need advice for NY to PHOENIX 10-day drive

Old Apr 4th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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need advice for NY to PHOENIX 10-day drive

Hello -

Driving cross country is something I've always wanted to do.

I have to be in Phoenix the first week of August.

I would like to take around 10 days to make the drive from New York City to Phoenix.

The two "adult drivers" (myself included) are in our 30's but there would be two teenagers (17 and 18 years old) on the trip as well.

I would GREATLY APPRECIATE any advice on a possible route, day-by-day driving itinerary, (safe) places to see and (safe) places to stay. (plan to drive a rental... hostels welcome to keep price down).

Thank you for any time and help you can give!
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 10:39 AM
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As for your route, what EXACTLY are the criteria you are asking for? Fastest? Least nerve-wracking? Most scenic? Best cities to visit? Best places to experience something (and you'd better specify what the "something" is)?

> (safe) places to see

Other than crime ridden urban neighborhoods that no tourist on a ten-day cross-country would bother seeing, I can't think of any place I would consider "unsafe." What exactly are you trying to avoid, that any reasonable person would avoid anyway?

> hostels welcome to keep price down

You may find you'll save even more money by camping along the way. Buy a four-person tent and a few camping supplies at a discount store, and you can reduce your cost of lodging to about $20 each night. Camping area are MUCH more easy to find than hostels.

Can't give you any itineraries without knowing your tolerance for driving long distances on boring interstates. I once drove over 470 miles in little over eight hours (by myself, and driving a car with a stick shift and no cruise control), but I don't recommend that for everyone!

I'd love to tell you some of the things I've most enjoyed, that you could see on this journey, and the route you could take to see them -- but such advice would be of no use until I know a little bit more on what you're looking for.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 11:19 AM
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The historic Route 66 will take you from Chicago to Arizona. There are lots of guidebooks and websites about traveling this road across the country.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 11:32 AM
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Thank you for your reply!

> As for your route, what EXACTLY are the criteria you are asking for?

Well... not looking for the fastest but I am limited to 10-12 days. I have a pretty good sense of direction (and GPS of course) and can handle driving in new places... so i'm not too worried about nerve-wracking.

I think I'd rather a best destination / cities / attractions to visit than a scenic route. Perhaps longer drives for fewer but more exciting / interesting destinations?

> What exactly are you trying to avoid, that any reasonable person would avoid anyway?

Oh, I suppose just what you mentioned about crime ridden neighborhoods... sorry from NY and NJ I suppose they're around more than the rest of the country.

>your tolerance for driving long distances on boring interstates

I can tolerate driving long interstate distances.

I will definitely look into and consider the camping option, I have no problem with that... but would probably want a room or two sprinkled into the trip.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 11:36 AM
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> The historic Route 66 will take you from Chicago to Arizona.

I was looking at this option as well... make one long drive from NY to Chicago, spend a day in Chicago and then head down Route 66.

...but Googling about traveling Rt. 66 I get all sorts of mixed info and am confused about that option. Is it a drivable road? I mean are there dirt road portions? Is it easy to navigate? Is it for spur of the moment cheap hotels stay... or better to make reservations? Would a 17 and 18 year old teenager enjoy Rt. 66?

Thanks again for taking the time to respond!
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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> about traveling Rt. 66
> Is it a drivable road?

Thanks to Jack Kerouac,
http://www.beatmuseum.org/kerouac/jackkerouac.html
many people think that following this road will bring some sort of enlightenment or insight. However, Route 66 stopped being an actual road about 35 years ago. Thus, to get this enlightenment, you'll have to get a guidebook and follow what remains of the road. Some parts are still as they were sixty years ago, some have long ago vanished under desert sands. If you're planning to visit major sites (like cities) after a lot of traveling, then Route 66 is pretty much a non-starter. Its appeal is because one does NOT travel fast, to anything with major appeal.

> best destination / cities / attractions to visit than a scenic route

One last question -- WHAT types of destinations are you hoping to visit? You could go NYC -> Pittsburgh -> Cleveland -> Chicago -> Saint Louis -> Kansas City -> Denver -> Albuquerque -> Phoenix; and see some pretty impressive museums. Or you could go NYC -> Harrisburg -> I-81 -> Shenandoah -> Blue Ridge Parkway -> Great Smokies -> I-40 (long and BORING drive) -> Grand Canyon; and see some nice scenery and wildlife. But which is your preference?

Since you're traveling in August, I STRONGLY urge you to stay as far north as possible, for as long as possible. The second route, for instance, would be glorious in May; in August it will be horrendous. Camping will be difficult with the heat and humidity and mosquitoes you'll come across.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 12:38 PM
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>Route 66 stopped being an actual road about 35 years ago

Yeah, while it might be something I would like to do someday... doesn't seem like a good option for this specific trip.

>WHAT types of destinations are you hoping to visit?

I'm perfectly fine with just seeing the different regional cultures... I enjoy taking in the different city cultures, seeing landmarks, museums, etc... or other low cost options.

NYC -> Pittsburgh -> Cleveland -> Chicago -> Saint Louis -> Kansas City -> Denver -> Albuquerque -> Phoenix

That sounds like a very appealing itinerary... but packed. You think this is doable in 10-12 days? I'd like to look into that... especially taking your advice on avoiding the southern summer heat.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Your route looks quite logical, and if each city were a destination for the day, you could easily do the trip, but it would not give you a lot of time to explore the cities.

I feel for the kids who will have so much seat time. That said, if you look for something to do in some of the cities that would be fun for them, a ball game, rock concert, hike, segway tour,etc. it might make the trip more fun.

There are magazines at rest stops that have discount coupons and small maps showing where hotels/motels are along the way. One I have used on road trips is RoomSaver and even if I don't use the coupon, I know where there is lots of lodging and what extras are included at the sites, like pools, work out rooms, wifi, free breakfast, etc.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 02:50 PM
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Once you get to Phoenix, there is a HI Hostel. http://www.hiusa.org/hostels/usa_hos.../phoenix/60106
There is a non HI hostel in Albuquerque on Central Avenue which was in fact Route 66. It is the Route 66 Hostel.
If you want to try to follow the old Route 66, you can stay in the the HI Hostel on Congress in Chicago. MY DW and I have stayed there as well.
The direct route by mapquest does not go through Chicago.
Do you intend to drive back to NY or pay a huge drop off fee?
Making the trip with a personal vehicle or part of the way by Amtrak with a rental in the Phoenix area makes more sense.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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The itinerary (below) that PaulRabe outlined has 7 cities with MLB teams. Catching a few games on your roadtrip would be cool, IMO.

NYC -> Pittsburgh -> Cleveland -> Chicago -> Saint Louis -> Kansas City -> Denver -> Albuquerque -> Phoenix
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 04:49 PM
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Wow - thanks so much to everyone for your input. It really has been valuable.

I'm thinking I may jump straight NYC -> Chicago to allow for relax time and travel cushion.

Ugh, I didn't realize renting one way was so much more expensive. I don't know what else to do because I will definitely be flying back. I'm thinking that is my only option?

What are your thoughts on this preliminary itinerary? (broken up into a 10 day trip)

I would value your input. Any criticisms? Too much time in one place or not enough time in another? Are there any landmarks or short detours worth mentioning on the road between these places? Again, this is just a preliminary plan with general travel time estimates.

...and maybe this is a silly question but were you referring to Kansas City, MO or Kansas City, KS? They're pretty close to each other and I'm not sure which one was meant in the suggested route.

DAY ONE
NJ ---> CHICAGO, IL (12 hours 40 minutes drive time)

DAY TWO
STAY IN CHICAGO, IL

DAY THREE
STAY IN CHICAGO, IL

DAY FOUR
CHICAGO ---> ST. LOUIS, MO (5 hours drive time)

DAY FIVE
ST. LOUIS, MO ---> KANSAS CITY, KS (4 hours drive time)

DAY SIX
KANSAS CITY, KS ---> DENVER, CO (9 hours drive time)

DAY SEVEN
STAY IN DENVER, CO

DAY EIGHT
STAY IN DENVER, CO

DAY NINE
DENVER, CO ---> ALBUQUERQUE, NM (7 hours drive time)

DAY TEN
ALBUQUERQUE, NM ---> PHOENIX, AZ (7 hours drive time)
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 07:12 PM
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You can price flights to see if they are cheaper than Amtrak.
Lake Shore Limited- NYP to CHI $352 for 4 coach
Lincoln Service - CHI to STL $ 96 for 4 coach
Missouri River Rnr- STL to KCY $112 for 4 coach
The Amtrak station and the ballpark are both in Kansas City Missouri. Rent your car in Kansas City and drive to Denver then Albuquerque then Phoenix. Drive the rental car back to Kansas City and fly back from there.
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 08:07 AM
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It looks like your trip is focusing on large cities, in which you will spend a few days. Great -- it's what I would recommend.

That being the case, and as expensive as one-way rentals are (as I'm sure you've found out), I would instead recommend you fly between these cities. Just pick two (or three at the most) cities that interest you (Chicago and Denver would be my choice), fly to them, use mass transit (Chicago) or car-rental (Denver) while visiting them, and then fly onto the next city. You could also rent a car between two cities that are FAIRLY close to each other (Chicago to Saint Louis, for instance) and reduce those horrid drop off charges to manageable levels. Note that you can rent a car one-way, pay the drop-off surcharge for only one day, return the car, and then immediately rent a car for use in that city -- the latter being at a lower cost, because you'll return the car to same agency, thus eliminating the surcharge.

A lot of planning? Definitely. Will it save money? Yes.

I definitely WISH one could cheaply rent a car in one US city and drop it off in another. But, for the most part, you can't. So you have to be both tricky and picky.

Note that spending all your times in large cities will pretty much eliminate any use of camping for lodging. You'll probably be able to find cheap lodging, but check to see if it's safe. You're not saving money if you're worried about your safety when walking to the motel lobby!
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