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  1. Default Seattle to Georgia and back in 23 days... are we crazy?

    First time posting here. I'm looking for some advice as to how crazy we are in our planning. A friend of ours moved from Seattle to Georgia and had so much fun driving cross country on her trip, we thought we would do the same to go visit her. We've looked into driving round trip vs. flying one way and renting a car and driving home and it's pretty much a wash. It actually might be a little bit cheaper to drive RT but will depend how many entrance fees (food we buy, etc.) we have that first week. Who knew it would be so expensive to rent a car to drive home. So the cast of characters are me and my 13 yo daughter on the drive to Georgia where my husband will fly in and meet up with us and then we'll drive home together. My plan currently is to leave on Saturday, June 24th and return Sunday, July 16th.

    Here is our plan for now:
    24th Seattle to Missoula 8.5 hr
    25th Missoula to Keystone, SD 10.5 hr
    26th stay in Keystone to see Mount Rushmore and Custer
    27th to Omaha 8 hr (see zoo in am)
    28th to St. Louis 6 hr
    29th to Nashville 4.5
    30th arrive in Carrolton, GA 4 hr
    July 5th - leave GA for Gulf Shores, AL 5.5 hr (want to see Gulf coast)
    6th to New Orleans 3 hr
    7th to Waco, TX 8 hr
    8th to Oklahoma City and see cousin 4.5 hr
    9th stay in OKC
    10th drive to Santa Fe NM 8hr
    11th to Flagstaff (see Grand Canyon, etc.) 5.5 hr
    12th See Grand Canyon
    13th to Page, AZ 3.5 hr
    14th to SLC, UT 5.5 hr
    15th to Pendelton, OR 4.5 hr
    16th Home

    The fun is in the journey for us. We have things we want to see in each place and part of it is just having the experience of driving across the country. I'm a touch worried about my daughter getting bored but she is the one really advocating to drive round trip vs. flying to Atlanta and driving home. I've booked most of our places to stay and made sure to have pools so we can cool off and relax at the end of every day.

    If you have any thoughts or suggestions or a different way to organize, please let me know!!! If you think we're simply crazy, let me know that too! I'm hoping I've alternated super long driving days (except for the initial 2) with shorter ones and/or a few days of no driving to make it all tolerable. Thanks in advance for your help.
    Last edited by travelgirl68; 02-22-2017 at 09:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    First, I'm curious if you got your travel times from an online mapping program such as Google Maps or Mapquest. If so, they are not in the least bit realistic! You should always take the mileage they give you, then divide by 55 to get a more reasonable drive time. Online maps don't take into account that you have to stop for fuel, food, bathroom, and just stretch. They don't take into account any construction or accidents that may occur when your trip actually takes place, that will slow you down way below the speed limit that their "travel time" estimate assumes you will always be driving. So for that first leg, at 475 miles, it's about 9 hours -- not really too different from what the mapping program said.

    However, the next one is a doozy, and I highly recommend that you rethink this one. Missoula to Keystone is about 680 miles, and not all of it is on interstate highway. It would not be any 10.5 hours, I can tell you that! It would be between 13 and 14 hours on the road, which is more than commercial drivers are allowed to do by law. (They are allowed 10 hours before they must get out of the front seat of the truck. That includes passenger seat "shot gun" riding.) My husband and I drove Custer City (close to Keystone) to Billings one day, and it was a very long day.

    I see other issues within your figuring. You may want to go back to the drawing board and do some re-configuring to make some of those longer drives a bit more reasonable. Use the following:

    *When driving all interstates, 500-550 miles a day is plenty.

    *When you add in 2-lane highways, subtract time. My husband and I figure no more than 400 miles if all of the roads are 2-lane, and less is better.

    * When planning to sightsee (such as your thought to see the zoo in Omaha one day before getting on the road), take time off of your travel time. I would not try to drive all the way to St Louis after seeing the Omaha Zoo. You are going to run into traffic in the Kansas City area unless you take US-36 and avoid KC altogether, but then you're adding a little 2-lane highway (most likely) to get from US-36 down to STL or I-70. More time.

    * Give yourself time to see some of these places, or cut back somewhere. I see a red flag in trying to drive from Santa Fe NM to Flagstaff AND see the Grand Canyon on the same day. Not really do-able unless all you want to do is make the trip to GC just to shoot a picture and move on.


  3. Default

    Hi Donna,

    I did see that info on another thread about the mileage and dividing by 55 so did start to look at some of that. Thanks for the tip! We aren't planning to do the drive from Santa Fe to Flagstaff and see the GC in one day. I just missed putting in the extra day in at Flagstaff! :) Since we are limited in our time a bit it makes me rethink driving both ways. Maybe we'll just fly there and rent a car and drive home. If anyone has info on having done that and things to think about when renting a car for cross country driving, I'd like to hear about it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You Have Enough, But Certainly Not Too Much, Time

    This could be a great trip, 23 days is certainly quite a bit for even a double-cross-country RoadTrip. However, it's still not forever, and once you take five or six days out for visiting with your sister in Georgia, you do have to start carefully budgeting your remaining time. With that in mind, here are just a few(?) places on your trip where you might want to spend less (but mostly more) time.

    Missoula to Keystone is just too much for a single day's drive. Indeed Keystone is a bit too far to plan on getting in two days no matter how or where you take an overnight stop. In addition, you might want to give serious consideration to staying in the Keystone/Rapid City area longer than a day. Besides Mount Rushmore, there's Devils Tower, Wind and Jewel Caves, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Badlands National Park.

    Santa Fe is off the direct route between OKC and Flagstaff/Grand Canyon, so if there's a reason you want to go there instead of, or in addition to Albuquerque you'll need to budget the appropriate amount of time. Taos is also in that area and if you have the time, worth a visit. Also keep in mind that there is a lot worth seeing on the way to and in/around Flagstaff besides 'just' the Grand Canyon, including Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona and Lowell Observatory.

    Salt Lake City to Pendleton is also too much for a single day's drive, especially at the end of a trip when you'll be wearing down. Boise would make a better overnight stop for that final leg.

    If your daughter is the one advocating for the trip, then it would be a good object lessen for her to take on some responsibilities for it as well, such as mapping out a couple of places to stop each day as you travel around. These don't have to be major stops, but a chance to get out of the car, take a short walk, get some fresh air, see some scenery, or take in some history would add to the enjoyment and memories of the trip. You can get some ideas of the sorts of stops that are available nearly everywhere by looking through these listings.

    As I look over my suggestions above, I see that I've mostly given you ideas for more places to visit and more things to do when I think your itinerary is already a bit overloaded. So you, your daughter and your husband are going to have to start paring down your wish list and maybe dropping a few destinations altogether. I think you'd be much happier with a trip where you tried to do less but enjoyed the things that you did do more. You've been bitten by the RoadTrip bug. We understand. There will be time for many, many more.


  5. Default

    Ok, I've modified our trip by a day and changed a few things around based on your recommendations. Now, we'll leave an afternoon earlier the day we get out of shcool and drive from Seattle to Spokane. The next day from Spokane to Billings (I know still a long drive but better than it would have been) and from Billings to Keystone. I refigured my drive times based on taking miles and dividing by 55. I also decided to go from Omaha to only Kansas city to allow for the zoo in the morning that day because my daughter will enjoy it. I also changed going from Salt Lake City/Pendleton to SLC/Ontario so chopped off a few hours there. Boise would be too soon and make the next day drive super long. We have to be home by that Sunday because our daughter starts volleyball Monday.

    So here is our update with a little more info of ideas on I'm thinking to do. I know some days are still a bit of a stretch but, as an example, we've driven home from Disneyland to Seattle (yes, i got car sick) in one day so this is pretty tame compared to how we normally roll!! :)

    Updated plan… 24 days now

    23rd: Seattle to Spokane 5 hours. I've done this drive tons of times.
    24th Spokane to Billings. about 10 hours dividing the 55 by mileage.
    25th Billings to Keystone, SD about 6.5 hr (up early and drive, see little bighorn on way and then see Mt. Rushmore that evening for illumination)
    26th Custer Park animal loop early am and Crazy Horse Memorial for sure
    27th to Omaha 9 hr (up early and drive through badlands on the way)
    28th to Kansas City Mo, 3.5 h (see Omaha zoo in am and drive here in afternoon BBQ for dinner)
    29th to Nashville 10hr (spend night, 1/2 day country music hall of fame and then on to GA)
    30th arrive in Carrolton, GA 4 hr
    July 5th - leave GA for Gulf Shores, AL 5.5 hr (want to see Gulf coast)
    6th to New Orleans 3.5 hr (morning in Gulf coast then to NOLA)
    7th to Waco, TX 9.5 hr
    8th to Oklahoma City and see cousin 4.5 hr
    9th stay in OKC
    10th drive to Santa Fe NM 10hr
    11th to Flagstaff 5.5 hr (stop in Winslow - Two Guns where Grandpa grew up)
    12th in Flagstaff (Sunset Crater and Wupatki in morning)
    13th to Page, AZ 3.5 hr (see Grand Canyon on the way)
    14th to SLC, UT 6.5 hr
    15th to Ontario, OR 7 hr
    16th Home 8hr

    We've done quite a few big road trips here in the US and Europe. When we do these grand tours it's usually with the mindset that we're taking notes for places we want to come back to and spend more time. This is a bucket list trip and feels like we're running out of time to do with our daughter heading to high school next year, sports, etc.

    To answer your question AZBUck I just really want to see Santa Fe over Albuquerque. I know it's a bit off the main drive. I'm still thinking about that one but for now will leave it where it is. I know there is much more to do in Flagstaff. I've been before but hubby hasn't. The impetus behind heading in that direction is really to see where his dad grew up in the Two Guns area, which looks to be a ghost town now, but will be cool to see. We'll see the Sunset Crater, Wupatki Monuments one day and the Grand Canyon on another. Daughter is totally on it for planning. She is a foodie and has lots of ideas for places to stop for grub. I've given her the itinerary and she'll be researching what she wants to do and see. Thank you so much for your feedback. Super helpful!

  6. Default Tips for roundtrip cross country road trip. highway tips & do I need a weather radio?

    Hello... We leave in 2 weeks on a 4 week roundtrip roadtrip across the US.
    Our route in a nutshell (is over 4 weeks so don't worry I'm trying to do Seattle to Omaha in a day! :) is:

    Seattle through Idaho/Montana/SD on I-90 then south on I-29 to Omaha.
    Omaha to Kansas City. I-29
    Kansas City to Nashville 70 to 64 then 57 to 24
    Nashville to Carrolton GA. 24 south to 59 then 20 to 27 in GA.
    On the way home we are going from Carrolton down to Orange Beach Alabama and along the coast to New Orleans. 90 along the coast.
    NOLA to Houston. I-10
    Houston to Waco. 290 north through College Station
    Waco to OKC. i40
    OKC to Santa Fe/Albuquerque. I-40
    Then to Flagstaff... 89 North Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Salt Lake City, Ontario OR and home to Seattle (across many days!!)

    The route is already set so just looking for tips if you have them about things to think about (construction/road condition/no gas stations, etc.) on the highways between these cities/places.

    I'm wondering if local radio is good enough for weather-related issues of should I get some type of weather radio? We leave June 23rd and arrive home July 20.

    Would I need to have chains in the car for mountain passes? We have AWD Kia Sportage.

    Finally, I want to enter Zion, if possible, through the southern entrance so I don't backtrack when I head out for Bryce. I'm thinking of driving from Grand Canyon north on 89 and then switching to 89A to go by Jacob Lake and that route. Then I would take 389 West to 59 and then get off at "Main St" exit to S Bench Road to UT-9 E/Zion Park Blvd. Does anyone know about that road between 59 and UT-9? The Main St to S. Bench Road? Is it safe for AWD vehicle?

    I'm reading through old-posts for packing lists and emergency items but if something pops to mind, please let me know!

    Thank you for your help.

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about the same trip in the same thread
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 06-08-2017 at 09:51 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    No chains needed. Even if it snows in Idaho/Montana it'll be plowed and will melt quickly. But this late it's pretty unlikely.

    Weather info on the TV in your hotels?
    Smart phone or tablet part of your kit?

    Can't help with the rest.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Travel light.

    As a senior female travelling solo, all I have ever had as emergency items is my AAA membership and a telephone (not smartphone), drinking water and some snacks.

    Over some 200000 miles I have had problems from time to time, but never needed anymore than the mentioned items. Sometimes I think you can over plan and over prepare. It's like long distance travel advice, pack what you think you'll need, then reduce that by half, and set aside half of what's left. That's all you'll need, and often you find you don't even use all that.

    And listen to your radio.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    While a weather radio isn't a bad thing to have at all, I wouldn't call it necessary either. There are plenty of ways to stay on top of weather forecasts. Certainly, if you have any sort of internet connection while on the road, that's one easy way. Yes, as you mentioned, there is usually local radio, and you can almost always weather information at your hotel, and even within National Parks, weather information is typically posted at the ranger station/visitor center.

    You certainly don't need chains for this trip. First, the odds of needing them in June is extremely small, and if you've got a storm so bad you need them, then you're probably better off just waiting for the conditions to improve.

    As far as Zion goes, What is your reason for wanting to take that route? The much more typical way is to take US-89 right to UT-9 is also the only way you get to take the very scenic drive through the eastern portion of Zion, including through the historic tunnel. I'm not sure about the condition of the roads for the alternate route you've found, but I'd really encourage you to rethink your route regardless.

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