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Old 10-29-2006, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Where the grass grows
175 posts, read 279,464 times
Reputation: 87

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Well,

We were going to do a trip by car from Florida to California next summer, on holidays, but I see in this forum that there are a lot of dangerous cities in the way.

Is that all true? We are from Barcelona (Europe) and we want to fly to Miami and then hire a car to go to California (two adults and three children).

I'd want to know about the cities on the road (in Florida, Texas, New Mexico...) or the hotels- motels and car hiring...You know, all kind of advices about the trip.

Excuse my horrible English...and my best regards from Europe.
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:50 AM
 
1,005 posts, read 1,520,413 times
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Hello Housemartin -

I would suggest that you join AAA (American Automobile Association), nationally called "Triple A". Their website is "aaa dot com". They offer free, unlimited maps & have a travel agency which can offer you free advice. They have locations all across the country, all free to members, are easy to find & can even map out a trip for you & your family, based on your specific needs. They also offer discounts on cars/hotels/motels as well as car insurance, if needed, during your trip. Some places even offer discounts at local stores/outlet shopping locations. It can cost between $40-75/yr or so. I pay $67 in the state of MA, to take advantage for extended benefits.

This is a huge country & the questions you ask would be best read in the plethora of travel books available at local bookstores. It's just too massive a request to fill, I'm afraid. Depends on the age of your kids, what you want to do, what you consider fun, what your budget allows, what kinds of hotels you desire... You see? AAA will help you immensely.

Have a wonderful, safe trip with your family... Baltic_Celt
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Old 10-29-2006, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Where the grass grows
175 posts, read 279,464 times
Reputation: 87
Thanks, Balt Celtic.

I'll try with the AAA to begin.
Yes, there are a lot of things to plan before the trip and I think I'll begin with that first step.

Anyway, what about the motorways and roads? Are they dangerous, you know, robberies...?
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Old 10-29-2006, 12:33 PM
 
1 posts, read 10,890 times
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Are you driving cross country this winter? I'm driving cross country the opposite way from CA to MA and I'm hoping somebody knows the best route (ex. stay along the south or just go strait through). I've never driven past the east of CA and even then in the summer. I'm going in mid Jan.

What I can tell you is you want a car with all weather tires or get chains. And I've heard the roads in Colorado are shut during this time. Sorry to impose on ur post but I haver no idea how to set up my own and it's a very similiar question. Good luck to you!

Oh yeah, if your in California I will tell you some good spots for kids.
*Santa Monica boardwalk has street entertainers and lots of little shops
*Disneyland in Aneheim is fun but I believe Disney World which is bigger is in FL
* Sacramento (old town) is really fun to bring kids too. My neice loved it there.

Good Luck on your adventure!
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Old 10-29-2006, 12:41 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,479,761 times
Reputation: 1798
Well, like Baltic Celt said, this is a HUGE country and there are so many different routes and so many different cities that you'd pass through on a trip from Florida to California that it's near impossible to give an accurate city-by-city rundown. I will say this though. Generally, I'd imagine you'd be sticking to the Interstate for the bulk of your driving. Driving on Interstates is fine pretty much anywhere throughout the U.S. These roads bypass whisk you through cities and more dangerous areas. You don't have to really worry about robberies or carjackings on these roads. It's more the local roads when you get off of the main roads that you have to worry about. It's always best of course to keep your car doors locked and to either keep any valuables hidden in the car or bring them with you into your hotel room for the night. Generally speaking, most name-brand hotels (Days Inn, Holiday Inn, Residence Inn, etc.) are safe, but again, you should exercise basic caution and always lock your doors and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. I think it's worth it to spend the extra $10-20 a night to stay in a somewhat nicer hotel such as these rather than a generic roadside motel, just for safety and cleanliness' sake. Truthfully, I doubt you'll have much of any problems because while crime in the U.S. is exponentially higher than Spain, it also tends to be fairly concentrated and so long as you avoid the worst areas of cities (which there is no need to go to anyways; minus you getting lost) you should be fine.

I would also recommend a membership to AAA. It's certainly worthwhile.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sara84
Are you driving cross country this winter? I'm driving cross country the opposite way from CA to MA and I'm hoping somebody knows the best route (ex. stay along the south or just go strait through). I've never driven past the east of CA and even then in the summer. I'm going in mid Jan.
I've done a similar drive, from LA to DC, twice during the Winter. Due to wariness about possible snowstorms, I tended to follow southern routes for my trip. I took I-40 all the way one time, and another time took I-10 halfway before switching to I-40 in Little Rock. This was partially in an effort to avoid the snow (which I was mostly successful, although on my eventual trip north through Tennessee and Virginia, I hit snow; also hit some flurries in New Mexico and Arizona) but also because I used my roadtrip as an excuse to see parts of the country that I had never seen before so I made a few detours. I would recommend the same. If you have any interest in seeing things along southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, then stick to I-10. It may add a few hours to your journey but my theory is A) when are you gonna be in those areas again? and B) what's another six hours when you're already driving 50?

Last edited by dullnboring; 10-29-2006 at 12:52 PM.. Reason: responding to sara's post
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Old 10-29-2006, 01:23 PM
 
1,005 posts, read 1,520,413 times
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Sara & House -

I wholeheartedly agree with Dull. I, too, interestingly, travelled alone (I'm a woman) twice, cross country in a very small car - once across Hwy 10 & the other Hwy 40, just like Dull. Both were winter trips & were fine. You do see more across Hwy 10. The only "scarey" part, was sometimes I didn't have any cell reception. So, I thought "what if something happens? I can't call anyone." Now, this was in the mid-90's, so perhaps that's changed as towers are all over. But, you do need to know that along Hwy 10, you will travel for 100+ mi in between places to stop for gas/food. Don't wait. Stop & gas up every chance you have! If I were to make the trip alone again, I'd go 40, just for safety/security reasons.

Sara -

You need to join AAA, too & ask them about kids' activities along the way. I travelled from MA to CA (to see family) then up Hwy 5 to WA & went the southern route to avoid snow. I got snowed in for 2-days in Flagstaff, AZ on one of the trips, but that's why I avoided driving "catty corner" thru the mid-west. Too bad, as that's the only part of the country I've never seen. Next time in an RV!!! Vroom... But, if it's a winter trip with kids, I'd be SURE to ask AAA the best route. Also, you NEED to have a membership, should you break down. The Plus membership ($29 more) entitles you to 100-mi towning at no extra cost. The only security I took, in addition to what Dull suggested, was as I was alone, I stopped driving when it became dark.

Dull has the best idea on hotels, too. I always choose brand name hotels, not motels & not Super88 type places. Again, as I'm alone, I want to be safe & saving $20-30 isn't worth my safety/peace of mind & rooms are cleaner, as he said. Comfort Inn has a nice safety feature & lone biz women often rest there as you must cross the front desk area to get to the elevator to get to your room. Nice security. The cons? Rooms are VERY small & TV is minimal, but with children, you'd have a larger room anyway.

For both of you, since wireless Internet is offered in many places, I've secured 5* hotels for less than $80/night, by going to "priceline.com" & getting lodging. You can wait until you get into town & find a 'net cafe to find it same day. Also, make sure you get AAA's Tourbooks. Saves you time from driving around/phoning a # of places once in town, as it lists prices of each hotel with in-season/off-season rates. You'd be surprised. Sometimes a 4* hotel w/room service is less than a Day's Inn/Howard Johnson's (don't know if they still exist?)

You'll both be fine. AAA will help you immensely, honestly. No, I don't work for AAA or in the travel industry. I'm doing home renovations, spending my days trying to get mortar out from under my fingernails & paint out of my hair! He-haw!!!

Have safe, wonderful trips, both of you! Happy relocation Sara! Welcome back home to MA!

Have fun... Baltic_Celt
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Old 10-29-2006, 01:25 PM
 
Location: Where the grass grows
175 posts, read 279,464 times
Reputation: 87
Sara and Dullnboring,
Your generic information is all what I want. I think I understand how the situation is (less dangerous that I thank). You know, Dullnboring, my unknowledge on your great country and some dates in this forum have caused me to ask you about the crime in that area of USA .
Thanks,
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Old 10-29-2006, 02:12 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,479,761 times
Reputation: 1798
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltic_Celt View Post
I wholeheartedly agree with Dull. I, too, interestingly, travelled alone (I'm a woman) twice, cross country in a very small car - once across Hwy 10 & the other Hwy 40, just like Dull. Both were winter trips & were fine. You do see more across Hwy 10. The only "scarey" part, was sometimes I didn't have any cell reception. So, I thought "what if something happens? I can't call anyone." Now, this was in the mid-90's, so perhaps that's changed as towers are all over. But, you do need to know that along Hwy 10, you will travel for 100+ mi in between places to stop for gas/food. Don't wait. Stop & gas up every chance you have! If I were to make the trip alone again, I'd go 40, just for safety/security reasons.
Yes, on I-10 in particular there are very large swaths of road with nothing around for miles and it's a very good idea to stop for gas if you happen to see a station even if you still have half a tank. There were stretches over 100 miles in parts of Texas (the area between Austin/Fredericksburg and El Paso in particular) where I went hours (that's plural) without seeing a single residence, gas station, or building and only passed maybe five or six cars. On the plus side, it enabled me to finally see just how fast I could go in my car .

Cell service is spotty along I-10 as well in these sections. The ironic thing is that I purchased my cell phone some three years ago right before embarking on this trip specifically because I was nervous driving cross-country without a cell phone. My car isn't the most reliable so I was worried about breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Surprisingly, it got through it just fine but it was a good peace of mind to have it, until that is, I got to the most remote parts of my drive where there was no cell service. I don't know how much if any progress has been made on that front in the past three years, but it's always good to carry a cell phone regardless.

I think I-10 is the more scenic of the two routes. The drive on I-40 once you pass Albuquerque, through Eastern New Mexico, the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma is incredibly dull and ugly in parts. I also had two unnerving experiences on this piece of roadway, one in Amarillo, Texas (the freakiest town on Earth; do NOT stop there) and once in Arkansas right over the Oklahoma border. Something else to take note of is that fact that at points in Texas and New Mexico, I-10 skirts right by the Mexican border (within 1-2 miles in parts) and there may be an occasional immigration checkpoint. Being from the East Coast, I didn't realize that we had border checkpoints in this country that were actually several miles inland from the border so I almost got in trouble when I nearly flew through a border checkpoint somewhere near Las Cruces, New Mexico, thinking that not everyone was required to stop. I assumed it was just a stop for trucks to inspect their cargo since I only saw trucks pulled over and it never occurred to me that this far away from the border (probably some 20-30 miles away from the Mexican border on a random stretch of interstate) that there would be a checkpoint. I'm not sure if these checkpoints remain in the same areas year-round or if they move them every so often.

And I too would recommend minimizing driving at night. For me, driving by myself, after 9-10 hours of driving, I was usually wiped, so I happened to be biologically "shutting down" anyways when it turned dark.
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Old 11-09-2006, 12:01 PM
 
2 posts, read 13,383 times
Reputation: 11
Smile Trip with children from East coast to West coast

Hi I am going to be doing the same trip in december I have to find out the best way to get there. A good suggestion is the one on the triple AAA. You can use my e;mail to cumunicate with me, in spanish.

Moderator cut: English only

Last edited by Yac; 11-10-2006 at 03:22 AM..
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Old 11-09-2006, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Missouri
6,046 posts, read 21,950,561 times
Reputation: 5076
Oh you will be fine. My DH and I went cross country from New Jersey to California and back and our biggest risk was bears at campgrounds. What a fun trip you are planning! There are very few if any cities that are very dangerous. Most cities in America are perfectly safe, with a few bad neighborhoods. Stick to the areas that are filled with tourist attractions and you will be fine. And please don't just visit cities. America's best features are not in its cities, in my opinion. See the Grand Canyon, drive through Sonoma and Napa Valley in California, visit Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore if possible. I personally do not recommend bringing children to Las Vegas. If you do, do not take them to walk down the street because there are graphic advertisements for prostitution/dancers everywhere.

Hotels: most hotel chains have programs where you sign up to be a "member" (it's free) and every time you stay at one of their hotels, you earn "points." If you earn enough points you will receive a free night! Generally, you only need to stay over a few nights to earn a free night. I personally would recommend Choice Hotels (www.choicehotels.com) because in my experience, they are clean and very inexpensive, and there are so many of them that no matter where you go in America, you'll be able to easily find one. Each room has its own bath, and most of their hotels have a swimming pool, fitness room, and offer free breakfast.

Be sure to arrange your car rental well in advance. I am not sure how it works when you are from another country.

Best of luck!
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