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Old 05-19-2016, 09:33 AM   #1
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Tucson to Knoxville, desperate for advice

Hi Folks: I am an amateur RV'r and have never made a long trip in our rig. I have 3 trips from Tucson to San Diego under my belt. Now, I am making the plunge, Tucson to Philadelphia and back to visit our family on the East Coast. I am traveling with twin 5-year olds, a 9-year old, and a puppy. Our rig is a Ford Chassis 35' (V10) pulling a Kia Soul 4-down. I am nervous to say the least.

What I need now is recommendations on the route from Tucson, AZ to Knoxville, Tennessee (Pigeon Forge specifically) where I will meet my parents with their rig and stay for a week before heading to PA. I will depart Tucson around June 8th (I hope) and I need to be in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee by June 12th (ideally). I calculate this around 1850 miles, so around 400 miles per day . This seems tight to me as the trip from Tucson to San Diego is about 400 miles and I cannot imagine doing this 5-days in a row, but it is what it is....

Given this scenario, any recommendations on routing would be much appreciated. I am worried as my rig does not have a ton of power and mountain passes are going to be slow. I am also not a seasoned veteran like the folks here, and I am traveling with kids, so any recommendations would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!!!
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:46 AM   #2
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So much to see in Tenn - Memphis and Graceland, Nashville, Dollywood, Gatlinburg. Our standard route is Tucson to Albuquerque then east on the 40. We've been all over the country and the 8 into San Diego is about the worst climb there is. Back east they only have hills compared to what we have out here. If you can make S.D. ok then you can make it anywhere. BTW, we did 500+ mile days last Feb going Tucson to Tampa - wife wanted to cover the 2,000 miles in 4 days. We did it but she had to help drive.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:46 AM   #3
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Good luck on your trip! You're exactly right to be concerned about the time. 400 miles in one day is tough. 400 miles per day 5 days continuous will absolutely exhaust anyone not accustomed to long distance driving.

But that, in my view, is just an ancillary issue. First question that popped into my old brain is: who's gonna be watching the kids while you drive? Unless you're traveling with another adult you failed to mention, this is IMO a show stopper.


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Old 05-19-2016, 09:49 AM   #4
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Wow, thanks for the quick responses. My wife will be with us (oops, I forgot about her). The comment on San Diego on the 8 makes me feel a LOT better, that climb from the California Desert was no fun on my rig, but we made it...

Much appreciated.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:55 AM   #5
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Oh, and if you're a Jack Daniel's fan (and even if you're not) you gotta stop into Lynchburg, it's a beautiful tour of the plant. Wife really loved the Graceland tour in Memphis, so much so that we did the tour twice. And Nashville...WOW!
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:02 AM   #6
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Hi Doc Vegas,
So the kids enjoy the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge area consider making your CG reservations quickly. If not already made consider
Camping, Campground, Campsites | River Plantation
or
Clabough's Campground & Cabins . . . 800-965-8524 - Stay at one of our 310 large, shaded sites with 2 swimming pools, a lazy river, very clean facilities and even a market with complete grocery line and a restaurant on site! Family owned and operated

These CGs are close to the kid friendly action. For the little ones
https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg/ All the kids should enjoy
The Experience - WonderWorks Pigeon Forge

Walmart has the best selection of brochures and show tickets.

I40 to exit 407. South on RT 66 (multilane road). Keep going on the RT 66. It will go away and become RT 441 South. You need do nothing, just keep going. If you have any questions about the area, PM me or post here.
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:04 AM   #7
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If you have the wife watching the kids and the puppy, the only time you have to stop is when the RV tank is empty or your 'tank' is full.

Contrary to what others have said, 400 miles in a day is NOT tough. I regularly do 250 miles before breakfast! Especially when traveling with kids, I find its best to wake up at about 4am while everyone is asleep. Take the dog out for a quick pee, get a water/banana/granola bar, and start driving. The roads are clear of traffic and 4 hours later you're ready to stop for breakfast/gas when everyone is waking up at 8am. We do a 1500 mile trip from NJ to the FL Keys pretty much every month in 2 days.

If you've done Tucson to San Diego, there's not much else you'll encounter going east. Don't ride the brakes on the downhills and stay right on the uphills.

Relax and realize when you have a designated date to meet, it's about the destination, not necessarily the journey! Safe travels!
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:10 AM   #8
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Our rule is 3 days driving, 1 day rest, so to help the long drive add a day for rest. You will feel much better then driving 4 or 5 days strght.
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:11 AM   #9
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Last Summer I did Albuquerque to Knoxville in 3 days, and it was tough/tiring after a week around the Grand Circle area. Keep in mind heading East you will loose 4 hrs due to time zone changes (no DST in AZ), essentially an hour per day. I overnighted in OKC (Tinker AFB), and West Memphis (Tom Sawyer). Four days from Tuscon leaves no fun time for the young-uns either, which wears down Mom & Dad. I recommend you rethink your plans.


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Old 05-19-2016, 10:13 AM   #10
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Since I live near Knoxville and will be going to Tuscon later this year, I'd appreciate an update when you get to East Tenn on how you went and how the road was - right now I plan to go I-40
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:28 AM   #11
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We just did the drive you describe (from Green Valley). Took I-10 to I-20 to I-30 to I-40 near Little Rock. No issues but I did take do it in 6 days of driving.
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Old 05-19-2016, 11:19 AM   #12
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Settle in on I-40 and point it east. There really isn't any intimidating ascents, just a few hills here and there.
When I was younger and time was tighter, I would plug well over 400 miles in a day. Ten or more hours on the road only stopping when the wife and kids or the fuel tank cried for mercy.
Nowadays, 400 miles is typically the most I do in a day. At least for me, that's really not a problem. We stop and stretch our legs aplenty along the way. If we get gone early enough in the day, we're left with plenty of time to piddle around on the journey.
Talk your wife into driving for an hour or so while you recharge. Maybe even hit it hard on that first day and drive until you feel a mutiny rising. That could leave the remaining miles more tolerable.
One of my favorite things to do when the kids traveled with us was to set out that first day in the middle of the night. My wife claims I still do this, but I disagree. I wake up every day at 2:30 to go to work, so a 4am departure is a late start for me...
My wife always put together a goodie bag for each kid. She would give it to them after we crossed the first state line. Gave them something to do after a couple hours of travel, and usually kept them occupied for the rest of that day.
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Old 05-19-2016, 01:11 PM   #13
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DocVegas.....
With your wife aboard the equation changes. If she can do some driving it gets better. I would still suggest an extra couple of days in the trip plan if you can-- one day of rest in the middle would benefit all involved, and having an extra day in your pocket will give you a time cushion to absorb unanticipated family related delays.

You've already made three 400 mile trips, so you're aware of how tough it is FOR YOU. That's all that matters. As I said in my earlier post, I referred to "...anyone not accustomed to long distance driving." At 400 per day you'd cover 2000 or more in a work week. That's the stuff of professional OTR drivers, so pay no attention to claims of how easy it is unless you're the one making that decision.

Enjoy your trip; smell the coffee!


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Old 05-19-2016, 05:13 PM   #14
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400 miles a day on interstate, should be able to do 500 or 600 with time to spare in a motorhome, but I'm a retired truck driver
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