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  1. Default Am I completely insane?

    Hello RTA! This is my first post, and after reading around I'm a bit afraid I may have set my sights a bit too high.
    I have 10 days off of work starting December 26, and me and 3 of my friends are seriously considering driving from Charlotte, NC to Vegas. The plan that I had was to spend 3.5 days driving each way, and 3 days in Vegas.

    The Facts:
    4 (Two 21 years old, two 22) of us total are going, 3 of us can drive, in shifts I'm assuming (and I'm comfortable driving, and have driven around 14 hours in a day, no problem)
    3 stops on the way there: Memphis, TN (just for a meal), Candlewood AZ (for around 2 hours, just stopping in to see a friend's dad), and The Grand Canyon (which we'll probably just be doing strictly the tourist visit, stop in for a few hours and be on our way)
    I expect us to stop every 2 hours or so, if only to stretch and get gas and whatnot
    We're also planning to stop at every state line and take a picture with the sign, which I wouldn't expect to take longer than a few minutes.
    Using an equation I found on another post (which I've subsequently lost :( sorry) the poster said to take whatever google says the drive will take and add 20%, which puts us at around 48 hours each way, which sounds alright to me, but I'm not sure how realistic that is.

    I'm fully expecting we'll make more stops than that, but I actually feel fairly comfortable with the plans, I just wanted to check around to see what yall think

    The route I was taking was I-85 and I-40, going south so we won't be driving through the Appalachians in the dead of winter (which brings up another question, I don't see us heading through any major mountains, but having driven from Vegas to Williams, AZ on another trip when I was younger, I do remember some minor mountains. Am I wrong to not expect much, if any ice or snow through these?)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not completely [just a little Lol ]

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Driving from Charlotte to Vegas could be done in 3.5 day's while doing a little driver rotation, but they will be looooonggg day's and you could all become a bit cranky for being couped up in the car for long hours. The problem is you really won't have time to visit Grand canyon or detour to Scottsdale area [Candlewood, right ?] without adding at least another half day, and that will be pushing it.

    You are also "wrong" in some respects with regards to not expecting too much ice or snow. The fact is, it is the middle of winter and it's a strong possibility you will see weather disruption. The Interstates are a priority to keep open and traffic moving, but this could lead to delays and worse case having to pull off the road for a few hours in a storm. It is also highly possible you will go about your journey without disruption, but on such a tight schedule you might need a plan 'B', Prepare for the worst and hope for the best !

    One thing that concerns me is that when you mention stops you say "just for a meal" or " for a couple of hours", with no mention of overnight accommodation. I hope you have budgeted for Motel's on your trip as you can not complete a journey like this without proper rest, which is something you won't get in a car.

    Your trip can be done, but I would settle for 2 day's in Vegas and make things a little more bearable on the road.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default adding on

    I will say there is nothing wrong with driving 14 hours, and many people can do that no problem for one day. However, trying to do that back to back to back days is where it can be problematic (think running a sprint vs. running a marathon). If your experience includes long consecutive days of driving, and you know you can do it, great, I'd just caution against assuming you can do it because you'd done a single long day on a few occations.

    Otherwise I agree with Dave, your plan to drive from Charlotte to Vegas in 3.5 days is a little aggressive, but not impossible, but trying to start adding detours to the Grand Canyon and your friend's dads house (I couldn't find a Candlewood on the map) and you're going to really start pushing the limits.

    The other big word of warning: your trip across NM and Arizona on I-40 is at a higher elevation than anything you'll see in the Appalachians. Here's is some great detailed information about the terrain and climate you'll be traveling through. Its distinctly possible that you'll see some winter weather in that section, and its also quite normal to see snow or more likely ice across the southern plains in Texas, Oklahoma, etc. There's no way of knowing at this point what the weather will be, of course, but you certainly need to be prepared for the possibility, and stay flexible, so you don't start taking unnecessary risks to stay on schedule.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the input, I'm hoping we'll be able to handle it. The 14 hour drive was actually both ways within about 3 days, I drove from Charlotte up to Raleigh, then down to Daytona beach, then stayed there for a day and drove back the next day. I've always been fairly aggressive with my traveling plans, I made the drive from Vegas to Williams when I was 16, which probably doesn't sound like much, but I thought it was a big deal, especially at the time.

    I was thinking we maybe stop at my friends house (Cottonwood is supposed to be about an hour south of Williams) on the way there and do the grand canyon on the way back to even it out to 1 major stop both ways, plus stopping to eat and rest.

    And I should've mentioned stopping for a rest, I figured we'd stop maybe in Arkansas for some sleep and I think we might stay at my friend's dad's house, so we will be resting as we can. I'll probably ask for an extra day off, I know it probably wont help much, but I know it certainly wont hurt.

    Are there any suggestions you'd give as far as the elevation goes? I've got working four-wheel drive, I'll have new tires, and I keep my car packed with emergency supplies and blankets and stuff.

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

    Default things that scare us

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharp1e View Post
    And I should've mentioned stopping for a rest, I figured we'd stop maybe in Arkansas for some sleep and I think we might stay at my friend's dad's house, so we will be resting as we can.
    That's the sort of thing where you start getting into insane/dangerous.

    Charlotte to Little rock is more than 750 miles, and that's very much the top end of what you should consider doing without stopping for sleep (frankly its a fair bit more than the maximum we'd recommend), but then you're still 1000 miles from Arizona state line (and likely another couple hundred miles to your friends dad's). That's way too far to go, without stopping for sleep. Even Albuquerque at 900 miles is far too far to go without stopping for sleep.

    You really do need to plan for 2 stops before Arizona, and from the sounds of it, planning 3 full days to your friends dad's - putting you about a half day from Vegas - would be about right for what you are thinking.

    As far as driving goes, it really is just a matter of staying within your limits and the limits of the conditions. New tires and 4wd area good start, but neither of them are a substitute for experience and ability when it comes to driving in wither weather. Since Interstates get top priority for plowing, often you're better off simply waiting until the conditions improve, so you don't need to use those emergency supplies.

  6. Default

    Alright, that makes sense, that was just a loose plan anyway, we're not going to book anything until we're already there, except for the hotel in Vegas, so we can adapt depending on how we feel and everything.

    I've got some experience driving in ice and snow, but obviously I'd rather not, so we probably will just wait it out if its an issue.

    Thanks for the advice guys, its been really helpful

  7. Default

    I've toured for a living. I really haven't looked at your route or mileage? What I do know, when I'm driving. I assume the average speed of the trip is 50mph. Or Every 100 miles is 2 hours. I know your going to say we are going to do 80mph! That's what I do? But when you factor in food stops, fuel, stretching, random cool things to see. Trust me 50mph AVERAGE. Maybe 60 if you push it. You can sleep as a passenger in a car, but not well. Like in a bed. So fatigue will set in after day 2 for everyone. Not just the driver. Shifts of 2 is smarter. A driver and a a copilot to make sure the driver stays awake. Then next shift switch in pairs alternating drivers. Three 8 hour shifts. (three drivers?) Caffeine and alert products work, but when they wear off your even MORE tired then if you didn't use them. There are a lot of driving fatalities due to driver fatigue every year. 1 second at ONLY 60mph is 88 feet. That means if you nod off for just one second at highway speeds 70-80mph? You would have traveled 1/3 of a football field unconscious!!! Vegas is so much more fun, alive.

    I think 3 days of driving each way, 800 miles a day. 16 hours driving. 8 hours of sleep. 3 days in Vegas. 24 hours of flex time? Any time "earned" buy doing better then the 50mph average is added to the flex time.

    Most important, HAVE FUN!!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Thank you for your input, but this trip is probably over and done with by now.

    Have you read our article about how to do a speed run? It's best to have 3 drivers and a 3/3/3 hour rotation (drive, nav, sleep).

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