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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    From AZ, living in IA
    Posts
    6

    Default Quad-Cities, IA to Safford, AZ

    We're talking about 3 hours west of Chicago to near Tucson, AZ by way of Denver and Albuquerque. In a minivan with a 2 1/2 year old and an 18 month old. And coming back the same way 1 1/2 weeks later. I know we're crazy, but we want to see our family this summer, and flying is getting too expensive...
    The kids did better than we expected on a recent 6 hour trip (and back a few days later) to the Twin Cities, but I'm a little freaked out. We don't have a lot of time, so we're looking at doing the 24 hour drive in two days at least one direction. Possibly 3 days in the other. We have family and friends in Denver and Albuquerque that we can stay with for the nights. We might stay a night in Wichita, KS if we break one way into 3 days.
    We are already planning to use a cooler with food for the most part, and already know we will have to use the DVD player SOME (these are -little- kids, that do enjoy watching stuff, thankfully) but I want some other ideas to make this trip good instead of a nightmare!
    Advice? Great sites with ideas for entertaining little ones? Sites where I can find good choices for stops? (nice parks/malls with nice indoor play areas - it will be HOT much of this trip!) I am researching all I can before we leave in about a month!
    Thanks,

    Sara

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default To much !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I would recommend having a couple of days less with your family and enjoying the ride as it is far to much ground to cover in 2 days and with the well being of 2 young ones to consider not worth the risk. Just estimating that you have 1600 miles to cover would put you on the road for between 9-10 hours a day over 3 days, which could be challenging with the needs of the children trying to do it over two days is way to much.
    I don't think your mad but if you don't want it turning into a nightmare take 6 or 7 days on the road and then you can think about entertaining the kids a little and having fun. You will arrive in better shape as well to enjoy the greetings from the family instead of feeling tired and irritable.

    Have a safe trip !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default reason to freak

    Yeah, I understand that you are a little freaked out, because trying to drive from the Quad Cities to Tucson in 2 dasy would be a bad idea under most any circumstances, and a full out nightmare to try and do it with kids.

    I'll also point out a huge error in your calculations. You talk about this as being a 24 hour drive. That's just not possible, and under real world conditions, you'd be doing pretty good to cover the 1700+ miles in under 30 hours.

    3 days really needs to be the minimum amount of time you are looking at here for each direction of travel. Even that, quite frankly is going to push your limits in terms of being able to have an enjoyable trip as a family. If you can give yourself even one more day, you can get into the point where you can look for lots of fun stops along the way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Davenport to Tucson is 1735 miles via Denver and Albuquerque. For a 3 day drive, the exact 1/3 and 2/3 points are North Platte, NE and Las Vegas, NM. These would be 10 hour days. Denver and Albuquerque would technically be doable, but the run between Denver and QC is a long one - over 800 miles and 15+ hours. Changing your stops to Wichita and Albuquerque give you 3 very doable days.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    From AZ, living in IA
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Okay, now I'm really worried. You see, the problem is that nights in a hotel room are still stressful and more or less sleepless (at least for me) a lot of the time, unless we have a 2-room suite. If we could afford 2-3 of those, we could probably just fly anyway... We do noise machines, etc etc, but our little ones are fabulous sleepers when the conditions are right (own rooms, basically) and NOT when there's any variation. The two year old is getting better already, so I have much hope for the future, but I will most likely get 5-6 hours of sleep, and it won't be in one stretch. More like 3-4 stretches. And, no, I can't sleep in the car most of the time. Neither can DH. What are we doing so far from family??? (chiropractic school) Is it still a terrible idea? We're not actually going to Tucson, it's Safford, AZ, if that matters. :) (Not really... it's still a terribly long trip... we're going to have to talk about this more... Maybe we can get some good deals on Priceline, I can take some unisom in the hotels, and we'll be blessed with kids that actually sleep....?)
    One thought we've had is to leave mid-morning, then drive until midnight or 1 to get our destination of the night. The kids would probably fall asleep around 8 or 9, and we're used to staying up until about 11 anyway. We would both be awake to keep that night driving as safe as possible. Then do the same thing the next morning. Get up leisurely, let the kids run and play for a few hours in the morning, and go again? I guess we have friends that regularly (once or twice a year) make 18 hour drives home (with little one) all in one stretch (some of it being at night, obviously) so we didn't feel that 24 hours in 2 days was much of a stretch compared to that? I don't expect it to be fun, but do you think it might be manageable? Sigh. The hotel is sounding a little better, I just hate to lose more days! If our kids were older, the "road trip" part would definitely be more fun...
    Did I mention that DH and I are taking a mini trip (without the munchkins) to Disneyland for a few days while we're there? :) Yay for that at least...
    Last edited by ctrsara; 05-20-2009 at 07:57 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default New discoveries.

    so we didn't feel that 24 hours in 2 days was much of a stretch compared to that? I don't expect it to be fun, but do you think it might be manageable?
    As already mentioned, the actual journey time is going to be more like 30 hours, and that is without any major hold ups or stops, just gas, food and bio breaks with a stretch of the legs. I would not recommend it.

    I just hate to lose more days!
    I know your goal is to visit the family, but if you look at the road trip as "lost day's" it will become torturous. Look at it as more of an adventure and make the best you can of it with new discoveries along the way. Having the time to stop for an hour or so and letting yourselves and the kids unwind for a bit will pay dividends. Here is a list of places just off every Interstate that you might find useful to taking time out.

    If you really don't want to lend the time to the journey then I would try and find the budget to fly. It will be much safer and less stressful then trying to travel this distance in 2 days .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Look at what you are really proposing!

    Your destination being Safford instead of Tucson shaves about an hour off your trip, but you are still making the very faulty assumption that you can make this trip in anything close to 24 hours. Its still going to be a 29-30 hour trip, and no you can not safely make that drive over 2 days.

    Certainly, it is possible to do a one day sprint over 18 hours (although I would recommend it only as a last resort, especially when children are involved). However, what you are proposing to do, would essentially be to do 2 of those days back to back, when you've already admited that you don't sleep well away from home, so you know you will be exhausted when you are starting out on that second day!

    I also would recommend trying to step back and look at your plans from an outside prospective: They look remarkably selfish!
    You are complaining that you don't have enough time or money to do the trip you want to do, and so you want us to approve of a plan that quite frankly puts your family and others on the road in signficant danger. Yet at the same time, you are saying during this trip, you are adding an additional trip to LA (another 10+ hour drive each way) so you and your wife can get away to an very expensive theme park!

    It seems like you've got a very easy solution. Take the time and/or money you would spend going to Disney, and take it to either spend more time getting to your destination or buy plane tickets so you can fly. You can still take a day or two to get away with your wife, but you can make that a much smaller and less expensive part of your budget.

  8. #8

    Default

    I know exactly how you feel. My kids are the same, if not worse and they are much older. Both, my kids (2.5 and 6) and my wife can't sit in a car for more then an hour or two.

    We make frequent stops to parks in small towns, easy to get in and out of. We also hit malls for as short stops to keep the wife happy. I use GPS and find parks on my way before the kids reach a point where they can't sit. We make use of the DVD player, but kids are not much into watching TV. So we do a lot of coloring, 'I spy' type games, leapster, etc.

    The longest we have traveled is about 5 hours from home in car in one day. I don't think I can imaging going any further without adding another day.

    Good luck with your trip, enjoy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    From AZ, living in IA
    Posts
    6

    Default

    jacksonjohn82 - Thanks for your kind comment, sympathizing, and tips for how you manage trips. Our longest trip so far with the kids has been 6 hours, though I am the oldest of 5, and remember some exciting times... my brothers are NOT traveling types...
    to Midwest Michael -
    Thanks for your input. It would probably hold more sway with me if I thought that you had really read and thought about what I had said, or if you knew our personal circumstances. A little kindness and a little less judging goes a long way if you really want to convince people to do things your way. For one thing, I am a woman, which is not hard to figure out, since I refer to my DH and my name is Sara. For another thing, Disneyland is something that is a big deal to us, and we've been working on making it happen for the last 3 years. It hasn't worked out (financially or time-wise) until now, and we've been very carefully saving and researching to do it the most budget-friendly way possible. BTW, my family has made that trip more than ten times, and it's easily 8, 9 hours tops, even with kids and some stops. I got a fabulous deal on tickets, we're staying with a friend near there instead of in a hotel, and doing groceries instead of eating in the park. If I was that selfish, I'm pretty sure we'd be doing this in a 26-ish hour stretch. That's what some other friends (from Phoenix, living here) did last time they went home, (with kids the same ages as ours) and she said it went really well and they wouldn't do it any other way.
    You said, "and no you can not safely make that drive over 2 days." Again, if you were really paying attention, you would know that I do not sleep well in a hotel room with our kids. However, if we stay with our friends/family, I will probably sleep quite well (since our 18 month will have space to herself and sleep well) and even if I didn't, my DH sleeps pretty fabulously when he's tired, and he'll be doing probably 75% of the driving. He does about 90% of it normally, because that works for us. So we might actually be SAFER drivers if we do it in 2 days, and stay where we'll sleep. If I wasn't worried about safety, we'd probably do the "sprint" that everyone in our immediate world recommends.
    I am definitely grateful for the link from Southwest Dave - that is exactly the kind of help I was looking for. (minus the hiking stops - that doesn't work for us at this age :) I'll have to bookmark it for the future! Any of you that have 1 and 2 year olds know that any long traveling days are rough with them, (and even flying is a 12+ hour day for us, with a 3 hour drive on each end most of the time) They are not old enough to appreciate the games and experiences and fun that can be had on a real road trip. When they're older hopefully we have some of those. It STILL makes sense to have two semi-rough days instead dragging it into 3 semi-rough days, but maybe we'll try the 3-day journey and find that it works for us. If not, we can always change our tactics on the way home.
    I really do appreciate the advice, and you've all given me a lot to think about. Of course our friends and acquaintances that have done the same trip have given us a lot to think about too, and they never tried to make me feel like a bad (or stupid) person for considering a traveling style different than what they preferred. The emotional side of me wants to discard some of what I've heard here, just because of that, but thankfully the logical side is going to take everything I'm learning into account and try to do what's best for our family, considering our needs and priorities. I hope I didn't offend in my replies; that was not my intention. I realize now (after doing some reading of threads and links) that the philosophy on this board is a fabulous one, but only partially applicable to our young family and this long trip. Hopefully we won't have to make it many more times. Hopefully we'll live closer to family when we're done with school and will only have to take the road trips that we WANT to, which are more suited to our optimal enjoyment and our childrens' attention spans. I don't think we'd be making this trip if it were not for the combined factors of finally a Disneyland possibility and the fact that my younger brother is leaving the country for 2 years, and we really want to see him before he goes!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Did you say you have friends to stay with in both Denver and Albuquerque? If so, you have 2 options in my opinion.

    1. Get on the road around 3am and do the 840 mile haul to Denver, sharing the driving. Switch drivers at each rest/fuel/food stop. This is so you can get in for the night at a reasonable hour for your friends. Denver to Albuquerque and Albuquerque to Safford are both very reasonable single day drives.

    2. Bite the bullet and go via Wichita and spend the first night in a hotel. You should be able to find 2 rooms for a reasonable price, Wichita is not a high lodging cost area. Just be aware of the "bad" sections of town, the area around the airport is fine.

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