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  1. Default OK to WA and back-asthma in the Rockies

    Hello All!

    My wife and I are wanting to drive from Oklahoma to Seattle this summer. We're figuring about 4 days up there, 6 days visiting and 4 days back-2 weeks total. But we have some concerns.

    #1 is driving thru the Rockies. Our son, who lives in WA, has made the trip a couple of times. That first time, he mentioned when he hit the higher elevations around Denver, he could feel the thinner air in his breathing for few minutes. He's young and in good shape so it didn't really bother him. His mother & I however, are neither! Both of us have some breathing issues and are overweight. We don't want to go that route and end up spending half a day in a hotel room trying to catch our breath. Has anyone ever had these concerns? Is it even anything to be concerned about?

    #2-For the above reason, we've considered the southern route thru NM, AZ, in to CA, then up I-5 to WA. I don't guess anyone would know how much more time this would add to our trip, would they? A day maybe? Is driving thru the desert in the middle of summer any better then the thin air in the mountains?

    #3 is car rental. I've read some posts on this forum about the unusually high taxes & fees that customers are surprised with when they return a rental car. I've checked prices on different apps/websites and am wondering if we're going to be hit with an extra 25%-75% when we get back home? When booking/buying on these apps are there any surprises we should be aware of?

    Thanks in advance for any help we might receive

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Air/Miles/Cars

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    At 5,000 feet, you're still going to have about 80% of the oxygen that's available to you at sea level. Yes, that's a difference that you will notice if/when you try to exercise, but it's still plenty for sitting and driving. Remember that most aircraft pressurize there passenger cabins to the equivalent of about 9,000 feet or about 70% of the oxygen that's available to you at sea level. While such levels may be noticeable, they should not be limiting or life threatening unless you plan to exercise more than is your norm. If you're just driving through you should be fine but, of course, if you have concerns check with your doctor.

    Going by way of I-40/I-5 would add 450 miles or a full day to your drive making it a minimum of four and a half days one way. If you were planning on a modest pace (thus the four days allocated in your present plan) then you should set aside five days each way for the drives between Tulsa and Seattle. The desert will not be a problem per se if your car is well-maintained and you have A/C, but you will not be avoiding high elevations by going that way. The Flagstaff area on I-40 sits at 7.000+ feet, and there are passes in northern California that are Denver-like in their elevation.

    As far as the car rental goes, I've never had any 'surprises' when I returned a car. Just make sure that as you comparison shop for the best deal that you check the 'final' price with all taxes and fees included, not just the 'rental' price. You can usually save a fair amount by renting from an in-town location rather than the airport franchise since you don't have to pay the airport concession fees or the special taxes states and municipalities love to place on the 'tourists' (with no voice in local elections) who are the most frequent users of airport rental counters.


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


    Assuming you're thinking the direct route of I-80 across Wyoming, you really would gain very little advantage elevation-wise. Going that way, your highest point would be about 8,600 feet - which is only a little over 1,000 feet higher than using I-40 across NM and AZ. As Buck also indicated, if you don't have problems with the air in an airplane, you shouldn't really have problems sitting in a car at either of those levels.

    I certainly have seen taxes on rental cars that can be 50% or more, but they really never should be a surprise. Make sure you're reading the fine print in the reservation, and make sure you're not signing up for any extras you don't want - like prepaid fuel or extra insurance - when you get and sign your rental contract. Buck's point abut renting off-airport is often very true. I'm considering a trip to Denver in the coming weeks, and it would cost nearly double to rent at the airport - nearly completely because of airport taxes, "facility fees," and several other similar charges. However, all of those charges are clearly stated when you look closely at the reservation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You will have less elevation to deal with if you take I-90 instead of I-80. This does add about 75 miles though.

  5. Default

    You guys are great! You've given me some wonderful information. Thanks again for all your help

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