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  1. Default Move from Seattle to Mobile, AL the first part of December

    My son, daughter-n-law and new baby are planning to move from Seattle to Mobile, AL the first of December. They will have a U-Haul and 3vehicles. I am a bit concerned about the time of year and going thru some of the passes. Any advise at all would be greatly appreciated, anything from routes that time of year, towing, etc.
    Thanks in advance for any advise!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Options

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The key to any long cross-country move, especially in winter, is to have options. Since you can't count on the weather to co-operate and you won't know until you're actually doing it how much traveling in a convoy will slow you down (more gas stops, more rest stops, longer meals, etc.), you have to build flexibility into your plan.

    The first bit of flexibility would be to plan out two separate routes and only decide a day or two before departure which one to use. That will let you get a reliable forecast at least for the Cascades and Rocky Mountain crossings. If one route is going to be subjected to inclement weather take the other. You can't count on a 'southern' route being snow free, you'll just have to wait to see what the actual weather is at the time of your departure. Two possible routes would be 1) I-90 to Sioux Falls, I-29 to Kansas City, US-71/MO-7/MO-13 to Springfield MO, US-60/US-63 to Memphis, US-78/US-45 to Mobile; or 2) I-90/I-82 to Hermiston OR, I-84 to Salt Lake City, I-15 to Proveo UT, US-6/US-191 to Monticello UT, US-491/US-160 to Durango CO, US-550 to Bernalillo NM, I-25 to Albuquerque, I-40 to Amarillo, US-287 to Dallas/Fort Worth, I-20 to Jackson MS, and US-49/US-98 to Mobile. Those two routes are only 10 miles different in length.

    If your crew would be more comfortable on an all Interstate route, then look at going east from Salt Lake City on I-80 to Lincoln NE, and/or taking I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis and then using I-64/I-57/I-24/I-55 through Nashville and Montgomery to Mobile. Such 'detours' would only add a couple of hundred miles.

    The other place where you'll need flexibility is timing. If it were just a single sedan on a carefree RoadTrip, you might expect to make the drive in five days. But you'll need to add a day due to the slower speed you'll be able to maintain pulling a trailer, the additional stops you'll need to make, and the fact that the baby will need to be in bed at a reasonable time. Then add yet another day to be able to handle any weather delays that you might encounter even after the best planning possible, and you see that you need to have seven days in hand for the drive when you leave Seattle.

    To make the most of that flexibility, I wouldn't make motel reservations before leaving. December, other than for about a week before and after Christmas, is a very slow travel season and you should have no trouble finding vacancies each evening. There's nothing worse than being an hour from a reserved motel room (with a cancellation fee) while driving into worsening weather with a cranky infant in the back seat and no more coffee in the thermos.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-12-2015 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Typo

  3. #3


    I have driven most of those roads and some during the winter months. Having lived in Kansas City for 22 years, I can't recommend the local routes south from there to Mobile. The best route would be I-70 to Wentzville, MO and the I-64/I-270 bypass to I-55. Take I-55 to Jackson, MS and then US-49/US-98 to Mobile. It will add about 80 miles, but they'll be interstate miles as opposed to two-lane roads with multiple towns to go through.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your reply. I'm not worried about the more southern routes.....just the mountains!!

  5. Default

    Thank you for your reply. I am the most worried about the mountains and the snow. I'm pretty much home free once we make it through the passes (hopefully) I have never driven thru that area....but the thought of it is pretty scarey. Watching some of these real life semi-truck shows where they drive in areas like that doesn't help! ha. And if his truck is being pulled by the U-Haul...that's pretty scarey as well....going up and down some of those mountains.
    I am going to look into having at least 1 vehicle shipped back.....depends on the pricing. I am also thinking that it might be a good idea for my daughter-n-law, the baby and myself to leave ahead of time because we most certainly will be making a lot of stops....with the dog as well (a great dane).

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

    Default concerns in the wrong places

    I think you're overly concerned about mountains, and perhaps not concerned enough about the weather on the rest of your trip.

    If you're on the interstates, then mountains really aren't that big of a deal. I-90 isn't Ice Road Truckers! Interstates are designed with limited grades, designed for high-speed truck travel all year round, and if there is bad weather, they are cleared of snow and ice as quickly as possible.

    But you shouldn't dismiss the challenges of winter driving. Towing while on snow and ice is not fun at all, and it doesn't matter where that bad weather hits. You could see snow and ice on the plains just about as easily as you could see it on mountain passes.

    Having said all that, I'm curious what your plan is for this drive. You said you've got 2 adults and you need to move 3 cars and a UHaul? Even with towing, that's more vehicles than drivers! I'll also say, when you're moving, sometimes it's a lot easier and even ends up being cheaper to start selling stuff, and replace it when you get to your new home.

    Considering the time of year, and it sounds like you'll be in a convoy situation, with multiple vehicles, I'd really recommend sticking to an all-interstate (or interstate-quality) route.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I'd highly recommend a set of family radios, to keep communications open between two vehicles. They're easier to handle if you are trying to drive, than trying to dial a cell phone when you're driving.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    The route thru Oregon I-84 to SLC has a pretty large number of really long hills thru the Blue Mountains. Then after you descend and climb back out of the hole that SLC lives in you are running on I-80 which, on average is higher in elevation than I-90 across Montana. The Montana route is also more weather protected from wind than Wyoming. Empty semis get blown over by the wind in Wyoming sometimes.

    I've made the run from northern Colorado to Seattle for Christmas 4 times in the last 5 years and vastly prefer the I-90 route across Montana. I think the hills are fewer in number and average elevation is lower. I think there is less traffic density on the road too which means less pressure from other drivers but you have to be prepared to take care of yourself for awhile in case of problems. (My personal policy is to not BE the problem!)

    Edit- I almost forgot to mention that since you are heading West to East you might be able to choose your travelling weather and surf a bubble of nice weather at least for the mountainous part. Weather travels from NW to SE generally so if you watch the forecasts you might have several days of good weather. If you were going the other way it's almost certain you'd have to punch thru some weather front or several.

    Plus it was tough driving those Oregon hills on packed ice after a storm came thru.......

    I'd link to my trip reports but they might scare you too much. I've re-read them recently and I've had some weather-related adventures (but no crashes or really close calls even).

    Stay on the interstates, have a backup plan, have extra time in the schedule, don't do anything dumb. And as the survivors of the Donner Party said "don't take no shortcuts."
    Last edited by noFanofCB; 10-12-2015 at 07:10 PM. Reason: add weather info

  9. Default

    I am brand new to this site....and I'm not sure if I am replying back to just 1 person or to the whole string. I do appreciate all of the insights. There will be a minimum of 4 adults. And the more I think about it the more I think it might be easier to have the vehicles shipped and have mama and baby fly to my house in Birmingham! I do love adventures....but not sure about a moving adventure at the moment. And trust me...I did suggest selling everything and starting over....but you know how that can only suggest :). The would have to rent a U-Haul at least for my sons tools. He is a welder at one of the ship yards and he has 2 tool boxes that are about the size of a love seat and very heavy.
    Interstates would most definitely be the way to go. It is the winter weather that bothers me more than anything! We shut down in Birmingham with the least bit of ice. But on the other hand, I am from Asheville, NC and I know that there can be 2 feet of snow there and they do keep the roads clear for the most part.
    No matter what we do....we will allow plenty of time!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If your crew would be more comfortable on an all Interstate route, then look at going east from Salt Lake City on I-80 to Lincoln NE, and/or taking I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis and then using I-64/I-57/I-24/I-65 through Nashville and Montgomery to Mobile. Such 'detours' would only add a couple of hundred miles.
    My choice would be I-90 to Sioux Falls, I-29 to KC, using I-435 around the NE of the city, I-70 to Wentzville, I-64 through downtown STL to I-57 to I-24 to Nashville, and I-65 to Mobile. This is 100% Interstate.

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