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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    21

    Default Southern Pacific / Route 80 - General Advice and Recommendations

    Hi Everyone, I've just joined this forum in preparation for a road trip to the US next July.

    I'm currently planning on driving with a friend in July 2014 from L.A to the east coast (i.e. Georgia, Carolina's) in hopefully around 2 weeks.

    I've done a brief look on the internet and found that there are similar trips that others have undertaken, but being my first real road trip I'm just a little unsure of time frames and the possibility of fitting everything in.

    The plan is to start in L.A and do the following:

    L.A
    -> Las Vegas (2)
    -> Flagstaff (South Rim of Grand Canyon) (1)
    -> Albuquerque (2)
    -> Carlsbad Caverns (1) (Also Roswell... just to say we have :D)
    -> Fort Worth/Dallas (2)
    -> New Orleans (2)
    -> Jackson -> Montgomery (1)
    -> Nashville (1)
    -> Charlotte (1)
    -> Wilmington (1)
    -> Down the coast to Savannah (Dropping car off and flying back to L.A. - maybe an extra week in New York)

    Firstly, is that actually a doable feat within 2 weeks? I've plugged it all into https://roadtrippers.com/ and it's given me 3835mi with a total travel time of 60:29 hours driving and the longest driving day will be Dallas - New Orleans at 7hr:48min and secondly the Carlsbad - Fort Worth at 6hr:53min. Not being a particularly long distance driver, is this a reasonable amount in a day? Obviously will be broken up every 3 hours or so to get fuel and walk around. (My mapped out trip is HERE if anyone is interested in the website I used it on. Handy tool to gauge fuel costs as well :D)

    Secondly, I'm definitely not an expert on the areas we're heading through and would appreciate any help or suggestions in maybe varying the trip to places that may be more interesting than in places that we've got. I'm not really sure about New Mexico and whether it would be better to maybe go to Sante Fe, or even go south through Pheonix and Tucson... Same goes for Texas, we'll obviously be driving through a lot of smaller town that may have lots of cool things but I haven't heard of any of them in order to know.

    I think I'm leaning towards renting an SUV just for reassurance that we'll have enough durability to do the trip and room for everything.

    I'd appreciate any and all suggestions and assistance, even if it's pointing out the flaws in the plan (especially then!). Thanks in advance!!!

    Clay

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default 'Real world' timing.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    For planning purposes we think of a full days driving of 550-600 miles to be equal to 9-10 hours of travel time with appropriate rest stops, to fill with gas, eat and cater for construction and congestion delays, but with no sight seeing. Therefor your drives are perfectly reasonable but will take longer than you are expecting, mapping programs are always over optimistic as they don't account for 'real world driving' conditions. I also usually allow a little extra time for unexpected stops/treats along the way and city congestion either end of a days drive and would 'budget' for 8.5 hours [and up to 9 hours] for the journey from Dallas to New Orleans from 'door to door'.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default observations

    I think your plan itself looks pretty solid, but I see a few potential red flags.

    First, clearly you've been reading Jamie Jensen's book/website Roadtrip USA. He's the only one who uses terms like "Southern Pacific" and "Route 80." There is nothing wrong with using his information, but many people fall into the trap of thinking his suggested trips are the only, or even best, options for a roadtrip. The beauty of a roadtrip is that you can build your own trip to take in all the places you want to see, without having to follow someone else's plan. It looks like you have still done that, but its just a standard warning I have anytime I see people using Jamie's stuff.

    I'd also rethink a couple things with your rental car. An SUV really isn't going to be needed and is likely going to make your trip much more expensive. A regular mid to full sized sedan is generally your best bet for value, often hundreds of dollars cheaper than an SUV. An SUV really won't provide you any more durability, as your rental contract will forbid you from taking it off-road or really anyplace you can't easily get to in a sedan. I also doubt you would really need the extra space, especially if this is just 2 people. If you can't fit all of your stuff into a sedan, you probably can't take it with you on the plane either!

    I'd also guess that Savannah will likely be a very expensive city to end your trip, just because it is relatively small, and thus your airfare and rental car costs will likely be much higher. Even if you consider that your final destination, it will probably worth your time to double back to Atlanta or Charlotte to actually end your trip. Another option, if you're going to be visiting NY, is just to drive all the way to NY and turn in your rental car there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Thanks Dave. Yeah I thought that the mapping was very optimistic, especially considering we'll be stopping and checking out some places along the way. For those days where the estimate driving time exceeds 5 hours I've just allocated the whole day to driving and an extra day in the destinations to actually have time to look around.

    Thanks Michael, I actually planned a bit of the route prior to seeing the name, I was just able to refer to it once I saw what it had been called! :) Originally I had plans to do a 3 month trip all around the country and go to as many states as possible but it was a bit idealistic.

    I have varied the route somewhat, adding the trip through Carlsbad to see the caverns, Vegas, Nashville, etc, but by and large it covered a lot of what we were looking to experience.

    That's what I thought with the SUV as well. I'm fine with a reasonably smaller car, so long as it's suited to long distances, however my friend wants to go large and have opportunity to drive an SUV because he only has a small car himself. I know it's impractical and going to be more expensive but it's purely for sentimental reasons :) Not being a car enthusiast myself I don't see the difference...

    About Savannah - I thought that may be the case. I was planning to fly to New York afterwards to save time but my friend has to fly back to L.A. for work so I didn't really want to be driving up the east coast by myself. I might look into it though and just take it far more slowly and cautiously. I know this sounds like a ridiculous question, but is there anything particularly appealing for a 25 year to visit between Raleigh and New York? I've been to DC many times and it seems that Richmond, VA is very much a history city judging by what I've read online. Would Baltimore be more suited?

    Thank you so much for your help! I've still got a bit of research to do, particularly for things like where to go in New Mexico and Texas or even going the Pheonix route. If you have any recommendations from experience please let me know!

    Thanks,

    Clay

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Lots of time to make amendments.

    Hi Clay, with 10 months yet to plan your trip, be assured it will change many times. Most trips do, as you learn more about places, things to do and see, etc. Even last minute changes are quite usual.

    May I suggest you get a good large wall sized map of the US and put it where you constantly see it. Rather than write, I prefer sticky notes to mark places and points of interest.

    As for driving to NY, I say go for it. There are quite a few options as far as route is concerned, other than I-95. You could go via the Outer Banks (that route is also in Jamie's book) including the CBBT, or you could take one of the more inland routes. You could choose to do most of it in a day or two, or you could choose to take more time and check out many of the attractions along the way. I often change my route whilst on the road, either by choice or from necessity. (Only this week I was heading for Chicago when a small disaster at a campground near there caused me to skip Chicago and head for Elkhart to get repairs done a.s.a.p.)

    As an aside, if you are a member of RACQ, be sure to bring your membership with you. It will entitle you to free maps and tourist information from the AAA. Their maps are excellent, well detailed with points of interest all over them. Don't be tempted to rely solely on electronic gadgets. I travel with AAA maps, a Rand McNally road atlas and pick up State maps at each Welcome Centre I see. There is always some detail on one map which is not on the other two.

    Of course I have my GPS as well. How else would I find the (wrong) address. I meant to document just how often it sent me to the wrong place and down the wrong route.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Lifey,

    Thanks for the advice! I looked into it and the Outer Banks does look like a nice drive as opposed to going straight up the middle. I hadn't heard of the area before but it looks pretty cool, the the CBBT looks pretty interesting to drive on as well judging by the photos. I figure if I leave about 2-3 days to get from Raleigh to Baltimore I should be able to have a fairly leisurely drive through those beaches stopping overnight along the way. Thanks!

    I don't have RACQ here unfortunately, not really a need for it where I am and only use other people's cars very infrequently. I'm pretty sure my friend in L.A. has AAA membership though so we can pick up a few maps and tourist info anyway.

    Definitely going to use GPS! I'll have it on my phone as well as my personal system so hopefully it won't go too far off track!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    209

    Default Albuquerque to Santa Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by ClayBolck
    I'm not really sure about New Mexico and whether it would be better to maybe go to Santa Fe
    If you go from the Grand Canyon east to Albuquerque, you should definitely take one day to drive up to Santa Fe. It would be a shame to be so close and not go. Then, from Santa Fe, you would head straight down US Hwy. 285 to Roswell and Carlsbad.

    You can get from ABQ to Santa Fe in an hour on the Interstate, but there are also two other routes that are worth looking into, if you wanted to make it a day trip ( or a half-day trip ).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Thanks Howard!

    That list of routes is great, I've currently scheduled 2 days for alburqueque but I might split that up in one at each then. I realised when taking into consideration my timing and everything that I'll be in Albuqueque for 4 July which will be great!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been lurking around and reading posts based on similar trips to mine which have been really helpful.

    One thing I'm having trouble deciding is whether to include Jackson, MS in my trip. As it currrently stands we'll be driving from New Orleans to Jackson, spending a few hours there then heading to Montgomery, AL.

    Obviously this is a very round about way to get from NO to Montgomery, but I had included it to try and see as much as possible.

    I just wanted to ask if anyone has spent time in Jackson, and if so is it worth adding an extra few hours to an already long day? If it seems more a chore to get to it'll probably be easier to go to Montgomery via Mobile instead.

    Thanks in advance!

    Clay

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Do some more research to see if there is anything in Jackson that might interest you.

    My personal opinion? I think spending a bit of time on the Gulf Coast between NO and Mobile would be time better spent.

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