Just wanted to get some advice for an upcoming trip I'm taking. Basically I have 10 days to make it from Pittsburgh to Seattle - I'm in my late 20s and driving by myself in a Honda Civic in mid-February.
I've done this trip once before several years ago - on the way out there in the summer I basically took the I-90 route through South Dakota, cut down to Yellowstone, and then back up through Montana, Idaho, and Eastern Washington. On the way home in winter due to weather, I cut all the way down to the Grand Canyon / Vegas through California, and cut across I-40 and then back up.
Ideally I'd like to do something different this time. Two "goals":
A) Avoiding bad weather and especially snow chain situations. Snow chains would be a deal breaker, I got stuck dealing with that in Lake Tahoe once and it's just not worth the trouble.
B) Minimizing the cost - the company is giving me the option to drive rather than fly, but due to a change in policy we can no longer expense hotels
A) As of now I'm planning on getting out to an interchange point like St. Louis or Kansas City on the first day, and then depending on weather making a decision. Here are some options
I-70 - This would be my preferred route, assuming I can avoid weather / chain issues. Would this be realistic in mid-February? Also since 70 just kind of ends in Utah, what do you think would be the best way out? Cutting up to I-80 on 6? Cutting up to I-84 and heading out north through ID? Taking 50 across Nevada? I'm not familiar with any of the roads out here at all and what spots to avoid in the winter. Ideally I'd get to go skiing in Utah or Colorado if I take this route, assuming the weather allows it.
I-80 - Browsing the forums I'm getting the sense that this would be more risky than I-70?
I-94 through North Dakota. My big concern would be the weather / chain requirements through ND, MT, and that bit of ID (I remember a giant climb right at the state line from last time).
If all of these are bad ideas, I suppose I could just do I-40 again but I'd really rather try something new.
B) I've never stayed in a hostel before, I'm thinking this trip could be a good chance to try that out both in terms of saving money and meeting people. Any recommendations / warnings? Or any good cheap hotels? I'm assuming that sleeping in the car, while tempting given that I'm kind of an insomniac and hotels feel wasteful, would not be a good idea whatsoever?
Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for the help.