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  1. Default San Jose to Philadelphia via I-10 through New Orleans (11 Days)

    Hello Fellow Roadtrippers-

    Need your collective help planning an itinerary for a one way trip from San Jose, CA to Philadelphia, PA in late January/February.

    I have 11 days to do this trip and aim to sightsee as much as possible - especially interested in national monuments, natural wonders, big cities, and middle of nowhere must see's. Have done the coastal route 1 drive through CA before, have visited Vegas, grand canyon, red rock - thus aim to avoid those places.

    Being the winter, I plan on the southern most route via interstate 10 with end goal of New Orleans. After New Orleans head north - not sure which is the best (most realistic route). Appreciate your insights of things to see :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's winter in the south as well.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forum !

    If New Orleans is a place you really want to visit then I10 will do the job, however if you are headfing south just because it's winter then it will be worth reconsidering. Going south does not guarantee you won't see winter weather nor the fact that it could actually be worse than a more northerly route at the exact time you travel. Also, with all things equal, the south is not as well equipped as their northern counterparts to get roads cleared quickly in the even of a storm. You will then be adding over another 500 miles to your journey which is another day on the road that you could experience bad weather.

    I would actually concentrate on places that you would really like to see and create a route around them and be prepared to change things up if needed when you have the weather forecasts and road condition info to hand.

  3. Default

    Thanks Southwest Dave - I intentionally selected the southern route!

    Breaking this trip down a bit more here is what I have - again rough outline for the 11 day trip:
    Start San Jose, CA
    7hr Santa Barbara, CA via Coastal Route 1
    9hr Tucson, AZ via San Diego, CA
    12hr San Antonio, TX
    8hr New Orleans, LA
    4hr 30min Montgomery, AL via Mobile, AL
    2hr 30mins Atlanta, GA
    3hr Knoxville, TN
    8hr Harrisburg, PA
    2hr End Trenton, NJ via Lancaster, PA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You've got some drive times that are't realistic in the real world, and a couple that I'd strongly suggest you change.

    The worst drive is Tucson to San Antonio. There is absolutely no way you'll be able to do that drive in 12 hours, and there is no way you can do it safely in one day. You would have to average nearly 75 mph, which when you factor in just the minimum stops for food, fuel, etc is impossible without a police escort. Real world, that's a drive that would take a good 16 hours, and is far more than is safe to do in a single day. Also keep in mind, this is the section where you are most likely to see winter weather that could easily also slow you down.

    Santa Barbara to Tucson via San Diego is a case where 10 hours would be a minimum, and 12+ hours is much more likely especially with traffic.. While you could do that in a day, you're not going to have time to really do anything in San Diego, so I don't think detouring there would really be worth your while.

    After you get to New Orleans, you are slowing down to a pace where you would be able to actually explore a bit and that looks a lot better.

    But the first section has you doing so much driving and covering so many miles each day, you won't be able to explore or really do much anything outside the car, so I would get rid of some of the extra detours - like the coast highway which you've already done, and San Diego, and instead focus just on getting to Arizona so you'll have time to actually explore Tucson and other places before you get to NOLA.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Real world drive times.

    Your travel times look as though they have come from a computer mapping program and don't reflect real world drive times where you have the need to stop for fuel, food, bathroom and rest breaks or face construction and congestion delays. It will take 9 to 10 hours to go direct from SB to Tucson so going via San Diego is barely an option. Tucson to San Antonio is 867 miles and would equate to at least 15 hours on the road and is far further than what we would recommend as a days drive.

    It looks as though you may have a couple of days spare if you have 11 days in total which is handy because you will need them for the journey up to New Orleans with very limited sight seeing time.

  6. Default

    You are correct - used google maps for the time estimates.

    Midwest Michael and Southwest Dave, thank you both voicing your concerns as they are very valid. I am struggling identifying a quick way out of California to Tucson to buy that sight seeing time. Am ok to stop over in Vegas again but that still is a bit out of the way.

    In terms of Tucson to San Antonio - again am at a loss for places to stop over or break up the drive...

    Appreciate your insights.

    Honestly I was most concern about the drive from Knoxville to Harrisburg! Going through Blue Ridge Mountains.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Remember, you don't have to stop in major metro areas.

    If you want a larger city to stop at on your way to Arizona, you could look at the Palm Springs area, perhaps taking a quick tour of Joshua Tree NP. If you just want to focus on covering miles, then Blythe CA/Quartzsite AZ would both have motel options to pick from.

    Fort Stockton is the best place to stop after Tucson, if you're just looking to cover miles.

    Knoxville to Harrisburg shouldn't be too challenging, as long as the Weather stays in your favor, and assuming you are planning to stick to I-81. Interstates get top priority if it does snow, and this part of the country is used to handling snow. In the worst case, you have to stop short, and you'd still have enough time the following day to get to Philly.

    Also, Dave mentioned it in his first post, but it bare repeating, that section is hardly the only area where you'll have the chance of seeing winter weather. Really, most places you'll be traveling do see some snow/ice over the course of the winter, and when they do get bad weather in the southern US, it can really shut down the area for a couple days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Two Days to Tucson, Two More to San Antonio

    You can certainly get from San Jose to Tucson in two days, just not going by way of the PCH, Los Angeles and San Diego. Doing any of those pushed your drive into the three day (minimum) range. If the PCH is a priority, then you need to plan on using two full days to arrive in the northern L.A. area for your second overnight. I'd aim for Ontario or even Riverside so that you're at least on the eastward side of the L.A. basin and headed out of town the next morning, although that won't make a big dent in the rush hour traffic until you clear Moreno Valley. But even with an overnight in the L.A. area, you won't have time to visit any of the attractions there, just time to beat your way through. However, if you clear the L.A. area in good order on the morning of the third day, you would have time for a visit to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument outside Florence AZ on your way to Tucson.

    As others have noted, Tucson to San Antonio is completely out of the question in less than two days. But, again, taking a sane amount of time opens up the possibility of an interesting stop or two on the way such as White Sands National Monument (a bit of a detour), Fort Lancaster State Historic Site, or the Caverns of Sonora. Depending on which, if any, of those sites you choose to visit your overnight stop could range from El Paso (after a couple of hours at White Sands) to Fort Stockton (no stops from Tucson). Other than Van Horn, those are really your best choices, there's not a lot of 'civilization' in west Texas.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Everybody is correct. I've done the San Diego to Santa Barbara trip: in good traffic, 3-1/2 hours. Hit a snarl and you'll take 4-5 hours. San Diego to Tucson? About 7 to 8 hours, depending on where in the SD area you are starting from and how fast you drive.


  10. Default

    Ok - more planning!

    Starting off the trip with a train ride from San Jose to LA! Then getting a rental car in LA driving through to New Orleans. Flying out of New Orleans to Philly. Thus the focus of my trip is from LA to New Orleans at this point.

    Sunday, Jan 26 San Jose to Los Angeles Amtrak Train, stay in LA overnight
    Monday, Jan 27 LA to Las Vegas AM explore LA, then start driving around 1pm to Vegas, stay in Vegas overnight
    Tuesday, Jan 28 Vegas to Zion and Bryce Stay in Vegas overnight
    Wednesday, Jan 29 Vegas to Albuquerque Stay in Albuquerque
    Thursday, Jan 30 Albuquerque to El Paso Roswell and White Sands, stay in El Paso
    Friday, Jan 31 El Paso to Fort Stockton Stay in Fort Stockton
    Saturday, Feb 1 Fort Stockton to San Antonio Stay in San Antonio
    Sunday, Feb 2 Stay in San Antonio
    Monday, Feb 3 San Antonio to Houston Stay in Houston
    Tuesday, Feb 4 Houston to New Orleans Stay in New Orleans
    Wednesday, Feb 5 New Orleans to Mobile Stay in New Orleans, drive through Biloxi
    Thursday, Feb 6 ? ?
    Friday, Feb 7 ? ?
    Saturday, Feb 8 New Orleans to Philly Early AM flight

    At this point I have two extra days to plan for...I am thinking staying in Vegas an extra night to explore Zion and Bryce a day each.

    The Drive from Albuquerque through Roswell and White Sands to El Paso also seems ambitious? Anyone know a place to crash in between there?

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