yankee814 wrote: open the passenger side window and put the pole in as far back as it goes into the car ...
No ... this is really not a good idea at all. I wouldn't go more than a mile that way ... certainly not 4 hours! The pole will stick out the side of the car too much - well into the next lane of cars - or worse yet, it could hit road signs! Yikes!
You have 2 options.
1. Put the pole (in its case) along the passenger side of the car, tied to the front grill and the back trunk. If you open the hood and the trunk, you'll find some sturdy brackets to tie it to. Once you slam the trunk and the hood, the pole should be tight to the car. The only problem is that if you have a passenger, he/she will have to get in/out thru the window or thru the driver's side door.
2. Put the pole on the roof, tied to the front and rear bumpers. You should put some towels or foam under the bag or case where it's resting on the roof, otherwise you'll get roof paint damage from the constant shifting of the case back and forth. You should also tie the middle of the pole case down, so that it doesn't shift side-to-side. This can be done by tying it thru both windows, so that it's tight, and can't shift side-to-side. Then roll up the windows - which will have to stay open a crack. You can avoid this by tying TWO ropes to the front and back bumpers - in a triangle shape to the ends of each bumper. This provides lateral support, so you don't have to keep the windows open a crack. Don't be afraid of putting a serious bend in your pole when you tie it down - this will keep it more solid in the wind, and keep it from flapping around when you're driving - which can be very distracting to you when you're trying to watch the road.
Either one of these solutions keeps the pole from sticking out into traffic or into the way of road signs. It's actually illegal to have anything sticking out that far.
Speaking of legality, you should have a red flag on the end of your pole, since it will extend past your back bumper. Then it's perfectly legal.
The cargo rack is also a good idea, but if this is the only reason you'd use it, it's not worth the money. Towels are just as good.
Oh ... another idea is to go to IKEA and get some straps for hauling big things on top of the car. It's a very cheap alternative to a cargo rack, and is actually all you need. Then you don't even need to worry about tying the strap thru the windows, becuz they fasten to the gutters above each window ... or to the door frames. I realize most modern cars don't have gutters! he he! If yours doesn't, IKEA might advise you on another system they have that doesn't require gutters. Or maybe you could research that on the IKEA website.