This month for a change we’re going to move outside Australia and let you into a little secret. In the USA we have two sister companies. One called Road Bear and the other more recently established and a somewhat familiar name, Britz USA.
We know that many of our readers like touring Australia but there’s nothing quite like an overseas trip when it can be done in our favourite mode of travel – fly/drive and motorhome. Both Road Bear and Britz USA’s website can be researched for costs and planning. There are depots in places like Los Angeles, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York. For this issue we thought we’d just give you a few tips on touring in North America.
An obvious concern for many is that they drive on the right-hand side of the road in the USA. If you have never done it before, when driving a left-hand-drive vehicle on the “wrong” side of the road, it’s often a case of mind over matter and following the rest of the traffic. It’s helpful for the first few days if your passenger “drives” with you and, if time permits, a good idea is to hire a car for a few days and practice driving the smaller vehicle. Of course, that is best done in a relatively quiet area, not downtown Los Angeles.
Driving between the white lines of road lanes might sound not much of a problem but it’s easy to become “disorientated” when driving on the other side of the road. Using the external mirrors on a quiet bit of road to get some reference points makes it good for a quick check when on busier roads.
Motorhomes in both C class and A class configuration are available in lengths from 5.8m (19ft) to 9.8m (32ft) so all needs are catered for and every comfort assured. However, they are generally larger than those we have here in Australia but again, it’s not really an issue because the roads, campgrounds (US/Canadian speak for caravan parks) and parking spaces are generally larger too, unless of course you are trying your luck around Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
Unlike most Australian motorhomes, which come with turbo-diesel engines, most North American rigs are fitted with either 5.4-litre or 6.8-litre petrol engines. They certainly deliver the power – you may like to take that into consideration when calculating possible fuel costs. Of course, all come with fully automatic gearboxes.
Like Australia, there is the option of staying in campgrounds or freedom camping, the latter in places as diverse as the middle of nowhere or Walmart car parks. Mains electrical supply in North America comes at 110V AC, not 230V AC. What that means is for the same power output, the current has to be doubled, as does the copper conductor. The most immediate result is a much heavier electrical cord but also when you arrive at a campsite you might get a choice of a 20A connection (no air-conditioner), a 30A connection or a 50A connection. Appropriately priced, of course.
Mains pressure water is standard but an option might well be a sewerage connection as well. On that delightful subject, the removable toilet cassette tank is much less usual than a larger black tank with a hose connection. Dump points, however, if not available on site, are common.
Campervans and motorhomes in Australia generally come with either a three-way (240V/12V/gas) fridge or a 12V compressor fridge and it’s the recommended practice here to travel with the LPG cylinders turned off. Many US RV fridges are either LPG only or LPG/ mains, so the gas has to be left on when travelling. The LPG being supplied from a fixed tank, not removable cylinders.
Like Australia, the USA is a big country and there are plenty of wide open spaces as well as busy cities. Everything from the beaches of Florida to the snow-covered Rocky Mountains is there to explore. If you are feeling really adventurous and have the time, then there is always the Alcan Highway that connects the “lower 48” with Alaska, via Canada.
Our final tip for motorhome rental (like anywhere) is to take your time - even the picking up and dropping off motorhomes takes time, so plan accordingly.
For more info see www.roadbearrv.com and www.britz-usa.com.
Tags: KEA Overseas America Britz Maui Rental Travel Campervan Hire Canada Alaska Rocky Mountains Florida LPG Gas USA Fridge
Written: Thu 01 Oct 2015
Printed: October, 2015