Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13
  1. #1

    Default Austin, TX to Seattle, WA end of FEB - Suggestions Appreciated!

    Hello - new to RTA, love all the articles and inspiration on making a road trip an adventure and not just a 'trip' to be endured.

    We're relocating from Austin TX to Seattle WA and I will be driving with about 4 days of planned time. I am going to be on the road with my 3 year old and a cat, so we are not doing a 'speed' trip nor will our days be more than 8 hours of driving, hence my initial planning of 4 days and 3 nights. We can add another day if need be, but I imagine by the fourth day we're going to definitely be tired of the road trip.

    Another important factor in my planning is weather. An initial trip planner route will take me straight northwest through NM, Utah and Idaho, which concerns me for mountainous areas and snow, which I would like to avoid considering the time of year and my three year old needing to stop more often.

    Planning a trip through the southwest is more attractive, and though it adds 300-400 more miles (and time) to our trip, I think this may be the better route for us so we can stop and get outdoors and see interesting things for my very curious and active little boy.

    Here are my questions:

    - Would the straight route through Utah and Idaho be really a bad idea?
    - Which route do you recommend if we choose a more southerly direction?
    - Should we avoid going all the way over to California and up the west coast that way? (traffic etc. as I've been through LA a few times)
    - Albuquerque to Las Vegas and then what? (If we went that way)
    - Cool ideas and places to visit if we go through New Mexico and Arizona (kid friendly 1 hour stop offs)?

    I would love advice and suggestions from anyone who has traveled through these states in the winter. I realize there's no way to predict the weather at the end of February, which is why I'm considering the longer route to avoid the potential of winter storms altogether if possible. Thanks for feedback!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    Austin to Seattle, no matter which way you go, cannot be driven in four 8 hour days even with no sightseeing at all. Depending on which route you take, it's 2200 to 2500 miles.

  3. #3


    Ok - so I am underestimating my hours vs. miles expectations by a fair bit. Most likely based on my previous hell-bent-to-get-there experiences of past roadtrips over 1000 miles. Slowing down to 8 hours a day of driving does add more time than I am probably setting expectations. ...(that was me saying 8 hours of actual driving, with stops in between to see things so the days will actually be more like 10-12)

    I don't expect to stop for large attractions - just small stops of 30 min to an hour so my son can get out and run around a bit, and not just to eat and pee at rest stops. I'm hoping to find some interesting things to see along the drive.

    So I'm contradicting my own goal of slowing down if I try to make it in 4 days? OK! I get it. Now I'm hoping for some responses with good recommendations for the route to take.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Best Use of Your Time

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It is quite possible, if the weather cooperates, for you to get from Austin to Seattle in four relatively sane driving days covering 550 miles per day. That is a pace that you as an adult can keep up practically forever, but it may begin to tell on your three year old by the end. Your plan to take several short stops a day will go a long way towards keeping him (her?) and the cat engaged in the new countryside they'll be experiencing and letting them get some exercise and blow off some steam. While much of your drive (assuming you take the 'initial trip planner route') will be on roads other than the Interstates, this list of places for such sops along the nation's superhighways should give you an idea of the sorts of resources that are available to any cross-country traveler almost everywhere. My own travel style over the years has evolved to something quite similar to what you are proposing and I find it quite enjoyable. I hope your child does as well.

    Now, as to the specific route, I would recommend that you work up two plans, the 'straight' route your software is giving you, and a route that is basically US-183/TX-153/US-84/I-40/CA-58/CA-99/I-5 through Lubbock, Albuquerque, and Bakersfield (but not Las Vegas). The former would be my strong preference. It's more scenically interesting, and the varied terrain and road types will help keep you as the driver engaged, interested, and safe. This route can be driven in four relatively easy days as noted, but even so you should not be surprised if you have to sit out a storm for a half day to a day in February. If, and only if however, there is a forecast for significant snow along that route during your drive, you should consider taking the long way around. The problem with that route is that even if the weather is better, you'll have to use an extra half day for the extra driving, leaving you no better off time-wise than you were with the 'straight' route including a fairly significant weather delay. And that extra half day on the road just increases your chances of running into bad weather on the 'southern' route which is by no means immune to winter weather either.


  5. #5


    Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions.

    I agree with trying to make it an enjoyable trip for my three year old but also doable for myself at the same time. Not pushing too hard per day and taking a route that will have interesting things to see.

    I appreciate the encouragement to consider the direct route. I think my only fear is getting trapped somewhere due to a sudden snow/ice storm and being alone with him plus slippery roadway conditions. Those things have me concerned about choosing that direct NW route because I'll be driving it alone. If I had someone helping me I would be much more adventurous about it.

    The secondary, more southwestern route is actually one I'm more familiar with since we lived in San Diego and drove through to Pensacola FL and I also went up to Colorado once or twice. I'm much less confident about the mountainous regions of Utah and Idaho.

    I know it may not really make a difference if I take one or the other. Several hundred miles could be a lot or nothing with unpredictable weather at the end of February. It does, however, make sense that even if weather did become a problem on the straight route, I would still be taking just as long to get there the same as if I chose the southerly route with more fair weather states.

    Much to consider in this decision! Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Don't forget, the "fair weather states" still see a fair amount of snow and ice. I-40 is at an elevation gets up around 7,000 feet through New Mexico and Arizona, and you have additional mountain passes both in southern California (CA-58) and northern California/Oregon (I-5) that see winter weather.

    That might be a route that will work, but just don't assume that you'll see good weather that way. I'd very much agree that going a direct route is more likely going to be a better bet.

  7. #7


    You're so right - there's always a chance of bad weather anywhere you go in our beautiful and diverse country. There are mountainous areas of all those states I'd pass through regardless of which direction I choose to get there.

    So I guess at this point you all think I should just go ahead and take the most direct route and make sure I make plans to stop and have plenty of time to get there regardless of weather concerns either route?

    I'm going to be mapping out each 'leg' of the trip by days / number of miles I think I will get accomplished and try to make sure I have hotel / motel accomodations available on each leg as well as contingency back up ones if we get way-laid by weather or other delays.

    Now I am going to start reading articles for small / fun things for kids to see and do along the way as well! My little guy is very gregarious and adventurous like me so I want this to be a fun experience for him as well though it will definitely be a taxing journey regardless. Lots of stops and sightseeing should definitely help. :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Quite

    Please note that we are not recommending that you take the most direct route regardless of the actual weather conditions at the time. We are simply pointing out that, all things being equal, the direct route would be the better bet. There is no way to know what the weather will be in late February at this point. You won't know that until a few days before you leave, and you won't know with any certainty what the weather will be at the end of the trip even as you set out. In such cases, it is generally best to plan on taking the shortest route so as to minimize your exposure to the elements. If it looks like the weather through Utah and Idaho looks good in the long range forecast, then head that way. If, however, there is a major winter storm predicted for that area during the time you plan to be driving through, and the weather through Arizona and California looks considerably better, then head west to Bakersfield first before turning north. I realize that means you'll have to do twice the planning, but that's what we're actually recommending.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default And, now for the kitty!

    And with respect to the cat.....

    Unless your cat is an accomplished road trip veteran -- there are a couple of critical concerns to the health and safety of your cat AND TO THE SANITY of the humans....

    1) The cat should travel in a kitty travel kennel -- get her used to it now -- with treats and familiar toys.

    2) Get a prescription from your vet for kitty sedatives -- so her trip is less traumatic and she doesn't yowl every hour for every moment on the road.

    3) Make sure you have a leash -- so when you take her out for potty breaks, you can keep a firm hold on her. Expecting to be able to simply hold onto her is a recipe for absolute disaster....

    More pet travel tips here:

    This is mostly about dogs, but some helpful general tips

    I column I wrote about all sorts of pets.


  10. #10


    @AZBuck: Oh no, I do understand and I think my response was not clear. I meant regardless of possibleweather issues which could occur either way. I guess regardless wasn't really a good word to use, haha. I will carefully regard the weather both routes and as you said, make two roadtrip plans. Yes that's double the work, but I'm traveling alone with a 3 year old so I want to be extra cautious. I definitely think your advice to map out the westerly route through Arizona and onward up California as a secondary route is very wise!

    Even with good weather forecasts there is still no guarantee - that's part of the challenge and I only hope the end of February is mild and storm free. We do have a full week of wiggle room after Friday Feb. 28th which is important to me so we can delay a few days if necessary.

    @Mark - Thank you for those great links! I have been talking so much about all my route and weather concerns I'm sure you may have thought I had forgotten kitty's needs haha! I will definitely be doing step 1 and 3, already have the harness for him and getting him used to it, and he's had a pet car carrier that buckles into the seatbelt ever since we brought him home in it. We actually drove 4 hours each way to pick him up when we first brought him home. He's a ragdoll cat and exceptionally laid back. He did not yowl or cry except maybe a little the first hour - so I am really hoping to avoid using sedatives but I'll consider it and ask his vet about it. He lays in his cat carrier all the time, it sits under my PC desk and is a favorite hiding spot so he's very comfortable with it.

    Everyone has been really helpful. I've been reading a lot of the articles suggested as well as others here on the site for great ideas and planning tips.

    I'll update once we have everything mapped out both ways and the time gets closer to go!
    Last edited by Envie42; 02-05-2013 at 08:53 PM.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-02-2011, 03:06 AM
  2. Austin to Memphis - suggestions along the way?
    By londonsam in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-19-2010, 06:12 PM
  3. Austin to Anaheim to ???? to Austin any suggestions
    By ADelValle in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-23-2009, 04:30 AM
  4. 2 week roadtrip - suggestions appreciated
    By GreatDane in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-23-2006, 10:51 AM
  5. austin to where? help, tips and suggestions
    By raven18 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-23-2005, 02:53 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name