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  1. Default Novice planning to drive east to west coast

    I will be moving jobs from the East coast (Washington DC) to west coast (Palo Alto, California). I am planning to move some time after the 20th of August, 2006. I have two options for moving my car, viz., driving or shipping. Either way my new employer will pay for the costs. So, finances are no problem. I am recently married and I am seriously considering doing the drive with my wife. As my wife does not drive, I will have to do all the driving. Also, I have started driving only recently (less than 6 months, in and around Washington DC). I have a few questions and I will be very grateful to anybody who gives me any advice.

    1. Is driving over such long distances advisable at all, especially when I don't have any experience driving long distances (I have not driven more than 4 hours at a time)?

    2. I can take up to 8-10 days to do the drive. So, frequent stops might not be a problem. Even if it takes longer, I don't mind. Safety is the top priority. So, if this trip is advisable, what route would be best (with respect to least stress, more enjoyable)?

    3. What general precautions are necessary?

    Depending on the advice I get, I might have more questions. I just want to make sure I know what to expect before I decide whether to make this trip or not.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A big step?

    Quote Originally Posted by muraliy
    As my wife does not drive, I will have to do all the driving.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! It is doable ,of course, but since you will have added stress (and excitement) of traveling to a new city for a new job, I am not sure that a cross-country trip is really in your best interest at this point. If you were to only drive four hours per day, it would take 12-13 full days to drive the shortest route of 2841 miles.

    It could be a blast and the best fun you have ever had -- a real journey of discovery. But I think you ought to consider taking a weekend (1-2 day) trip of say 600+ miles and see if you find that level of driving fun. Generally we recommend that novice cross-country adventurers limit their driving to no more than 500 miles per day. The rule of thumb we use (time-tested) is that you can achieve an average speed of 57 mph (west of the Mississippi River) and 55 mph (east of the Mississippi River) over the course of an eight hour driving day. This would mean that you could complete this trip in about six days if you were to drive at least 8.5 hours each day (the slower average speeds assume that you will be driving at or in excess of the posted speed limits e.g. 75 mph as much as possible every day).

    If this reality-check sounds fun -- Go for it!

    I would certainly read the article about speed runs and read the posts about long trips discussed on this Forum.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default What I think...

    I'm only a young 15 year old kid, but I know that I'd enjoy a drive from here in the D.C. area to California. If you feel as if it's fun to you, I'd go for it.

    The editor's advice sounds good; taking a weekened to go drive somewhere that's about 250 miles away (500 total, if that's what he meant), and seeing how you feel about it.

    Ocean City and back is roughly 5 hours depending on what time you leave (from Germantown, Maryland), and while US 50 is not an interstate, the section between DC and the Bay Bridge are up to interstate standards.

    I have one question for the Editor....why would you drive 57 mph. in a 75 mph. stretch of highway? (just asking)

  4. Default But I think you ought to consider taking a weekend (1-2 day) trip of say 600+ miles

    Thanks for the quick replies.

    Hi Mark,
    I will definitely consider your suggestion of taking a weekend trip and see if I will really enjoy doing long driving. I think that should give me an idea as to whether it is a good idea doing this trip. After doing this trip, I will definitely come back and post here. Depending on my decision, I might have more questions. Also, I will read up this forum as much as I can before making a decision.
    Your advice is a great help! Thank you so much.

    Murali

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default It is a proven "achievable speed"

    Quote Originally Posted by Interstate_80_Rules
    I have one question for the Editor....why would you drive 57 mph. in a 75 mph. stretch of highway? (just asking)
    No, that is a benchmarked average achievable speed over eight+ hours of driving. It assumes that a driver is driving at least 70 mph over most of the eight hours. The 57 mph is the total average speed that any driver can achieve when one takes into account traffic slow-downs, stopping for fuel, food and breaks. The only way to achieve an average speed of 70 mph over an eight hour period (in America) is to drive a minimum of 97 mph for most of a day.

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Two other tools for you!

    Quote Originally Posted by muraliy
    I will definitely consider your suggestion of taking a weekend trip and see if I will really enjoy doing long driving
    I would also urge both of you to take the roadtrip companion compatibility quiz and discuss the results with your wife and fellow traveler. Also to read this column and then post your ideas here. RoadTrips mostly occur in the mind -- it is helpful to be aware of that when you embark on a new adventure!

    Larrison's comments reminded me to add these links for good road food snacking ideas and make-aheads!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-24-2006 at 01:58 PM. Reason: added some more resource links

  7. Default

    I've done a few longish (1000+ miles) road trips with a non-driving companion.

    A couple of random comments?

    If you've got a non-driving companion on a road trip, you have to think of them as a team member. If you try to to everything -- planning, navigating, driving, food prep, etc -- your companion will get bored and probably not have a good time.

    What I've done (and it depends upon every person you travel with of course), is to try to turn over a lot of the non-driving vehicle stuff to them. They're the one who is responsible for navigating -- so they'll be digging into the maps and working my little handheld GPS and looking into the tourbooks to figure out how far to the next rest stop, where we should stop for the night, what the directions are to that hidden beach/ campground/ great view site are. I also put them in charge of on-the-road food and drinks, and entertainment. So they're the one who is responsible for getting into the ice chest and digging out snacks. And also they're the one who's responsible for changing CDs and tapes, and fiddling with the radio to find something good to listen to.

    All this tends to reduce my non-driving load, so I can pay more attention to the car and the road. It helps me drive, and drive more safely -- and gets my companion more involved in the trip. (They also do a lot of the pre-planning with me, so they know where we are going and what we want to do pretty much before we leave -- although the details may still need to be navigated or picked out at we get nearer.)

    And it depends upon your companion, even down to where you want to stay. If your wife is someone like a friend of mines -- whose idea of "roughing it" is room service at a 4 Star Resort, then a week long car trip is probably not a good idea. If she's like some of my buddies, who think that car camping for a week, and doing some hiking and exploring off the beaten track and away from the usual beaten path, then it'll be a lot easier.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    No, that is a benchmarked average achievable speed over eight+ hours of driving. It assumes that a driver is driving at least 70 mph over most of the eight hours. The 57 mph is the total average speed that any driver can achieve when one takes into account traffic slow-downs, stopping for fuel, food and breaks. The only way to achieve an average speed of 70 mph over an eight hour period (in America) is to drive a minimum of 97 mph for most of a day.

    Mark

    Okay, thanks. I was a bit confused by that. I misinterperted it. Thanks for explaining it to me.

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