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  1. #1
    World'sBiggestChicken Guest

    Default SoCalifornia to New Hampshire with U-Haul Trailer

    Hi. I am moving, and have to be out of here in two days. I've gone back and forth on whether to mail my belongings or tow a trailer. I've already cancelled the trailer once, but I have so much stuff that I don't want to leave behind that I rented one again. It is a 4 x 8 U-haul enclosed trailer, and I'm pulling it with a Ford F150 5.4 V8, so no problems on towing capability, however, big problems with my fear of towing. I'm looking for a route that is straight and flat. :) OK, as straight and flat as I can find. I have the added pleasure of bringing along a dog, cat and two birds in my truck with me, and other than them I'm driving alone (I'm a woman). I plan to sleep in the back of the truck, so am getting the AAA campground book and/or staying at pet-friendly hotels if I can't find a campground. I want to get there as fast as I can as the animals will probably be a problem.

    I guess I'd like to know what others think the best route for a total chicken driver to take to get to Manchester, New Hampshire. Do you think campgrounds will be safe with me towing a U-Haul? How many days would it take to get there if I stay at the recommended 45 MPH recommended by U-Haul? Or should I just forget the trailer and mail everything and leave a lot of stuff behind in a storage unit that I will then have to pay to replace when I get to NH?

    I know this is a little late for this post, but any help would be appreciated. I'm up at 3 in the morning because I'm so stressed out about "death by U-Haul" "advice" I've been receiving from friends.

    Thanks in advance.

    ChickenWoman

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    I'm chuckling at your name. :-)

    We used to tow a 16 foot (or was it an 18 foot?) travel trailer with an F-150 with a V6 engine. You're more powerful engine combined with a smaller, lighter trailer should make towing fairly easy. While you are wise to realize that driving while towing is different and to be prepared for it, I think you will find it easier than you think. By the time you go down the highway a bit, you will gain experience and get more comfortable with it.

    In another thread, I stated that I hate towing. But I hate it because I tend to like to drive a bit on the fast side....ok, sometimes a lot on the fast side. It's the loss of speed and maneuverability the drives me batty. But towing is not all that hard. Especially with the set-up you'll have. Really.

    Just remember to avoid small areas where you have to make tight turns and turn around. Try to refuel at truck stops with large refuelling bays designed for semi-truckers. You are welcome to refill there and won't have to maneuver around lots of cars in tight areas. Stopping at restaurants will require scoping out good parking spots as well.

    If you go a bit slower, don't try any fancy turns or quick lane changes, and just relax, it should all go OK for you.

    Of course, you could also consider shipping your items and not dealing with this but I have no idea of costs on this. Another thing you might consider is U-Ship. This is a service that matches up someone needing something transported with people that are traveling in that direction. You negotiate a fee for them to haul your stuff. I've not used it and can't vouch for it. And you may not have enough time to utilize it. But you might check it out and see if you can jam something together.

    I'm sure you'll be quite safe in campgrounds with your U-haul. I'm not the only woman on this forum who has camped alone without problems. Most commercial campgrounds are fairly close-in quarters. You're near enough other campers to be able to call out for help, if needed. And, to be honest, I've never heard of anyone being attacked in a busy commercial campground. You're probably safer there than in a hotel, imho. Just camp close to other campers and not off in the boondocks by yourself if you're nervous.

    I prefer camping in national/state/county campgrounds most of the time because they usually offer more private camping experiences. However, of course, then you are a bit more isolated as well. This might make you feel more nervous about camping alone. So, if you find yourself in this situation, try to camp near a family or larger group with kids. For some reason I also feel safer with people with kids around. I figure there's a better chance that they're more responsible-type people. Strike up a conversation with them. I believe people look out for each other and, if they have gotten to know you, they will look out for your even more.

    Or camp near to the campground host.

    As long as you use the same type of common-sense you would use in any other situation regarding personal safety issues, I'm sure you'll be fine. Some people make sure they have a whistle on them. The sound for this carries farther than yelling so, if something does happen, you'll be able to alert people better with a whistle. So you may want to consider having one around your neck when you're sleeping (just don't choke yourself LOL).

    I played with MS Streets & Trips to see what it came up with for your route, time to travel, etc. Here are the parameters I used (adjust accordingly):
    * Los Angeles, CA, to Montpelier, NH
    * 45mph maximum speed
    * Start driving at 8:30am. End driving at 6:30pm.
    * A 30-minute stop every 2 hours

    The route it came up with is:
    * I-15 until it merges with I-70 in mid-Utah
    * I-70 to Denver, CO
    * I-76 to Barton, Nebraska, where it merges with I-80
    * I-80 to Cleveland, OH
    * I-90 to Springfield, MA
    * I-91 to Hartford, NH
    * I-89 to Montpelier

    Since this is all interstates, you should have no problems anywhere towing. Going through Colorado, you will be going over some mountain passes. The grades are not terribly steep and the roads are good. And, by the time you've gotten there, you should be more confident towing. I think you'll be OK.

    Anyway, if you drive this route following the parameters I listed above, it will take you about 8-1/2 days.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default

    Great tips Judy! I agree with all of them except I think I-40 would be a better option for someone who looks for "flat lands". I personally think that I-70 is kind of steep at some places, or maybe it's just because i'm an Easterner!:-) I-40 is more steep near Alburquerque but it is not as dramatic as in CO on I-70, but that's only my opinion. On the other hand, I really liked the sceneries on I-70 in UT and CO, that route goes through gorgeous land.

    For safety issues, I always carry a whistle, a pepper spray and a small knife, just in case but so far I've been using my knife only to cut veggies and cheese... Always have a charged cell phone with you.

    I'm up at 3 in the morning because I'm so stressed out about "death by U-Haul" "advice" I've been receiving from friends.
    This is so typical, friends and family don't want you to get hurt, they want you to stay at home, safe and warm bla bla, and they will tell you about that one guy down in the south who got shot or that girl in Boston who got kidnapped... Don't listen to them, those are the exceptions, millions of people travel all around America every day and we never hear about them. Why? because they're having a great time and nothing bad ever happens in most cases. Anyway, something could happen anywhere, even at home : a lightning strikes your house, you get ran over by a car at the grocery store -- you never know. More and more women travel alone these days and that's a good thing, why should we wait for other people to bring us on vacation? When I first decided to go on a long road trip, it was a horrible scene : my Mom was crying, my Dad said I'd get killed, my friends were begging me to stay because America was full of serial killers, vivious rattlesnakes, drunk drivers, terrorists, name it! I was kind of hesitant at first and I finally did it and now I'm so glad I did. I met so many nice people and saw such natural wonders most people never saw.

    Of course, like Judy said you still have to be careful and use common sense : stay clear of dark alleys, if you don't feel safe somewhere just leave! In your case, some basic planning is a must because you'll have lots of things to think about : your animals, your trailer, your stuff, lodging, parking lots, food, etc. I know the Motel 6 chain is pet friendly. Bring plenty of food and water for you, you car and your animals. Make sure your animals always get fresh air even when you leave the vehicle. Give them stuff they enjoyed at home (ex. : a particular toy, blanckets, treats, etc.). Don't forget to bring the litter pan for the cat(s) (if needed), a small shovel and plastic bags. I personally bought a Sherpa bag (~75$) to carry my road cat and it's very practical, you can turn it into a handbag, a backpack, etc.

    For the rest, don't worry, put a little trust in yourself, don't call yourself a chicken (lol) because you're obvisouly not, and everything will be fine.:-)

    Have a great day!
    Gen

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default

    I agree that I-40 will have less steep grades to deal with. I am used to mountain passes here in Washington in the Cascades. White Pass and the North Cascades Highway both make the Colorado route look like nothing. But, to someone not used to it and hauling a trailer for the first time, I agree it might be a bit intimidating. So I-40 is probably a better route.

    Excellent tips, Gen. I didn't know you had a road cat. How funny. I would love to see photos of Kitty in her Sherpa. :-)

  5. #5
    World'sBiggestChicken Guest

    Default

    Thank you both so much for all your help and advice, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I think I will stick with the southern route, but I just feel so much better after hearing from you, I know I can do this. (I think) :)

    Thanks again,
    ChickenWoman

  6. Default Dangerous people...

    The only dangerous person Gen met on her trips was ME! :) I made her eat barbecue and drive on the edge of rocky cliffs!

    If you stay at commercial campgrounds, you can also ask the staff there to keep an eye out for you -- but I have to tell you I have NEVER met a "bad" guy in a campground -- anywhere. I'm 52 and have been camping all over the western United States since I was 18 (and before that, really).

    You're going to have a lot of fun on this trip -- you'll probably find even your animals (most of 'em anyway) travel better than you think. Bob

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default The road cat and the dangerous guy

    How funny. I would love to see photos of Kitty in her Sherpa. :-)
    Judy, here is a link to Victor's photo album : http://roadsister.photosite.com/victortheroadcat . I do have a few pictures of him in his Sherpa bag but I didn't posted any on the site yet.

    The only dangerous person Gen met on her trips was ME! :)
    Bob's right, the only strange person Victor and I ever met on our many trips was a crazy fella from Arizona who likes to put snow on his head :o) : http://www.roadsister.photosite.com/...1-Bobsnow.html .

    Oh and by the way guys, wherever you live, if you ever would like to have snow around, just give me a call, I'll come over and I can guarantee a snowstorm will happen soon enough. Who needs the weather channel right?

    I think I will stick with the southern route, but I just feel so much better after hearing from you, I know I can do this. (I think) :)
    Have a great trip and feel free to come again and ask questions about places to see in NH when you get there, many of our posters live or lived in that area (myself included but north of the border). If you would like to share a field report with us it'd be cool too!

    Gen

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    What a cute, little tent!

    Doesn't Victor run off like most cats? Do you have to keep him leashed? I've heard of a few cats who travel in RVs OK, but never a road-trippin' cat. Very cool!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
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    Default Victor the Road Cat

    Judy,

    actually, the orange tent you saw is more like a toy, but he has a real tent which is much bigger. He's not an outdoors cat, so if I bring him to the park for example, I'll put up his tent, bring his litter pan and food to put inside the tent. If I let him outside the tent I'll put him on a leash. Victor also used to work with the elderlies doing zootherapy but he had to retire because his Mom found a new job and didn't have time anymore.:o) My next project would be to bring him on canoe camping trips but I don't know if he'll be up to it, he's a teenager now so he's kind of reckless. He even sneaked out of the house a few times and we caught him rolling on the grass of our neighbor's lawn, hum... Do you have pets too?

    Gen

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    How funny. I've never had a cat that liked riding in the car. Although, I never really tried to get them used to it either. I've always been more of a dog person.

    Right now, I just have a dog. I don't take her on long roadtrips. I usually have family to watch her. I do take her on lots of roadtrips close to home, camping, some hiking if I'm not going into a national park. She can't take the heat and I like to roadtrip to heat so she wouldn't do well on those types of trips at all.

    In the past, we have had other dogs, cats, fish, turtles, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs....you name it.

    At one time we had 3 cats, 2 dogs, fish, mice, and a turtle at the same time. I did feel like I was living in a zoo. The things you do for the kids!

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