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  1. #1

    Default 3 Week Road trip from Mid April - early May

    Hello! A few months ago if you had asked me if I was going on a road trip, I would have thought you were crazy. Well, an interesting turn of events has happened and we were given a motorhome. It's not new, but not terribly old. It's a 1996 Gulfstream Conquest with only about 35,000 miles. It has been all redone on the inside and mechanically it is great. New tires, new A/C and heat strip, new flooring, and has been checked out mechanically and runs well (although we will have it checked again before we leave)

    We live in northern New England and moved here from the West Coast, so naturally when we got the motorhome we thought it would be fantastic to plan a road trip to see family and also we are contemplating a move back out to the west coast in a few years, so checking out local areas that are new to us is on that list too.

    We belong to AAA so I have been using their Trip Tik to try and plan how to get there and back and coordinate times and places to stop. Although understanding that sticking to a schedule is pretty impossible, things come up. So we're leaving some extra time in there.

    Now gas consumption will be the biggest part of our budget. I'm guessing this motorhome will get between 5-10 miles per gallon, which means over about 1,071 gallons of gas to get there and back, at a current rate of $3 per gallon = a lot of money. But we are not flashy, we are family oriented with kids and dogs coming with us, we never eat out, we don't buy trinkets and would rather visit a park than a fancy mall any day. So I think we can really budget well otherwise. We want to see things that we would not normally see and just enjoy sites, not do a bunch of touristy stuff. A few touristy things are okay. Cultural and educational are the goal!

    I'm looking for tips, ideas, and suggestions from anyone to this newbie. We're probably going to take I-90 most of the way because we figure weather wise and safety wise, it's more of a straight shot than taking a bunch of side roads with twists and turns. We'll get on I-90 near Springfield, MA and head all the way over, obviously stopping several times in the middle.

    Also looking for good cost saving tips or suggestions for such a big trip. I have looked into getting a gas card (loyalty card I guess) for a gas station to save 5-6 cents per gallon, and it seems Exxon/Mobil will have the most stations along I-90 but I don't know that for sure. Any way to save on I-90 tolls or other ways to save money?

    Thanks very much for the help!
    Sarah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Where on the "west coast" are you heading? Based on an idea of taking I-90 all the way across the country, I'd guess you're going to Seattle, but that's just a guess. If you are also planning to go farther south, like to California, you might be better off starting by going south. Overnight temperatures in April in the northern US can still easily fall below freezing, which can make it difficult to be live in a RV. There are also places, like Yellowstone for example, that largely are not really accessible until at least May.

    For tolls, having an EZ-Pass will save you some money vs. paying cash on I-90 from Mass all the way through Chicago. But other than that, the only thing you can do is avoid tollways if possible. There are several Interstate routes that could work that do not have tolls without adding a lot of miles, but again, this depends upon exactly where you are going, beyond "northern new england" and the "west coast."

    To save money on gas, I'd recommend downloading the gas buddy app, which can show you were gas prices are less expensive. Pay extra attention around state lines, as some states are often several cents a gallon more than their neighboring states. Loyalty cards or brand specific credit cards can save you money, but as with any loyalty program, you have to make sure it's actually saving you money. Going to a station with a loyalty card, where you can save 5 cents a gallon, doesn't help much if that station is charging 10 cents a gallon more than another station down the street.

  3. #3

    Default

    Hello Michael! Thank you very much for the warm welcome. I apologize for my vagueness, I should have said where we are going. Yes, Seattle area. Actually more like Bellingham, but Seattle is close enough. We have family in that area and will be visiting. And we're in Vermont, so we have to drive down to Springfield, MA area to connect to I-90.

    Once we got to Seattle and visited for a few days, we'd then head down on I-5 thru Portland down to Crescent City, CA and then back up the coast via Highway 101 (I think that's what it is? It's been a long time) on the coast, then cut over to the Oregon/Washington border along the Columbia River, and connect back to I-90 via Spokane and head back. My husband think that is a lot to do in 3 weeks. It probably is.

    So it sounds like maybe we should consider going to CA first? That way we are south first? Won't that add a lot of miles? Also, because I'd be going further south, aren't there more mountains or perhaps taller ones that the motorhome would have to go through?

    Sarah
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-30-2014 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Removed quote of entire previous post

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by joesbrook View Post
    So it sounds like maybe we should consider going to CA first? That way we are south first? Won't that add a lot of miles? Also, because I'd be going further south, aren't there more mountains or perhaps taller ones that the motorhome would have to go through?
    Ah, no, driving straight west, then south, then backtracking north/east would be a lot more more miles than doing a triangle, going southwest first, then north then east. You'd save several hundred miles by driving towards San Francisco and then head north. I will say, you will be pushing things a bit doing almost any coast to coast and back trip in 3 weeks. You will need at least a week each way, in a motorhome, to drive from Vermont to Washington State, leaving you just a week out west. Not impossible by any means, but the time will fly by.

    If your motorhome can't make it over the mountains on any interstate, then it probably isn't fit for any long distance travel.

    From Springfield, you'd save a lot of money on tolls vs. I-90 by continuing south to Hartford and taking I-84 and I-81 via Scranton to I-80 to take that across PA. However, depending upon where in Vermont you are, it might also be worth considering cutting over to I-87 in New York and going across NY on I-88 and I-86.

    From Ohio, you can avoid the tolls on I-90 by using I-71 down to Columbus, I-70 to Indy, and then I-74 back to I-80 at Davenport. If you want to head back up to I-90, you can use I-29 in Western Iowa and rejoin I-90 at Sioux Falls.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

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    Like others here, the first thing I thought of when you said "I-90" and "motorhome" was TOLLS. Depending on the number of axles you have, you'll be charged more than the average sedan, that's for sure. Yes, fuel will be costly. We prefer the GasBuddy app to the customer loyalty programs for gas stations. If you're a Costco member, and the vehicle is NOT diesel, often times you'll find Costco's near enough to the interstate and the price is usually the lowest in the area. So pick up the Costco app, too, if you're a member.

    Another thing to budget for are your overnights. In a pinch, you can stay at an RV-friendly truck stop "for free", but don't forget to purchase something there, and don't pull out your camp chairs and BBQ grill -- it's just an overnight spot. Flying J and Love's Travel Centers are both RV-friendly. Public campgrounds will be a lot lower priced ($10-25) than private parks such as KOA and Jellystone Parks. If you decide to stay at a national park campground, try to get reservations.

    Another small expense that is VERY worthwhile is a good atlas. Pick one up mail-order through here, Amazon, or at your local bookstore or Wal-Mart. It will make trip-planning a LOT easier.

    Finally...this is advice from someone who has owned a few RV's.....get a good Emergency Road Service plan that is designed for RV's. AAA has "RV Plus", but Good Sam/Camping World has their own that focuses on RV's. The latter won't give you free maps or tour books, but won't cringe if you have to call with an RV that's broken down on the side of the road.


    Donna

  6. #6

    Default

    Thank you MidwestMichael and DonnaR57. Wow, what a wealth of information. I was worried about how long it might take to get back and forth. My husband (insane as he is) drove from Seattle to Burlington, VT in 2 1/2 days. Insane. We will not be doing that obviously. But we're hoping to get there in 5 days or so. Two of us will be driving so I think that will help.

    The route info about tolls is extremely helpful. I know they are pretty expensive here on the East Coast and I was worried about that. Thank you for the info about the Rv Friendly Truck Stops as well.

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

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    2.5 days to drive 3000 miles isn't insane, it is homicidal. I'm not joking at all when I say, he was more dangerous to the rest of the public than a drunk driver by doing something that reckless. That he didn't kill someone was pure luck.

    Even 5 days while doing this trip in an RV is not particularly safe or realistic. You would have to be on the road for well over 12 hours a day, every one of those days, when factoring in the slower speeds of an RV. You really shouldn't even attempt this in less than 6 in an RV, and that's if you don't stop to stop and enjoy anything else along the way.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Truck Stops.

    Not all truck stops are RV friendly.... at least not for overnight parking. To be sure which ones are, this publication lists them. It also lists all other services at each truck stop.

    E.g. there are some three dozen Pilot/Flying J truck stops in IL, of which about seven allow RV overnight parking.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 12-03-2014 at 07:58 PM.

  9. #9

    Default

    Thank you for pointing out the slower speeds, that is important as well, we'll be doing 50-55 when we can, not 60-65. We're wondering about the extra miles going around I-90 versus staying on I-90 and paying the tolls. Since I last posted, my father in law is going as well, so he will be able to help with driving, which I can appreciate. He's an excellent mechanic as well. I'm checking into an EZPass and wondering if that will save enough to make it worthwhile? We have no Costco card unfortunately, here in Vermont my nearest Costco is about an hour an a half away, so we never go.

    Chicago is my biggest concern. Is it better to drive through at night or bypass it all together?

    Thanks for the help!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I would completely bypass Chicago. Take Michael's recommended route - I-91/I-84/I-81/I-80/I-76/I-71/I-70/I-74/I-80/I-29/I-90. No need for an EZ-Pass with this.

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