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  1. Default Road trip to Astoria Oregon from Chicago IL

    I am taking my first long road trip with my best friend and our 5 kids combined to my brothers wedding in Astoria Oregon from Chicago IL we can take as much time as we need to for the trip so we are trying to figure out how to plan out how much we drive daily and where are some great place to stop and see some sites.. So, looking for any advice from anyone who may have made this trip or anyone who has suggestions on spots to stop. I did the map already and it has attractions marked. We are also thinking of taking one route there and another route home to see more.. pretty excited. Our kids are 14, 13, 13, 12 and 10 so great ages...hopefully! lol

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd certainly agree that taking different routes each direction makes a lot of sense, but for use to provide much more in the way of specific advice, we're going to need a little more information.

    First, how much time are you thinking of taking? It's great to say you can take as much time as you need - but that means you could be thinking of taking anything from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months, and those would mean very different trips. Also, when would this trip take place?

    What will you be doing for a vehicle? There aren't a lot of vehicles that comfortably fit 7 people.

    Perhaps most importantly, which places so far do you know you want to stop at? That will give us a guide for what other things you might like.

    As far as other general advice, with your large group, I'd recommend driving no more than 500 miles in a day. I'd also say that your kids are the perfect age to be very active in the planning - the more they have invested, the more things they have picked as stopping points, the more fun they will have.

  3. Default

    We are planning on 2 to 3 weeks for the trip but can take a little more if needed. We will be traveling in July, wedding is on the 16th, so we have to be in Astoria the 15th or 16th. We haven't really looked yet at attractions we want to se we are just in the starting to plan that all out now. I just hung up a map and highlighted our route so the kids could start looking up places they may want to visit, hoping they will help with the planning and getting excited about it. We are driving my Honda minivan and planning on getting a luggage carrier for the top of the car to help with room.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Good Start!

    You've now got several things working in your favor as you plan and execute your trip. The biggest are that you realize such a trip will take time, that you're looking to take different routes out and back, and that you have the kids involved. I would urge you to take three full weeks if at all possible. Two weeks would be possible, but with a van full of high-energy kids you're going to want to stop often and just getting everybody back into the van and ready to resume travel will take more time than you would think.

    The two basic routes available to you are I-90 (plus US-395/I-82/I-84) via Sioux Falls and Billings, and I-80 (plus I-84) via Omaha and Salt Lake City. On the northern I-90 route highlights would include Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, the Little Bighorn Battlefield, and Yellowstone National Park. On the southern I-80 route highlights include the old Oregon Trail route along the Platte River in Nebraska, 'wild west' towns in southern Wyoming, Great Salt Lake, and Bruneau Sand Dunes. Both routes follow I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge and you should probably explore the many waterfalls accessible from the Historic Columbia River Highway (old US-30) on at least one of your passages through the area. Besides the major attractions, you should also plan on stopping every couple of hours at smaller parks near the highway just to let the kids run and the drivers rest.

    If it looks like you're going to stop at four or more national parks, plan on buying an annual pass at the first one you come to. For $80 that gets you entrance into all national parks and monuments for the holder and everyone in his vehicle. Unfortunately, it does not cover 'extra' fees such as camping and parking (the only fee charged at Mount Rushmore) but it is still an offer you shouldn't refuse. Also at each national park or monument you stop at, sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger program. This is free and will give the kids activities to perform that will, upon completion, earn them some nice souvenirs such as patches, badges and certificates that make great souvenirs of their trip. As I recall, the upper age limit for this program may be 13, but the oldest child can help the youngest or just 'forget' to mention his/her age. I don't think the rangers will mind.

    I would also urge you to pre-plan where you're going to stop each night and make reservations. With that many young ones, you're going to want to be sure that you have a place to bed down and not be looking for a place to stay in the dark when they're already tired and cranky. Be sure to factor in ample stopping time as you try to decide how far you want to drive each day. If you have no major stops, just small ones for meals, fuel, bathrooms, and occasional R&R, I still wouldn't plan on making good more than about 500 miles that day.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    500 miles on any one day will in reality mean leaving at 7am (Good luck if you can - with our five that was rare.), and driving with only basic stops till noon for lunch. Then back on the road again at 1pm and driving through to 6pm - also not a great idea with those young folk.

    If this were me, I would cut the miles per day right back to maybe 350 - 400. You might consider booking accommodation where there is a pool, or such for the young folk to burn off pent-up energy before bedtime.

    For memory's sake, be sure to get all the young folk to write a daily journal. Buy each one an attractive book for the purpose. These are wonderful to look back on in years to come. this works best if you and your friend do the same. Need only take 15 or 20 mins at the end of each day. In fact, the journals could start during the planning stage, so that you alll can see later how the trip evolved.


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