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  1. Default Moving VA/DC to Gilbert, AZ

    Will be moving in mid- to late- August from Springfield VA (just outside of DC) to Gilbert, AZ. There will be 4 adults, 3 vehicles plus a 22 foot rental moving truck, 3 dogs, 1 cat and an African Grey parrot. Yes, it's insane and we know it's going to be a "challenge". The dogs at least ride well in cars and have been on drives of up to a few hours - have no idea how the bird and cat will do - they are at least not all in the same vehicle! Dogs are on the larger size - ranging from 55 -75 lbs so will need pet friendly hotels that will take larger dogs - and at least 2 animals per room. Hoping that finding pet friendly hotels (in advance) on the route won't be too difficult. Don't need fancy but would like "reasonably" clean (i.e. don't feel like WE need shots to stay in it!)

    We know that the route will mostly be 66 to 81 to 40. Then there is an option of going into Flagstaff and coming down 17 or since we're headed to Gilbert on the east side of Phoenix an option would be AZ-377/AZ-277/AZ-260/AZ-87? I'm looking for fastest no scenic for this trip.

    And the big question is whether or not to try to average 600 miles a day over 4 days (less days on the road and 1 night less in a hotel) or do it in 5 days with an average of about 460 miles (but more days on the road and an extra hotel night).

    For 4 day trip I've seen stopping in Cookeville TN, Fort Smith AR, Santa Rosa NM. Someplace I saw suggested stopping points for a 5 day trip but can't find it now - so would appreciate ideas.

    And any other suggestions, hints, etc would be very welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Five Days, Please, Five Days

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Under the very best of circumstances, driving 600 miles a day is pushing the boundaries of safe. You will NOT have the best of circumstances, nor anything even approaching them. With your caravan and menagerie, you are going to take longer to get started every morning, have to make more and longer stops, and get off the road earlier in order to get everyone settled in for the evening. Planning on shorter time/mileage days also produces two benefits that will greatly enhance your RoadTrip experience.

    First, it means that you have a bit more flexibility in deciding where to make your overnight stops. In particular, it lets you shorten or stretch a given day so that you end up near a modestly sized city with multiple lodging options so that you have a far better chance of finding clean pet-friendly motels than if you have to stick to nearly exactly 600 miles a day. At such a pace, good places to start looking would be Knoxville, Memphis, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. Try to find accommodations on the west sides of those cities so that you don't have to fight rush hour traffic as you leave town in the morning.

    Second, it will give you time for some serious rest stops (or exercise stops for the pets). Yes, they might do well in the car, and yes, you can 'walk' them in freeway rest areas, but you really want to give them, and you, a chance to get away from the highway noise and give everyone the opportunity to breath some fresh air and stretch their legs. We developed a list of such stops every couple of hours along the major Interstates. There are others, of course, but those will give you an idea of what's available to you not too far off the highway.

    I'd also note that, far different from most RoadTrips, you're going to be traveling as a convoy and that is going to necessitate a few changes. Probably the biggest will be that you should probably take the slightly longer route, I-40 to Flagstaff and then I-17 down into the Phoenix area. You really do want to keep everyone together and since you'll have a relatively lumbering rental truck, that would make you an impediment (and thus a hazard) to other drivers on the more twisty, hilly, two-lane route through Heber and Payson. Also, each car should have at least one and preferably two fully charged cell phones at the start of each day, and they should be reserved for communications, not game playing. That's another reason to stick with the Interstates where cell coverage is generally pretty good rather than 'back' roads where it can get spotty.

    Finally, prepare as best you can. Do your homework beforehand finding pet-friendly motels so that you're not wasting time on the road. Pack a cooler (or two) and refresh it as you travel so that you can enjoy picnics at some of your stops rather than pay for restaurant meals two or three times a day. Make sure that everyone has maps and a firm understanding of your route and each night's stop in the event you get separated. Yes, this is going to be work, but with enough prep and the right attitude it can also be great fun.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-06-2016 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Typos, typos, typos - Thanks, Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A steady pace is vital.

    You can use the Road trip Motel search on the right of this page and select 'Pet friendly' and other criteria's if needed. I 100% agree with Buck that this should be a minimum 5 day trip and you should look for overnight stops in [roughly] equal distances, even that will feel 'work like'. Booking in advance will also help you keep safe and on track, it's all to easy to push too hard at the start when you are fresh only to 'crash and burn' when the fatigue takes hold. When travelling in convoy it can also become difficult for the person feeling fatigued to actually admit it as they feel guilty about slowing the others, make sure this is not the case and have lots of rest breaks and check on each other.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As a general rule, Motel 6 and La Quinta Inn are two chains that are pretty pet-friendly. Other places will have "pet friendly rooms", but not always a large block of them. Be prepared to pay pet deposits.

    Talk to your vet about driving long distances with a bird. The cat will probably do better in her crate, but will still probably meow for the first 100 miles or so unless you've trained her from kittenhood to ride in a car.


  5. Default

    AZBuck - thanks so much for all the very helpful feedback. It looks like now that we may not have the truck - just the 3 cars but you've still made plenty of valid reasons to make this at least a 5 day trip so we're going to make that our starting point. We also realized that we don't want to walk into a non-furnished rental late at night, after a full day of travel, with the majority of our belongings packed in a POD outside. And even with out the truck I'm guessing it might still be better for us and the pets to avoid the hillier, more difficult route and stick with I-40 to I-17.

    For communications we've considered have some Motorola Walkie Talkie type units in addition to our cell phones. They might not have the distance of phones but might be easier in allowing everyone to talk and listen for any quick notifications. We also might check out renting some of the Sprint/Nextel PTT cell phones units though not sure what those might cost.

    We've also ordered AAA's Pet Hotel book so if with making reservations in our expected stopping locations, we also have an idea of Pet Friendly hotels if we have to make changes on the road.

    With all the info and links you've provided I think we've got plenty of good info to make some good decisions and make this as smooth of a trip as we can.

    Thanks again!

  6. Default

    Southwest Dave - More good insights that we just hadn't thought about. We want to arrive safely so we're realizing we need to be smart and not fast!

  7. Default

    DonnaR57 - Yes the bird and cat are a concern. We're busy getting the bird acclimated to a travel cage - and then taking some drives with the cage in the car or next. The cat may actually be a bigger challenge. I don't believe it's ever been in a carrier - but it belongs to one of the other travelers so at least they will be one listening to the meowing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you will not have a truck, then you should take AZ-77/AZ-377/AZ-277/AZ-260/AZ-87 out of Holbrook to the east side of Phoenix. It's really a pretty pleasant drive and will save you some time and miles. AZ-87 is multi-lane most of the way.

  9. Default Late update to our trip

    I'm about 7 months late posting this update, but wanted to still put it out there 1)as a thanks for all the invaluable input and 2)to possibly help anyone else planning a similar trip.

    First, we headed the advice to make it a 5 day trip and glad we did. We left VA on 8/20 and arrived in Gilbert on 8/24. Overall, the trip went as well, or even better than we could have hoped for. The animals generally did pretty well, but anything less than 5 days would have been too much for us and them. Doing it in 5 days did allow us to take more frequent rest stops for both us and the animals, made every one feel less guilty if our needs to take a break didn't always happen at the same time, and even allowed us to make a couple of "fun" stops for quick "sightseeing" spots on hte last day that were just off the highway.

    We also took the advice of trying to stay west of city centers where we could to avoid rush hour traffic in the mornings when we were on the road between 7 and 8am. That helped by not stressing us out before we even got out of town. It also didn't seem to cause too much trouble with us getting into and through towns between 4:30 and 6pm.

    We did make reservations at pet-friendly hotels prior to leaving. We had to assume we'd make our stopping points each day but I figured we'd be better off having to look for accommodations if something prevented us from making it to our stops each day - but already being all set if we did make it. We also took 40 into Flagstaff and then came down 17 - avoiding what would have been a more challenging route through the mountains.

    We broke it out as follows: Day 1 - Alexandria, VA to Knoxville, TN; about 484 miles and one of our shorter legs for the first day. Day 2 - Knoxville, TN to Little Rock, AR; about 528 miles. Day 3 - Little Rock, AR to Shamrock, TX; about 500 miles. Day 4 - Shamrock, TX to Gallup, NM - about 518 miles. Day 5 - Gallup, NM to Gilbert, AZ; about 355 miles; made this as short a day as we could so we could get into our rental and get a few things unloaded before dark.

    So thanks to everyone for all the input - it helped get us to our new state safely and with our sanity (at least as much as we had when we left) intact!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good to know.

    Thanks a lot for the update, it's good to know your trip went smoothly. Your stops worked out pretty perfect for your circumstance.


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