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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    AZ-85 is mostly 2-lane, but it's good road.
    AZ-85 is 4 lane all the way between I-10 and I-8. Also, closer to downtown Phoenix, the Loop-202 freeway was recently completed around the southwest side of the city.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I love Dave's suggestion of looking for home rentals, especially with a large family. I wouldn't even limit it to days where you'll be in a place for a few nights. Even for a single overnight, such places can work quite well, although you do have to watch for things like cleaning fees which can really add a lot to the cost of such a stay, especially when those fees aren't spread out over a few days.

    If you're are just looking to make time, hotels will still be easier since they are usually right off the highway, and you don't have limitations on things like check-in times, but in the trip that's being described, where there isn't a need to just focus on covering miles, it's a great option.

  3. #13


    A couple of quick comments in addition to the ones above:

    1) A spreadsheet helps to bring order to the chaos--usually it helps me to constrain overly ambitious trips. It does that even after all these years. On-line mapping is a great aide, however, the estimated travel time assumes non-stop driving at the speed limit and does not include restroom stops, scenic stops, gas stations, and run around time. I have 3 columns just for bringing realism to the daily driving plan: Google Miles, Google Hours and Adjusted Hours. Adjusted Hours is a formula calculated using my own adjusted speed limit that accounts for several of those items, plus I modify the formula for scenic stops that might last a few hours. Generally, try to limit a day's total drive time to 8 hours. That does not include breakfast and dinner, but add an hour for lunch to your standard formula.

    2) Buy an upper tier AAA plan which provides greater allowances for towing distances and other assistance. AAA is great for something as basic as changing a flat tire (especially with all those kids!). Stop by a AAA office to pickup maps and order other on-line at the AAA website (the website will have more maps than the local office. Start with two copies of the USA map, one for planning and one for using. Then obtain the regional and state maps. You might want a few city and county maps. There is also a Four Corners Indian Country map (approximate name) which goes into great detail.

    3) Plan to detail using your spreadsheet but also build in some "extra contingency time" so you can catch up with your itinerary in the event of a new tire buying emergency or wanting to spend an additional day at a national park.

    4) Most of the national parks have Jr. Ranger Badge programs. The beauty of having the kids earn their badges is that it is fun and forces you to do a few things that might otherwise been passed up. So, allot a few days to many of the national parks. The kids will love the fresh air and exercise, too.

    5) Camping would be a great option if you enjoy camping. No waits at the entrance gates when staying outside of the national park--I have seen some LONG lines at some of the parks. If you do camp, plan on making reservations 6 months in advance, so line-up your itinerary well in advance.

    6) The Odyssey is a great road trip vehicle (I convert mine into a temporary van camper for road trips--only the curtains stay up, the platform bed is removed and stored in the shed). The three rows of seats will come in handy with 6 of you. The "trunk well" behind the rear seat is great for a cooler--being recessed lower down actually helps keep the cooler stay cooled down. Be sure to put some beach towels around the cooler to keep the sunshine off it. You consider windshield and back window covers to block out the sun when parked... the Odyssey has a ton of window space that sucks in the sun. Also a note: in my 2015, the spare tire is under the floor between the front seats and 2nd row seats. You might want to check on the spare tire inflation and condition before the trip.

  4. Default

    Thank you all. I've started the conversation with my wife and asked her about some of the places she wanted to see. Hopefully we can include most,if not all in this trip.

    As suggested, I am envisioning that this trip will be divided into a southern and northern route. We haven't told the kids exactly about any specifics except that I told them we will be planning a Westcoast road trip so they can spend time with their cousins.

    I will surely update the thread as I move along the planning stages. I'd definitely appreciate all your suggestions and knowledge.

  5. Default

    The 600lb gorilla in the room!

    My greatest piece of advice? Leave the toddler with someone else if possible.

    I came from a family of FIVE children. We went on two to four week long vacations every year, but Dad had a rule. If you havenít finished Kindergarten, youíre too young to travel and youíre staying with your grandparents, aunt, whatever.

    Your one year old wonít remember a thing from this trip, but he/she will affect what you can do and where you can go on your trip. Changing diapers while traveling is a great family activity.

    So, unless it isnít an option, seriously consider leaving the toddler at home for this trip, and next yearís, and the year after that.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    I, too, use a spreadsheet when planning a trip. However, I leave Google time out of it completely! I put the mileage in (very helpful), and then estimated hours of my own -- usually taking the mileage and dividing it by 50 - i.e. 400 miles, 8 hours. By the time you add in those rest area, restaurant, gasoline, and leg stretching stops, 50 mph average is a good place to start. Remember that every stop is going to be lengthened by your slowest person. Maybe it's the stop to change a diaper, maybe it's the kid that doesn't mind Mom and Dad and runs off to chase a butterfly at the rest area.

    Getting the higher end AAA is a great idea, if your local AAA allows you to do that. Here in our area, everyone starts at Basic and will get invited to join higher levels as you prove that you're not abusing the Emergency Road Service system. We tried to get Premiere right away -- nope. We finally made Premiere after 4 or 5 years.

    Junior Rangers -- great for the kids, as it keeps them from getting the "oh this is a beautiful view can we go get ice cream now" attitude. They have things to look for, things to learn instead of being expected to look at gorgeous views all day and appreciate them.

    Not sure I'd recommend leaving the toddler at home, but I'd sure remember that they aren't going to get much out of the trip until they're a bit older. We didn't travel with our kids early on -- but finances had a big part of that. We live in SoCal where people want to take their 1-year-old to Disneyland and we're asking, "why? They won't get anything from it, save your money." Just remember that young ones get a kick out of the local parks and playgrounds as you travel. They don't need natural beauty, junior ranger programs, or Disneyland.

    One tip about traveling with young kids (and slightly older ones): as you start to go up in elevation, and YOUR ears start to pop, remember that the kids feel it worse. Older ones might do well with chewing gum or hard candy to suck. The toddler might need a bottle (if still being fed that way) or given something to constantly swallow.


  7. Default

    The whole purpose of the trip is two-fold; to be with family and see the beauty of America. It would be a contradiction if I decide to leave the toddler behind. We always travel with kids since our first-born and most of those trips are overseas on a plane, but not on a road trip. I think the farthest I've traveled with my toddler before was from our place to Chicago, and then when 3rd child was about 2yo to Houston. I don't recall having much of an issue before so I am hoping that the longer drive won't be much of an issue as well so long as we have adequately planned for it.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not to Mention...

    The family and friends along the southern route who will want to meet the new addition!


  9. Default

    As far as activities for the kids go, consider geocaching.

    People have hidden millions of containers all over the world, including in the ISS. These containers range in size from small as a pill to Tupperware to ammo boxes and even suitcases. Your goal is to use a handheld GPS or your cell phone to find these containers, sign the log sheet and post a comment on the “cache page”. You leave the container where it is.

    Some are easy to find and some are ridiculous! You decide which to hunt

    Many of these are hidden in especially scenic areas that you likely would never have visited otherwise. Many of the State Parks have placed their own geocaches in interesting places, and some have small prizes for finding a certain number. Geocaching can add greatly to the vacation experience.

    As an example, about 45 minutes outside Phoenix is the Lost Dutchman State Park. It has a pretty extensive geocaching program.
    Last edited by travelingman; 06-04-2021 at 03:27 AM.

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