Cross Country Trip

In August/September of 2014, my family of 4 is going to head from Kentucky to Spokane, WA, and back. Two adults and two small kids (will be 3 and 4 by then). I am trying to decide upon the best way to travel, and one of my ideas is to drive our 2002 Subaru Outback to Spokane, sell it there, then Amtrak back. I’ve also heard that some rental car companies give a good discount that time of year for driving a vehicle across the country…but I don’t know any details or which direction would be the inexpensive one. We could also Amtrak it out there and then drive back (in either a rental or perhaps purchase a car?). OR, we could just drive both ways or Amtrak both ways, but that would be a downer because we would need to rent a car while out there, and we would miss out on visiting several friends along the way (in Des Moines, Sioux Falls, and Bozeman). Any tips, advice, or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

I would rent a car, drive it out there, use it locally, then turn it in and take the train back. Just make sure the rental car company knows you are renting one way for an interstate trip.

There is a whole world out there that you will miss if you don’t drive. I would not want to sell a car out there-just don’t see the purpose of it and too much can go wrong. So if you don’t trust your vehicle just go with a rental with unlimited mileage or trade cars before that. The kids might be a little young for some of the western stuff but they’ll remember Mt. Rushmore, Dinasaur park, Yellowstone, etc.

I would drive both ways. Take 64 to St Louis and see the arch, ride it to the top. Then 70 to Kansas City, 29 to Sioux Falls, 90 to Rapid City and see Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood and Devil’s Tower (two days in this area), then continue on 90 to Little Big Horn, then on to Glacier. Take the old highway 89 up to Glacier from around Livingston. Then down 93 to 90 again and on to Spokane.

On the return trip, 90 back to Livingston, then south on 89 to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, down to 15 and south to Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon (day each if the kids can stand it but both in one day if you don’t do any hiking), then 89 to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, On to the Vermillion Cliffs, then over the Glen Canyon dam to I-40, stop and see Meteor Crater(awesome), then a trip through the Petrified Forest, then on to 285 and down to Roswell, on to Carlsbad and finally I-10, 20, 30, 55 and 64 to home.

Too bad the kids wouldn’t be old enough to really get the benefit. Maybe do this trip in about 8-10 years when it would be a great education for them.

Thanks for the tips guys :slight_smile: We’re headed out for a wedding, and the Des Moines/Sioux Falls/Bozeman route is preferred because we would have 3 places to stay along the way. The people are what I would hate to miss out on! I’ve seen all the scenery before. The boys don’t LOVE love the car, but I really want to visit my friends and plane tickets are ~$1400 each, and for four people, that’s just not feasible. I guess, too, I could price rentals each direction and take the train direction that the rental would be the most expensive. I was hoping someone would say selling a car would be really easy, HA!

Renting is always cheaper if you return the car to the place of origin. If you are going to take the car out you might as well plan on driving it back imho. If you want to rent a car check rent a wreck. In addition to what @keith lined up I would do the Northern route out, then to San Fran incorporating 101, it is not unusual to get snow in the mountains that time of year. Then San Fran to Denver to St Louis then home

I would look into renting a mini van for the trip; bonus if you could find one with rear seat entertainment(DVD player, etc) for the kids.

I’d drive both ways, take a circle route, see new stuff both ways.

Selling a car is easy if it is in excellent condition and is sold at a very low price. You probably wouldn’t like the big discount required to sell it quickly.

Are you planning on selling the car anyway? I mean, I don’t understand why you would drive the car across the country and then sell it. Is there some specific reason you want to sell it? If it’s mechanically sound to drive it one-way it should be able to make the round trip. My vote is to drive and not be at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.

In my experience, Amtrak would be fun for the kids for one day and one night. After that they’ll start to get cabin fever. In a car you can stop when you want and let them run around a bit.

Washington is a pretty easy state in which to sell a car. Just bring the title. No safety inspections. Some zip codes in Spokane will have an emissions inspection but that’s the responsibility of the person registering it.