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  1. Default Los Angeles to boston

    Hello everyone I tried but couldn’t necessarily find a proper route. This seems to be the best place to post.

    I am currently in LA and have to move to boston (all my possessions will be in my car) come new year. My question is this: what is the best route for me? I have a sedan which is FWD with all weather—not snow—tires on. I am assuming the i-40 going underneath the rust belt is the proper way.

    Also I have a question regarding staying overnight places. This might be naive but I was planning on finding 24/hr walmart parking lots (sounds dangerous) because I will be tight on money and cannot afford a string of hotels—i would be sleeping in my car. Any help? Don’t humiliate me lol

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Serious Work

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First there are a couple of things you haven't told us, the most important of which is how much time you have to make this trip. Understand that it will take a minimum of six days to make this drive safely IF you have decent weather all the way. And although you only speak of yourself, it's possible that someone else, or a pet, will be joining you. Both those pieces of information are critical to setting up your route.

    All other things being equal, the route I'd suggest is I-15 to I-40 and Oklahoma City, then I-44 to St. Louis, I-70 to Columbus, I-71 to west of Akron, I-76/I-80 across eastern Ohio and Pennsylvania, I-81 to Scranton, I-84 up into central Massachusetts and finally I-90 into Boston. There aren't many tolls on this route but there are some, such as I-44 in Oklahoma and I-90 in Massachusetts.

    Sleeping in your car in rest areas is now severely frowned upon and I would be surprised if you got through any night without being rousted by a state trooper or two. Overnight parking at Walmart is up to the individual store policy, and many Walmart locations don't own the land they sit on or their parking lots, so you can't count on them either. Also, trying to sleep in an unheated car in the middle of winter in a noisy, well-lit, roadside rest area is not going to result in you being awake and alert the next day. After five such nights you will be a downright menace to everyone who shares the road with you. If you can't afford a motel room every night, how about every other night, switching between camping and a heated bedroom with shower.

    And, as previously noted, this is a six day minimum trip in the best of weather conditions. If you encounter significant snow, AWD/4WD/All-weather tires are simply no substitute for experience. If you don't already have serious time behind the wheel in ice/snow/sleet conditions, I would strongly recommend that you NOT try driving in such conditions at Interstate speeds. Instead head for the nearest motel, get cozy, and wait for the storm to pass and the road crews to do their jobs. That would add a seventh day to your drive, something for which you have to be prepared before you set out, because when you leave L.A. you will have absolutely no idea what the weather will be like in the northeast where you will be most likely to run into bad weather particularly in the northern Appalachians and in the lee of the Great Lakes.

    Long story short, a cross-country move is serious business and requires a unique set of skills. It is not something to be undertaken lightly, and you can't afford to jeopardize your safety to save a few bucks.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you absolutely must sleep in your car, the safest place would be a truck stop, and they are a lot more convenient to the Interstate highways than most Walmarts or other such places. Get permission, park where directed, and give the establishment some business - buy a tank of fuel, eat in their restaurant, buy something from their convenience store, and/or buy a shower ($10-$15).

    Do not sleep overnight in roadside rest areas. It's not safe, and usually illegal.

    I concur with Buck's recommended route.

  4. Default

    Thank you for the kind response. Sorry for the lack of information. No animals, and I have two weeks to complete the trip if I desired.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    You can find budget accommodations, which would be far safer than staying overnight in a cold parking lot in your car. Either do a search online (here on RTA or a site like Expedia) ahead of time, or pick up coupon books along the way. The problem with the coupon books (often found in welcome center kiosks or in truck stops) is that they have limitations on them, such as Su-Th only, or only the first 2 rooms go for that level, etc. Hubby and I finally dispensed with them and started looking online. Budget motel chains include Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Rodeway Inn (the bottom of the Choice Hotel brands), and Travelodge (the bottom of the Wyndham chain).

    Though camping was suggested, by the time you buy a 4-season tent and 4-season sleeping bag, you'd have paid for a couple of nights in a motel.

    Instead of skimping on the motels by staying in your car, try saving your money on food. You can bring the makings for breakfasts (if the chain you stay at doesn't serve breakfast) and lunches, and just go out for dinner. Even for those, you can grab a frozen meal at a grocery store and heat it up in the motel's microwave (if there's one in the room), or buy something inexpensive at the take-out deli at the grocery store and bring it back. Carry your own beverages, and a very small 6-pack cooler which you can probably get by with filling with ice from the ice machine at the motel. (Do that discreetly, as some won't like it.)

    If I was on a budget, food would be where I'd cut -- not my nights' sleeps!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I agree with what has been said already, you need to budget for some cheap Motels at least. Being in the car and then expect to sleep in it through is going to be very uncomfortable, not to mention in (potentially) sub zero temps. This will get old real quick and leave you exhausted while driving which in turn puts you and those that share the road with you in danger. At a truck stop you would need to pay for a shower and breakfast, if you can get a Motel with a complimentary breakfast you could set yourself up well for the day ahead.

    Safe travels !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 2nd best would hospital parking lots

    I agree with the truck stop as being the best place to sleep in your car (because of the availability of food and warm drinks)--but an alternative is the parking lot at hospitals. The lots are patrolled for security and as long as you don't take a space needed by someone visiting someone in the hospital or by a worker -- you are generally welcome to rest for a bit.


  8. Default

    Speaking from experience:

    You’ll contend with noises and lights all night.

    You’ll need a winter rated sleeping bag, ideally a mummy bag.

    You need to lay flat. You cannot get a good nights sleep reclining in a seat. You need a van, not a sedan.

    Even so, you’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night with cold air on your face. A knit hood helps a lot.

    Even so, I can’t imagine doing this more than one night.

  9. #9


    If you are willing to drive a little longer and pay a bit more for total gas bill you could opt for a more southern route and try camping in some of the national parks, recreation areas, national forests, state parks. You might not need a highly rated tent and sleeping bag if you have some long sleeve lowers and uppers plus some blankets to sleep on and cover up with. When the drive turns northward you will want to stay in hotels/motels.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona



    This is where we chime in with the standard warning: taking the southern route (Interstate 40, or even Interstate 10) does not guarantee warmer weather in the winter. You won't see snow in the desert as often as you'll see snow in the mountains, but you can hit freezing temperatures and icy conditions anywhere along the way, and if you've never slept in a car when it's seriously cold outside, it's tough to appreciate how wretchedly uncomfortable it can be. Think long and hard before investing in winter camping gear, if your only purpose is to save money on motels. I think it's already been said, but a decent sleeping bag will cost at least as much as 3 nights in a Motel 6 (or equivalent). And the motel will provide a much better night's sleep!


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