Experience of traveling long distances by car

williamfisher

New member
Joined
Oct 27, 2021
Location
USA
TDI
2016 Lux
I am living in Atlanta, I and my friends want to travel to San Francisco next weekend. However, this time we plan on a road trip, so we don't know what to prepare for the trip. Does anyone have any experience with this? Please share with me :D
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
Are you planning on stopping every night or switching drivers? We've done it both ways driving across the country and sometimes we just want to get there and drive straight through.

Vegetables and non-greasy foods are your friend, and we'd seldom stop for a large meal as it just weighs you down and sits heavy. Snacks are good to keep you going.

Don't let your fuel get below 1/4 tank. Fuel stations can be far apart and we've come across them only to find them closed.

Waze is a great app for notifying you of where police are located on the roadways and to route you around traffic.

Plan ahead if there are any stops or sights you want to see along the way.

We prefer books on tape since you can get lost in the book and the time seems to pass better.

Soft ear plugs are great for when you want to catch some sleep.

Know your route and look at construction/cities so you can minimize downtime in traffic. This time of year you might want to consider a southern truckers route to stay away from the mountains. Western mountains sometimes require chains to cross them.

Pump up your tires to accommodate the additional load of the car and reduce rolling resistance, just don't go too high.

Change the oil in the car and service it since it's a long drive. Make sure it's up to snuff. A simple ball joint or wheel bearing failure could delay your trip several days waiting for parts.

Set up emergency points in case you run into trouble. For instance, I can assist if you're in the Arizona area. While I may not know your car, at least it's a friendly place from which to make arrangements instead of some random parking lot.

Make sure the passengers seat reclines for napping. Don't stuff the car so full you can't move.

We prefer not to make plans when driving across country as those plans will always change. It was easy to find hotels along the route at the last minute, even pet friendly ones that weren't expensive.

Have a credit card or other means of emergency money available that is only for use in an emergency. We needed to rush home for an emergency when in Italy and it cost us $4,000 to exit the country in 24 hours.

If you're towing or have stuff strapped to the car, make sure it's bombproof. On our first drive from Maine to Arizona, the Thule roof racks tore off the top of the car and sent $12,000 worth of bikes bouncing down the middle of the highway. I was able to get them before they were destroyed, but then had to make alternate means of securing them, which I did because I was prepared. The damage to the car was over $8k but luckily the bikes were OK (the titanium one took the main hit, saving the carbon fiber from certain destruction).

Check your bank accounts before leaving. On one of our drives from Maine to Florida, while on the drive I checked my account and noticed a simple $2 charge from a place in NH to which I'd never been. Turns out it was a scammer pinging my account to see if money could be withdrawn. They ping the account for a small amount and then when nothing is done, hit it hard. My bank was able to turn off the card for remote purchases, so I had to use my PIN or be present for the card to work, but it was less than ideal for the following 2 weeks.

I think that's it.
 

Windex

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
Cambridge
TDI
05 B5V 01E FRF
check over the car thoroughly before departure - I had a CV boot rip and cause the joint to almost let go in the middle of alligator alley in FL. Would have been caught if I more closely looked at the CV boot before departure from up here in Canada.

Make sure your cruise works. I find that after about 3-4 hours, I start to need a shift in seating position, and being able to put the right foot somewhere other than the gas pedal helps.

Have a plan of roughly how far you want to go in a day, and get an idea of where you want to stop. You will get there more promptly if you have a goal time/place.

be realistic of how far you are going to be able to get in one day. I once made the mistake of trying to do 18 hours coming from PA to FL, and ended up very fatigued on I95 halfway between jacksonville and Orlando at 1am jumping about in a rest area trying to stay awake to make it to Miami. I can't drive as far as I used to when I was 20 years younger... :-(
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2003; 2016 A3 e-tron
the Thule roof racks tore off the top of the car and sent $12,000 worth of bikes bouncing down the middle of the highway
As one of the (I'm guessing) few people on this board who's also carried well into the five-figures worth of bike on the car...what Thule rack and what car? Weren't using the right rack for the right car? Didn't tighten down properly? I had a bike fly off a rack once before, but never had the rack sail on me.

Everything else you put in your list...excellent ideas and advice!
As with most things, while money doesn't solve all your problems, having access to an emergency stash of it (in the form of credit / debit cards, or whatever), can certainly make it easier to adjust to the unexpected and/or unforeseen.
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
The car was a 2014 Kia Optima and the rack was a new Thule clamp on, tensioned properly with the hex key tensioner that come with it. I encountered a strong headwind (50 mph) and at 65mph the combined speed was 115mph.

It wasn’t until after the incident that I learned Thule has an 80mph combined limit (Yakima is 100 mph). The racks were not overloaded at all. Because their speed limit was exceeded, they weren’t covered by Thule.

Lesson learned.
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2003; 2016 A3 e-tron
One of the reasons I prefer to go with the Kuat Sherpa on the back of my cars when I can - speed limits (within reason) don't apply. :D
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2003; 2016 A3 e-tron
One other thing I'd add: Similar to the higher-pressures in the rear tires, if you're going to have a lot of weight in the back (two rear seat passengers, plus luggage for four adults), doing something to bolster the rear suspension is worthwhile. The quickest / cheapest route is putting AirLift bags (AirLift 80753) in the rear springs. $125USD gets you the hardware; a few hours gets the job done (the first time; second time, having figured it out, goes much quicker).
 

2004LB7

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
California
TDI
2006 Jetta
don't forgot an extra quart or two of oil and some coolant/water for the engine and maybe even an extra gallon or more of fuel. on long road trips I like to at least carry a gas can that I can fill for emergency use if it comes down to walking or getting a ride to a station. otherwise it already has fuel in it. I also generally carry a little air compressor for tires along with the tire plugs
 

Andyinchville1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2016
Location
Virginia
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI wagon, 5 sp, 226K miles
Before setting out , let family / friends know your plans / route / timing in case of major delays etc or potential problems

Carry Communication equipment ....

I usually carry an old school cb in case in case i hit an area with no cell service ....

Admittedly, the best would be a satellite phone but those are kinda big $$ ( note : there is something that allows you to text through satellites that a lot of hikers use but I can't recall what it's called .... it costs a few bucks but could be helpful also).

I thought about buying one of those cell phone amplifiers but those are kind of big dollars also ( about $600).

Maybe a ham radio is cheap insurance to get help?

I'd also carry some extra food water and warm clothes just in case you break down somewhere.

If you can spare the space , having an TDI / ASE Certified mechanic on board with a full complement of tools and parts could also help. ;-)

Andrew
 
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2004LB7

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
California
TDI
2006 Jetta
Before setting out , let family / friends know your plans / route / timing in case of major delays etc or potential problems

Carry Communication equipment ....

I usually carry an old school cb in case in case i hit an area with no cell service ....

Admittedly, the best would be a satellite phone but those are kinda big $$ ( note : there is something that allows you to text through satellites that a lot of hikers use but I can't recall what it's called .... it costs a few bucks but could be helpful also).

I thought about buying one of those cell phone amplifiers but those are kind of big dollars also ( about $600).

Maybe a ham radio is cheap insurance to get help?

I'd also carry some extra food water and warm clothes just in case you break down somewhere.

If you can spare the space , having an TDI / ASE Certified mechanic on board with a full complement of tools and parts could also help. ;-)

Andrew
to save on some of that and make it easier, why don't you just tow a spare car full of fuel, food and gear so if your primary car fails or runs out of fuel you can ditch it and use the spare 😆
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
It’s not like they’re going into the wilds of northern Maine, there will be amenities, people, and lots of civilization. The hardest part for me was having to wait 350 miles between Waffle Houses.
 

Mozambiquer

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Mar 21, 2015
Location
Versailles Missouri
TDI
1998 VW Jetta TDI. 1982 VW Rabbit pickup, 2001 VW Jetta TDI
Biggest thing I regretted not taking once was my vag-com. I had the TCM go into limp mode in the outer banks of North Carolina and had no way of knowing what was going on. It ended up fine, as I got a good deal on a 2003 Ford expedition and rented a tow dolly to bring my car back home, but now, i always pack my laptop and vag-com.
 

2004LB7

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
California
TDI
2006 Jetta
Biggest thing I regretted not taking once was my vag-com. I had the TCM go into limp mode in the outer banks of North Carolina and had no way of knowing what was going on. It ended up fine, as I got a good deal on a 2003 Ford expedition and rented a tow dolly to bring my car back home, but now, i always pack my laptop and vag-com.
good point. I bring my laptop and VCDS cable. if I'm in my truck I take my V2 Flashscan on long trips. when I traveled to Montana about 1k miles away from home I found the truck very hard to drive in the high altitude but I had my laptop and V2 with me so I was able to make the necessary tune changes to make it drivable again
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
Northern MD (HAGERBUSH)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress)
I do this fairly often now. Wife and I trade off 4 hour shifts or whatever it is to do the drive and go 6 to 8 hours to the next place at night. Then sleep 3 hours till things open in the car and have a full day wherever it may be. Cheap and effective. Easy way to see things over a distance.
I just bring a simple tool set and some basic fluids just incase and a patch kit. A cooler with some drinks and snacks.
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2003; 2016 A3 e-tron
To help stay alert, I've found that it's best if I avoid high-sugar/carb foods (high glycemic index) - I can feel fine for hours, then "you know what, now would be a good time to have a chocolate bar"...big blast of sugar hits the bloodstream, followed 15-20minutes later by the big insulin response (which overcompensates) and suddenly, I need a nap. 😴
 

Ragdude

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
Location
Phx
TDI
2015 VW Golf SEL TDi
Probably more important than snacks , bring drinking water. If you get stranded , water is key.
Have fun, its a long drive, and nerves can get tested, everyone needs to be flexible to each others wishes.
 

TurboABA

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Location
Kitchener, ON
TDI
2010 Jetta 6spd MT, 2014 Touareg Execline
He didn't say was he was driving....
I'm guessing it's a Touareg, in which case, he needs to fill his DEF before the trip.
If he's towing, he should take a jug of DEF along with him.
If my guess is correct and he is in a 3L TDI, he should also take one or two quarts of oil with him, as most of these engines seem to consume\loose a bit of oil between oil changes.
Lastly, the Touareg doesn't have a full size\ready to use spare, so make sure that your compressor or all related spare wheel swapping stuff is in good order and you know how to use them.
 

TurboABA

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Location
Kitchener, ON
TDI
2010 Jetta 6spd MT, 2014 Touareg Execline
Typo... that was supposed to read "he didn't say WHAT he was driving".
I jumped to the egg conclusion based on the "lux" in his user profile..... could be totally wrong.
 

TurboABA

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Location
Kitchener, ON
TDI
2010 Jetta 6spd MT, 2014 Touareg Execline
Well, since we never heard back from the OP, I'm guessing we should've just told him to make sure he pays his phone\data plan and takes it with him so that he can get all our suggestions .....

Either that, or simply enable notifications! :D
 

AndyBees

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 27, 2003
Location
Southeast Kentucky
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta TDI, Silver 2000 Jetta TDI (sold), '84 Vanagon with '02 ALH engine
We did a similar trip to the West Coast in September, 2020. I put together a "daily" itinerary. We knew exactly where we would stay each night and the high-lights we wanted to see along the way, including a couple of days in Vegas. Unless you are a young whippersnapper that's never traveled, it is basically a no-brainer! If it is a drive-thru, well, count me out!

I did my first cross-country in May, 1980 in a VW Diesel Rabbit to San Diego ........ we were in Carson City, Nevada when Mt. St. Helen's blew!

Notice I said, DIESEL ............ 1980! I never had a single issue finding fuel and that was over 41 years ago! With the Internet, smart phones, etc., it should be a breeze. We did our first road trip to Alaska in 1986 in a VW Vanagon ... no Internet in those days! I knew where we would be staying each night!

As TurboABA indicated, the OP hasn't been back ...... guess he's busy packing!
 

jmodge

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
We did a similar trip to the West Coast in September, 2020. I put together a "daily" itinerary. We knew exactly where we would stay each night and the high-lights we wanted to see along the way, including a couple of days in Vegas. Unless you are a young whippersnapper that's never traveled, it is basically a no-brainer! If it is a drive-thru, well, count me out!

I did my first cross-country in May, 1980 in a VW Diesel Rabbit to San Diego ........ we were in Carson City, Nevada when Mt. St. Helen's blew!

Notice I said, DIESEL ............ 1980! I never had a single issue finding fuel and that was over 41 years ago! With the Internet, smart phones, etc., it should be a breeze. We did our first road trip to Alaska in 1986 in a VW Vanagon ... no Internet in those days! I knew where we would be staying each night!

As TurboABA indicated, the OP hasn't been back ...... guess he's busy packing!
Andy, I applaud your discipline, I could never do that though. I turn down whatever road looks interesting.

Butt, to the OP, do your daily ruffage. If you're putting on the miles you don't want to pack the exit shut.
 
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