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  1. Default Washington to Minnesota

    We want to do a road trip this summer (June, July, August??), and this will be our first! So any and all advice is welcome! We have two kids: 5 years old and 3 years old. Here are some of our questions so far: What are the mountain like in the summer? Still snowy, or nothing to worry about? Is there a best time of year to travel over the mountains? We'd like to do a few quick sightseeing stops, but nothing too time consuming, out of the way, or expensive --- any ideas? Of course we'll have lots of things and activities to keep the kids entertained as best we can, but with kids, what is the best way or time to do a road trip? Leave very early morning, leave in the evening and let the kids sleep through the night in the car? Is there a best way? What if anything can we do to prepare our van for a long road trip -- we figure oil change, make sure all fluids are filled, check tire pressure -- anything else? Anything we can do to improve gas mileage? Thanks again for any advice!! =)

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There can still be some snow in the mountains in the summer months, but the likelihood of seeing a significant snow event that would impact your trip is quite rare.

    The big questions are how much time do you actually have for this trip, and where exactly are you starting and finishing (WA and MN are pretty big places)? Some of the major potential stops would be Glacier, Yellowstone, Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore, Teddy Roosevelt NP, or the Badlands.

    As far as what time, you can try to cover some miles for a couple hours early in the morning or late at night while the kids are sleeping, but you certainly can not drive through the night. Even if you drive though the night without incident (which is a problem if you are not used to be up all night), when morning comes you'll be exhausted and need to sleep, while your kids will be rested after a full night of sleep and have all sorts of energy! That's a combination that won't work!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by Djac View Post
    Anything we can do to improve gas mileage?
    Sure there is! The most effective way to improve gas mileage is to raise your right foot. Keep your speed to between 60 - 65 mph, the most fuel efficient speed.

    We never drove through the night with our children, for all the reasons Michael mentioned. We found it best for children the age of yours, was to leave early - 8 to 9am - and not travel after 4pm. Find accommodation, give the children time to become familiar with where they will be sleeping, and have a relaxing walk or story time. It will help ensure an undisturbed night's sleep.

    You might find this thread helpful, for stops along the way to let the kids burn off some energy.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-21-2012 at 08:51 PM. Reason: typo

  4. Default

    Thanks for all the ideas and info guys! We're headed from Seattle area to Minneapolis area. And good points about traveling with the kids so we all stay on the same schedule. I will definitely check out that thread, Lifey!

  5. #5

    Default An alternate opinion on saving money on the trip

    Hello Djac,

    You've received some excellent advice on planning for your first XC (cross-country) RoadTrip. Allow me to add an alternate view of economizing:

    I personally find slow travel speed on the Interstate highways to be worrisome at best and downright harrowing at worst. While it's absolutely true that 60-65 mph speeds are best for most vehicle's fuel efficiency, that speed range is slower than probably 90% of the traffic on an Interstate highway. With some 23,000 miles of mostly Interstate travel from the East Coast to points as far as Nevada and Idaho under my belt since July 2010, my observations are that even tractor-trailers are running 65-70 mph, and they're almost all "governed" where the motor carrier corporate management has installed devices limiting the vehicle's top speed. The smaller number of tractor-trailers which aren't governed will run 80+ mph downhill most anywhere. Automobiles and pickup trucks/SUVs will almost all be running 75 to 80+ mph. On most of my noted RoadTrip miles, I limited my speed to 72-74 mph to save on fuel costs and that put me comfortably above most tractor-trailers and behind most automobiles. Even then, the faster tractor-trailers and the autos would often pass me at a rate of 10 or more mph faster than me. To see faster traffic flying up behind you and changing lanes at the last moment to overtake you makes for a white-knuckle drive, in my humble opinion. To do so at 60-65 mph such that said overtaking traffic is running +20 mph more than one's own speed is an experience I would avoid to whatever extent possible.

    It is said "speed kills", but that's not what traffic engineers say. They say "speed differentials kill", meaning it's actually safer, if a bit more expensive, to run a bit faster than one's vehicle's most fuel efficient speed in order to make the speed differential between your vehicle and that of overtaking vehicles a smaller figure.

    And as to how to turn faster average speed into savings, just play with the numbers a bit: You may find that averaging 70-72 mph will cost you little in additional fuel costs over your planned RoadTrip mileage, and if you can avoid even one night in a motel by traveling a bit faster, chances are you'll recoup that modest additional fuel cost.

    If you decide to incorporate limiting your speed to levels significantly slower than most traffic, please do yourself and the rest of the traveling public a huge favor: Keep to the farthest right lane at all times. In the rare instances you'll be overtaking slower vehicles, turn your cruise control off for a few moments, accelerate to such a speed that you can overtake the slower one quickly, and enter the passing lane (left lane) only at such a moment when faster traffic is well behind you, and get back into the right lane before decelerating down to your chosen travel speed. Doing so provides for not imposing your chosen method of travel on all others, and prevents the dangerous situation of higher speed traffic accumulating behind you while you would otherwise overtake very slowly.

    Have a safe and enjoyable RoadTrip!


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