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  1. Default DC to Chicago - Best Route?

    Hi, I'm looking to drive from DC to Chicago in the middle of July.

    Is it faster to take i-80W towards Pittsburg, Cleveland, Toledo, Gary, etc.?

    Or how about i-70W (towards West Virginia, Columbus, Indianapolis, etc.) ?

    I'd like to be on fast moving roads and not looking to stop at any sight seeing places....nor is scenery important.

    Thanks very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Default tradeoffs

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The I-80 route is about 70 miles shorter, and is probably going to be your fastest route. However, much of that route is tollways, so it will cost a bit more than taking to I-70.

    In either case you're looking at at least 13 hours on the road, which is a very long day on the road. Its not impossible to do as a one day sprint, but you should either expect to stop for the night somewhere along the way, or plan for a relaxing day to recover following the drive.

  3. Default

    I remember taking i-80W to California and then i-70E back. i-80 is a much faster moving interstate right? I can't remember exactly but I recall i-70 forced me to pass through many busy metropolitan areas.

    Is this correct?

  4. #4
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    Default either or

    I've driven both, and don't recall one being all the much different than the other. I-70 will take you through Indianapolis and Columbus, and if you cut down to I-68 through West Virginia, that's a fairly mountainous and may be a bit slower, but not much. I-80/I-76 does bypass Cleveland and Pittsburgh, so you shouldn't see too many problems there.

    Further west is where you see bigger differences between the two. I-80 has the major traffic issues in the Chicago area, but then doesn't have any other major urban areas continuing west (Des Moines, Omaha, and Salt Lake City are really it). I-70 misses Chicago but goes through St. Louis, KC, and Denver.

  5. Default

    What do you think about starting my trip at midnight? I was hoping to avoid traffic & rush hour. I've never driven this much at night before. Is it a good idea? Are there many animals on the road?

    I would get a long nap early that day first. Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    9,271

    Default

    If you want to drive straight through (possible but not recommended, I have done this myself), this is what I would do:

    The drive is 700 miles. If you only stop for fuel, lunch, and quick potty and stretch breaks, you can make it in about 14 hours. You gain an hour with the time zone change, so it's an hour earlier in Chicago than in DC. Rather than leave at midnight, just get an early start out of DC to beat the morning rush - maybe leave at 5am. Take I-270 to I-70, and take the PA, OH, and IN toll roads. Stop at the last service area at mile marker 22. Wait it out there till about 7pm CENTRAL time to let the evening rush clear out if you get there any earlier, and fill your gas tank to avoid Chicago gas prices. Then proceed to where you need to go, if you can tell us exactly where you are going, we can tell you the best way in.

    This will avoid driving at night, except for the early morning out of DC. By the time you get on the open road, the sun will be coming up, and it stays light in Chicago till about 9pm in July.

    If you have an EZ-Pass, it works in PA, IN, and IL, but not OH.

    I-68/79/70/65 is toll free but will take a couple hours longer and does involve some metro areas - Columbus and Indy being the 2 big ones. If you go that way, it's better to make that a 2 day run. It's about 80 miles longer, depending on gas prices and what kind of mileage your car gets, the toll roads won't make the whole trip that much more costly.

  7. #7
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    Default wouldn't recommend it

    Unless you are used to working a 3rd shift or are typically starting your day in the middle of the night, I really wouldn't recommend it.

    Even if you get in a good nap (which can be hard to do if you aren't used to doing it), you can't get away from the fact that your body will be expecting you to sleep in the middle of the night and its going to be hard to stay away. Yes, animals and other objects will be harder to see, but fighting your own body is the more challenging, and potentially dangerous part, and you don't want to start a very long trip like this on anything other than full rest.

    Considering the amount of time this is likely going to take, your best bet could very well be to leave around 8 or 9 in the morning. In that case, you'd be leaving just after the morning rush in DC, and arriving in Chicago very late in the evening - around 9-10, where you'd miss heavy traffic of the afternoon there.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    If you want to drive straight through (possible but not recommended, I have done this myself), this is what I would do:

    If you have an EZ-Pass, it works in PA, IN, and IL, but not OH.
    Thanks for the info, especially on the EZ-Pass. I need to get one ASAP.

    I was going to stop and nap often. At least 30 mins to an hour nap each time.

    I remembered on my first trip, I started out from Maryland around 2pm and made it to Illinois, almost straight driving (also got a little lost through Chicago). I was so exhausted at one point that I had to pull up behind a bunch of 18-wheelers. Never doing that again.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Unless you are used to working a 3rd shift or are typically starting your day in the middle of the night, I really wouldn't recommend it.
    One of the reason for my wanting to drive at night is that I really enjoy driving with the convertible top down at that time. It's perfect weather when it's hot out (if the car is constantly moving) and no sunburn. I'm also a night person. Staying up to 4am playing videogames is average for me.

    {Poster plans to use an "energy boosting supplement" / Link to dubious product site removed}

    Before you yell at me, hear me out. This stuff is really good and increases alertness w/o crashing like coffee. They recommend 1 scoop for a regular workout and 2 scoops for intense. I usually take only 1/3 scoop at 5pm and then go to MMA class. Afterwards, I can't fall asleep until 1pm at least (and this is after an intense workout where I'm dead tired).

    Only once did I take 2 scoops (before a tournament) and I was wired. I'm thinking 1/3 scoop during this drive should do it.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-13-2009 at 01:49 PM. Reason: You may not link to commercial websites

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default making a bad idea worse

    If you are naturally a night person, then I would recommend staying up late the night before, sleeping in late, and then leaving in the Afternoon, arriving early in the morning hours. That's going to be a lot easier for your system than to try and "wake up" in what is often the middle of your day.

    You'll never get anyone here that supports your plan to rely on chemicals to stay awake on the road. Quite simply, there is no way to cheat your body from sleep without side effects that are going to reduce your ability to safely drive.

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