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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Charlotte, North Carolina

    Default South Carolina to Las Vegas Mid January

    Hi all, this is my first post!! I just created my profile on here. One of my close friends is moving to Las Vegas in January and I am driving him there. This will be the longest I have ever driven on my own (or with friends). My friend is moving in with his Dad, we are both 19. A little background info about our trip. We will be taking a 4WD truck that has low mileage and is well maintained. (2007 Dodge Dakota) There will be 3 passengers, myself, my friend who is moving, and another friend going along for the ride. We will have approximately 300-400 lbs of his belongings in the bed of the truck. We will be leaving the 3rd week of January from Greenville/Spartanburg SC area and driving to Las Vegas. Not taking any major stops there, but we know the main points of interest, we will check them out if time allows. I have driven cross country 3 times, but I was with my family all 3 times and not on my own. My main concern is the weather in the panhandle of Texas, high desert in New Mexico and I40 across Arizona. We will be taking I40. What is the weather typically like in those areas in mid January? Do the roads get cleared pretty quickly? If weather is terrible what would be our best detour? I live in Western NC, so I am somewhat used to snow, but not blizzards/frequent snowstorms. What's your best advice for 3 19 year olds driving cross country for the first time? Open to any and all tips/advice. Thank you Much!!!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    When in comes to winter travel, there is no "typical" for any particular area during a specific period. There will certainly be the possibility of snow and ice, especially in the areas you mentioned, but there will be no way of knowing if it will be an issue during the specific time of your trip, until you can see the weather forecasts just before you leave and when you are on the road.

    Interstates get first priority in the event of bad weather, and if things are so bad that the interstates are in poor condition, rather than looking for a detour, you'd be much better off pulling off, getting a room, and waiting for conditions to improve. There really aren't many options for alternate routes on this trip, especially across the western sections, as any options beyond I-40 would add far more miles than would be worthwhile.

    As far as advice for a first time trip, there are two things I'd really keep in mind.

    First, 4WD will be of very limited benefit on this trip even if you do see bad weather. 4WD does help you get going in winter conditions, but it does nothing to help you stop, and that's a much bigger issue when you're on a highway.

    Second, probably the biggest single mistake people make on a first major trip, especially young travelers, is overestimating how far they can drive each day. You're looking at a 2150 mile trip, which means you need to plan for 3 overnight stops. That's assuming good weather conditions, and does factor in multiple drivers. We recommend limiting each day to no more than 550-600 miles, which works about to about 10 hours on the road in real world conditions. That's similar to what professional drivers are limited to because of safety laws, and any more than that and fatigue quickly starts becoming a serious issue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Welcome to RTA!

    One thing that jumped out at me was your friend's stuff in the bed of the truck. Is there some sort of camper shell or tonneau cover on the back, to protect his belongings from weather and theft? If not, you'll need a good tarp and a way to secure it so that it does not come flying off on the highway (endangering everybody behind you).

    The other thing that young people often do, sometimes to their detriment, is to rely on your electronics for maps. Take a Rand McNally atlas or a set of paper maps with you, and hopefully the ability to use them. Never follow a GPS or your phone's map app blindly. It can get you into trouble. They are great for finding that elusive eatery or the motel that isn't right on the interstate exit, but not very good about navigating you across the country. Definitely do not believe their travel times, either!


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