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  1. Default Atlanta to Los Angeles

    My daughter and I are driving from Atlanta to LA in late January. My mother advised us not to take I-40 because of weather, but it seems much easier than I-10. Any thoughts? We would appreciate any tips of how long to plan driving per day (I'm the only driver), where to stay each night, where to fuel up, where my phone won't get reception, etc. this will be a new experience for us both and I am very nervous about it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    If this were me, I'd keep a close eye on the weather before you leave. Going down to I-10 will be an additional 50 miles -- another hour on the road -- and has its share of weather issues as well because of some of the freak winter storms. Unfortunately, southern TX-NM-AZ are not as prepared for winter weather as the areas along I-40, where winter storms are more common. Watch the weather, and also make sure you have an extra day or two in your schedule in case you get delayed unexpectedly by a snowstorm. It's 2175 miles via I-40, or 2225 via I-10, so you need about 4-5 days to travel, then extra day for delay possibility.

    With interstate travel, we tend to travel until our tank is about 1/2 down, then we fuel up. We know our gas tank well enough to take a little guess when that might be, and I start watching fuel prices through my husband's SmartPhone's Gasbuddy App, and signs along the road that occasionally advertise prices. We tend to stop at truck stops because they have all the facilities we could need -- Pilot/Flying J and Love's are our favorites.

    We traveled almost all the way down I-40 and there are few places without cell phone reception. They only lasted a couple of miles here and there. Same with I-10/20 route. Along I-10 and I-8, you do have to be careful in some areas when making calls. You may be switched to a cell tower in Mexico and therefore, charged international rates. (Just wait a few miles till you switch back to a USA cell tower.)

    As for where to stay each night, I'd pick a place about 500 miles down the road and have that as a goal. If you need to stop earlier, do it. But since you are essentially running a marathon, don't give in to the temptation to go much more than 600 miles in one day. That's plenty for one driver, and the maximum amount of time allowed on the road for a commercial truck driver (10 hours).


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The problem with saying "don't take x route because of weather" is that there is no way to get across the US by car without the risk of winter weather. Even going down to I-10, seeing snow or ice is a very real possibility. I-40 does stay at a higher elevation, especially out west, so the chance of seeing winter conditions are a little higher along I-40, but the only way you'll know which is better during your travel times, is to look at weather forecast just before you leave.

    In this case, the difference between taking I-40 and I-10 isn't very much either way, so make plans for either route based on the actual conditions.

    500-600 miles is pretty much a full day on the road, and that's about as far as you should plan to get. If weather stays in your favor, that means you'd be looking at 4 long days, but you should plan at least having a 5th day available in case you have to slow down or stop due to a storm.

    You really don't need to plan where to stop for gas, as it is rare that you'll have more than say 50 miles between gas station. As long as you are looking to fill up by the time your car gets down to the 1/3-1/4 mark, you should be fine. Same with cell phone, there is no way to say where you'll have gaps in service, as it depends upon your carrier/phone. Reception is usually pretty good along interstates, but it is not universal and you will have patches where it is not available. That said, people have been taking roadtrips for decades before the cell phone was invented and you'll never really be alone when you are on an interstate highway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Take It Easy

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Depending on what you mean by 'I-10', either I-40 or I-10 will work equally as well for you in terms of distance and general ease of driving. Interstate highways are all built to the same standards as far as safety, comfort and speed go. 'I-40' (meaning I-20 to Birmingham, US-78 to Memphis, and then I-40 from there to I-15 down into Los Angeles) and 'I-10' (meaning I-20 into west Texas and then I-10 from there) are only 40 miles different in total length ('I-10' being longer), so the drive times will be nearly identical as well.

    Picking one over the other will offer no guarantee of good or bad weather since both routes are subject to occasional winter storms. Neither crosses any serious mountain passes, although I-40 does climb to roughly 7,000 feet across northern Arizona. Unfortunately, even if you wait until the last minute before setting out to check the weather, the forecast for the western part of your trip will be nearly useless except as a general indication that there might be something to keep an eye on.

    The best time you could make on either route would be four days, covering around 550 miles a day. If all goes well, that would put your overnight stops in roughly: (I-40) Little Rock, Amarillo TX, and Flagstaff AZ or (I-10) Ruston LA, Midland TX, and Tucson AZ. Finding motorist services (gas, food, lodging) along the Interstates is generally not a problem, but just to be on the safe side never let your gas guage drop below one-quarter and have a good idea of what sizeable towns are up ahead where you can to stop for the night. Cell phone coverage along the Interstates is also generally pretty good but will depend on your particular plan.

    If you are not used to driving long distances for multiple days in a row, you should plan on either taking short breaks a couple of times a day or even add a day or two to your travel plans to make more major stops at some of the great parks, historic sites, wildlife refuges, etc. along the way. Stops could, in fact, be the consideration that helps you choose which route you take. Get yourself a good atlas of the US if you haven't done so already and sit down with your daughter and look at what's available to you on the two possible routes. See if there's something that you've always wanted to see and use this great adventure to do so. Also, it will be a good idea, no matter which way you go, to keep an 'extra' day in reserve in the event that you run into any weather you are uncomfortable with. If that happens, just pull up at a nice warm motel and spend a day relaxing while the storm passes and the road crews get the highways back in good travel shape.

    But most of all remember to just relax. Most of the roads you'll be driving are just like the roads you know around Atlanta. They just run through different scenery that you and your daughter should anticipate rather than fear. Pick your own route, travel at your own pace, stay safe, and have a great trip.


  5. Default

    Thank you for taking the time to reply! My only consideration for not wanting the I-10 route is one post said the drive across the widest part of Texas was so long and boring she wanted to chew her arm off! It's good to know there aren't huge stretches of interstate without gas stations. That makes me feel better. I just pictured me and my 12 year old stranded in Death Valley with no way to get help and no cell service. Good to know our route is more civilized than my nightmares! Thanks everyone:)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Resources.

    You will never be stranded without someone stopping to help, when on an interstate. If you're lucky it will be the Sheriff or a Highway Patrol. Travellers are generally very good at helping a motorist in trouble. As a backup, you may like to take out a AAA membership. It gives great peace of mind. Even when out of cell phone reach, there will always be another motorist who can get to another area and make a call for you.

    ... one post said the drive across the widest part of Texas was so long and boring ...
    You and your daughter may find this article could help make your trip quite interesting.

    Safe travels.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The actual drive times for the 2 routes are a wash. There is a long stretch of I-10 in west Texas with an 80 mph speed limit, which allows you to make up any lost time if you so desire. The only downside that may eat up this advantage is getting around/through the DFW metroplex.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We've driven the "long and boring route" but did not find it boring at all. True, there weren't a lot of beautiful forests or mountains to look at, but we found ourselves scouting for buildings on an expansive ranch and talking about how big those ranches really seemed! This was along I-10 and then I-20, heading east.

    We're thinking about doing I-10 from Casa Grande AZ to Houston TX this summer, so we will see the I-10 side of it.


  9. #9


    I just took I-10 to Orlando and I70/I40 back (Orlando-atlanta-St. Louis-Kansas City-Flagstaff).
    I found I-10 Texas with 80 MPH and loved that side as i could cover more distance. I70 was also clean for snow and you will always have an idea of whats going ahead 200 miles.
    Flying J are the cheapest for fuel (PILOT is same company as Flying J). i would say going I-10 should reduce your chances of getting stuck....but you can always check on the day of driving here:

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 12-30-2013 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Link format.

  10. Default

    That was a great article. Thank you!

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