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Old 07-25-2016, 11:40 AM
 
4,393 posts, read 5,584,831 times
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I am a woman in my 60s, and drove (moved) cross country from Texas to Norther California in late December/early January this year. I never drive at night, and during the winter, nights come early. But stopping relatively early was OK with me, as I can't drive for 16 hours anyway. I tried to get out early every morning. (Had to make an exception starting out at Lubbock TX, because it was still iced up in early morning.) I stayed in midpriced motels and had reservations at each, so my trip was quite planned. I tried to get places that served breakfast, as eating at the motel saves time. I took everything of value into the motel with me each night. Its a hassle, but I didn't have to worry about the car being broken into. The part I liked least was going across the CA desert, but I put the night before just on the edge of it, so that I could drive it mostly in the morning. Make sure to FILL UP the GAS TANK before leaving in the morning, as there are very few gas stations in the desert. In fact, in any part of the trip (not just the desert) never let your tank get low. There were times when I filled up even though I had half a tank because the route ahead had no cities where I could be sure of gas. I had no pets with me, but have traveled before with pets, so we used La Quinta pretty much all the way across. Look at the reviews of motels before going. Even in a relatively good chain, there can be old, run down individual places, so you want to look it up before making reservations. Buy a car charger for you phone and for your lap top or tablet, if you are taking one. I used YELP whenever I could to evaluate restaurants on the way. There was a rather deserted area of the trip where I felt a bit nervous, but knew it probably wasn't justified, so I called my sister (hands-free phone) so that we could talk a bit during that drive. Actually I called her twice. She understood my nervousness, and was helpful in making me feel that I was still in touch. In fact, I called family at least once a day because it helped me to feel less alone and more confident. I understand that younger people will be much less conservative about this drive. My husband, when he was in his 20s, used to do this same drive in 2 days, with one short motel stop. I took 5 days, 4 nights, but that is what I needed.

 
Old 07-25-2016, 12:17 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,324,963 times
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We usually do a round trip AZ - MA every year. So some comments ......

1. Gas. If you are on the interstates then access to gas stations is no problem even in the desert. We know our car so we generally know where we want to stop for gas. Worst places for gas was driving through South Dakota on I90 and the Oklahoma Turnpike (because of the hassle of getting off the pike to buy gas).

2. Food. A lot of the bigger gas stations and especially the ones that cater for truckers have pretty decent food options. Normally we have a good breakfast at the hotel (included), a sandwich at lunch and we make sure we stop early enough in the evening to have a good dinner.

3. Water/drinks. We always have a cooler with water in it. Most gas stations sell bottles of water so easy to keep the cooler stocked.

4. Overnight stops. Like gas stations, there are plenty of options. We now have the Hilton App on our smartphones so we figure out where we think we can get to and book a room on the App. Easy peasy! Some places are better to stop in than others. Amarillo, TX, for example has a huge choice of hotels and motels. So does Effingham, IL. Obviously bigger cities have more choices but not everyone likes to stay in a city. So worth trying to plan overnight stops in advance.

5. Route. Worth thinking about in advance. Getting through cities is usually the main issue. Bigger cities like St. Louis, Indianapolis or Columbus usually have ring roads. Depending on the time of day they can be a good, if slightly longer, option. The Oklahoma City ring road is a toll road and the toll system doesn't work well if you are from out of state. We usually go streaight through the center.

5. cont. Driving to MA, we consciously avoid the NY, CT, NJ area because the traffic can be horrible. Now we pay the tolls for the MA Pike and the NY Thruway and take a northern route via Columbus. Slightly longer, more expensive but much less aggravation.

6. Car issues. We have never had a mechanical issue but, on two occasions, have experienced a puncture/blowout. Triple A or similar is a godsend in these situations. Depending on your car, where the problem happens and when it happens, it can be hard to find a tire repair facility. We had a blowout near to Tulsa on a Saturday afternoon (picked up a nail in the tire) and the only facility that was open was Walmart (they were great btw). That cost us 4 hours by the time we got the donut on, of the OK Pike, back into Tulsa, etc. etc. If you have a 'luxury' car with fancy tires then finding a new tire can be difficult as well.

7. Safety and security. Never had a problem. I will happily drive 12 hours a day but have no desire to drive at night. So we usually stop around 8pm.

8. GPS. If you don't have one, get one. Also handy if you get re-routed due to roadworks.
 
Old 07-27-2016, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Brew City
4,214 posts, read 2,501,359 times
Reputation: 5646
Holy paranoia!


I know this thread is three years old but I've never followed any of those "tips". I drive at night. I make up my route as I go. I drive past where I told people I'd likely stay. I drive on empty back roads. I stop at empty gas stations in the middle of the night. And I wouldn't even consider taking a weapon.


I love a good road trip. Hitting the road for 18 days tomorrow!
 
Old 07-27-2016, 12:28 PM
 
Location: At my house in my state
638 posts, read 711,682 times
Reputation: 666
First tip is chill the F*** out, relax and enjoy your time sight seeing as you travel our beautiful country. Life isn't like the news and movies, you won't be in a Stephen king movie, just drive.
 
Old 07-27-2016, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
24,971 posts, read 23,882,175 times
Reputation: 30810
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegabern View Post
Holy paranoia!


I know this thread is three years old but I've never followed any of those "tips". I drive at night. I make up my route as I go. I drive past where I told people I'd likely stay. I drive on empty back roads. I stop at empty gas stations in the middle of the night. And I wouldn't even consider taking a weapon.


I love a good road trip. Hitting the road for 18 days tomorrow!
You're not a woman with a kid in the back seat and engine problems in the boonies. That's a life event. I'll never forget it.
 
Old 07-27-2016, 11:11 PM
 
Location: colorado springs, CO
4,928 posts, read 2,274,474 times
Reputation: 16580
2 years ago I drove 2400 miles cross-country with 3 kids (youngest is disabled) & a dog in a 19 yr old Nissan that had heating/cooling & electrical issues. In July. Through deserts in CO, NM & Texas. Close to the US/Mexico border.

Joked with my family that I hoped I wouldn't break down in the desert, like in "Cartel territory"...

The 2nd creepiest part of our adventure was between Hobbs NM & Roswell NM.

3 hours & I was literally the ONLY female traveling that highway.

And let me tell you ...we got some looks.

Ultimate creepy moment was on Raton Pass, CO at midnight in a thunderstorm. Lost my headlights then the engine power. Semi's roaring past at 75mph 2 feet from the car. Kids crying, dog shaking.

A car pulls over driver is a young man who spoke NO english. Put me, 3 kids & dog into his car & drove us right to our curb, 3 hours away.

Now, if I had more resources available to me I would have followed a list similar to OP's.

But it came down to go like this or not go at all & I'm glad we went...kind of a "Finding Nemo" moment!

Last edited by coschristi; 07-27-2016 at 11:12 PM.. Reason: spelling
 
Old 07-28-2016, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Austin
452 posts, read 291,661 times
Reputation: 623
About 5 years ago my family and I were 30 miles west of Little Rock on I-30 headed to Nashville when traffic ground to a halt. Rain had flooded the interstate. Then cell phone service went down. It took us 60 minutes to inch up to an exit. We stopped at a Hampton Inn and the desk staff let us use the lobby as we regrouped. Here's my advice, go to a bookstore, Costco, or Sams and spend $20 on a Road Atlas. We had one where each page is one state. The state maps also include the counties which you won't find on Google Maps. I was able to call several sheriffs' offices based upon the county names on the maps and from conversations with them, I was able to chart a route around the flooding. Ultimately, we had to backtrack 60 miles, turn south, then east again. Made it to Nashville four hours late.

I will never travel long distances without a hard copy road atlas. The ability to see most or all of a state's road system at a glance as well as the county names is very useful. (By the way, we had a Garmin, but it wasn't useful in letting us see the "big picture.")
 
Old 07-28-2016, 09:08 AM
 
Location: colorado springs, CO
4,928 posts, read 2,274,474 times
Reputation: 16580
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Ross View Post
About 5 years ago my family and I were 30 miles west of Little Rock on I-30 headed to Nashville when traffic ground to a halt. Rain had flooded the interstate. Then cell phone service went down. It took us 60 minutes to inch up to an exit. We stopped at a Hampton Inn and the desk staff let us use the lobby as we regrouped. Here's my advice, go to a bookstore, Costco, or Sams and spend $20 on a Road Atlas. We had one where each page is one state. The state maps also include the counties which you won't find on Google Maps. I was able to call several sheriffs' offices based upon the county names on the maps and from conversations with them, I was able to chart a route around the flooding. Ultimately, we had to backtrack 60 miles, turn south, then east again. Made it to Nashville four hours late.

I will never travel long distances without a hard copy road atlas. The ability to see most or all of a state's road system at a glance as well as the county names is very useful. (By the way, we had a Garmin, but it wasn't useful in letting us see the "big picture.")
You know, you are right! The atlas & paper maps were used much more on our trip than GPS.They do give you the "big picture" & the kids could entertain themselves for hours looking things up & "telling me" where to go. The twins actually had a kind of competition going as to who was the better "map reader"!
 
Old 07-28-2016, 09:23 AM
 
13,219 posts, read 17,762,574 times
Reputation: 19879
Prep, use common sense and do not freak when Plan A requires modification to Plan B.

I have been all over the US and some not so well known parts of Europe with a pick up, a convertible, a motor cycle and my thumb.
 
Old 07-28-2016, 10:03 AM
 
965 posts, read 507,794 times
Reputation: 1895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Ross View Post
About 5 years ago my family and I were 30 miles west of Little Rock on I-30 headed to Nashville when traffic ground to a halt. Rain had flooded the interstate. Then cell phone service went down. It took us 60 minutes to inch up to an exit. We stopped at a Hampton Inn and the desk staff let us use the lobby as we regrouped. Here's my advice, go to a bookstore, Costco, or Sams and spend $20 on a Road Atlas. We had one where each page is one state. The state maps also include the counties which you won't find on Google Maps. I was able to call several sheriffs' offices based upon the county names on the maps and from conversations with them, I was able to chart a route around the flooding. Ultimately, we had to backtrack 60 miles, turn south, then east again. Made it to Nashville four hours late.

I will never travel long distances without a hard copy road atlas. The ability to see most or all of a state's road system at a glance as well as the county names is very useful. (By the way, we had a Garmin, but it wasn't useful in letting us see the "big picture.")
This, and have an updated atlas. I got stuck once using a 15 year old atlas now I get a new one every year, or a least every big road trip.
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