Seeing California on the cheap
July 1, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I am planning a trip to California late July with a friend and I wouldn't mind renting transportation to get around. Would it be feasible / possible to rent some kind of hippie van and sleep in it along the coast?
posted by baking soda to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
Is it possible to rent a van and sleep in it? Yes...
posted by nitsuj at 10:11 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you just buy one for cheap and then ditch it? Time honored tradition, though I haven't tried it myself.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:13 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Why don't you just buy some nice tents? Sleeping in tents is pretty sweet. Then you can rent a cheap affordable car and camp out. You'd end up with nice tents and maybe some cooking stuff you can use in the future and you'd probably still save money.
posted by sully75 at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2009

But where, along the coast? I've observed places adjacent to the beach north of Santa Barbara, and in Santa Cruz, where "hippie vans" and RVs are parked on the shoulder all night long, and during the day, as well. But it seems like there's no room left, all the spaces are already taken.
posted by Rash at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: To be more specific: I have never used a van as lodging. I was thinking if I am going to rent a car I could save the money I would also have spent on hostel lodging and just rent a van that you can sleep in the back. I thought parking along the coast would make the most sense because I could swim in the ocean or use the beach showers for bathing in the morning.
But I have no idea if this kind of thing is accommodated or even tolerated in California. For all I know it is really common, or it could be more trouble than it's worth and I should just plan on staying in a hostel...
posted by baking soda at 10:39 AM on July 1, 2009

Can you just buy one for cheap and then ditch it? Time honored tradition, though I haven't tried it myself.

But you would need to leave a puppy inside of it.

Seriously though, I would work on reserving some camp spaces. There are safety considerations to this, as well as running-afoul-with-local-authorities concerns.
posted by Danf at 10:54 AM on July 1, 2009

At least in SF, I see signs along the shore marked with "No overnight vehicle occupancy." That may just be a city thing, though.
posted by samthemander at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2009

Just having driven north from L.A., there are a few "camper beaches" that have parking lots that accommodate this. There are places in the city of L.A. where it is tolerated (Venice), although in an urban area I imagine the experience might be a bit "funky," and not in a good way.

Another thing to keep in mind is the horrible budget crisis in CA- one of our governor's many appallingly evil plans is to close a lot of state parks. So it's hard to say what will be open when you get here. At the least, fees will have increased.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:18 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

At least in Southern California, beach parking is restricted fairly heavily overnight. You might have to feed a meter or park in a residential area or something (and if you do that, chances of meeting some cops could be high). I think the tent idea is a good one--I'm sure if you do a little looking around online, you can find some places to camp on the super-cheap.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:19 AM on July 1, 2009

Hippie van rentals:
posted by MsMolly at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: Very enlightening, thanks for the responses!
posted by baking soda at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2009

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