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  1. Default N. Virginia to San Jose, CA around New Year's

    I'm moving to San Jose to start a job in early January and plan to rent a small Uhaul (with car in tow) to make the trip west after Christmas, planning on I-80 the whole way. My girlfriend will be joining me on the drive and we are both accustomed to driving stretches of 500 miles alone. Fortunately, I have a lot of time to work with, as my last day at my current job is Dec 21 and I won't start the new job until Jan 7. That said, I don't plan to leave any earlier than Dec 26 and would like to arrive no later than Jan 3, in order to have some time to settle in before beginning the new job.

    So, at most that gives me 9 days to make the 2,840 mile trip, but it's more likely that I'll leave a few days later than the 26th. I'm figuring that the fastest we could make the trip would be 4 days, requiring 700 miles of driving per day with little, if any time for stops along the way and assuming perfect weather. More realistically, I am planning for at least 5, maybe 6 days, giving us the option to stop and enjoy a bit more of the drive, maybe even take a break to ski near Park City or in Tahoe, as neither of us have been through that part of the country before. Lots of possibilities, we could certainly try to make 700 miles the first two days and then slow down as we reach the Rockies. A lot will depend on the weather. I've driven in plenty of snow, but not in a Uhaul with a small car behind me (though it will be on a full trailer and the Uhaul with be the smallest, a 10 footer).

    I know the weather is the uncertain factor, but does a plan of starting fast and slowing down out west seem reasonable? As for hotels, I had thought about booking them all ahead of time, but then that takes away freedom from the trip and would likely result in added stress. I assume that along I-80 there are plenty of hotels and motels one can find at leisure without much trouble, especially in winter?

    Much thanks for the advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 500 per day is better

    Quote Originally Posted by thundersnow View Post
    I know the weather is the uncertain factor, but does a plan of starting fast and slowing down out west seem reasonable?
    Yes and no -- if you can allow a full five days and keep the mileage around 550 miles per day you will have an easier time. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Here are some tips for doing a speed run and here are some places to stretch and walk about on I-80.
    As for hotels, I had thought about booking them all ahead of time, but then that takes away freedom from the trip and would likely result in added stress.
    Yeah, I would keep that open as weather could have a major impact on your schedule.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default experience

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It sounds like you've got a good amount of experience with long distance trips, because I think you've very good plan laid out.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to push yourself a little harder the first couple days, although you might find that 700 miles gets to be a little too much to do two days in a row.

    I wouldn't think you would have too much trouble finding a room along I-80, as there are plenty of hotels. The only think I would really be concerned about is on New Years, especially if timing works out to be at a popular tourist stop like Lake Tahoe at that time of year. That could be a little tricky, but I've found there are always options somewhere, and its a risk I would probably take myself.

  4. #4

    Default I-80 in UT, Park City area

    I have the pleasure of spending a week or more each year in the Park City area and have done so for about 8 years now. Headed back soon, as a matter of fact, for this year's trip.

    Here are some quick thoughts:

    If you find yourself in bad weather and do not want to stop over and ski, look at going west on I-84 to Ogden, thence south on I-15, take the I-215 belt route, back to I-80 west of Salt Lake City. It's a little longer than staying on I-80 past Park City, but you lose the elevation from SW Wyoming plateau quicker and you avoid Parley's Summit between PC and SLC. Parley's something over 7,000' and 80 drops through some tight, shaded, and steep curves between Parley's and SLC. It can be tough sledding, especially in the late afternoons with the PC ski mountains dumping SLC residents back out. Plus, with the I-84/Ogden trick, you avoid going through the middle of SLC on 80.

    If you want to ski, and want to avoid the sometimes HUGE holiday crowds in PC (where it can take--no kidding--over an hour and a half to get back to I-80, since PC Mountain, Deer Valley, and the Canyons empty out between 4 and 6pm), consider hitting Snow Basin. It's about 20 minutes uphill from the Mountain View exit off of I-84, between the 80/84 split and Ogden. SB is HUGE and is one of my favorite UT ski mountains because it's so big, open, and has such incredible views from the top. I've never felt crowded at SB, either. Truth be told, we no longer book our annual trip to include the Christmas-New Year's period simply because of crowding at the PC mountains and in PC itself.

    If you go to PC to ski, the Canyons is only about 2 miles off of I-80, is HUGE, and puts you back out on I-80 a good hour before you could get there from PC Mountain or Deer Valley.

    Motels are abundant in SLC and are a major bargain when compared to PC holiday prices. A few years back, I booked two rooms for my family at Extended Stay America in Sandy, UT (where we had quick access to Little Cottonwood Canyon and Snowbird/Alta), and it was only about $62/night, per room, including tax. A motel in the suburbs, yes, but after a day of skiing Snowbird, most are fine just to have lots of hot water and a nice bed. I sure am.

    Have a safe trip to San Jose. Man, talk about crowds and traffic..............


  5. Default

    Foy, thanks for the recommendations, they will certainly come in handy. I suppose crowded ski resorts are inevitable around that time, but I will certainly consider Snow Basin.

  6. Default uhaul?

    are you sure you want a uhaul truck? i don't mean to rag but everytime i see a uhaul truck - they look kinda shoddy to me. i've already read some terrible reviews of uhauls on many sites. if you're going a short trip - uhual would be fine - but i can't imagine ever trusting a long hual to uhual.

    i personally prefer penske. i don't know how their rates compare to uhual, but their trucks always tend to look very well kept.

    good luck on your trip out.

  7. Default

    Well, I've looked into Penske but only their 16' and larger trucks are equipped to tow a car and I certainly won't be able to fill a 16' foot truck and would rather not drive something larger than necessary. A 10' truck would be plenty, but only Uhaul seems to have 10' trucks equipped to tow. I have read a lot of horror stories, but I'm sure plenty of people make cross country trips in Uhauls without problem as well. The only other option I can think of would be to rent a full size SUV and tow my car behind it, but I am sure that would violate most rental agreements.


    I could always sell my car and rent a large SUV to move my stuff out in, but then I have to deal with the hassle of selling a car and buying a new one asap in CA.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Uhaul's fine

    I've made multiple moves, including cross country moves, with U-Haul with very few problems. I've also worked at a store that rented u-hauls, so I've had plenty of experience with the company, and I still occationally rent from them. There are some advantages to UHaul, their prices tend to be lower, they're the only company with 3 seats in their smaller trucks, and there are far more locations than Penske or Budget.

    The biggest downside to UHaul is that they sometimes overbook, and sometimes you might have to drive a lot farther than you were expecting to pick up a truck. However, you can usally get around that by making your reservation directly with a local office (independent dealerships are often better than the corporate owned locations too) and then checking in frequently to make sure you get exactly what you need when you need it.

    I've also rented with Budget once, and I wasn't real impressed. I've never used Penske, because their prices usually are on the high end when I'm looking.

  9. Default if this helps

    don't know if this helps at all, but for my upcoming move, i'm driving a 22" foot penske and the rental will cost me approx $1,200 for 9 days. that amount includes (a) car carrier to tow my car (b) unlimited gas mileage (c) discount for booking online and (d) an add'l discount for being a AAA member. The 16" foot truck would be about $200 cheaper, but the 22" truck is diesel whereas the 16" truck is not - so even though i'm paying more upfront for a bigger truck - it'll probably be cheaper in the long run w/the money i should be saving on gas.

    I checked Uhaul's website, and they seemed pretty pricey to me. The price for their 10 foot truck seemed comparable to the price i'm paying for the 22 foot truck. Also, with the 10 foot truck, your only option is "unleaded fuel" so you'll be paying more for fueling costs - but if you don't need bigger than a 10 foot - there's not much you can do about that (the bigger trucks do come in either diesel or unleaded options ~but~ as per their own website - (available for in-town moves only ~or~ in select markets).

    Are you going to be getting a tow dolly or a car carrier? I have heard from my mechanic that using a tow dolly - which is cheaper, where the rear wheels of your car are in contact with the ground - should be fine, but i've read some bad stories on the internet about that, can't say from experience. The carrier is more expensive, but would seem a bit safer - as your vehicle is completely off the ground. With a carrier, you can back up the truck if you need to, with a tow dolly - i don't believe you can back up at all - or you risk doing damage to your car.

    Regardless if Uhaul has more or less locations then Penske, which ever truck service you're using, if they have a location where you need - that's the important thing.
    Last edited by nishira; 11-24-2007 at 08:22 PM.

  10. Default

    Although I've never used a U-Hual to tow, your rate of travel once you hit the mountains may slow down substantially. And as you say, the weather may be a major impact as I-80 can gt shut down in snowstorms (in the Tahoe area at least).


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