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The right travel van for your road trip through the USA

Renting or buying a campervan for your road trip through the USA? Weigh up your options.

Be prepared to enjoy the ride!

U.S. visa requirements

If you are not from the U.S., you’ll need to apply for a U.S. tourist visa that is only valid for three months. Thus, I knew that I had to leave the U.S. after three months and I had already applied for my Work and Travel Visa for Canada. This is available to anyone under the age of 31.

Even though I could prove enough funds for my stay in the U.S. and I had proof of my Work and Holiday Visa for Canada, I was stuck in detention at the airport. Firstly, because I didn’t have a return ticket and secondly, because I did not have an exact plan for my road trip yet. Thus, I was forced to buy a flight ticket while sitting in detention, all my stuff was searched and I had to come up with a reasonable plan for my stay. Be advised to read the Visa requirements for the U.S. carefully and to have an answer to all their fierce questions.

Renting or buying a campervan?

I had considered several options to hire a campervan. It makes absolute sense if you are more than one person and just got a couple of months time to be road tripping. These are the rentals that I would consider for about a two months road trip.

Cheapest campervan rental in the USA

-> Motorhome Republic

-> Wicked Campers

-> Jucy Campers

Buy used cars in the USA

If you want to buy a van, you have to take the risk of loosing all money invested. Plus you are paying for maintenance costs, eventual repairs and the insurance that will cost you about $120 per month.


In order to register your vehicle with the DMV in California or other Departments of Motor Vehicles in another State, you will need to have an address in the USA. I strongly advise you to stick to the rules and only use an address of a person you know and who allows you to use their address.


I found my minivan on craigslist and this is the most popular site to buy used cars in the U.S. Facebook marketplace on the other hand has become popular on the Australian market recently. You might want to check this option too. Make sure that the car will pass the SMOG check before you are buying it. Depending on your agreed terms with the seller, either one of you will pay about $60 for it.

If you are not sure about the condition of the van, you can always visit a mechanic and get a service check done for $120 - $200. I only had a video call with my friend in Germany, who is a mechanic and trusted that it will be all right but you might not want to test your luck.

Minivan Camper Model

My minivan home for five months

I was driving a Ford Windstar 2013 that cost $3k. The pre-owner had converted the minivan and built a bed in it with drawers for storage underneath. The space I had, was totally enough for me during summer and a second person would fit too. When the weather cooled down, beginning of winter though, it is getting very cold at night and it can be tiring to cook outside.

I did it anyway and loved all of this once in a lifetime experience! I hope I could help you to realize yours too! Please, leave a comment for feedback or questions.

Read next article: Road trip checklist

Watch my youtube video to see more of the van.

Follow my upcoming road trip through Australia on instagram.

Welcome to my blog and thanks for having a browse through my tips and stories from road and backpacking trips around the world. Please, leave a comment or send me a message if you have any questions. Stay safe and happy travels! 

Yours gratefully


Places I have traveled solo:

Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexiko, Chile, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Rumania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Crete, Istanbul, Israel, Sinai, Nepal, Indonesia, Australia


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© 2020 by Isabelle Popiehn

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