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  1. Default Detroit to San Diego~2 drivers+ a 2 year old....

    Hello~ first time poster!

    I plan to drive from Detroit to San Diego at the end of July. (moving to San Diego) My Dad and I will be taking turns driving. I was wondering if it's possible to accomplish this in 3 days? My Dad has this 'idea' that it will only take 3 days. But, I've been reading the forum and I'm a bit apprehensive.

    Oh yeah, my 2-year old will be joining us.....
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make the trip smoother for my child? I plan to switch drivers every 2-3 hours and during that time let the kid run around for a bit.

    What would be the best route? Through Denver or take the Southern route?
    I was plannning to see my sister on the way there and she lives in Champaign, IL. Then, would taking the southern route (through Oklahoma) be my best bet?

    I plan to leave Sunday July 26 and I need to be in San Diego before 5pm on Wedsday July 29th.

    also, with 2 driver's what the max mileage one can cover in a day?

    Thank you in advance!

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

    Default your instincts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You are right to be concerned about plans to make this trip in 3 days. Physically, yes it could be done, but it would be a very long and grueling 3 days. You'd have to be on the road for at least 14 hours a day for each of those three day. I assure you that would not be an enjoyable trip at all, especially when traveling with a child. Everyone is going to be completely exhausted when you arrive, and you're going to need at least a couple days to recover from such a trip.

    Generally, even on a speed run, we don't recommend trying to go much more than 600 miles a day when traveling over multiple day. More importantly, if you "stretch" this out over 4 days, I think it might even be possible to enjoy the trip. You'll still be on the road for 10-12 hours a day, but you won't be under nearly as much pressure to push your physical limits, and you won't have to worry about watching the clock nearly as much when you do stop to let your child and yourself run around a bit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There is no way you should try to make it in 3 days (or even a 4th day if you have to be in SD by 5pm) with a long stop in Champaign. It's 6 hours from Detroit to Champaign, and if you spend the night, you will have to drive a couple 15 hour days to make the last day short enough. If you could limit the stop in Champaign to a couple hours and make St. Louis that evening, you could probably do it.

    I-57/I-70/I-255/I-44/I-40/I-17/AZ-101/I-10/AZ-85/I-8 is the fastest way from Champaign to SD. Spend nights in St. Louis, Amarillo, and Flagstaff.

    That said, if you could leave Saturday by noon and spend the night in Champaign, you would have a lot less miserable trip. Spend nights in Tulsa, Santa Rosa NM, and Phoenix.

    I have no doubt that you and your dad could physically drive 15+ hours a day, but here is what's going to happen. Your kid is going to spend a LOT of time sleeping in the car due to boredom. When you finally pull in for the night around midnight or so, that kid is going to be wide awake and keep you and your dad awake all night when you 2 really need to SLEEP.
    Last edited by glc; 06-25-2009 at 01:49 AM.

  4. Default Thank you!

    glc and Midwest Michael: Thank you for your prompt reply and good advice.
    My Dad is a bit nochalant about the trip and he has NO experience driving across the country in that kind of timeframe!

    While the purpose of the trip is to move, not enjoy it, after traveling 3 days we would be really tired and my class begins on that Monday! (August 3rd).

    The 2-year old is fairly used to car rides (can go 3.5hours without stopping), this is the longest he's ever been in the car. And, I know that regardless of how well behaved you think your kid is, he is STILL a 2-year old! :) I have no illusions.

    I'd love to leave on Saturday, but my cousin is getting married that day, hence the Sunday departure day.

    Chaning the overstop in Champaign, IL to only a couple hour stop shouldn't be a problem.

    Besides getting an oil change prior to the start of my trip, how else should I get my car ready? (it's a 2008 Subaru Legacy)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    All you really need to do is get the rest of the car looked over when you get the oil change - it would probably be best to take it to the dealer for this one.

    Just to add to my previous comments - I drive to San Diego every winter. I live 4+ hours west of STL and I take 3 days. The mapping programs say it's doable in 2, but in reality, no way. Can you add a day on at the end - is Wednesday at 5pm a hard time that can't be changed?

  6. Default

    glc: When I take it to the dealer for an oil change, do I need to say that I'm driving across the country, does it look okay? Or if I do that, will I come off as really naive and then they will charge me more?

    According to Mapquest, the route is 35 hours, which is why my Dad belives that we can do in "3 days no problem."

    Unfortuently Wednesday before COB (close of business) is a hard deadline.

    I guess if I miss my cousin's wedding then I'll be able to leave on Monday July 20th and then have plenty of time to get there by Wed. July 29~
    I just found out about this deadline about 2 days really screwed up my planning~! I WAS planning on being there around Thursday July 30 or Friday July 31st... but, alas we can't bite the hand that feeds us too much.. :)

    thank you for your advice.
    One more thing, should I get my tires rotated? The dealer always sends me these reminds in the mail about maintence checks like every 1000 miles... ;(

  7. Default Alternative plan

    If i'm not constrained by a certain dealine. How many days would it take to get from the suburbs of detroit to San Diego driving solo?

    Or should I just ship my car? and fly there?

    thank you

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would tell the dealer you are driving cross country and pay for a comprehensive inspection. The need for a tire rotation can generally be detected visually.

    My mapping program shows 33 hours 40 minutes by fastest route, 34 hours 38 minutes via Champaign. Add 20% to those numbers to allow for stops. Mapquest and all the other software doesn't have to get fuel, go to the bathroom, slow down for traffic and construction, or eat.

    So - 35 hours is really 42 hours. That is 4 days, 10.5 hours a day on the road, or three 12 hour days and a 7 hour day at the end. Solo, anything shorter than 4.5 days will be very tiring, we recommend 550 miles a day max, and that's a 2400 mile trip.

    Here is how I'd look at it - if you go to the wedding and need to be in SD Wednesday, ship the car and fly if you have that option. A cross country trip should be enjoyed with some sightseeing, and you would need a week or so to do it right.

  9. Default

    Glc: Thank you for the advice! Unfortunetly the cost of shipping plus airfare for 2 people=more money than driving there solo. Hence being the poor grad school student that I will be, I am leaning on driving there at a more lesiurely pace (5-6 days). I'm looking at leaving here (Troy, MI) on Friday 17 and hoping to arrive in San Diego on Tuesday (21st) or Wed (22nd). Does this sound doable?

    I have relatives and friends in Colorado and Salt Lake, so if I decided to take I-80 instead of doing the southern route, then I would have a couple free places to stay.

    The mapping program that said 33 hours and 40 minutes, what route was that?

    How safe is it to drive solo? My mom will freak when I tell her my change of plans.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Driving solo is really no less safe than with others as long as you know and can recognize your limitations. Just don't overextend yourself, if you start feeling tired, get off the road. If you can extend this to 5 or 6 days, no problem.

    Let's see if we can plan a route so you can go visit in Champaign, Colorado, and Salt Lake. Exactly where in CO is your friend?

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