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  1. Default North Carolina to California

    I am a travel nurse, and my next move is from NC to CA. My family (my man & my cat) only own enough stuff to fill our sedan. We are down sizing and mailing most of our stuff We have done all our trips on the east coast, from Plattsburgh NY to Sarasota FL, this is our first cross country trip, planned for early October.*

    Our cat is a new addition, we have never done a raid trip with her, but we had a dog before, so we have some experience traveling with a pet.*

    I read a few posts on this site (very helpful reality check!) and realized that 3 days may not be reasonable. We did Maryland to Florida in one day, but the cumulative effect of a trip three times as far did not seem as relevant as I now understand. *

    I would like to hear advice on:
    1. Time to allocate in terms of days. I have 12 days to get there, but more days on the road means more hotel stay$.
    2. Time that would be added if we see the grand canyon.*
    3. Best route (least boring, highest speed limits). Unfortunately, the man prefers to do 80% of the driving, while I navigate, DJ and prep snacks.
    4. Long term car travel with an indoor cat.*
    5. How much will we end up spending on gas, lodging and food? If we stick to bare minimum?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Some things are hard to figure, but...

    Welcome to RTA! I've crossed the country a few times, and one of those times was with a cat. So, here goes:

    1) You'll need 5 days minimum, driving 500-600 miles per day. Six days would make it easier.

    2) Going to the Grand Canyon --- assuming the South Rim since this is October -- will add another day. You can stay in Williams, AZ, which would be less expensive than staying on the Canyon Rim, or in Tusayan. The latter is closer to the Rim, but more expensive than Williams.

    3) Here at RTA, we don't do "best routes". It's also pretty hard to make recommendations when California is more than 700 miles long and we don't know where in CA you're settling. But since you mentioned the Grand Canyon, I would suggest getting to I-40. My husband and I really enjoyed the scenery along I-40. Most state speed limits on the Interstates are either 65, 70, or 75. Texas has some 80 mph but those are on I-10 and I-20, for the most part.

    4) Plan on some way that the kitty has a litter box of some sort, plus her water and food bowls. I wouldn't feed her until you get in at night.
    Some hotels are very pet-friendly. Many Super 8's, many La Quinta's, and some Motel 6's will allow pets. Be aware, however, that most of them will want some sort of pet deposit. Never sneak Kitty into a hotel that does not take pets. As soon as they get a whiff of it, you'll find a very unpleasant charge on your credit card, usually upwards of $250

    5) I would allot at least $80 a day for lodging, because of the Kitty Cat. For gas, there is a "fuel cost calculator" on this website (look on the righthand column). Use $4/gallon, your car's average gas mileage, and 3300 miles for how many miles. (It's probably a 3000 mile trip, but I add a few for sightseeing.)

    Food can be so changeable! My husband and I always budget $60 per travel day/at a motel day. We rarely take advantage of hotel's continental breakfasts, because we like to travel very early in the morning and get some miles in before we stop. But there's a way to save some money. We either don't stop for lunch at all, or snack out of the car. We always go out for dinner. I carry coupons for all the chains, but most of the time we ask at the motel check-in desk for recommendations.

    Hope this helps!


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-18-2012 at 05:44 AM. Reason: added white space

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Kitty as a roadtripper

    Quote Originally Posted by TravelRN View Post
    I am a travel nurse, and my next move is from NC to CA. My family (my man & my cat) only own enough stuff to fill our [sedan.
    I've been on the Travel Nurse mailing list for years, but I think you're the first Travel Nurse whose registered and joined this community of roadtrippers. So welcome!
    Our cat is a new addition, we have never done a raid trip with her, but we had a dog before, so we have some experience traveling with a pet.*
    As a nurse perhaps you'll have some access to low-yield tranquilizers. Cats do not make, as a general rule, happy road trippers until they've done it for 3-4 times. But with the drugs and a very comfortable kitty kennel -- they can make the transition.
    We did Maryland to Florida in one day, but the cumulative effect of a trip three times as far did not seem as relevant as I now understand. *
    Correct, and as a health professional you are probably aware of the hazards of fatigue and sleep deprivation.
    1. Time to allocate in terms of days. I have 12 days to get there, but more days on the road means more hotel stay$.
    Five days minimum, traveling 70+ miles per hour, 8-10 hours on the road every day.
    2. Time that would be added if we see the grand canyon.*
    One more night/day.
    3. Best route (least boring, highest speed limits). Unfortunately, the man prefers to do 80% of the driving, while I navigate, DJ and prep snacks.
    There are NO boring roads in America. Best route is an impossible intangible. For some, this would be the most scenic or the fastest.
    5. How much will we end up spending on gas, lodging and food? If we stick to bare minimum?
    If you eat at least two meals out of your cooler, per day, drive the shortest distance -- stay at the most efficient motels (NOT THE CHEAPEST). You can budget $100 to $125 per day. Be sure to use the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator to get some ideas too.

    A couple more tips about pets -- mostly about dogs -- but you can still use some of the ideas...

    Overview

    Pet friendly motels

    Enjoy the planning!

    Mark

  4. #4

    Default Our trip in 2007

    Hello travelnurse,

    In late October 2007, my Navy son and I did Raleigh, NC to Port Hueneme (Oxnard/Ventura) CA in his lightly loaded Chevy pickup. Our experience as relates to your trip indicates the following:

    Unless your CA destination is far northern or southern CA, I-40 all the way to Barstow is likely the most direct and fastest route. I-40 has only Knoxville-Nashville-Memphis TN and Albuqurque, NM to deal with in terms of rush hour traffic to try to avoid. Otherwise it's as wide-open clear sailing as you can find for a XC route. It's scenic enough for most folks, and I certainly agree with the general mantra that there are "no non-scenic roads".

    We ran around 6-8mph above the posted speed limit, shared the driving equally, economized on stops (combining fuel, bathroom, and food stops), and we started pre-dawn each day. We exceeded the oft-recommended daily driving limits, I must admit, but my travel partner (my son) was a 6'3", 200 lb Navy Seabee just back from overseas deployment, so he was in the "bulletproof and immortal" stage of his life, so "small stuff" like daily driving limits didn't apply, or so he contended. I relented and resolved to watch his condition, and mine, very carefully, and it worked out fine. Our average speed, on a beginning-to-end-of-day basis was 67-68 mph. Absent rampant speeding at 10-15mph above posted limits, that's about the best pace one can figure on for a trip such as this.

    At roughly noon local time, we exited I-40 at Flagstaff and went north to Cameron, then west through the Grand Canyon NP, stopping at all of the major view points as well as a brief stop at Canyon Village. Turning south to Williams, AZ and I-40 there had us arriving back on I-40 at around 6pm, if I recall correctly. It was just getting dark when we arrived at Kingman, AZ later that day.

    From Kingman, we looped north to the Hoover Dam at dawn the next day and took in the "inside the dam" tour. We finished that by late morning, scooted past Las Vegas, skirted north of the LA Basin from Victorville to Palmdale, and arrived at the Navy base at Port Hueneme by 6pm.

    Get used to "Loves", a chain of travel plazas along I-40 from Tennessee through Texas and possibly beyond. Nothing fancy, but a decent place to combine fuel, nature, and fast food/snack/convenience store stops.

    Have a safe and enjoyable XC RoadTrip!

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    The cheapest guaranteed (almost, some don't due to local ordinance) pet-friendly hotel chain is Motel 6. No surcharge and no deposit that I'm aware of.

    For the GC, you will find a bigger selection of "cheap" hotels in Flagstaff. However, both Williams and Flagstaff have multiple Motel 6's.

    I'm going against a lot of people's opinions here regarding Motel 6, but with the pet and budget issues it's at least a somewhat known quantity - a bare-bones hotel with zero amenities (but most have wifi, and most of them charge 3 to 4 bucks a night for it), and sometimes not that well maintained and sometimes a bit shady. However, they are on a major project to clean up their act, and there are quite a few of them that have been recently renovated and upgraded.

    I concur with I-40 - and I do have to add OKC to the rush hour cities to avoid.

  6. Default Thank you all!

    Thank you all for the advice. I've taken notes and have started to prepare.
    I'll likely have more questions when time draws near but it seems pretty clear now.

  7. Default

    Mark, are you a nurse? Travel nursing is a fantastic lifestyle for ones searching for a perfect area to take root. Visiting a place for a few days, you eat out and see the sights... Its scratching the surface. Living and working somewhere for three months, you go to the grocery store, the gym, the movies... The commute... You figure out what it's really like to live there. We've learned so much in our year so far traveling.
    Last edited by TravelRN; 07-19-2012 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Specify who I'm responding to

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default I meddle -- not the same as nursing

    Nope -- I'm not a nurse -- But I've been a subscriber to the Travel Nurse Association e-mail newsletter for the past decade or so.

    Mark

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