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Old 04-02-2016, 01:51 PM   #1
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Arizona-Pennsylvania w/kids - Sane?

OK folks, it's been a while since I posted up on my progress. Here's the scoop and question. In the past 2 years I owned the RV, I used it 4 times. Twice AZ to CA and once AZ to NM and once within AZ. I still grit my teeth when I need fuel and I still make stupid mistakes (poop pyramid saga). So, I need to make a decision. I bought the RV mainly because my parents and my wife's parents live in PA. I am an educator at a university, so in the summer, we essentially all have off..... except, I ended up signing up for a summer gig in SE Asia where we have lived the last few summers, so no PA trip. This summer, I canceled on SE Asia as my kids need some quality time with our aging relatives.

So here's what I am thinking about, we can leave AZ bound for PA in early June and return in late July. Sounds like lots of time, but I have some required business travel in rather poor time slots, so I might need to go quicker one way or the other. WHAT is realistic for a family of 5 (2x 5 year olds and 1x 10 year old) to go from Arizona to Pennsylvania (east side)??? Our rig is a gas powered 35', which always seems to have issues. I figured I would take it to an RV shop before the trip and have everything gone through.... Regardless, any suggestions? Is this too crazy if I have to compress it to say 1-week each way? Is 2-weeks each way more realistic? For the family, maybe it is not so bad, but for me behind the wheel.... I feel like a pressured drive will not be so fun. We will pull a small toad by the way (Kia Soul).

Would just like to get some impressions of what I should expect on our first journey this long. Things to watch out for, or make the experience better. Is it too crazy to try in one week, or should we try to spread it out more?


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Old 04-02-2016, 02:09 PM   #2
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Doc Vegas-

If you look at other threads on iRV2, you'll find that many people drive between 250 and 350 miles per day. Including breaks, the average speed is 50 to 55 miles per hour. Another way is to think of a 5 to 7 hour driving day. This has you out of an RV park by 9:00 and in by 3:00 (assuming 6 hours). There are many more daylight hours in the Summer, but instead of driving you and your family can use them to explore your surroundings.

That all said, the numbers above do not represent the ends of the spectrum, by any means.

Too, you may want to lay over a day in a locale that has interesting things to do, rather than just pick up and move every day. It's surprising how quickly that can recharge you for further driving.

You can cover more miles in a day if you and your spouse share driving. But, I caution against seeing the trip goal as just covering miles.

Finally, the driving experience in western and eastern ends of your trip can differ greatly (think traffic). You may want the daily miles to run a little long in the West, and a little short in the East, to account for that.

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Old 04-02-2016, 02:20 PM   #3
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If you're in no hurry 250 to 350 miles a day is enough. We like to be in a campground by 5PM and spend a leisurely evening. We always stop for lunch and take our time. We also try to fuel up at lunch time if we can and always keep at least a half full fuel tank. We like Flying Js for fuel but not for food necessarily, although we found a few on our last trip up the East coast that didn't have Dennys, but actually Golden Corral.

I always tell my wife that she doesn't have to pack the entire house as they sell all those things all over the country and we can just buy what we need as we go.

Course that falls on deaf ears and it takes most of a day for her to pack the motorhome with her stuff.

It takes me half an hour.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:00 PM   #4
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FWIW I am going to suggest a bit different approach. I did a quick Googlemap for Tuscon to Philadelphia just for a calibration. Memphis is a bit past half way. We would put in a long day or two getting out of town. BTDT or saving it for a short trip if it's close to home. They say 1400 miles, 20 hours. I'd say 2-3 days. Then stop for 2 nights around Memphis and see what would interest the family. From there it's another 1000 miles but I would take maybe 10 days to do it. Hit the welcome center tourist information places hard. The 5 year olds are a bit young but there is interesting stuff to see and do from the Mississippi east across Tennessee up the Shenandoah Valley into southern PA and across. Move every other day and spend some time looking and some driving. Avoid the DC area by staying on I-81 to Gettysburg or Harrisburg.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:52 PM   #5
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IMHO the longer duration trip the better, less stress and more flexibility. I would investigate the general route that you are going to travel and look at points of interest that might interest the family and plan on stopping as you progress toward your destination. Flexibility would allow you to spend more time in areas if you find other things to see.

Does your wife drive the motorhome, if not it would help if she learns in case of emergency and give you a break. Also, since you will have a tow vehicle it could always be driven separately on some days. Again flexibility.

Don't rule out sopping at a nice place and spending several days just relaxing and catching your breath, doing laundry, etc.

FWIW my wife & I took a trip to Alaska in 2009. During the whole trip we didn't really have a set itinerary, instead we stopped when we wanted where we wanted and did what we wanted. We were on the road 3.5 months.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:00 PM   #6
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And when you figure out how much time to allow, add a week each way to allow for weather. I am in central Illinois today parked because it is too windy to drive. Our last long trip saw 6 days parked in Kansas waiting out monsoon rains and dust storms. It is not fun to drive in either.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:25 PM   #7
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Go for the two weeks each way and give yourselves a relaxing vacation. Return a different route. Stop at some fun things for the kids.

Secondly, teach your wife to drive. It's not a big deal and you're going to need some breaks.

Check your tires carefully. The AZ sun is hard on them. If older than 6 years, replace them.

Hope it works out for you. The aging parents are important!
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:09 PM   #8
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I would say don't set any dates. Just call parents and say that your leaving early June and you will give updates as to your progress. Some days you may drive 300 miles. Some days you may want to do less. Other days, 0 miles. You get there when you get there. Some of our more relaxing vacations is when we don't overthink and just head out and wing it. The more plans you have the more things that will go wrong and the next thing you know you're behind. Good things don't happen when you're rushed and diving too far. Take your time and just head out across this great land and enjoy it...and the kids. If you're stressed from driving it will turn from a vacation to a chore. Just my 2 cents worth.

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Old 04-03-2016, 04:28 AM   #9
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Many years before I retired we lived in Maryland. My parents lived in San Diego. They called and said they we're going to come out for a visit in their Winnie. They weren't sure when they would arrive as there were a few places they wanted to see on the way out. Well 6mos. later I hear an air horn out front, and there they were. Time isn't all that important to some.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:34 AM   #10
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Just enjoy the sites along the way and don't feel that you have to be there quick. The time getting there will be remembered forever, once there it's just a visit. Have safe travels.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:58 AM   #11
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I'm of the opposite school of thought - its the destination not the journey!

We started back in the 90's when our kids were your kids ages. TV, a bathroom and food keeps them occupied so you can log long days of driving. 150,000+ RV miles and 18 years later, they have their own families and plan their own cross country RV trips.

My plan with them always was that I get up at 4am and start driving. About 8am, I'm ready for my first fuel stop and their ready for breakfast - but I'm already 250 miles down the road. Another 4 hours and it's lunch and I'm 500 miles into the day. By dinner you'll have a solid 750 miles day completed. In three days, you're huggin' grammie in PA.

As for kid friendly stops along the way, here are some that my kids still love:
1. St. Louis Arch and Cardinals game
2. Graceland and Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis
3. Mammoth Cave, Ft. Knox tank museum and Corvette Museum in central KY
4. Dollywood, Gatlinburg, TN area
5. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive

You can take one route on your way there and a more southern route on your way home.

Safe travels!
Tom and Katharine
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:03 AM   #12
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During our 20+ years in the Navy we were never closer than 500 miles from family. Making drive thru trips was usually the norm and a great tiresome pain. So here's some advise from Grandmas side:
If you are not used to driving your RV all the time you will get pretty tired the first couple days. That spells nothing but trouble. Your goal should not only be to enjoy the trip but to also keep those precious babies safe.
As a grandmother, the last thing I would want to hear is that you have had an incident that could very well have been avoided if you were alert & rested. I'm sure the Grandparents would sacrifice a little time with the Babes for your safety
Quality time is your goal. That's what and how you spend it when you arrive not the number of days your there.
So, take your time, be safe and enjoy the journey
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:54 PM   #13
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Thanks for ALL the great info and encouragement. I am going to check out the ideas for stopping in a few places for a night or two. I think that would make "Dad" happy as I am not so keen on super long days (continuously) behind the wheel. I will post up as we get our plan closer to reality.

ALSO - first - may I ask if most of you would make reservations in advance for the places you stay overnight on a long road trip? That is also something that gives me great fear on each longer trip.... I know the Walmart concept, but at least in California they are not generally RV friendly.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:12 PM   #14
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Hi Doc,

I've done that trip twice from central PA. First trip took 11 days but we stayed two nights at two different locations to recharge our body energy.

Second time we took 9 days and were more deliberate. We averaged about 300 miles p/day which is about our comfort zone depending on traffic, weather, road conditions, etc.

Above all, take advantage to stop and smell at least SOME of the roses along the way.


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