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  1. Default Coast to Coast (NY to LA)

    Myself and my girlfriend are from the UK and are planning a summer road trip from NY to LA in the summer of 2008. We are planning on sharing the driving but on the whole wouldn't want to do massive stretches on the road at any one time. Probably would do max of 350 miles in a day if necessary. We want to do the whole trip in 3 weeks max and then fly home from LA. The following are the main cities we want to visit on our trip, although we would be looking to stop at places along the way to break up the trip.

    New York
    Washington
    Nashville
    Memphis
    Little Rock
    Dallas
    Albuquerque
    Las Vegas (Gran Canyon)
    Salt Lake City
    San Francisco
    Los Angeles

    Any comments on this plan would be appreciated. However I have some specific questions which I could do with being answered:

    1. Is 3 weeks enough considering we would like to stop at a few of these places for at least a couple of nights?
    2. Can anyone recommend specific sites we should definatly see along this route?
    3. Over in the UK, 350 miles is considered quite a big distance due to the type of roads etc. Are the roads in the US better and therefore can you cover bigger distances in less time?
    4. How expensive are the hotels? We don't want to stay anywhere expensive, just cheap but safe and clean.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default limitations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It takes about 5-7 days to comfortably travel across the US, so 3 weeks is typically ok, however there are some things you may have to change from your original plan.

    First, 350 miles per day isn't all that long, although it may be the upper limit for what you find enjoyable. That distance will typically take around 6 hours to drive on Interstate highways. 500 miles is usually what we call a full day on the road, but each person has their own limits. As a rule of thumb, figure that you will be able to travel about 55 miles per every hour you are on the road, including basic stops and slowdowns for traffic a quick meal, fuel, and other rest breaks.

    You've also got a bit of a zig zag worked into your trip, which is fine, but if you take those extra miles, add them with the couple of days you are planning to stop at least a few of those cities, and if you limit your driving to just 350 miles per day, I think your 3 weeks will go by pretty quickly, and you might not be able to fit everything in. Your best bet will be to create a route plot of your plan on a map, with a rough estimate of where you would be each night. You won't have to stick to the plan religiously, but it should help you have an idea of how much you can do during the time you have for your trip.

    As far as hotels go, you can find places for as little as $40-50 a night for the most basic of rooms. However, I think I would budget around $70-80 a night for rooms that aren't fancy, but aren't at the bottom end either.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default 4500 miles in 3 weeks!

    At least per Google Maps.

    How many days do you plan on spending at the various locations? I would guess that you'd want a minimum of 2 days for NYC, Wash DC, and LA. One day, at least, in San Francisco, Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. This leaves you only 12 days, at most, to see the other places you've listed and to travel. This might really be only 10 days depending on what time your arrival and departure flights are scheduled for. If you will have limited time on those days, figure 10 days.

    450 miles/day is do-able but doesn't leave you much time to explore the other places you've listed as you can figure a good 8 hours/day of driving to cover 450 miles. You will be doing mainly drive-by/quick looks at all the other destinations.

    Eliminating Salt Lake City will save you about 600 miles. You might want to consider that.

    We sometimes recommend that people consider doing a circle tour in a particular region of the country. You might want to think about that if you want to spend more time exploring and less time driving. However, there is nothing wrong with a "whistle-stop" tour if that's what you want to do and are up to the driving. I always kinda want to pack in as much as I can myself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    219

    Default

    Previous posters are right. It will be a lot of driving. For averages on interstates in the western states. Most have 70-80 miles per hour and you can drive 75 mph for hours most of the time. Even trucks are driving 70 pmh or more. I also agree with skipping SLC. Utah is one of the best places for a visit with many fantastic NP's but it will be a detour and you'll need a lot of time to explore.
    Yeehaw.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default 70-75? Yeah but not all the time

    Yeehaw's right in that you can expect to drive 70-75mph for stretches of time on the freeways. However, we recommend that you not use this speed to determine how long it will take you to get from here to there. This won't allow you time for delays due to traffic congestion, weather, road construction, etc. We generally recommend that you use 55mph as an average of how fast you will travel. 55mph gives you time to factor in quick stops for meals/fuel/bio breaks and the other potentials I already listed and should give you more accurate ETAs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    219

    Default

    I 10 between Junction and El Paso max speed is 80 mph. Utah's I 70 will follow next year as expected. 55mph as an average is very low for the western states. Of course it depends on the number of stops but 70 mph is an easy average on interstates. And I am not the fastest driver by far......

  7. #7

    Default Hard charging

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeehaw View Post
    I 10 between Junction and El Paso max speed is 80 mph. Utah's I 70 will follow next year as expected. 55mph as an average is very low for the western states. Of course it depends on the number of stops but 70 mph is an easy average on interstates. And I am not the fastest driver by far......

    Yes, but when routine fuel, food, and bathroom stops are taken into account, you're running zero mph then, and for what can (and probably should) be something on the order of 1.5 to 2.0 hours in an otherwise all-driving day. That pulls the "first of the morning to last of the afternoon" overall travel average way, way down, regardless of high speed limits and of long stretches of high speed driving.

    My son and I averaged right at 70 mph from NC to Southern California in late October, with minimal stopping. Our fuel range was a little under 400 miles and the bathroom range more like 200, and we economized on stop time as best we could. That means we ran pretty hard when under way, something a tourist would be unlikely to want to undertake. So, I fully concur that 55-57 mph is a brisk but wholly obtainable average Western US speed for a full day's drive. Any faster requires pit stop economization, some serious speed limit bending, or some combination of both. Not that there's anything wrong with that............

    Foy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default my personal best

    Piling onto the actual distance covered vs mph on the dashboard argument, the last time I was on a true speed run I timed out my actual mileage.

    In one day I covered 600 miles, stopping only for fuel and restrooms, I kept those stops to the least amount of time possible, and didn't even get any food. During this trip, I had pretty much ideal conditions, very little traffic, and was driving between 80-85 mph for most of the distance. Despite all of these things, my speed for the day averaged out at right about 62 mph.

    So I very much agree that 55-57 mph is an excellent rule of thumb for plotting out a trip. It is possible to do a little bit better, if you really work at it, but for an average trip with average stops and slowdowns, its about the best you can hope for.

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