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  1. Default Upstate new york to tacoma washington (safest route)

    In august i will moving across country to tacoma from ny. I will have my wife and 5 children in tow (all under 9). We havent decided if we are going to ship our stuff via pods or rent a small tow behind and bring what we can. At any rate i am not one that enjoys dangerous roads..aka mountains, cliffs etc...i am extremely nervouse driving that portion of trip on the west coast....what i am trying to find is a route does doesnt involve much of that. (Lets assume we are towing a small trailer). Time is not a factor as we a re considering making this a 2 week adventure. Any adivice would be helpful. Thanks in advance

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The direct route here is going to be your easiest option, and that's I-90 essentially the whole way.

    In regards to your fears, I'd put it this way, the Interstate Highway system is designed for large trucks to travel the country at high speed. Yes, you will go over mountains - it's impossible to drive across the country without dealing with them - but Interstate highways don't have any cliffs or switchbacks, they are all roads built with minimal grades and curves, with multiple lanes and wide shoulders. When it comes to driving in the US, you have to look very hard to find a dangerous road, especially on the interstate system.

    I might be a little more concerned about using a trailer - especially when you'll already have 7 people in your vehicle. What do you have for a car/truck?

  3. Default

    We have a mini van..if we tow anything it would be a 4x8 uhaul trailer..we were thinking that we would drive 5-6 hours a day..maybe camp along the way at spots may e hotel it..with an infant in the car i cant handle to much driving ina day..are there any site that offer suggested stopping points for camping/hotel

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Bad News First

    Minivans aren't really designed for towing, and yours is already going to be pretty loaded down with your family and all their gear for over a week's worth of RoadTripping. That situation becomes even worse if you plan to camp and have to carry tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, etc. I doubt that your vehicle will have any significant hauling capability left if you were to add a cargo trailer as well - even if it's empty. You will need to check your owner's manual or with your local dealership to see what the limits on cargo (including people) and towing are for your particular make and model.

    But besides even those limits there are other reasons not to try to tow. First it will make your vehicle extremely slow to get up to speed. Even if you fall within its stated limits, your vehicle will be slow to accelerate onto the freeway, making merging into traffic an 'adventure'. You will be spending a fair portion of your mountain driving time, even on the gentle grades of the Interstates, in the far right (slow) truck or climbing lane. On the open plains of Midwest (everything from Ohio to Montana) you will be presenting a very broad target to any cross-winds which will make controlling the vehicle/trailer combination difficult at best. And finally, your overall length may end up being too much to fit into many campsites, and you will almost certainly be limited to those sites that provide pull-through camp sites. I really would encourage you to lean towards shipping everything and just enjoying the RoadTrip with your family.

    Now the good news. If you are only planning on driving five hours a day, you can still cross the continent in roughly eight days (depending on where, exactly, in 'upstate New York' you're starting from). But by only driving for five hours you leave yourself the bulk of the day to explore some of the country you'll be driving through. This can be as simple as just stopping for short breaks every couple of hours; or spending more time at larger sites such as Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Circus World Museum, and Badlands National Park; or even spending an extra day or two at major attractions such as Yellowstone National park.

    If you plan to stop at four or more national parks (not counting Mount Rushmore that does not charge for admission) purchase an annual pass at the first one you come to. And no matter how many parks you visit, always ask about their Junior Ranger Program which is free and will give the kids some fun and educational activities to do that will earn them some nice souvenirs.

    Five hours of driving will let you cover (realistically) 250-300 miles each day. Using that as a yardstick, you should be able to work out roughly where you'll be each evening and let you plan ahead to find suitable camping possibilities. State parks and national forests generally offer quieter and cheaper camping while national parks tend to fill up early, especially during the summer, and commercial campgrounds can cost almost as much as a low-end motel.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would completely agree with Buck, pulling a trailer with your minivan probably isn't a good idea.

    In addition to what Buck mentioned, you'd also be putting a lot of strain on your van's drivetrain, and could end up shortening it's life.

    On top of that, a 4x8 trailer really is tiny. You just wouldn't be able to put much stuff into it. My first cross country move, I planned to rent a 4x8 trailer, and wound up going with a 5x8 because the 4x8 was just too small to fit anything. I was a 22 year old just out of college, and basically had a bed and a tv for possessions. I can't imagine a trailer that small would be all that useful for a family of 7.

  6. #6

    Default Bypassing Sturgis, SD

    I heartily agree with the sentiment against towing a trailer. With 5 kids under 9 years of age, you have enough weight in the minivan, and enough to look out for, without a trailer.

    Be aware of the early August dates for the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD. It draws attendance in the several hundred thousands. You may expect I-90 to be jammed with towed and ridden motorcycles from at least I-29 on the east and all the way to I-15 on the west, with the traffic headed towards Sturgis in early August and away from Sturgis in the middle of August. I've encountered the rally participants several times while on Road Trips, going back as far as 2002, and it's always been a lot of fun, but the logistical issues can be perplexing: Every Interstate rest area, fuel plaza, restaurant, motel, and campground for hundreds of miles in every direction can be jammed to over-capacity in the weeks before, during, and after the rally.

    You may want to venture north to I-94 or south to I-80 to avoid the masses should your plans have you passing through the area in early- to mid-August. Even then, you'll likely see some crowds, but far less than along I-90.


  7. Default

    So its decided we will not like to note that we are basically hitting a reset button..we are only bringing our cloths and a few important perosnal things with furnature or anything.

    So with that decision out of the way...on to the route. We will prob just stay at cheap hotels....are there any spots along the way that anyone would consider a "must see". My son wants to visit a Lego Land. Are there any of those close to the route. Where can i go to get help planning out a good route that wont cost me a ton? Any advice is awsome

    We currently love in plattsburgh, ny.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The only Legolands in the US are in California and Florida - and the one in CA is between LA and San Diego.

    Here's my recommendation for the most efficient route, avoiding Sturgis, but it does involve a lot of tolls.

    Take I-87 to the Thruway (I-90) and take that west all the way through NY, PA, OH, and IN. When you get west of Cleveland it multiplexes with I-80 onto the OH Turnpike. At Exit 21 in IN, take I-80/I-94 south of Chicago - stay on I-80 all the way through IL, IA, NE, and WY. Just east of Salt Lake City, take I-84 into OR, then I-82 to I-90 in WA to Seattle.

    This is a minimum 6 day drive, if you break it up into equal segments your overnights would be:

    Erie PA
    Princeton IL
    Kearney NE
    Rock Springs WY
    Boise ID

    You can avoid most of the NY Thruway tolls by taking I-88 to I-86 back to I-90, this would add about an hour and 60 miles but is a lot more scenic than the Thruway.
    Last edited by glc; 03-15-2016 at 10:56 AM.

  9. Default Plattsburgh, NY to Tacoma, WA 1st week of Aug with 5 kids

    Will be traveling across country in early Aug and it looks like I90 to I80 back to I90. We are going to make it roughly 8-10 day trip with roughly 5-6 hours driving per day. We have 5 kids. Looking for ideas for how we should sleep aka cabins or cheap hotels for 7. As well as looking for things to do with children and places that are a must see and not expensive. keep in mind we want to avoid places with large crowds

    Please do not start multiple threads about the same trip. - Mod
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-27-2016 at 10:53 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Accommodation for five or more.

    With most hotels/motels having a room occupancy limit of four, you might like to check out these establishments.


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