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  1. Default Two possible road trips from NJ through Midwest-ish and back, 9 days/8 nights

    Sorry in advance for the length and complexity of the post. Any help you can provide whatsoever is appreciated.

    Hi all. I have done a few small road trips before (NJ to Virginia Beach, NJ to NC and back through VA, various trips to upstate NY) but nothing at all on the scale I'm proposing here. I am looking to plan a 9 day/8 night trip sometime during September or October of 2011, which would take myself, my wife, and two friends through the Midwest and back. My wife and I came up with two different itineraries, both with seemingly similar mileage and driving time commitments. The goals of the trip are primarily to find interesting regional restaurants, with a secondary emphasis on historical touring. The details on these both are sketchy at best at the moment, but we have a general idea that these areas might offer what we're looking for. Likewise, the destinations for each night are not set in stone, but offer a general idea of where we want to go.

    Other things I can think of that might be relevant: realistically we would probably only be using two of the four of us to drive (the other two aren't comfortable on long distances), and we would be staying in hotels, rather than camping.

    I am primarily curious whether the routes are too long, too relaxed, too structured, or otherwise flawed- and/or if there's something glaring that we're missing.

    Here are the two itineraries:

    Itinerary #1:

    From Central NJ:
    Night 1: Baltimore (156 mi, 2:50 driving)
    Night 2: Pittsburgh (244 mi, 4:27)
    Night 3: Chicago (462 mi, 7:26)
    Night 4: Indianapolis (183 mi, 3:22)
    Night 5: Nashville (287 mi, 4:46)
    Night 6: Cincinnati (272 mi, 4:31)
    Night 7: Cleveland (249 mi, 4:24)
    Night 8: Gettysburg, PA (312 mi, 5:47)
    and then home (193 mi, 3:30)

    Itinerary #2:

    From Central NJ:
    Night 1: Baltimore (156 mi, 2:50)
    Night 2: Pittsburgh (244 mi, 4:27)
    Night 3: Cincinnati (289 mi, 4:56)
    Night 4: Louisville (114 mi, 1:53) by way of Indianapolis (108 mi, 2:00) (or vice versa)
    Night 5: St. Louis (265 mi, 4:24)
    Night 6: Chicago (301 mi, 5:05)
    Night 7: Cleveland (345 mi, 6:05)
    Night 8: State College (255 mi, 4:29)
    and then home (250 mi, 4:41)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Making the Most of It

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There's nothing too long. per se, about either of the two itineraries you present, but both could be tweaked a fair bit to give you more bang for your driving buck without greatly increasing the number of miles driven. Whether the cities listed are destinations in themselves or not, the suggestions below will still get you to them while expanding your exploration horizons a bit. 200-300 miles a day is a comfortable goal and will leave the bulk of the day for gastronomic and historic experiences. Days where you plan to cover 450 or more miles will be pretty much all about the driving.

    Route 1 has a lot of backtracking. NJ to Chicago by way of Pittsburgh is essentially the same thing as Cleveland to NJ via Gettysburg. Much of that could be eliminated and more new ground covered if you went NJ - Gettysburg - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Chicago - Indianapolis - Cincinnati - Nashville - Baltimore - NJ. Taking a route such as that also gets you into Appalachia and Civil War Virginia, two definite plusses on a food and history RoadTrip.

    Route 2 could be similarly improved: NJ - State College - Cleveland - Chicago - St. Louis - Louisville - Cincinnati - Pittsburgh - Baltimore - NJ. So take a look at how just changing the order you visit the cities in can change the tenor and scope of your trip.

    Also, be sure to plan on a day in the middle of your trip where the two couples can get away from each other for a bit. Nine days is a bit much togetherness to be comfortable. We probably won't be able to help you with restaurant suggestions - There are too many of them. They are such a matter of taste (pun intended). And they are just changing ownership and chefs too often. But if you have a favorite period or interest in history, we would probably have a few sites worth seeing.


  3. Default

    There is a lot to digest here (love the food puns)! It sounds to me like I have a lot more thinking to do in order to ask more useful questions. I am going to do my best to think it through. I think your suggestion about giving the couples alone time is absolutely spot on, too- I wish I had thought of that.

    I look forward to asking more questions later, and who knows- maybe even chiming in on one or two of my own. Thanks so much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would like to add one caution - if you are getting driving times from a computer, please add 20% to them to allow for reality. The calculated drive times are driving at the speed limit 100% of the time, with no consideration for traffic delays or any stops - not even a bathroom visit.

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