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  1. Default Asheville, NC to Flagstaff, AZ (Dec 27)

    Hello all! I am new to this site and forum, and this will be my first cross cross-country road trip! I am moving to Flagstaff, AZ after Christmas this year. My girlfriend and I will be taking my 2007 kia spectra on the journey. It only has about 100k miles on it currently, and it will be packed full of our stuff. We absolutely have to be there by Jan 1st, but would prefer to arrive earlier if possible.

    I will likely do most of the driving and would like to limit it to 6-8hrs/day and I prefer driving at night. I usually sleep at around 1-2am and only need about 6hrs of sleep max. We would ideally like to explore some cool places along the way in the day time. Any suggestions for natural beauty/cool historical sites?

    I am thinking we will probably take I-40, as that seems to be the most preferred route of choice. We mainly want to get there asap upon leaving but would also really love to view some scenery along the way.

    I have friends in Ada, OK that would likely allow us to stay there one night, and I have family in Austin, TX. It would be nice to take advantage of one of these options as we have very little money and would like to get to Flagstaff as cheaply as possible.

    I am bringing no pets, and we are both fine eating quick food along the way, but will pack some snacks for the road. How much does it usually take to make a trip like this? We don't want to eat at the best BBQ places or have the world's most legendary cup of ice cream along the way. We can settle for fast food. Any good suggestions on bargains for food, hotels/motels, and gas?

    Also, since it will be so cold are there any issues I should be aware of with the temperature being so low?

    I have warm clothes, a jump starter box, a bug out bag for survival in case anything goes wrong, and a road atlas. I'm usually pretty prepared, but I would like to get some tips from thoss that travel often, or have made this journey or a similar one before. Thank you!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Driving 6-8 hours a day means you will be able to cover about 450 miles per day, so that means you'll need 4 full days to get to Flagstaff.

    The good news is that Ada is pretty much right at the halfway mark of your trip, so that would be well suited for an overnight stop. Austin on the other hand, is at least a 300 mile detour which would add costs and time that you really don't have.

    If you stop in Ada, the Memphis would be a good choice for your first stop, and Tucumcari or Santa Rosa NM would be a good 3rd stop.

    The biggest thing you're going to have to watch out in terms of the cold is the potential for snow and ice. If you see bad weather, you're going to have to be flexible and be ready to pull off the road if conditions deteriorate. That means you could have to drive more hours per day, change your stopping points, and maybe even take another day to complete this trip.

    For saving money on gas, I'd suggest getting the GasBuddy App, which will let you know where to find the cheapest places for fuel along the road. For food, I'd look at bringing a cooler taking advantage of grocery stores to make sandwiches and other simple food that could be cheaper (and healthier) than just doing fast food every day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Saving Money

    Welcome to RTA!

    would like to limit it to 6-8hrs/day and I prefer driving at night. I usually sleep at around 1-2am and only need about 6hrs of sleep max.
    You're better off driving during the day, especially in winter, for several reasons. It's easier to see weather change during the daytime. Roads can get icy and snowy, and that's also easier to see during the day (though black ice is called that for a reason, and cannot be seen easily). Finally, on those occasions when you do pull into a motel, they're set up for day travelers and night resters, rather than vice versa.

    To save money, here are a few tips:
    * Fuel - as Buck suggested, get the Gas Buddy app and the non-driver should use it!
    * Motels - as you pull into a state where you think you may spend the night, stop at the state information/visitor center or a truck/travel center, and find the booklet of hotel discount coupons. There are places to be had for $50/night, if you look carefully.
    * Food - travel with a cooler and some sort of picnic supply stuff. It's cheaper to pick up some bottled water, soda, snacks, lunch foods, and pack them in your car than it is to purchase them at a convenience store or truck stop on the way! For the mornings at the motels, most of them offer at least a continental breakfast of some sort, saving you a little on breakfast out, but the cheaper places generally offer only coffee, juice, and sweet rolls/donuts. For dinners, there are several ways to do it cheaper, ranging from going to the grocery store and seeing what their in-store deli offers, or if your motel room has a microwave oven, you could pick up frozen convenience meals and a salad for a lot cheaper than a sit-down restaurant (and healthier than your usual fast-food place).

    We also have an entire forum about Saving Money on the Road.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-26-2017 at 10:33 AM. Reason: added the link to the "saving money forum"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Few Problems

    As Michael and Donna have already pointed out, there are plenty of ways for you to make this trip within the time and budget you have allotted for it. However there are still problems, most notably your preference for driving at night. I used to do that all the time when I was younger and my normal work hours were 9:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning (hospital ER work), so I know the difficulties as well as the benefits of driving through the night.

    Foremost among the benefits is the scarcity of traffic on the roads. Everything else is pretty much a problem. You can't see the weather. You can't see icy patches on the road. Wildlife often is on the move under cover of darkness and your ability to see and avoid them will be severely compromised. You won't see any of the scenery. No attractions will be open. Your girlfriend probably does not share your nocturnal schedule. Getting a motel room can prove difficult and even if you do, it will be noisy as that's when vacuums and other janitorial services are going full blast throughout the hallways and adjoining rooms. But perhaps the biggest problem will be 'visiting' your friends in Ada. Are you really going to show up on their doorstep, expect a hot shower, meal and a bed to sleep in (while they have to remain quiet in their own home), and then just leave when you wake up in the evening?

    You've got plenty of time to do this during the day when the drive can be more enjoyable. Get started right after Christmas; leave a day in hand in case of any untoward weather; stop and take a few short hikes each day through state parks and interesting towns; spend a full evening and relaxed morning in Ada; and you can still be in Flagstaff very comfortably by the evening of the 30th. Most importantly, plan on getting eight full hours of sleep each night. While you can get by on six hours occasionally, driving is very enervating and requires constant mental alertness, while fatigue is cumulative and insidious. By the same token, 'fast' food is often laden with sugar and fat which will give you a quick 'high' and then a longer-term weariness. Try to eat healthier, using your cooler for carrying the makings of complete meals and not just sodas and snacks.

    This is a major effort you're undertaking and needs to be treated with appropriate planning, planning that forestalls troubles and emergencies rather than just tossing in a 'bug out bag' for when they do occur.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-26-2017 at 06:03 PM.

  5. Default

    Free food.

    FF stops are often "potty stops" so while you're inside the building anyway, each of you should place your orders at the counter and get separate receipts. On those receipts will be an offer for free food in exchange for filling out a customer satisfaction survey. It might be a BOGO offer, or a free item if you buy a drink. Either way, you'll save a little money on your next stop or two. Another way to save money is by bringing your own drinks and ordering off the budget menu.

    Many restaurants have Birthday Clubs which offer free or BOGO meals on your Birthday and even an Anniversary day of your choice. IHOP, Steak 'n Shake, and Red Robin are three of my favorites. Sign up today and you'll receive offers tomorrow. Then have a sit down dinner on your trip.

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