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  1. Default A Couple of Youths Moving Across the Country


    My boyfriend and I are planning to drive from San Francisco, CA (or Los Angeles, not totally sure which city yet) to Pittsburgh, PA after December 2018. Couple of things...

    We do not yet have a car
    We have never driven in snow
    We do not know when to go or how long it will take

    It seems stupid to take off on this road trip in the dead of winter, but I have heard that it may not be as terrible as it seems.
    I am posting this in order to get some advice about when would be the best time for us rookies to drive over 2,000 miles, how much it will cost to drive and lodge, what tools we should keep in the car in case of emergency, and in general HOW DO WE DO THIS??
    It seems impossible, but I'm psyched to drive across the country <3

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm a little confused, is this trip so that you can move to Pittsburgh? You mention moving in your title, but then you say you don't yet know where you'll be starting from, and it seems strange that you don't know where you currently live.

    You also say that you are "youths." What does that mean/how old are you? If you are under 21, renting a car would be virtually impossible, but if you don't have a car, I'm not sure what your other options would be.

    In terms of winter driving, many, if not most, days out of the year, you'll see perfectly fine conditions, but you do certainly have to be prepared for a winter storm. The best thing you can do in that situation is to be flexible and if you get involved in a storm, pull off and wait for conditions to improve. It is rare when a storm significantly impacts the interstates for more than a day.

    We can't tell you routes, since we don't know where you're starting from, much less if this is a trip to explore or just to get from point a to point b as quick as possible, but when building your plan, you should limit yourself to about 550 miles in a day, and that's if you aren't planning any significant exploration.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Driving across the country, even in winter, is not as daunting as it may seem, as long as you are prepared. It is 2600 miles from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, which is a good 5 days drive in good weather. From LA to Pittsburgh, it's about 2500 miles, or 5 days. Allowing a couple of extra days (and budgeting for same) helps when traveling during the winter time. The mileage was given for the shortest, all interstate highway route, in each case.

    Interstate highways were built for transporting goods across the country, and are taken care of pretty well -- first to be sanded and plowed, last to be closed. If the interstate closes, you should hole up in a motel someplace. Don't wait until you actually see the barricades across the highway, as then you may be waiting out a storm inside a crowded truck stop instead of in a nice warm motel room. Take refuge as soon as you know.

    Budgeting -- motel rooms can run anywhere from about $60/night on up. You might get in on a coupon deal or an internet deal that will save you a little more. Look for the coupon books at the truck stops, rest areas, or in the state visitor center when you enter each state where you plan to spend the night.

    Driving -- are you going to buy a car? Or rent one? Or rent a moving van? Each of those will have different miles-per-gallon. Once you decide on a vehicle, look for the Fuel Cost Calculator on this website. You will need to know the approximate miles-per-gallon for the vehicle, and a more specific mileage. You can check Gas Buddy for possible gas prices.

    Food -- food is another thing that can cost, but it's the easiest place to save money. Carry a cooler with your drinks, and some snacks, in your vehicle. That saves a bundle over stopping in every convenience store. You can stop at a mega-market along the way to resupply, if needed. You can bring your own breakfast and lunch supplies, also from the supermarket, and some basic utensils and paper plates/bowls. Dinner out can be fast food or sit-down, though I do not recommend a steady diet of fast-food. Remember to budget $2-3/day for ice, especially if you are carrying a large cooler, because motels will not allow you to fill your large cooler from their "free" ice.

    Tools to keep in the car -- well, your basic tire iron and the know-how to use it, is probably the best tool and about the only one I've ever needed. Beyond that, your cell phone. We carry a screwdriver, a tire gauge, and a wrench, but usually only need to use them on other stuff. Recently, we have discovered that carrying an electrical strip is useful in motels for charging our gear, and either a clothespin or a large bulk paper clip ("bulldog clip") is helpful for closing motel drapes that have a gap where they should overlap.


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