replies suggest a less urban environment.

Quote
I find that most urban walmart type free places don't allow overnights

A lot don't, especially in large city areas, often because of local ordinances, but some do -- Allstays and other sources can help find them.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

ConductorX

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  • Skully Wood and Metal
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Re: RV travel in big cities
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2017, 02:53:33 PM »
Big Cities -
I stayed at a "campground" in New Jersey just across from NYC behind the Statue of Liberty.  The campground was a parking lot full of campers.  There was a bus conversion motor home across from us with a 40" flat screen outside.  I was in a VW Vanagon.

In New Orleans where I work everyday it isn't much better.  Most "campgrounds" are actually trailer parks with mostly permanent residents.  Not really camping to me.  Several of the real live State Campgrounds are at least 50 to 60 miles from the city.  I can vouch for them they are very nice.

Have fun and good luck,
"CX"
ConductorX
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Ford V-10 Gas
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