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  1. Default One Way July Road Trip- Phoenix, AZ to Quantico, VA

    Hi Everyone,

    I have never taken a road trip before, but I just found out I have to make a trip in July from Phoenix to Quantico. I want to do the trip in 6 days or less, but I also do not want it to be a miserable experience (I want to make this as fun as possible, but I am finding even beginning to plan this trip really daunting). I might do the trip solo (anyone with experience with solo trips?), or convince my brother and his girlfriend to come along, but either way I would be doing most of the driving.

    I am looking for advice on how to make this an expeditious trip, but also get something out of driving 2500 miles. I would love suggestions on routes to take, or how many hours you would suggest driving in a day. Also, suggestions on cities/towns I should rest at (I am planning to do hotels or hostels for the trip) would be much appreciated. Loosely I thought I would try to do Albuquerque, NM, St. Louis,MO, Louisville, KY, Pittsburg, PA then Quantico as cities along the way (just from looking at maps and seeing places I recognized the names of, I'm not particularly wedded to any of these cities...)

    Though this may sound like an odd question, I was wondering, how do people work out while they are on road trips? I definitely have to get some solid workouts in during my trip. I thought it would be so great to stop at hiking spots along the way (any scenic national parks that would be en route?), and even make sure I hit up some gyms for the time I am not driving. I didn't know if people ever encountered that part of driving, but I have an event I'm training for that I can't let a week of driving effect.

    Lastly, are there any travel 'must haves' that you would suggest I definitely shouldn't forget, but may not necessarily think I need? I will have likely 1 large suit case, a cooler for food, and emergency car kit. Would love to hear suggestions on what others found necessary. I am actually buying a car in Arizona, so I will be sure to whatever car I buy completely checked out and ready for the road. I'm likely going to be getting a Honda Fit, so a relatively small car. Anyone who has done a road trip in a small car, would love to hear from them too!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Actually, the most efficient route doesn't take you through any of the cities you mentioned except ABQ. If need be, this drive can be made in 4 full days on the road, so you have a bit of time to play with.

    The most efficient route would be I-40 to I-81, then cut across to I-95 via a few different options. This adds up to about 2300 miles. This also suggests the "shortcut" from Phoenix to Holbrook, which I can highly recommend - that's AZ-87 to Payson, then AZ-260/277/377/77.

    If we stretch this to 5 days, overnights would be ABQ, OKC, Memphis, and Knoxville. This would have you on the road for about 10 hours a day, including bathroom and fuel stops and an hour or two off the road for lunch and some exercise. Most towns along the route will have some kind of city or county park where you can enjoy the outdoors and get in some walking or hiking. For a multi-day trip, I think this would be the best compromise to maintain alertness.

    You may want to check out hotels in or near these cities in advance, quite a few of them these days have some sort of fitness center. You could do your structured workouts in the evening or in the morning (or both!). I do recommend you look at hotels outside the cities, preferably in the suburbs on the east side of each city. This makes it easier to get out in the morning, you will be driving opposite rush hour. They will also be less expensive than downtown hotels and a lot more convenient to get to.

    I would recommend a AAA membership for emergency road service, and also all their free maps. Don't depend solely on a GPS, it's most useful for finding specific addresses.

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


    If you've got 6 days available, then you've got a lot of flexibility. You certainly don't have to take the most direct route, and if the route you first mentioned looks most appealing to you, there's no reason you couldn't go that way.

    As far as working out, your hiking idea is an excellent one. Getting out and moving in the middle of the day is a great way to make a roadtrip more enjoyable. There will be some national parks along your way (specifics depending upon which route you choose), but there is no reason to limit yourself to them. There are lots of other great spots, like National Forests, State Parks, and smaller parks where you can get out and move. Here's a great sampling for a few ideas of the places you could consider.

    Of course, almost every hotel these days has at least a basic workout room, with a treadmill, bike, and similar options. If the place you're staying doesn't have it, or even if they don't have enough of what you are looking for, they should be able to point you in the direction of a local gym that will let you buy a 1 day membership.

    Otherwise, it looks like you're in good shape. A cooler is a great way to save money, and keep eating healthy, while on the road. There's nothing special you should have to worry about while in a small car.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    astly, are there any travel 'must haves' that you would suggest I definitely shouldn't forget, but may not necessarily think I need? I will have likely 1 large suit case, a cooler for food, and emergency car kit. Would love to hear suggestions on what others found necessary.
    I might also suggest a AAA membership. Though you are planning to buy a car, you didn't say if it was going to be new or used, but a roadside emergency plan is a good idea regardless. It can also get you those maps that were suggested.

    My husband and I were, and are, into walking and hiking. On more than a few occasions on our last trip, we walked to dinner, walked to the grocery store (healthier foods there!), and got out and walked wherever it looked likely. Most times the motels would suggest a path/trail, especially if they didn't have a fitness room. I also can't tell you how many times we've pulled into a rest area and have seen people doing jumping jacks, push-ups, or just running around in circles to get the blood moving.

    Close to Quantico is Shenandoah National Park. Lots of hiking trails there, including the Appalachian Trail!


  5. Default

    Thank you so much for all of these replies! This helps me quite a bit. I hope to keep posting here with more questions regarding my trip. I have the dates finalized now. It's definitely going to be myself and his brother and girlfriend. I was planning to spend roughly $1000 for this trip (to include gas, lodging, and food). Do you think staying within this financial window possible? I would like to be as cost efficient as possible, but stay at safe clean places (doesn't have to be fancy at all) and at the same time get the most out of my trip. I think I'm going to do my best to do the trip in 5 days to cut the cost of staying another night in a hotel.

    Question: where do most people shower on the road if one were to get out and exercise midway in their trip? Do rest stops have showers?

    @GLC, Thanks for the city list. I really appreciate ideas on routes, and I would be very interested in taking that AZ short cut you're talking about.

    @Midwest Micheal, thank you so much for that list of hiking areas. That looks fantastic, and I'm excited to plan my trip along some of those hiking routes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    $1000 should work fine for a budget. You're looking at $300-400 for gas, you can usually find decent motels for $50-60 a night, so that still leaves you with a few hundred bucks left over for food and other expenses.

    Rest areas do not have showers. Truck stops do, but they're not free. $10 is pretty average. If you're doing your exercising at a state park that has camping, you might be able to use a shower there (although technically, you're supposed to be a registered camper in most situations). Honestly, most people don't work out so hard in the middle of a roadtrip that they need a shower and/or they just deal with being sweaty until they stop at the end of the day.

    Keep in mind, that list that I linked to is just a small list of the possibilities. State Parks and similar facilities are marked right on any good map, so take a look at your maps, and you'll find many more options.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Out of date.

    It must be some years since Michael has used the shower facility at truck stops. Last year I did not get one that was less than $12 and up to $18. Most were $15. But I agree waiting till you get to your hotel should not be a hardship.


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