So, I have just graduated from college and will be moving from Chicago to Seattle for graduate school. Originally, the plan was to get rid of most everything I own (which isn't that much) and fly as I don't have a car. But my parents have just impulsively decided that they don't need their old minivan anymore, and have offered to let me drive it out to Seattle and sell it when I get there on their behalf. I am actually really excited about doing this, but I've never taken a road trip longer than a single day before (and those, to visit relatives and planned and executed by my parents) so I could use some advice.
First and most basic--how long should I expect this trip to take, minimum, if I go alone? (I may have another person with me but I don't know yet--how much extra time might this save?) I honestly just don't know, realistically, how long one person can spend driving in one day, and don't want to be trying to drive 15 hours or something if that's going to be a really dangerous thing to do.
Second--I would like to go very minimal on accomodations--are there likely to be campgrounds along the way where I can sleep either outside in a sleeping bag or in the car--easily accessible and cheap? Is this safe? If I sleep in the car, will I risk death by heatstroke?
Third--the vehicle in question is an eight-year-old Dodge Grand Caravan with 115,000 miles on it. Are there likely to be areas along the way (I'm thinking mountains, primarily) that would be too hard on this car? (the question being of course, "can it handle mountains?", not "are there mountains?") What can I do to be prepared for the possibility of it breaking down in Nowhere, ND on a Sunday where I have no cell phone reception?
And fourth and more funly--along the quickest way there (presumably on I-90 through WI-MN-ND-MT-ID-WA though I had one site give me a route which went south of there, through SD and WY) what are the biggest things worth stopping for? I'm not really on a time limit here, although the sooner I get to Seattle the less I spend on accomodations and food and that is always good and important.
Thanks much to anyone who has even had the patience to read all this, let alone answer any of my many many questions. I appreciate any help.