In traveling from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama, the Watsons would have had to travel through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee before reaching their destination in Alabama. Depending on which roads they took, it is also possible that they may have spent a short time in Ohio after leaving Michigan and before crossing into Indiana as well.
On the first day of their trip, the Watsons leave Flint, Michigan and travel via I-75 to Cincinnati, Ohio, a trip of 300 miles. They plan to stay in a hotel in Cincinnati. On the second day, they head 250 miles south to Knoxville, Tennessee, and on the third day, they drive 300 miles to Grandma Sands's house in Birmingham, Alabama. They have to plan their trip because, as a Black family, they can't stop wherever they want. This route takes them through six states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the very northwestern corner of Georgia, and Alabama. The trip is just under 800 miles long. When they finally arrive in Birmingham, Kenny thinks that the city looks a lot like Flint, though it it is much warmer. Kenny and Joey have never met Grandma Sands, and Byron last saw his grandmother 10 years before, when he was 10.
The Watsons begin their trip in Flint, Michigan. Momma has created a notebook detailing the costs of the trip, the route, the stops along the way, etc. She plans for the trip to take three days. The Watsons are to drive for three hundred miles from Flint, Michigan to Cincinnati, Ohio. Wilona planned for them to stay in a motel and then journey on to Knoxville, Tenessee. On the third day, they were to drive from Tenessee to Birmingham, Alabama. Taking this route would bring the Watsons through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and then Alabama.
Although Momma has planned their route and stops very carefully, she doesn't count on Daddy deciding to drive the whole way through to save money on motels. Momma is furious when she finds out that Daddy has altered her carefully laid plans, but is thrilled when they arrive in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.