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  1. Default Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, CA w/ truck + trailer + dog!

    RTA members,

    At the end of August, I will be traveling from Washington, D.C. metro area to the San Francisco Bay area. To be specific, I'm leaving Sterling, VA and arriving in San Jose, CA. I'm looking for advice from fellow road trippers on the most efficient, quickest route to California. Here are some details/requirements for my trip:

    • Plan to leave Sunday (Aug. 30) afternoon, or Monday (Aug. 31) morning.
    • Need to arrive in San Jose preferably by Saturday (Sept. 5), but ok to arrive Sunday (Sept. 6) if needed.
    • Unfortunately will not have a chance to sightsee - I know this is a shame but I am looking for the most efficient/quickest route to get to my destination.
    • I will be driving my 2010 Ford Raptor and towing a flatbed car trailer.
    • Traveling with my dog (a puggle), so I will need to stay at pet-friendly hotels.
    • My research has shown that there are 3 major routes - I-40, I-80, and I-70. My goal is to get their efficiently and safely, so avoiding high traffic areas and strenuous mountain roads is preferred.

    What are the recommendations from the RTA community? Should I consider the northern route to avoid the heat, or is the southern route a better option with less elevation changes? Please let me know if you have any questions about my trip to help make a more sound recommendation. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It really is pretty much a toss-up, between going North and going South. The distance between the options isn't significant, and even the elevation changes aren't that much different.

    If you do decide to go north, I would look to avoid I-80 east of the Mississippi, mainly because of the tolls that would be very expensive while towing. You can use I-68/I-79/I-70/I-74 to join up with I-80 in Iowa.

    More important than route will be making sure your truck is fully ready for a long-haul tow. That means making sure you have oil and transmission coolers, and exchanging those fluids before you get on the road, in addition to the other elements that should traditionally be looked at before getting on the road.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply Michael! I did read another thread where a moderator suggested the I-68/I-79/I-70/I-74 route to avoid those areas east of the Mississippi on I-80.

    I am performing a full tune-up of the truck as well before embarking on the long journey (tune-up, all fluids, brakes, etc.)

    Based on taking the I-68/I-79/I-70/I-74/I-80 route, here are some rough stops I've planned out so far. Looking for any comments/suggestions:

    Sterling, VA -> Columbus, OH - Aug. 31 (Mon) - 7.5 hrs
    Columbus, OH -> Peoria, IL - Sept. 1 (Tues) - 7 hrs
    Peoria, IL -> Omaha, NE - Sept. 2 (Wed) - 7 hrs
    Omaha, NE -> Cheyenne, WY - Sept. 3 (Thurs) - 8 hrs
    Cheyenne, WY -> Salt Lake City, UT - Sept. 4 (Fri) - 7 hrs
    Salt Lake City, UT -> Reno, NV - Sept. 5 (Sat) - 8 hrs
    Reno, NV -> San Jose, CA - Sept. 6 (Sun) - 4.5 hrs
    Last edited by lugnut2683; 08-18-2015 at 07:55 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    It looks like you're getting your travel times from an electronic mapping program. Please do yourself a favor, ESPECIALLY since you are towing, and don't believe those times. Instead, believe the MILEAGES. Take the mileage, and divide by 55. That will give you a better estimate of time from motel door to motel door. For instance, a 200 mile drive will be between 3-1/2 and 4 hours. Reason? You have to travel slower because of that trailer you're towing. Electronic mapping programs also don't account for stopping for fuel, traffic, food, stretching your legs, using restroom facilities, etc.

    As a general rule, Motel 6 is usually open to pets. You can also use the coupon booklets found at state visitor centers, some truck stops and some rest areas, as the coupon ads will usually state pet policy.

    You'll have to decide what to do about your pup for mealtimes. We used to tie ours to our trailer and park near grass whenever possible, and have also tied one to the axle of our Blazer one time. ANYTHING to avoid the pup being in a car! Another dog we had - we could leave her in the car with all the windows DOWN. She would bark at anyone that went by, but she would never leave the vehicle because she loved to "go bye-bye" and didn't want us to leave without her! So it will depend on your dog's temperament.


  5. Default

    Good advice there Donna, much appreciated! I did pull those times from my Roadtrippers app just to get a general idea of where I should be stopping to break up the trip. Here are the mileages:

    Sterling, VA -> Columbus, OH - Aug. 31 (Mon) - 397 miles
    Columbus, OH -> Peoria, IL - Sept. 1 (Tues) - 380 miles
    Peoria, IL -> Omaha, NE - Sept. 2 (Wed) - 398 miles
    Omaha, NE -> Cheyenne, WY - Sept. 3 (Thurs) - 497 miles
    Cheyenne, WY -> Salt Lake City, UT - Sept. 4 (Fri) - 438 miles
    Salt Lake City, UT -> Reno, NV - Sept. 5 (Sat) - 517 miles
    Reno, NV -> San Jose, CA - Sept. 6 (Sun) - 256 miles

    Perhaps I should do more miles early in the trip and then shorten the distances towards the end of the week?

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


    I think your plan looks good right now. A steady pace is a much better than tiring yourself off on the first couple of days. The first day, I might plan for a bit less miles, just because that first day always takes a bit more time (getting a later start than planned, getting everything situated for the road, etc.).

    The only thing I might tweek is making things a bit more even. For example, maybe push your drives on the 1st and 2nd up a bit more, so you don't have to go quite as far on the 3rd or 5th. There are a lot of otherwise very small towns that have lots of hotel options, because they are located on the interstate and get lots of travelers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I agree....treat it like a marathon, and try to keep a steady pace. Don't sprint and then slow down, keep it even.

    On the motel issue -- in Columbus, Omaha, and Cheyenne, stay on the west side of the city if you can. That way, in the morning, you can avoid the city's Rush Hour (though nothing will be quite like DC's on your route!). In SLC and Reno, you will probably want to have reservations, as you're getting into Labor Day weekend and you have a pet (which will complicate things a little).

    Doing a little research ahead for you - Columbus has a Motel 6 at exit 91, on the north side of the freeway. There is also a La Quinta, which is another chain (a little more upscale) that has a more-or-less pet-friendly stance. Peoria, whose rush hour isn't too bad (according to a friend of mine who lives there and has lived here in CA), has a Motel 6 at exit 95a on the south side of the freeway. In Omaha, there's a Motel 6 at exit 445, and a La Quinta at the same exit, both on the south side. Cheyenne exit 358 also has a La Quinta and a Motel 6 at exit 358.

    Hope this helps.


  8. Default

    Michael and Donna,

    Thank you for the tips! Motel 6 will be my lodging of choice as I'm just looking for a place to crash for the evening (I don't need anything fancy since the kids are traveling ahead via plane). I've been refining my route and using Motel 6 hotels as my destination points between cities.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-20-2015 at 07:21 PM. Reason: non-working link to competitor removed

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