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jos
08-25-2007, 06:26 AM
Hello fellow analog photographers,

I'm planning a road trip across the United States in September and October 2007.

I'm a belgian student (26) in photography and I would like to cover some aspects of the US-life on Black and white film. An RV is, in my opinion, the best way to travel across the states. This gives me the opportunity to always be close to the American residents (in stead of living on a campingground from 20h to 7h every night).

I'm looking for someone who can rent me a private RV for a period of two months (starting mid September to mid November). Can anyone help me to find such a vehicle? (No luxery required!)

If you want to take a look at my portfolio, please visit my website: http://student.kuleuven.be/~s0172463/camerajos/naarportfolio2.html

If you have any usefull information, please contact me at camerajos@gmail.com

Kind regards and many thanks,
Jelle

glbeas
08-25-2007, 09:56 AM
Have you looked at these folks?

http://www.cruiseamerica.com/

jos
08-25-2007, 11:07 AM
Hello Gary,

I am looking for a cheaper way to travel around the country. The cheapest model of cruise America will cost me more then 4000 dollars for two months.

greetings,
Jelle

wildbill
08-25-2007, 11:38 AM
I've seen ads posted on craigslist.org from folks offering their rv for rent in the past. You could pick a city and post an ad under RV's.

sly
08-27-2007, 12:33 AM
Last year we RVed in England and Germany for 2 months. We bought a small camper and sold it when we were done. It was elderly and cost less than it would have been to rent one for 2 months. We got 50% of what we paid for it in the end, but it was still WAY less than renting. We were cosy and happy in it, and spent less on our 2 month trip than we'd budgeted for. Sly

jos
08-27-2007, 12:09 PM
Thanks for the reaction, sly.

I've thought about the option of buying one. But I've heard it's not really easy to buy one in the US if you're a foreign visitor for two months. Especially the insurance is a problem (you need to give an adress). Can anyone back this story?

I don't really have the money to buy one (even a crappy one) either. I think I can spent maximum 2500 - 3000 dollar.

greetings,
Jelle

jeroldharter
08-27-2007, 10:16 PM
I think an RV would be too expensive for you. I doubt a private owner would want to rent to a 26 year old male (the highest risk for problems) from out of country who might put alot of miles on the vehicle. Nothing personal, just actuarial. Also, fuel could eat up half of your budget.

I think your best bet would be to rent a van (I have not researched this). Perhaps find an Ace rent-a-car and rent a van for 2 months. You could sleep in the back and have plenty of room for photo gear.

You might want to fly into Florida because rentals tend to be cheaper there. I did a quick search for a full size passenger van (ask for the extra seats to be removed) for 61 days this Oct-Nov and the price was about $3300. Use a Mastercard/Visa Gold card or American Express card which will cover the insurance. But be careful of time limits on the insurance because the credit card companies sometimes have 30-60 day time limits for rental insurance.

If you are more adventurous (you are a 26 year old photography student, right?) then buy a cheap car on Ebay and then sell it/scrap it/donate it when you go home.

Paul Cocklin
08-27-2007, 10:51 PM
If your total budget is only around $3000 US, my suggestion would be to forget it. If your departure point to go back home is the same as your arrival point and you really are planning to drive say, from Florida to California to Washington state and back to Florida, your gasoline costs alone will be around $1700. That's not leaving much for paying for the vehicle itself, let alone food and normal travel expenses.

I just finished a trip from New York to Sacramento; roughly 2700 miles one way and gas was around $600. Granted, I'm driving a pickup that's getting around 19 mpg on the highway, but still...an RV would get half that in gas mileage.

Work out a budget for a per day cost of around $30/day for food, tolls and the small stuff, and a 2 month trip with just that is $1800.

It's a REALLY big country. Your best bet may be to select two or three states to visit and rent a van, as has been said. Keep in mind that most rental car companies that rent vans will charge mileage as well, sometimes as much as $.40 a mile. The advantage to renting a car would be unlimited miles for the duration, and you should be able to get monthly rental rates around $600/month for a midsized car. A minivan may be a good option, but the cost would probably go up to around $800/month.

Keep in mind that the least expensive areas to live in and visit in the US are down south (mostly) and the midwest. The Pacific Northwest could be very good, too.

If your flight is not set, and you have a very open itinerary, the least expensive airports I've ever rented a car in (and yes, it was for two months) was Columbus, Ohio and New Orleans, LA. Flying into either of those cities and staying within 700 miles of them would give you a really nice slice of Americana, with the history of the Mississippi river all along the way.

I hope this helps, if you make it out to California (Sacramento) and need a place to crash and rest up for a day or two, let me know. If I'm home, you're more than welcome.

Paul Cocklin
08-27-2007, 10:57 PM
whoops, sorry, I just saw that you're flying into Miami. Just a suggestion, a sometimes great way to see the country (and I can sense everyone else out there grimmacing :-) would be by bus and train. You'd have to plan out your routes well, but if you did it right, you could get an overnight bus somewhere every other night or so, and you could sleep on the bus. No gas costs, but you lose the ability to stop along the roadside and you run the risk of spending 10 hours next to Marilyn Manson wannabe's.

There's ways to do it if you really wanna do a loop of the whole country, but compromises will have to be made.

Dave Wooten
08-28-2007, 01:20 AM
Check out the Greyhound Ameripass

copake_ham
08-28-2007, 12:41 PM
Thanks for the reaction, sly.

I've thought about the option of buying one. But I've heard it's not really easy to buy one in the US if you're a foreign visitor for two months. Especially the insurance is a problem (you need to give an adress). Can anyone back this story?

I don't really have the money to buy one (even a crappy one) either. I think I can spent maximum 2500 - 3000 dollar.

greetings,
Jelle

I don't know if you can arrange this with RVs.

I have a colleague from our Munich HQ who, together with his Dad, was able to purchase two motorcycles in LA a couple of years ago. They drove them throughout the Western US and Canada for a couple of months and then re-sold them under a pre-arrangement back to the Dealer. The Dealer handled all of the licensing and insurance matters. They just had to show up with their driver's licenses and sign the papers.

jos
08-28-2007, 02:40 PM
Thanks for your advice guys,

I know my budget is limited and that it is not really easy to find me someone who will give his mobilhome with me. That is why I posted my request on this forum, hoping that I find a photographer (with a vehicle he hardly uses in automn) who sympathises my project. I can give some money in exchange for using a R.V. (or van), but it won't be as much as commercial carcomponies ask. I don't seek luxury, but I seak a vehicle that is able to drive me across the country.

If I don't find a R.V. (or van), I'll have to look for another way to travel around the country. It's not for the luxury I want a R.V, I think it's the best way to make a photo reportage. I want to see a large part of america, because I want to get to know the country, so I don't want to limit myself to three states (wich would be much easer). The thing is: with a bus or a train, you only get to see cities, and I'm mostly interested in the village life and the America wich you don't see in the movies or on the television.

I want to make a reportage of people who work two shifts a day and of people with two swimming pools. Of a teenage boy whose mind is on baseball the whole day long and of a elderly guy whose mind is on alcohol the whole day (and night) long. And I prefer to go on photographing this guy untill he goes home at 1AM without thinking about a place to sleep that night. Do you get what I mean?

Paul Cocklin
08-28-2007, 03:35 PM
Jos, I understand your wants, and I sympathize with them. But I think you're mistaken by thinking that buses only run between big cities. Obviously they do that as well, but if you want to see "Real" middle America, there's no better way to do it(imo) than on a 35 year old Trailways or Greyhound bus pulling into Apple Pie, Oklahoma and leaving for Mom's Kitchen, South Dakota. The people riding those buses between small towns are the locals whom you profess to wanting to talk to.

But I do understand your desire to do this as self sufficiently as possible. It's unfortunate I don't have anything to offer you by way of assistance other than a sofa to crash on if you make it to Sacramento. Best of luck to you. I hope you have a great trip.

glbeas
08-28-2007, 04:43 PM
You might consider a car rental that can tow a small camper like an A-liner:
http://showroom.aliner.com/ . You could likely rent the camper way cheaper than the RV and the tow vehicle can still be fairly modest in size and horsepower. Plus you have the advantage of being able to park the camper and go roving the area in the car for images, food, etc.

copake_ham
08-28-2007, 06:25 PM
....

If I don't find a R.V. (or van), I'll have to look for another way to travel around the country. It's not for the luxury I want a R.V, I think it's the best way to make a photo reportage. I want to see a large part of america, because I want to get to know the country, so I don't want to limit myself to three states (wich would be much easer). The thing is: with a bus or a train, you only get to see cities, and I'm mostly interested in the village life and the America wich you don't see in the movies or on the television.

I want to make a reportage of people who work two shifts a day and of people with two swimming pools. Of a teenage boy whose mind is on baseball the whole day long and of a elderly guy whose mind is on alcohol the whole day (and night) long. And I prefer to go on photographing this guy untill he goes home at 1AM without thinking about a place to sleep that night. Do you get what I mean?

In all frankness, it's sounds as if you have already formed the image of what you want to find - rather than making your journey one of discovery. Are you seeking to learn what is - or confirm what you expect it to be?

Fewer and fewer Americans live in "villages". Most live in cities and their surrounding suburbs. In fact, you'll probably find more unrealistic, idealized images of American villages on TV and movies than in real life.

Anyway, why an RV? Just rent a cheap car, buy a cheap tent and sleeping bag, air mattress, an ice cooler and small portable gas grill. There are campgrounds all over the place - and in Sept./Oct. they are uncrowded.

If you do this, treat yourself to a budget motel every third or fourth day for a soft bed and a private bathroom (and to do your laundry!).

And come with an open mind - not pre-conceived expectations!

jos
08-29-2007, 05:12 AM
Hello George,

I think you misinterpreted my kind of photography. I regard myself as openminded. I want to keep my eyes opened all the time, and photograph little stories in the USA. It is not my goal to capture "the usa". I prefer to work in contradictions, in series, but I don't claim that my pictures are the truth. The examples I gave where meant to explane the situations where it would be bothering to think about a sleepingplace while I would busy photographing the situations I described above.

Yes, a tent is the cheapest way of travelling. (I've spent one of the two last months in a tent in France, so I know how it's like to travel with a tent.) The thing is: in my opinion, a photographer has to be on the spot when he wants to make a reportage. I want to give myself the opportunity to bump into little stories on my way. I prefer a RV (or van or aliner) because that brings me the close to the action. I'm not going to meet a lot of people when I'm on a campinggroud unfolding my tent everynight.

I have traveled both ways: with a tent and with a van (even when I was a child, I've seen the former czechoslovakia with a van), and my experience is: you get to meet the most interesting people when you're sitting by the road with a van. It's not in the bars or the shops where I meet the people I like to photograph, it's in the streets.

Bob Carnie
08-29-2007, 08:10 AM
I think the greyhound bus idea is the best as Dave points out.

Bob Carnie
08-29-2007, 08:14 AM
Sorry I forgot to mention, I travelled from Toronto to Pasadena and back 10,000 Km in the spring, I got a quote for a RV . Without gas , food, I was being quoted $6-$8k. We just drove in a small car and stayed in hotels for half that price and I can assure you we saw a slice of the American Pie doing it that way.
We are going to buy a RV next year, but they are really expensive. But I think for our photography needs , just the ticket.

donbga
08-29-2007, 09:26 AM
Hello George,

I prefer a RV (or van or aliner) because that brings me the close to the action. I'm not going to meet a lot of people when I'm on a campinggroud unfolding my tent everynight.



I think you are due a reality check with your plans. Ignoring the costs completely, travelling in a RV or pulling a camper is not going to get you closer to the real USA. If anything you will probably get a distorted view of people in the US or for that matter Canada.

US culture is much different than most of Europe. Most Americans are not readily open to meeting strangers and sharing their daily life, even less so with people with accents. To do this kind of project you need to pick an area and stay there for an extended period of time and get to know and understand a community. Just breezing through on an RV won't garner much deep interaction with most folks.

My 2 cents,

copake_ham
08-29-2007, 09:56 AM
Hello George,

I think you misinterpreted my kind of photography. I regard myself as openminded. I want to keep my eyes opened all the time, and photograph little stories in the USA. It is not my goal to capture "the usa". I prefer to work in contradictions, in series, but I don't claim that my pictures are the truth. The examples I gave where meant to explane the situations where it would be bothering to think about a sleepingplace while I would busy photographing the situations I described above.

Yes, a tent is the cheapest way of travelling. (I've spent one of the two last months in a tent in France, so I know how it's like to travel with a tent.) The thing is: in my opinion, a photographer has to be on the spot when he wants to make a reportage. I want to give myself the opportunity to bump into little stories on my way. I prefer a RV (or van or aliner) because that brings me the close to the action. I'm not going to meet a lot of people when I'm on a campinggroud unfolding my tent everynight.

I have traveled both ways: with a tent and with a van (even when I was a child, I've seen the former czechoslovakia with a van), and my experience is: you get to meet the most interesting people when you're sitting by the road with a van. It's not in the bars or the shops where I meet the people I like to photograph, it's in the streets.

Jos,

I'm still trying to understand how an RV would be different than traveling with a tent in terms of how you would meet people? (I will grant that an RV would be more comfortable).

Why not just a car and budget motels? There are several chains throughout the US where you can get a clean, if spartan, room for $15 to $25 a night. I know that's how a friend and I did the US West Coast thirty years ago when I was your age. (Oh gosh, how I hate writing that! :( ).

Also, be aware that many communities do not permit overnight street parking (particularly of RVs) so you might find yourself spending many a overnight in the parking lot of the local Wal Mart (which do encourage RV overnighters) meeting the same kind of people night after night after night....