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  1. Default Driving solo from Washington to South Carolina

    I am leaving in a month to drive from tacoma washington to Columbia South carolina to meet up with my husband. I will be driving a 2004 kia optima with my dog, cat, and ferret...none of which get along...and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I know nothing about cars and I have only had my drivers license for less then a year. I have a few questions and I was hoping to find some help here.

    I need to map out a route but not sure if I should head north through the mountains where it will be cooler or if I should go south where the mountains arnt as bad but it will be hotter. Or if I should just cut straight across...>.< Does anyone know of a good route for this time of year or where I could find one??

    I have a cage for my ferret that will fit in my backseat but my cat freaks out whenever I put him in a crate and I am thinking that after 1 day of listening to him howl I am going to want to toss him out the window. Does anyone have any suggestions on keeping my pets from eating eachother?

    How long should I be able to drive a day? I don't have a clue how long this trip is going to take. I am short on cash too so is sleeping at rest stops actually safe or should I try to scrape up enough to stay at motels? My dog makes a good watch dog and he is pretty scary lookin when he is on alert so I don't think anyone could sneak up on me or anything....still would like to hear I will be safe from someone that has made the trip before....

    About how much money am I going to need for gas and food? Would it just be cheaper to take a cooler of food? Like sandwhich stuff and fruit?

    I am not even sure what all I need to know....so pretty much any tips and help would be great. Thank you for your help
    chole

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default The Basics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The questions you are asking are pretty common, so don't worry about being overwhelmed, it will be just fine.

    Does anyone know of a good route for this time of year or where I could find one??
    Your best bet is almost certainly going to be to take the most direct route. I'd say I-90 out to Sioux Falls, I-29 to Kansas City, I-70 towards St. Louis, and then cut over to Columbia via Nashville and Knoxville.

    I am short on cash too so is sleeping at rest stops actually safe or should I try to scrape up enough to stay at motels?
    Staying at rest stops isn't generally safe, but in this situation, I don't think you are going to have much choice. You're going to need to stay in motels just so your pets have the ability to get out of the car. Not to mention, I don't think that trying to sleep in a car with 3 animals would be all that plesant.

    How long should I be able to drive a day?
    Considering your pets, your inexperience, and the fact that you will be the only human, I wouldn't try to do much more than 500 miles per day.

    About how much money am I going to need for gas and food? Would it just be cheaper to take a cooler of food? Like sandwhich stuff and fruit?
    You can use the Fuel Cost Calculator, on the left side of the screen, but I figure you'll need at least $400 for gas, but I'd budget $500 to be on the safe side. Eating out of a cooler is an excellent way to save some money on the road.

  3. Default

    Thanks that is helpful. I am so nervous about this trip >.< I read on here about different types of cell phones not working everywhere and I was wondering if the one I had was ok or if not what was a cheap one that I could get. I currently have a verizon Chocolate phone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Here are some more ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by JamiesGirl View Post
    with my dog, cat, and ferret...none of which get along...and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.
    Here are some general tips for traveling with pets. And here are some products to consider

    Generally plan to drive no more than 500 miles each day.

    Mark

  5. Default A couple of more suggestions...

    You've got one of the newest digital cell phones around. Verizon is a major national carrier. I'll bet money that 99% of the time you can get a signal if you're on an interstate -- the cell companies have spent big bucks to make sure there is coverage along major routes.

    If you want to check, you can go to the Verizon wireless website and look at a coverage map -- I just did, and while I had to put in a starting zipcode and guess at a coverage plan, it did show me coverage over pretty much the entire route.

    Secondly, you'll probably want to stop every couple of hours and let the animals that can get out of the car, get out and walk (and take care of nature's business). This will slow you down a bit, since I'm guessing with 3 animals you'll not be doing this quickly. Make sure they get enough water -- like people they can get dehydrated pretty quickly.

    And make sure you drink enough water yourself. Making the stops will be good for keeping you alert as well.

    With the 3 animals, I really wouldn't push for more than 500 miles a day or so -- that's going to take you 10 hours a day to do, as a guess. If it turns out the animals are better passengers than you think, you might do a bit better. But I wouldn't push it at first, just to make sure.

    If you're a bit nervous about this, I'd recommend a couple of things

    - Cell phone and in-car charger (which you probably already have)

    - Good set of maps. When I pull over for a rest break, I always pull out the maps and spend a couple of minutes looking over where I'm heading next. Seems to save a lot of time and avoids a lot of the hassles of having to pull over and find a map later. (And I do recommend pulling over and pulling out a map -- not trying to drive and find a map then figure out where you are, while you're trying to drive too).

    - Cooler with extra water. The animals will need water too. I usually grab a flat of water bottles and throw it in the back of the car, and put some in the ice chest. Plus, remember the melted water from the ice in the ice chest is drinkable too -- 10 or 20 lbs of ice in the ice chest becomes 10-20 pints of water you can drink. And don't forget water bowls for them, and something like kitty litter for the cat and/or ferret. (I recall seeing some disposable kitty litter pans at one point -- but that was a couple of years ago). You'll want to get extra ice every day or two (if you stay at hotels, they usually have an ice machine you can get ice from.)

    - Some type of roadside assistance plan. I have AAA, but there are others available as well. They aren't perfect, but if I have a problem at least I know the tow truck guy will come, or someone can come out and unlock the doors (when I lock my keys inside).

    - Some basic emergency supplies. If you're sticking to the interstate, mostly this is the cell phone and roadside assistance plan and a valid credit card. If you have a problem, you need to be ok for a day or two -- hotel, food, and basic repairs (new tire, new fan belt, etc...) I haven't had to do this in years, but its something I always have.

    - On the road, before you hit the road each morning just walk around the car once. You're primarily looking to see your tires are still fully inflated, still have tread on them, and there isn't a big pool of oil under your car. It's not uncommon to see water drippage from the air conditioner, so don't freak out if there's what looks like dirty water under your car.

    - Other things you might find useful are: Check in daily via cell phone. Bring a guidebook (if you're a AAA member, go down to the office and get the guidebooks for all the states you're going through as well as maps.). The guidebooks let you look up what's in the towns coming up -- for example, a reasonable quality hotel, with estimated price and if they are pet friendly. Bring some music for your car, if you can -- makes the time go faster. Don't forget sun wear -- sunglasses, sunscreen and hat. Drink lots of water -- seriously, its probably the single worst health problem if you're driving in the summer. People forget to drink water because they didn't put any within reach and dont want to stop, or don't want to stop and use the bathroom, or just forget to drink water. You'll start with a pounding headache, then potentially nausea -- and you'll be not feeling good and trying to drive.

    - Lastly, once you hit the road, try to relax a little bit. If you forgot something, there will be stores and mini-marts and supermarkets and big box stores like WalMart and Costco etc all across the country. Settle back, look ahead and see the country go by.

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