NY to Seattle in late December
Me and a friend are moving to Washington right after Christmas. Two separate vehicles. Is it certain death, as my father believes? Anyone who has made the drive and can offer suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -ASolo
Your dad is funny.
If your major concerns are the weather and road conditions, you're going to be fine so long as you stay in touch with weather reports and the like. Most of your route is going to be through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. It is generally too cold for frequent snow events in late December, but you always have to watch out for changing patterns in the mountains.
As for road conditions, I can personally vouch for most of the states you're driving through that they do a good job of keeping up the roads. Even in the most sparsely populated areas, you're going to find interstate exits with gas, food and lodging every twenty or thirty miles.
You will also find designated rest areas along the way, some of which are equipped with TV screens showing weather conditions.
Prepare your route and some emergency supplies, become a member of AAA, and just stay alert. Should be a fun trip.
Good luck and safe driving.
ny to sea
i drive this route roundtrip at least once a year if not more and i too am making the move back to seattle next fall. they do a great job keeeping the roads plowed just keep an eye out for the SUV's who will still drive 75+ miles and hour no matter what the conditions are. have fun and be safe!!
low budget traveling
Thank you both for your replies. Although my parents would probably be happier if you wrote that such a drive was suicide and should not be made under the best of circumstances, your experiences should at least help them sleep at night.
My next concern lies with the budget we will be trying to maintain throughout the trip. Basically, we don't have one. The plan is to make it to Seattle with as much money in pocket as possible. So far very little planning has gone into this. As of now, we are talking about driving 12 to 14 hour day/nights, each in our own vehicle, so essentially, we are making this trip by ourselves. How much should we look to spend on preparations? How much for the trip itself (gas, food, lodging,etc...)? Any tips, hints, and suggestions are appreciated.
I can only verify what others have said in the forum. You can expect to achieve apx. 50mph plus or minus because of conditions you don't control (weather, traffic, etc). Solo driving coast to coast (I have done it) even for young guys can be exhausting. A 10 hour day before rest can be tough. Every so often take a 15 minute stretch. Can you tow-bar one of the vehicles or otherwise? If not grab a couple cheap 2 ways to keep in touch. Feed out of an ice chest you stock. Don't sleep in the vehicles with the heaters running. Perhaps a sleeping bag to bundle if you are going to hit roadside rests. I advise other if the weather is going to go bitter. A propane stove to heat up some soup or coffee at rest stops. Good commons sense. Good luck.
Unless this is flat-out emergency -- do not drive more than 8 hours per day in winter weather conditions. If you were a professional driver with 1,000,000+ miles of experience you could certainly consider a couple of those long days, but 14/hours for three or more consecutive days is a recipe for trouble.
If the roads are dry and conditions perfect 10 hours is fine. But from experience, if you hit ice storms in Kansas or drifts in the Rockies six hours of 25 mph can exhaust you. When you take a driving break -- try doing some stretching and running or playing frisbee, catch, get some other hand/eye coordination excercise to rest the "far" distance sight muscles.
I agree with what has been posted, with the exception of sleeping at rest areas overnight. That's not a good idea, and illegal in most places (gives the highway patrol a good enough reason to look through your things and ask lots of questions)
If you're trying to get an idea of costs, try to estimate what gas will cost you and work from there. Figure out how many highway miles you get to the gallon and then figure on 2900 miles if you stick to the interstates. Gas prices have been fluctuating, but you'll be able to get a sense of what the cost might be.
As far as cutting lodging costs goes, a friend and I once went a week sharing single-bed motel rooms and alternating who had to sleep on the floor. One of us would just stay in the car while the other checked in. It's a little dishonest, but trust me, the motel is glad to have your business in most locations. You can find reasonable rates if you plan ahead of time...AAA is an excellent resource. For a very reasonable annual membership fee, you get 24-hour roadside assistance anywhere in the continental U.S. and free maps, guidebooks, etc. (I've recommended AAA so often on this forum, I should work for them!)
12-14 hr days
i dont know about anyone else but when i drive cross country and go long hours like you want to do, i find i can safely drive significantly less hours each day. i usually do 17, 14, then 12 depending on which relatives or friends i am staying with.(and that is in the summer) you will tire a little more each day if you are going full force. as for cheap lodging most people on this forum disagree with me but i like motel 6. I only stay long enough to sleep (i actually sleep on top of their beds wrapped in my own blanket and pillow) and shower. i personally only require 4-6 hrs of sleep maybe 8 if i am super tired from driving so i would rather have cheap than luxurious. as for food i usually keep a small cooler that i fill up with hotel ice each day that i keep water, fruit,and lunch meat in. bagels for breakfast. plus other goodies like pretzels peanuts etc. cuts down on the $ for meals on the road. i agree you should get the two way walkie talkie radios. they are handy and keep you from getting stir crazy by yourself (trust me you will start to talk to yourself outloud)AAA is also a must. dont forget tolls. as for which route to take I-90 (south dakota) or I-95 (north dakota)watch the weather reports. in december it might not make a difference which you choose but I did the trip two years in a row late oct/ early nov. one year south dakota had a huge storm and ND was fine the other year it was the opposite. most importantly CHECK IN WITH YOUR PARENTS EVERY DAY!!! LOL keeps them from worrying too much and it is always smart anyway to let people know where you are, what your route is etc. have fun
There are many rest stops that allow you to sleep over. If not allowed there is usually a sign or they will be closed off after dark. I have personally used them on several ocassions and have never been hassled by the police. Also, I have left rest stops that I don't feel comfortable with. I have even used Fire Station Parking lots with success (I don't advise the same with a Police Station), nor do I advise cold weather sleeping with the heater running.
This is all great, thanks for the advice. When you've locked your keys in your car as often as I have, AAA is a must. Throughout the past few years my gold card has been my wallets crown jewel and saving grace on numerous occasions.
I like the idea of driving less and less as each day passes, that seems like something that could work for me. as for sleeping at rest-stops, we'll take it as it comes, more than likely we'll opt for cheap hotels.
One concern. I've read in a few other message boards that tire chains are a must for this trip. I've got a four wheel drive vehicle, My friend has goot a font-wheel drive intrepid. Is it necessary that we both invest in chains?