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  1. Default move from LA to Seattle -- unexperienced driver


    Nice website and forum! This is my first post, please be gentle.

    I am an unexperienced driver. My longest trip was from LA to SF. I am going to move to Seattle for the summer and I am not yet sure if I should drive there.

    I plan to take the shortest route, I-5 and to do the trip in 3 days. I don't want to drive to much as I am unexperienced. I intend to be relaxed, drive 6-8 hours/day and get a good rest in a hotel along the way. Sightseeing is not a priority. My priority is to get there safe.

    I appreciate if you could give me some advice. Is this trip possible or you need to be more experienced to to this? Can you recommend me some nice places to spend the first and the second night? Do you have any good advice about driving or car maintenance?

    Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default There's only one way...

    There's only one way to get experience, and that's by doing something. So I certainly wouldn't let that stop you from making this trip.

    It really should be pretty easy, especially since you don't plan to get off the Interstate. 3 days will allow you to take the trip at a nice easy pace. Some potential stopping points would include Sacramento and Medford or Eugene Oregon.

    As far as car maintenance goes, it never hurts to have a mechanic examine your car for potential problems before you leave on a trip, so you can catch any problems before you hit the road. Some sort of Roadside Coverage, like AAA, can also be helpful in case you do break down enroute.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default It shouldn't be a problem

    Traffic from LA to SF is more congested and tends to driving faster than you'll find on the rest of I-5. And LA traffic is some of the worst! So, actually, you have experience on the hard part already! The rest should be a breeze. Especially if you're taking 3 full days.

    If you break it up into three days of fairly-even driving, your first night will probably be around Sacramento. Spend the night north of Sacramento so you won't be dealing with morning traffic going into the city for work. In fact, I think I'd push on the few extra miles to get to Woodland, CA, so you should be fairly well past any morning rush hour issues. But stay on the northern edge of Woodland, just in case.

    A good stopping point on the second night would be around Roseburg, OR. I don't think that city is big enough to have any kind of real rush-hour traffic to be concerned with. If you leave Roseburg early, this will also bring you through Portland in the late-morning so you wouldn't have any issues with rush hour traffic when trying to get through that city.

    In fact, I would suggest planning an early morning departure from Roseburg, if you leave by 7am, and only do quick stops for fuel/food, you would get to Seattle around 1pm or so. In fact, I would probably try to leave by 6am so that you get there by Noon or so. That should give you plenty of time to find your new place and get settled in before traffic heats up. Seattle rush hour traffic is a nightmare and you'll have to get used to it eventually, but why deal with it the first day? Traffic starts thickening by 2pm and, by 4pm, it's probably worse than LA traffic...or comparable anyway. And it doesn't let up until after 6:30pm or so.

    Of course, getting your car serviced is always a good idea before leaving on a road trip. Get your fluids checked and have your oil changed if you're close to needing it done. Have your tires checked and filled to proper levels. You might let your mechanic know you're going on an 1100 mile trip so that they can look for any potential problems. If you're near a recommended service...for example, let's say they recommend a timing belt change at 80,000 miles and you're at about 75,000 miles or more...then go ahead and get that done now. But if you're not real close, you're probably fine. But you could always have the mechanic check those things to see. If they're trustworthy, they should give you good advice.

    Don't sweat it. It will be a fun, easy trip with the time you've allowed for it. Enjoy!

  4. Default

    Thank you for you helpful advice!

  5. #5


    If you wanted to, you could do the trip in 2 days. It's a 16 hour trip, going the speed limit. The longest part is getting through California. Redding is the halfway point. Once you're in Oregon it will go fast.

    I think if you were to do the coastal route (or try to follow the 101 up) all the way up, I think it's 5 days.

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