I am delighted to be here - this is my very first post but certainly not my first road trip. I stumbled across this site after googling some of the very information I'm about to ask here. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to receive personalized advice, how fantastic.
I am a graduate student, which means I have a generous 3-4 week break around Christmas. I currently live in the DC-area but would like to get home to the Chicago-area for the holidays. I've made the trip before in summer and spring, but never the winter. The sticking factor is that I have a pet guinea pig that can't be left alone for 3-4 weeks at a time and since I'm new to the area, I don't know anyone who would petsit and I'm not sure I want to pay for a "pet hotel" type of deal. To take a guinea pig on a plane costs between $100-$250 - one way - and pets aren't allowed on either Amtrak or Greyhound. It looks like my only option is to hop in the car...a Smart car, that is. Easy on the wallet, great for squidging your way around city traffic, but 750 miles in winter? That car is lightweight, slippery and not very powerful. I'm a confident and experienced driver, but this is pushing it.
Can anyone possibly offer me any advice for finding a safe route between Chicago and DC in December/January? I usually make the trip in two days but would be willing to draw it out even further. (I generally save on hotel fare by taking advantage of the services of the good folks on couchsurfing.com!)
Thank you all so much.