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  1. #1

    Default From Durham, NC to Los Angeles, CA

    Hi Everyone,
    This is my first time visiting and posting on RTA (this site is really great btw) I came across the site doing a Google search on driving cross country. My dad and I are taking our first vacation together in my 36 years of life we plan to drive across country roundtrip from Durham, NC to Los Angeles, CA and I must say that I am extremely excited.

    I’ve mapped out a few different routes (via Google Maps), we thought about going to New Orleans, LA and staying a night there and that route has us continuing through Houston, San Antonio, a lot of desert looking land in Texas, Tucson, Phoenix, Riverside, Arriving in LA (I-85/I-65/I-10). We aren’t deadest on this route just something that we were thinking of doing. The other route was just taking I-85/I-40/I-10.

    Coming back we were going to come back a different way. We were going to stop for a bit in Vegas, and stop off in Denver to see some friends. Google maps brings us Vegas, Denver, Topeka, KS, Kansas City, KS/MO, Belleville, IL, Lexington, KY, West of Blacksburg into NC (I-10, I-15, I-70, I-40, I—670, I-64, I-77, I-40, I-85), which is a lot of different roads.

    I just want to be as practical with time and money as possible and I know that we may not be able to do all of this in 10 days. What would the best route be for us to take there and back? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default being practical

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There's certainly nothing wrong with either route you've laid out, but from a practical standpoint, the route isn't your problem.

    Your problem is that you've only got 10 days, and just covering the miles of driving from NC to LA requires 10 days on the road. Those are workman like 10 hour days on the road sticking to the interstates. It leaves time for a couple stops here and there, but no time for in depth exploring, or significant detours onto back roads.

    You really need to think about if this is the kind of trip you want. Driving all day every day until you reach LA, spending just a few hours there, and turn around for the drive home?

    If you want a trip where you can spend some quality time seeing things other than what passes by the windshield at 70 mph, then you either need to find more time or look at a destination closer to home.

  3. #3

    Default "A Bridge Too Far"?

    Howdy Neighbor,

    While I share your enthusiasm for travels with Pops, having RoadTripped XC with my Navy Seabee son one-way from Raleigh to Port Hueneme, CA about 3 years ago, I'd have to agree with Midwest Michael in that your plan to go coast-to-coast and back in 10 days is a stretch and would not allow you to stop and smell the roses in any real sense.

    If Denver is the only place where some visiting is involved, and if that's high on the list of things to accomplish on this RoadTrip, I'd give strong consideration to just planning an out-and-back to Denver for your 10 days together. With that idea, you'd probably want to skip New Orleans (and honestly, a single night in N O is but a tease--you'll want more).

    Some suggestions related to a DEN trip would include running I-40 to Nashville or points slightly west, thence north on I-24 to link up with I-64 east of St Louis, or perhaps take the Mississippi River ferry from Hickman, KY over to the MO side and I-55 up to St Looie from there. I-70 from STL to DEN is workmanlike, but there are attractions in KC and elsewhere which might interest you. On the return trip, you could do the I-64 segment across southern IL and IN into KY, then explore the WV and VA parts of I-77 back into NC, or you could do as I did a couple of months ago: run down I-75 to Corbin, KY and take US 25E through Cumberland Gap to US 11W, thence I-26 to Johnson City, TN, US 321 to Elizabethton, TN, US 19E into NC, and then your choice of NC highways through Boone and US 421 on back to Winston-Salem and home.

    If enjoying some scenery, some impulse stops, and some visiting in DEN are the goal, I think you need to shorten it up a bit.

    Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip with your Dad.


  4. #4


    Thanks so much Midwest Michael and Foy, you have both really given my dad and I a lot to think about. When you plan these things out online and Google Maps says that driving straight there will take 1 day and 19 hours, you think "we will have time to do lots of stuff!" Websites like this are awesome, and I really appreciate having this forum to ask people if what I am trying to do is really possible and that there are people that can answer me openly and honestly. Again thanks so much for your suggestions, my dad and I definitely don't want to spend all of our time together driving. We are definitely going to look at maybe driving half way across the country instead of all the way across the country. :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The "real world"

    This is where the mapping programs fail, big time !

    They don't allow for any human needs, such as food, bathroom and rest breaks, or sleep for that matter. Nor do they allow for traffic congestion, construction delays or the fact your car needs gas, they just presume you can drive non stop from A to B at close to the legal speed limit, which just doesn't happen in the real world. When travelling on Interstate and main highways while taking appropriate rest and food breaks, you should figure on a day on the road of 500-600miles is 9 to 10 hours [figure 57mph average]. Any sight seeing/City detours will then eat up the time on top of that as it would heading to a major City at home.

    I hope that helps with the planning.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Another way to figure it is convert the Google time to hours and add 20%. 1 day 19 hours is 43 hours, add 20% and that's about 52 hours. That's 5 full days spending 10 to 11 hours on the road not including sightseeing.

  7. #7

    Default Conversion table: Beginning to end of day

    As Southwest Dave alluded to, I tend to think on the basis of "beginning to end of driving day". I generally run around 7-9mph over the posted limit and I also economize on stops, combining food/fuel/nature stops to the extent possible. That puts me in a position where in the East and Midwest, I'm happy with 55-57 mph average, while out West it can easily be 60-63 mph average from the start of a day to its end.


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