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Driving Seattle to Houston in December. Good or bad?

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We are contemplating driving to Houston to spend Christmas with family.  We live in southwest British Columbia and know what to expect from here to Seattle in winter.  We are retired and won't be in a rush.  However, we want to enjoy the trip and will not go if white-knuckle driving is involved.  Has any forum member taken a similar winter trip?   I appreciate your advice and recommendations.

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Being retired I always look at ten day weather forecast and plan accordingly. I build in days for layovers for bad weather.


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White knuckle? If it's snow, no big deal...they shut the highways down when they get bad.

I've done numerous trips into the rockies in the winter, as stated above; look at the forecast and avoid any significant storms (or plan your route around them). Once you get to Denver, it's pretty easy from there out...94, 90, 80, 70, 82, 86, etc. can all be hot or miss this time of year. The mountain passes are usually the only bad spots until later in the year.

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As someone who makes a 6 hour trip to the in-laws in Minnesota for every Christmas, you should be just fine unless you happen to drive through the middle of a large storm in the mountains. The interstates are plowed and salted almost constantly in bad weather. Generally by 12 hours after the storm is gone, the roads are all clear. Maybe in the most remote mountain passes it takes a bit longer. But as long as you have an extra day built in just in case you do run into one of those storms, you will be fine. Also I recommend having an alternate route chosen in case there is bad weather in one area.

 

and just to guarantee nothing goes wrong, make sure you have all the essentials packed: water, gloves, blanket, shovel & sand or salt if you get stuck, food in case you have to wait. don't run the gas tank too low in remote areas. Surely if you prepare for the worst you will be fine.

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it will all depend on timing and weather.  i would wait until closer to when you want to leave before picking a route.

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Great responses. Thank you!  We do have an offer on a small travel trailer but this would probably not be the time of year to camp along the way.  (?)  We will be travelling with a small dog so accommodations may be limited.

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Plenty of places accept pets

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15 hours ago, txab said:

Plenty of places accept pets

I agree and "limited" may have been not the right word.  Having a pet will eliminate some options for us and will take some of the spontaneity out of where we stop at night.  I have heard that LaQuinta hotels are all pet friendly but Holiday Inn's are not consistently pet friendly.   I'd appreciate hearing some other suggestions.

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Just watch the weather. The further south, the worse the roads will be if it snows, because it snows less often so they are not as well prepared or equipped. Same with the drivers. You'll also get a good chuckle at all the 4x4s lining the ditches. As someone who drives for work in a RWD truck every day in Oklahoma regardless of the weather, it's not so much the roads as the bad drivers on them. You'll always have one idiot driving 10 mph on okay roads, then another that gets impatient and then drive down the middle of the highway at 70 through the piled up snow to get around them.

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Although I live in SC now I spent most of my life in eastern Washington state. My only suggestion has to do with route planning, since you have plenty of time I would take the little longer route sticking to the I-5 corridor down to Bakersfield,Ca then you can swing southeast towards Houston. There is a chance of winter weather in the N. Calif. area around Mt. Shasta, but you'd almost be guaranteed it if you take the shortest route where you will be into elevations of 5000 ft.+ for a good portion of the way once you get out of Pendleton, Or. in the Blue Mtns. on I-84.

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21 hours ago, garagerog said:

Although I live in SC now I spent most of my life in eastern Washington state. My only suggestion has to do with route planning, since you have plenty of time I would take the little longer route sticking to the I-5 corridor down to Bakersfield,Ca then you can swing southeast towards Houston. There is a chance of winter weather in the N. Calif. area around Mt. Shasta, but you'd almost be guaranteed it if you take the shortest route where you will be into elevations of 5000 ft.+ for a good portion of the way once you get out of Pendleton, Or. in the Blue Mtns. on I-84.

The fun is in the planning and research.  I have read elsewhere that the extra 10 hrs of driving negates any potential advantage of taking a more direct route.  I don't necessarily agree but it demonstrates my need to research! 

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Watch the weather, plan around that...

Even when it does get bad, it only gets troublesome when they close down a stretch of highway.

Go prepared, you'll likely be fine.

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The drive is no big deal at all. Just drive it. Get you an ID for your dog off of Ebay and he can stay anywhere free of charge.

 

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57 minutes ago, O_J_Simpson said:

The drive is no big deal at all. Just drive it. Get you an ID for your dog off of Ebay and he can stay anywhere free of charge.

 

As always, you are direct and offer sound advice!  I am probably overthinking the trip.  I lived for several years in northern Canada and  often drove in extreme weather.  However this was many years ago.  The dog ID suggestion is brilliant and I will definitely follow up. 

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If you happen to be in Texas - and it even starts the faintest flurry - PARK YOUR VEHICLE WAY AWAY.  The middle of  a section (640 acres).  Texans drive the same speed all the time (15-20mph OVER the limit - or more).  And when you get in those spaghetti bowl interstates exchanges - its nearly suicide.

 

Texans do NOT know how to drive in any amount of snow/ice.

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