If you're just tuning in, here's a recap of steps 1 thru 9. Just a note, steps 1-5 are all from the same post so it's all the same link.
Step 10: Figure out a driving and lodging plan
We needed to get from Columbus, OH to Portland, OR by mid-September for my official start date. We closed on our condo in late August and our apartment move in date was at the beginning of September, giving us about a week to make the trek. There were a number of routes we could have taken in order to get from OH to OR. What helped us decide were family and friends living in a few cities along our potential routes. Mike’s cousin was in Denver and we had friends in Salt Lake City so we knew those two stops were going to be on our list, ruling out the northern routes (I-90 or I-94). I looked at both I-70 and I-80 and we opted for I-80 (cutting down into Colorado once we were done with Nebraska). I-80 is just a little bit further north, with slightly lower summer temps (maybe?!). Knowing we’d be traveling with an infant and two cats, we didn’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road in super hot weather. Granted, the temperature difference between places like Salina, KS and Kearney, NE in late August is probably minimal... but that’s what was going through my head!
Based on our timeline, two definite stops (Denver and SLC), and not wanting to overdo ourselves with driving each day, I mapped out a route. Our longest drive was on our second day of travel (8 hours) and our shortest drive was on our last day of travel (~1.5 hours, which ended up being one of the hardest days because we were so tired). We reached out to our family/friends to see if they’d be around and if we could stay with them. At each potential stop I found hotels that allowed cats (and ideally offered free breakfasts), read reviews, and looked for grocery stores or restaurants nearby. I also mapped out rest stops for breastfeeding, saving everything in google maps so that they showed up on our phones.
Once the driving plan was solidified, I booked our hotel stays. I also saved pdfs of the driving directions we’d need for each day to google drive (making them available offline) and printed them out in case we didn’t have cell service or our phones died. Here’s what our itinerary looked like:
Day 1: Columbus, OH --> Champaign, IL
Day 2: Champaign, IL --> Lincoln, NE
Day 3: Lincoln, NE --> Denver, CO
Day 4: Denver, CO --> Grand Junction, CO
Day 5: Grand Junction, CO --> Salt Lake City, UT
Day 6: Salt Lake City, UT --> Boise, ID
Day 7: Boise, ID --> Hood River, OR
Day 8: Hood River, OR --> Portland, OR
If we didn’t have the cats with us, we would have done more sightseeing along the way, but leaving 2 cats in the car in hot weather wasn’t going fly... Even though we had to stop every few hours so that Ellie could nurse, she was at a perfect age for car travel. She didn’t hate her car seat yet, wasn’t mobile, and slept a lot. One day, when Ellie is older and can appreciate it, we’d love to do to this trip again and actually see more than just hotels and rest stops (and without the cats of course... I don’t think they could handle another long trek!)
Next up, finalizing the “little” details.