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  1. Default Moving from San Diego to Washington DC, December. Help!!

    Hello, my husband and I have to move from San Diego to Washington DC this coming December. We just have 6 suitcases coming with us and we'll be driving a Toyota 4Runner 1998. We just want to make the trip as safely and cheap as possible. We were planning to sleep in the car, but with so many suitcases, it seems to be a complicated task!

    Could you please recommend the best route? Also, what kind of motels are the cheapest? we're not picky but we take safety into consideration. Should we reserve in advance? And how many hours a day would you recommend us to drive? How many days do you think is the trip?

    We don't have a lot of money for the trip, we are not planning to do any touristic stuff. We just want to arrive the cheapest and safest way possible. (Am I asking too much?! hehe).

    Any advice would be truly appreciated! thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Considering that you're going to be traveling in December and you can expect overnight temperature to be below freezing for most of your trip, I'd really recommend against trying to sleep in your car. Trying to have 2 people sleep in a vehicle is difficult in the best of situations, and when you combine having a full cargo load with the temperatures, I'd say it will be nearly impossible for you to get the kind of rest you need for a safe trip inside your SUV.

    The most direct route looks to be climbing the latter so to speak of taking I-8/I-10/I-20/I-30/I-40 across the country - a route that would take you through Dallas and Nashville, before taking I-81 into Virginia. There area a few other options - like taking I-20 all the way to Birmingham and then cutting north - but distance wise, you're looking at roughly 2700 miles on any direct route.

    That means you're looking at a solid 5 days on the road, and that's if you see good weather the whole way (not a sure thing by any means, even though you're mostly traveling across the southern US). That will mean driving 550-600 miles every day - which is the upper limit of what we recommend for any multi-day trip - and means a solid 10+ hours on the road each day.

    For motels, Motel 6 is about the cheapest of the national chains, but there are other budget hotel chains, and independent hotels you might want to consider. It would probably be worthwhile to consider booking your motels in advance so you can use search engines (like RTA's hotel search feature) to find the cheapest rooms along your route. Just make sure any place you book does allow cancellations so you can change your rooms without penalty in case you run into a delay.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Five Days, Four Nights - All in Motels

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    To make the trip safely from San Diego to Washington by car, you're going to need close to five full days. And sleeping in the car really isn't a safe or effective option. Just the fact that you'll have six suitcases means that there will be no place to stretch out and get the serious eight hours' sleep that you'll need every night to be rested and alert the next day. Add to that the fact that you'll be making this trip in December when it is quite likely that night-time temperatures will be far to low for comfortable sleeping even if you could. And no, trying to sleep in the car with the heater running while one of you drives is simply not going to work. The 'sleeper' will still be uncomfortable and the driver will be prone to nodding off with no one to talk to for hours on end. Again, the only safe way to make this trip is to get a good night's sleep each and every night.

    There are plenty of cheap motels along America's Interstate highways. Major chains include Motel 6, Red Roof Inns, EconoLodge, Travelodge, Super 8 and others. Another source of lower cost lodging are the coupons generally available at state welcome centers as you cross into each new state. You'll also see many stand-alone or mom-and-pop motels (not affiliated with any national brand) advertised by roadside signs as you travel along.

    Your biggest decision may, in fact, be whether to make reservations or to just wing it. Both approaches have their plusses and minuses. Making reservations means that you do all your shopping from the comfort of your home, taking the time needed to find a good price and to read reviews before deciding on a room. It also lessens the chance that you'll be tempted to push on beyond where you should on any given day either looking for a better price or because you don't 'feel' tired yet. On the other hand, winging it means that you can take that really cheap motel that keeps its rates low by not having an on-line presence. No matter what you decide, remember that it is your right to have a look at the actual room before you take it. If it stinks of cigarette smoke, was trashed by the previous occupant, has plumbing that doesn't work, or is crawling with bed bugs, you can demand a different room.

    The best route is easy, take the most direct all-Interstate route available. That makes for the shortest, easiest driving, and the Interstates get first priority for snow removal, salting and sanding in the event of untoward weather. In your specific case, that's I-8 to Gila Bend AZ, AZ-85 (near freeway quality) up to I-10 west of Phoenix, I-17 north to I-40 at Flagstaff, I-40 all the way east to Knoxville TN, I-81 up to the Front Royal VA area, and I-66 into Washington.

    So, with those thoughts in mind you should be planning on making your four overnight stops around Holbrook AZ, a bit east of Amarillo TX, a bit east of Little Rock AK, and around Morristown TN. That's a pace of about 550 miles a day, which is eminently sustainable over a multi-day RoadTrip and still leaves a little bit of time each day to take some short breaks from driving so that you can get out of the car for a bit of fresh air and exercise. Note that most of the stops are on the est side of fairly sizeable cities, where you should have a fairly easy time of finding multiple motels at the freeway exits and won't have to fight traffic in the morning since you'll be heading away from the local 'metropolis'.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-18-2016 at 07:51 AM. Reason: Correct Route Number

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    A note - being that you are in San Diego there are a couple things you may not have thought of. Make sure you have a proper coolant (antifreeze) mix in your radiator. Have it serviced before you leave with a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Also - drain your windshield washer reservoir and buy some winter type fluid once you are out of California. The fluid you get in San Diego and anywhere else in SoCal is only good down to 32F due to your CARB regulations.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    In your specific case, that's I-8 to Gila Bend AZ, AZ-85 (near freeway quality) up to I-10 west of Phoenix, I-17 north to I-40 at Flagstaff, I-40 all the way east to Knoxville TN, I-81 up to the Front Royal VA area, and I-66 into Washington.
    If this were my husband and I making this move, this is exactly the route we'd take, but with one tweak:

    Once you are on I-10 eastbound, heading toward Phoenix, take Exit 133b, the Loop 101 Northbound. Stay on it until you get to I-17 at Deer Valley, then turn north. This will avoid a LOT of congestion. I'd personally leave San Diego early in the morning, around 6 am, so that you can blow through Phoenix before their rush hour and get into either Flagstaff or Winslow for your first overnight. (Flagstaff is just about 500 miles from San Diego, Winslow is about 560 miles.)

    If you don't have a decent snowbrush or ice scraper, wait and buy one in Flagstaff. The ones they sell here just don't do the midwest and east coast ice/snow much good.


    Donna in San Diego County

  6. Default

    Thank you so much for all your answers. We're definitely going to stay at motels. We've started to look into the ones you recommended and to look into the routes.
    We're not just new trippers but also new in the country. Someone recommended us to take the I-70 because the heat of the southern route would be hard on the car. I imagine we can disregard this, am I right? Also, we've never driven in snowy conditions.
    However, if you think the I-70 would be better somehow, we can take it even if it adds some extra miles.
    Again, thank you. We really appreciate you advice!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Well, I'd say whoever told you that is giving you some pretty unhelpful and frankly bizarre advice.

    First of all, you're traveling in December, so heat won't be a concern hardly anywhere on your trip - as mentioned, you'll likely see below freezing temperatures overnight across much of your trip - so such advice is extra puzzling.

    Second, taking I-70 across Colorado means going up over 10,000 feet in elevation, which adds some extra challenges in winter.

    Third, "hard on a car" is a really outdated idea in general. Even if this was a summer trip, modern cars are designed to operate in all conditions, and if your car couldn't handle warm temperatures, I'd be more concerned about it's ability to make a cross country trip in general.

    Having said all of that, if you really wanted to take I-70 for some reason, that would be ok too. The difference in miles between taking I-10, I-40, or I-70 isn't that significant for this trip, but I wouldn't take I-70 for the reason your friend suggested, and based on what you told us, I think one of the southern options would probably make more sense this time around.

  8. Default

    Hello Midwest Michael,

    Thank you for your great advice. It makes a lot of more sense. And as per your suggestion and others on this board, the I-40 is a far better option. We are going to take AZbuck's suggestion: "In your specific case, that's I-8 to Gila Bend AZ, AZ-85 (near freeway quality) up to I-10 west of Phoenix, I-17 north to I-40 at Flagstaff, I-40 all the way east to Knoxville TN, I-81 up to the Front Royal VA area, and I-66 into Washington."

    We took our vehicle to the mechanic and he said it is good to travel across the country, but we wouldn't, for the reasons you clearly explained, take it on the I-70.

    Again, thank you!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default As Modified

    Quote Originally Posted by paula002
    We are going to take AZbuck's suggestion: "In your specific case, that's I-8 to Gila Bend AZ, AZ-85 (near freeway quality) up to I-10 west of Phoenix, I-17 north."
    But be sure to use Donna's suggestion to "...take Exit 133b, the Loop 101 Northbound, [and s]tay on it until you get to I-17 at Deer Valley, then turn north. That is the de facto beltway around the northwest side of Phoenix and will save you from a lot of heavy traffic in central Phoenix.

    AZBuck

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