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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Leesburg, Virginia, United States
    Posts
    23

    Default Northern VA to Katy, TX for Thanksgiving

    Hi all,

    This will be my first time to almost cross the country on a road trip. I think the farthest I've been was Florida in the South, and Toronto up North. Anyway, my family is having a grand reunion in Katy, TX this thanksgiving. Being the sole earner in our household (mind you teacher does not get a lot), my wife and I decided to hit the road with our kids. Upon google-ing the distance and travel time, we are trying to figure out what is the best way to tackle this adventure with our kids.

    If it was just me and my wife, we can probably get there in 2 days or less. However, having a four, three and one year old in our van is a game changer.

    We are definitely leaning towards departing on Friday evening and our goal is to get to our cousins in Katy, TX by Saturday night, or early Sunday. We will spend the whole week there, and planning on heading back to Northern VA early Saturday morning to get back by late Sunday in time for work Monday. Or if push comes to shove, I may end up skipping work on that Monday if time is an issue.

    I guess my question is, is it even doable to get to my destination in 2 full days while keeping in mind that I have kids in my backseat? If we do need to stop along the way, what are the best places to consider that will not deviate much from our route? And talking about route, which route is the way to go? Can we even stop or NOLA to see some sights and eat authentic bayou cuisine? It would be great if we can also afford to do a quick side trip on our way to Texas since we have that time... and maybe going back to NoVA will be purely driving...

    Any thoughts and suggestions are highly appreciated especially for a newbie road tripper like me...

    Thanks much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Not a Chance

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I will NOT be the only one to tell you this, so just prepare yourself:

    You simply cannot get from Northern Virginia to Katy in two full days, let alone a little over a day (Friday evening to Saturday night) as you propose. Such an attempt is suicidal and should, if not could, subject you to charges of reckless endangerment of your kids' lives.

    This trip is going to require a solid two and a half days, each way, in order to be done safely. Period. The most efficient way to go - the only way you have time for - is I-81 to I-40 through Knoxville TN, then I-75 to Chattanooga and I-59 to I-10 north of New Orleans. I-10 will take you the rest of the way to Katy. You do NOT have time for side trips to New Orleans or anywhere else. Overnight stops, assuming you get a relatively early start on your first day would be around Chattanooga and Baton Rouge on your way down and Montgomery AL and Bristol TN/VA on your way home. You will also need to make time each day for the kids to get out of the car and get some fresh air and exercise rather than just lock them in the back seat for twelve to fourteen hours a day as your current plan would require.

    AZBuck

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

    Default lord, no!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You absolutely should NOT attempt to do this trip in 2 days. Frankly, that would be true even if you didn't have children along. It's simply too far to safely travel in two days, even if you have two drivers.

    By the shortest route, you're looking at 1400 miles. Despite what you might see from an online mapping program, is going to take you about 25-26 hours of real world time on the road, but more importantly, distances this long need to be measured in days not hours. Professional Drivers (i.e. truckers) are limited to roughly 600 miles a day on the road, and they would be required to take 2.5 days for this trip, and they don't have to worry about kids!

    If you just want to sprint there, and you're looking to leave on Friday "evening," you shouldn't expect to arrive until Sunday night at the very earliest, and that's if you don't include any extra stops or detours. Presuming, you'll be working all day on Friday, I'd caution trying to do too much that first day. A "best case" would be getting to Roanoke on the Friday night, and Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. That would be about 3.5 hours on the road the first day, and then back to back days of around 11-12 hours on the road. That really is more than we'd recommend with children, but you might be able to make it work.

    If you even want to think about adding in a detour to NOLA (which would be quite easy if you have time) or anywhere else, then you really need to plan to be on the road for at least 3 full days each way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Leesburg, Virginia, United States
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Thanks for the heads up! Going there is not a rush... So I may be able to afford stopping at some points of interest, but I just don't know where/what... So the 2.5 days, does that include routine stops for gas/food, or is that just straight driving, stopping only for gas/RR?

    I am more constrained heading back since I need to be at work the following week... I may be able to spend 4 days (Friday evening to Tuesday night travelling to Katy, TX but I don't know how to plan my stops to suit my kids...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Leesburg, Virginia, United States
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Oh and considering I am planning on driving at night during the first day, how are the highways like during those hours? Are there ample rest stops to go to, and are they any safe? Thanks!

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

    Default Rest areas not your main worry.

    Quote Originally Posted by burakol View Post
    Oh and considering I am planning on driving at night during the first day, how are the highways like during those hours? Are there ample rest stops to go to, and are they any safe? Thanks!
    The rest stops will be the least of your worries. Animals, other than wildlife will be a hazard.

    Besides rest areas, you might consider stopping at truck stops where they are at exits. These are safe, have rest area facilities but will take more of your precious time.

    Have you considered that the children will probably sleep during the night, and will be full of beans and energy the next day, when you are dog tired, heading for fatigue. That would be a more important safety factor than rest areas during the night.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    What is your definition of driving at night? How many miles are you thinking of covering?

    Your single biggest danger on the road at night is the drivers who are on the road - and in this case, there is a good chance that would include yourself. If you think that you can work all day, get in your car and drive for hundreds of miles safely, you are making an extremely dangerous mistake. You'd be starting on the road fatigued from minute one, and then would be trying to safely operate a 2 ton machine - carrying your entire family - at 70 mph, while your body thinks it should be sleeping. Drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous as Drunk Driving - even if you fool yourself into thinking you don't "feel" tired.

    And then, as Lifey points out, once you finally do stop, as you're trying to get caught up on that much needed sleep, your kids will be wide awake - meaning you'll be even more tired to get back out on the road against the next day, putting you in danger again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Night Driving

    Driving through the night certainly has advantages, but comes with its own set of caveats and restrictions. I used to make great use of the emptiness of the highways in the wee hours, and with decent night vision and non-drug-induced alertness it is a very comfortable and safe time to drive. However, I had a couple of very significant advantages. 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM were my normal working hours, and I wasn't traveling with children. Driving off into the night after a full day's work and taking care of the kids is not the same thing.

    Here's the other thing. I worked those hours in a hospital emergency room just off of I-95 and we always dreaded the 2:00 to 4:00 AM period because that's when people who thought they'd just do their "driving at night during the first day" hit the wall, literally. I cannot emphasize enough what a bad idea that is. And even if you could time shift on demand, as Lifey points out - your kids won't. Then what do you do with them the next day? Order them to sit still and be quiet while daddy sleeps? When was the last time you knew your kids, or any kids that age, to be able to sit still and be quiet for 8 hours?

    The fact is you will not get any support here for plans that involve getting from northern Virginia to Katy TX in less than two and a half days. Not because we don't like you, but because we, and a lot of other people, have to share the roads with you. You won't find us recommending that people drive drunk, and you won't find us recommending for that people drive fatigued. And for the same reason. Both conditions turn normally safe drivers into a killing menace.

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Leesburg, Virginia, United States
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Your comments and suggestions are really helpful. I do not take any offense in any of your posts and it actually makes me think a lot on how I should tackle this trip.

    When I said night driving, I was indeed thinking of driving during the wee hours when my kids are sleeping. Right now it is clear that getting there in 2.5 days is out our the window... But I am still heavily considering starting my drive Friday after work. When I say this, i mean after getting off work at 330pm, going home, load and rest... And actually leave when the kids are about to sleep around 830ish to 9pm... So in between work and time of departure I should have rested for some hours... I am planning on driving for at least 6 hours the first night then stopping to get my own in a motel or just about somewhere I know is safe... I just don't know where I will be at that point...

    What recommendations can you guys give me? The best case scenario including adequate stops and some activities for the kids...? Again, I can afford more time on my way to TX, than going back to NoVA... We initially thought about stopping at Atlanta to see the coca-cola factory for the kids and stop by another relative but that route seems to be off...

    Thanks much.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default are your childrens lives worth saving a few hours?

    Quote Originally Posted by burakol View Post
    . But I am still heavily considering starting my drive Friday after work. When I say this, i mean after getting off work at 330pm, going home, load and rest... And actually leave when the kids are about to sleep around 830ish to 9pm... So in between work and time of departure I should have rested for some hours... I am planning on driving for at least 6 hours the first night then stopping to get my own in a motel or just about somewhere I know is safe... I just don't know where I will be at that point...
    I really don't know how much more clear we can be that such an idea would be extraordinarily dangerous and will put the lives of your entire family in serious jeopardy.

    It is just foolish to think that you can safely drive 6 hours, after being at work all day, or that you'll be able to get any sort of real rest by taking a quick nap as you are wound up and getting ready to hit the road. Add that to all the things we've already talked about - how your body is not going to be used to being awake - much less alert enough to be safely operating a 2 ton machine - until 3 o'clock in the morning. And the fact that even if you do stop before getting into a wreck, you are going to be beyond exhausted the next day - as your children are wide awake. Sleeping in your car should not even be an option on a family trip - as there is no way you'll be able to get the real rest you need - especially since the sun will be coming up just hours after you propose getting off the road.

    Earlier I suggested your overnight stopping points on a 3 day trip - and as I said then, Roanoke is the absolute farthest you should even think about traveling that night - and really, even that is pushing it. As you said, you can afford more time - so there is no reason to take this kind of foolish risk.

    There are a lot of things you can do and places to stop to make this a more enjoyable trip for your kids, but the approach you are consider to start not only is dangerous, it will make it virtually impossible for anyone to even think about fun.

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