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  1. Default East Coast VA to central IN

    Hello everyone. I'm new & hoping someone can help. We are taking a road trip from eastern VA to central IN (north of Indy) next month. Every mapping site I've found (Rand McNally, MSN Maps, Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, Mapquest) seems to take us a different route and offers vastly differing opinions re: mileage and length of time the trip would take.

    First, my question would be which site would you all recommend as being the most accurate?

    Second, which is the better route in December: the southern route taking I-64 across WV, or the more northern route taking I-70 through Ohio?

    I look forward to your replies. :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Details Matter & Keep Your Options Open

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First of all, there is no one-and-only, always-and-everywhere "best" route. Depending on what's important to you (or what algorithm a particular piece of software uses) there might be multiple "good enough" routes. That will be especially true in the northeast with its multiple crisscrossing Interstate Highways. In your case, if you were going from Norfolk to Kokomo, then I-64 through West Virginia would be a little shorter. But if you were going from the Eastern Shore to South Bend, I-70 would get the (barely perceptible) nod. The real point is that either route is going to be 750-800 miles long and require the better part of two days to do comfortably. If you are worried about weather, there is no way to forecast it this far in advance, so just map out both routes, be prepared to take either one, and don't choose until the last day or so when you will actually know what to expect.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default use your noodle

    Internet mapping programs are really nice for coming up with route ideas, and giving your mileage estimates, however, they haven't yet made a computer that can come up with the "best" route for every situation.

    All of them are pretty good of letting you know how long a given route will be, and all of them are pretty bad about letting you know how long it will take to get there.

    In the end the best plan is always to take the routes offered by software as a guide, and then craft the route based on what YOU think will be the best route for YOUR trip.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First of all, there is no one-and-only, always-and-everywhere "best" route. Depending on what's important to you (or what algorithm a particular piece of software uses) there might be multiple "good enough" routes. That will be especially true in the northeast with its multiple crisscrossing Interstate Highways. In your case, if you were going from Norfolk to Kokomo, then I-64 through West Virginia would be a little shorter. But if you were going from the Eastern Shore to South Bend, I-70 would get the (barely perceptible) nod. The real point is that either route is going to be 750-800 miles long and require the better part of two days to do comfortably. If you are worried about weather, there is no way to forecast it this far in advance, so just map out both routes, be prepared to take either one, and don't choose until the last day or so when you will actually know what to expect.

    AZBuck
    Thanks for the welcome!

    I somewhat like the idea of having two routes planned and waiting to choose which one to take until the last minute. We are definitely taking two days (we've done it before in one due to necessity but it certainly isn't something I'd recommend from a safety or comfort perspective).

    The problem that arises with the last minute method, though, is that I'm an obsessive planner and it would most likely drive me nuts in the days prior to leaving. I know, I know! And how would one reserve hotels? Just reserve one on each route & be sure to cancel before the cancelation time?

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Internet mapping programs are really nice for coming up with route ideas, and giving your mileage estimates, however, they haven't yet made a computer that can come up with the "best" route for every situation.

    All of them are pretty good of letting you know how long a given route will be, and all of them are pretty bad about letting you know how long it will take to get there.

    In the end the best plan is always to take the routes offered by software as a guide, and then craft the route based on what YOU think will be the best route for YOUR trip.
    That's pretty much what I've come up with as well. I'm glad to know my opinion is supported by the 'experts'!

    Have you used AAA? Would you recommend it, and is it worth the money? (Apologies if this is more suited to a new topic; if so, let me know & I'll start a new thread.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Keep Your Options Open - II

    I personally would probably plan for the best and book my overnight stop beforehand on the assumption that I'd be using my first choice for a route, and assuming I'd want to stay about halfway along (or wherever suits you). Then about two days before departure, I'd take a good hard look at the predicted weather. If it looked iffy (or worse) along my preferred route, I'd go ahead and cancel my reservation. Most motel chains allow you to cancel as late as 24 hours before check-in, but I wouldn't push it that close. If I were then already on Plan B, I wouldn't have a room booked, but just see how far (and where!) I got at the end of Day 1, and find a motel on the fly. If that becomes the case, I would tend to also pull in early that first evening or if the weather started turning against me on the alternate route as well. Sometimes your 'plan' has to be to be able to adapt to changing conditions and NOT stick to a plan.

    I use AAA for a number of reasons, one of which is that most motels offer a 10% discount on the room rate to members. That's not going to pay for the cost of membership unless you use it more than a few times a year, but it won't hurt either. If you break down or get stuck, their towing service will become priceless - just be prepared to sit for a while if you're one of several dozen cars who have pushed too far into a snowstorm.

    AZBuck

  7. Default

    Good to know that about AAA. We have towing as a part of our insurance (and will be renting a car for this trip so would automatically be covered there anyway) and we're military so can usually get rates as good as, if not much better than, AAA rates. So I'm guessing it wouldn't be worth the money. Thanks for the info!

  8. #8

    Default Avoiding DC

    takemeaway,

    If this were my trip, and if the distance difference was modest, I'd take the southern route (I-64), and I'd do so simply to avoid Northern Virginia, the DC suburbs and Beltway, and the PA Turnpike.

    Sure, parts of I-64/77 in WV and the Charleston to Huntington stretch of I-64 are not exactly a "day at the beach", but I'd pick that over DC and the torn-up, heavily travelled, and tollbooth-laden PA Turnpike in New York Minute.

    I-64 from west of Richmond all the way into WV is a pretty drive, with no cities of any consequence until you get to Charleston, WV.

    Foy

  9. Default

    I actually think that the I-64 route may be slightly shorter. The only thing giving me pause is what you mentioned -- that there are no major cities between Charlottesville, VA & Charleston, WV. I have recently developed some rather major food allergies that necessitated three hospitalizations in the past month. While I doubt that will be an issue as I now know what I'm allergic to and am doing well at avoiding any exposure to those items, it's still iffy, if you know what I mean.

    I didn't realize the PA Turnpike was torn up right now. That may figure into the equation as well. I'm accustomed to DC traffic so it doesn't really bother me (and we'd be driving through that area at off hours so as to hopefully avoid the congestion).

    I honestly think it's a crapshoot! LOL

  10. #10

    Default Definitely out of the way between C'ville and Charleston

    No doubt about that.

    And certainly my personal tolerance for DC traffic is lower than most. I live 1.6 miles and zero stoplights from my office and frequently forget what dealing with even modest congestion is like.

    It's been a while since I traveled the PA Turnpike. I'd transited Breezewood, PA to Ohio many times in years past and it was always torn up then. It was designed in the 1930s and 1940s, I think, and the curve radii and hill gradients show it. I traveled N-S through central-eastern PA in May and observed heavy traffic getting on and off the PA Turnpike and have assumed it's still tough sledding. No offense to those with more recent, and more pleasant, experience up there.

    Have a safe trip!

    Foy

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