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  1. Default Detroit to Seattle family roadtrip

    My husband and 2 boys (4 and 2) are planning to drive from Detroit to Seattle beginning Aug 30th. We have never tackled such an extensive road trip but are excited and hopeful. Just needed some feedback from those of you who are more well experienced!

    Day 1 (Aug 30): Detroit to Badlands National Park (Rapid City, SD)
    We are planning to leave Friday Aug 30th at some point in the late afternoon and drive through the night (so the kids can sleep). My husband and I will switch off and on driving so we can sleep.

    Day 2 (Aug 31): Explore Badlands National Park and drive to Mount Rushmore (Keystone, SD). Spend night in hotel.

    Day 3 (Sept 1): Drive to Yellowstone National Park. Spend night

    Day 4-5 (Sept 2-3): Explore Yellowstone National Park. Drive halfway to Seattle and spend night

    Day 6 (Sept 4): Finish driving to Seattle.

    Day 7 (Sept 5): Explore Seattle-visit family and friends.

    Day 8-11 (Sept 6-9): Renting house on Olympic Pennisula. Explore Olympic National Park/Hoh Rainforest. Drive back to Seattle on the 9th.

    Day 12: (Sept 10): Fly back to Detroit

    I know that we may be trying to tackle too much and I am completely aware that we will only be able to see pieces of the National Parks. We are willing to be flexible...and must for the kids sake :)

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Also, any "must see" spots would help us to prioritize what to see in the small amount of time that we have!

    Thank you!

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

    Default for the kids sake... stay alive!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Before anything else can be said about your trip, you MUST rethink your first day on the road. Your current plan has you putting your family in an unthinkable amount of danger, where the best case is that you would be guaranteeing that your entire trip would will be a miserable experience, and the worst case is that you don't survive the trip alive.

    It simply is not reasonable to plan to drive from Detroit to the Badlands in one leg, especially not driving through the night with 2 drivers.

    First, it is just not reasonable to think that either one of the drivers will be getting enough real rest while sitting in a moving car to be a safe driver over the 20+ hours it will take you get from Detroit to the Badlands (computer estimates don't ever have to stop or slowdown).

    Second, if you're going to be driving all night, you need to have TWO people awake at all times, to make sure the driver is staying awake and alert.

    Third, if you're not leaving until "late afternoon," one can assume you've got other things going on that day, so you won't even be well rested when you start your journey.

    The cold reality is that what you're proposing is extremely dangerous and puts your family in an unthinkable amount of danger. The statistics for drowsy driving don't lie: what you are proposing is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk, and I'm sure you'd never consider getting behind the wheel, with your kids in the car, when your driving skills are impared by alcohol.

    The safety issues here should trump everything else, but even if you did what you are proposing without getting into a serious/fatal crash, there is just no possible way that your family will have fun. The adults will be extremely overtired by the time you get to SD, and that kind of exhausting will linger for days - likely for most of the trip, as you never really have time to catch up on the rest you need. Meanwhile, the kids will have got some sleep, and will have lots of extra energy to burn because of being confined to such a small space for hours upon hours at a time. Those two things just don't go together, and I can think of few things that will so quickly make a roadtrip an unbearable experience for the entire family.

    The reality is that Detroit to Western South Dakota is a minimum of 2 full days on the road if you want this to be a safe, much less enjoyable, trip. If you can't leave until "late afternoon" on Friday, I'd drive into the night, and try to get through Chicago, maybe to Rockford. For comparison sake, when my family heads out east, we frequently will leave "after work" and get in some miles, and that usually means getting from near Madison to around Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, and even that is usually pushing it, and getting into a motel around 1-2am. However, I do have to still warn you that if you make it to say Rockford, you're still 700+ miles from the Badlands, and trying to drive 700 miles in a day on a family roadtrip is still too much to be recommended, and really too much to be safe or fun.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Ditto.

    To drive from Detroit to Seattle with just a drive through [literally] Yellowstone is a 5 day drive, it would not be a lot of fun for adults and it would be torture for the kids being in a car for 9 to 10 hours a day with only time for food and bathroom breaks.

    If this is the time you are limited to and you have rented the house for 3 nights I would suggest that you fly both ways and explore some of the sites near Seattle. By driving a loop out of Seattle you will save on a one way drop off fee for your car rental and cut down the gas costs to at least help towards the cost of an extra flight. Mount Ranier, the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood and some of the Oregon coast could make for a nice trip.

    Good luck on your travels.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default And It's So Unnecessary

    There is another simple fact arguing against your current unsafe plans to try to drive nearly 1200 miles in one sitting. (Note that such a drive is double what professional long-haul truckers are allowed to drive by law - for safety reasons!) And that simple fact is that it is totally unnecessary. With 11 days to get from Detroit to Seattle, you only have to cover around 200 miles a day. You can have a much pleasanter and safer drive, that your kids will enjoy rather than simply endure, by covering no more than twice that (400 miles on a 'hard' day of driving), and taking time to see a few of the many, many other sites along the way. You would still be able to spend significant time seeing the Badlands (half a day, say) and Yellowstone (a day or two) and arrive in Seattle on either the 5th or 6th. So the question is simple: Would your relatives in Seattle rather see you a day late or not at all?


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    A couple of weeks ago, I was reminiscing with my parents about our past travels as a family when I was growing up. On one occasion, my parents did exactly what you were contemplating: they drove 1000+ miles in one sitting, driving through the night, changing drivers every two hours. My brother, myself, and our grandma were all in the back of the station wagon. We were driving from Chicago down towards Padre Island, TX, for spring vacation. My parents' goal was to get as far south as they could, because of the threat of snow, in one swoop.

    Mom remembers (to this day, and this was 45 years ago) that it was utterly EXHAUSTING. When we arrived (after 1080 miles) in Waco TX, we pulled into a truck stop and we all piled into our 18' travel trailer TO SLEEP. A few hours later, we were all rousted back out to the station wagon to complete the trip -- another 400 miles. By the time we pulled into the RV park in South Padre Island, my parents fell asleep on the beach.

    I noticed they never did this again in their traveling lives.

    My husband and I did a 702 mile day once in our traveling lives. Another trip, we drove only at night and tried to sleep during the day. Neither was something we ever tried to do again.

    So take this from experience -- what Buck, Dave and Michael said is absolutely right. If you already have reservations somewhere, you can change them. Your lives, and others' lives, depend on it.

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 08-25-2013 at 12:20 PM.

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