Hi, first time poster with tons of questions about a (possible) road trip from Tennessee to New Mexico. I have to go there for business reasons, but I have to stay there for at least a few months, so it's not a move. I was wondering if people might have any opinions or tips about this.
I have a chance to either road trip it or take a plane flight. Now, obviously, if this was just a short-term thing (if I only had to be there for a week or two, maybe), I'd just take the flight. But with such a lengthy stay, I'm weighing the possibility of driving so that I can take more stuff with me (more clothes, books, things like kitchen stuff so I won't have to re-purchase it all in NM). It won't be a ton of stuff, but more than I can take on a plane.
Now, in the past, I've driven from NYC to Detroit and I drove from Philadelphia down here to Tennessee. Both of those trips were doable in one day (and, since I'm not a power-driver, they were also pretty exhausting for me). That has me pretty worried about driving almost cross-country, obviously. An estimate on Google Maps is putting the trip distance at around 1300 miles. I'd probably try to break that up into three days. Here are the questions/concerns I have that I was hoping for help with:
1) I drive an old car, it's a '98 Civic. When I was in PA just a few months ago, I had it inspected for safety and emissions. I also took it in recently for a routine maintenance inspection at a dealer. Is that enough for such a lengthy drive, or do I need to specifically go in to a place and say something like "can you REALLY look at this car because I'm driving cross country"? I figured that if there was something horrible going on, between all the checking someone would have found something. Yes/no?
2) Since I've never done a multi-day trip before, how would I go about planning where to stay each night? I'm not really sure how far I'll drive each day. I'm sort of scared that I'll wake up on day 2 all beat and go "no way I'm doing another 500 miles," for example. Is it crazy to just drive and then at some point look at a GPS for "nearby hotels"? I'm worried that it might say "none for 100 miles" if I'm in the middle of nowhere. Or that the only places around will be really run-down. If the recommendation is more to plan specific stops along the way and then use those as goals, how do I go about doing that? (Meaning, I don't know how to go to Google or whatever and say "show me 500 miles from here and then search for hotels.")
3) Any recommendations on what to bring for snacks? For single-day drives, I honestly just bring water and power through. I was thinking just to bring some fruit, like apples, and maybe some pretzels.
4) In the same vein as #2, I'm sort of worried about where to eat. I always see on TV, like Food Network, where people go to out of the way places and find fantastic meals. When I drive or have to go places on business, it's always more like everywhere I look are just dives with bad food and I end up playing it safe and going to a chain like Wendy's (on the unhealthy side) or Subway (on the healthier side). How do you guys find decent places that aren't just grease pits to eat? Like, this might sound gross, but I don't want to drive to NM and then feel like I have to pass a brick. (Sorry if that was too graphic.)
With all these concerns, I'm sort of leaning towards flying and just taking a limited amount of clothes with me and a laptop, but it sure would be less comfortable than being able to take more things. (I was also thinking about mailing some things to myself, like my kitchen stuff.) So, with that, advice? Thanks in advance.
EDIT: Oh, also, how do you guys avoid back soreness during long trips? Just get out of the car frequently and walk around? When I drove from NYC to Detroit, it felt like my butt had fallen asleep. I definitely wouldn't get up the next morning after that and go "time to do another day of driving!"