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  1. #1

    Default Fresno, CA to Seattle over New Years

    I'm taking my little sister back to college for winter quarter. She won't have a car up there so I'm road-tripping her up there so we can retrieve her stuff from various friends she stashed it with and get her set up with starter groceries, etc. Either I'll drive my car both ways or I'll rent a car one way and fly back. I'd appreciate any advice on doing that last option cost-effectively.

    Second question is the route. We've never made this trip at this time of year. Do we have any weather concerns to be mindful of along the 5 fwy? Will I need chains?

    We're in a time crunch because of my work. We're leaving Sat 12/28 in the morning, and I need to be back for work on Wed 1/2 or, stretching it, Thurs 1/3. I would like to make this an enjoyable trip for us. Anything not too far off the path that would be fun to experience?

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


    As far as cost-effective, renting a car one-way and then flying back simply is not going to be cost-effective. The one way car rental will be quite expensive, and I'm guessing you won't find many cheap one way flight's back to FAT either. It would likely be cheaper for you to fly both ways and rent a car in Seattle (or possibly take Amtrak and rent a car) than to do a one way car rental.

    The route is straightforward, CA-99 to I-5. You do deal with significant mountains in far Northern California and into Oregon, and it is quite possible that you'd see snow or other bad weather along the way. It is possible they'd have chain restrictions if things got bad, however, a good rule of thumb is if conditions are so bad that you need chains on the interstate, you're better off waiting for conditions to improve.

    As it is, the mountains are roughly at the halfway point of this trip, which you'll need one overnight stop for anyway. Keep an eye on the forecast, and if the weather is bad, stop overnight and things will likely be better in the morning. If the weather is good, you might want to push a little farther, so you've got a nice easy trip on day two.

    Check out RTA's Map Center for ideas on things to do along the way that might interest you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Stretch It and Drive

    Airfares being what they are and the cost of a weekly rental vs. daily rates, I'd say that your best bet here, aside from driving your own car, is to rent a car for the entire round trip and use all the time you have at your disposal. Fresno to Seattle is a shade just about 925 miles and pretty much a straight shot on I-5 all the way. That means that you should be able to do the drive comfortably in under two days each way in all but the worst weather. You should, in fact, have time to drive up there with enough daylight left when you arrive to gather up your sister's things an get her comfortably ensconced that evening and the next morning. You'll then have two full days for the drive back. Should some weather arise that you really need chains for, you're better off just sitting out the storm and letting the road crews do their thing. So at worst you should need five days for the complete journey (Saturday through Wednesday inclusive).

    I think that you'll find that the cost of renting an intermediate sedan for a week is about the same total cost as renting one for four days, and considerably cheaper than a one-way plane ticket plus a one-way rental - considerably. As for things to see and do along the way, you won't have time for major stops, but you should avail yourself of some of the many convenient scenic sites along the way. Enjoy your trip and the time with your sister.


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