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  1. #1

    Default Joliet, IL to Chesapeake, VA; Mid-May

    Hello everyone! I'm new here and decided to post about an upcoming "road trip." I really have no idea where to start, so I'll just tell you what I have figured out so far:

    My boyfriend and I currently live in Chicago, but we will be leaving from my parents' house in Joliet, IL. The current plan is to leave on Saturday, May 12th. We'll be arriving in Chesapeake, VA, but it's flexible as to when we can get there. There will not be a return trip, because we are moving there! The only concern I have about how long it will take is the price of lodging.

    I also want to see some "roadside attractions" - preferably free or cheap (we're moving the day after I graduate college, so you know, I'm already broke enough). My boyfriend and I rarely get this much time off together, or get to drive this far, so I feel like we should take advantage of it. We're both nerds who love museums, but we're also open to sightseeing things that don't take very much time to look at. I'd like to see "unique" things too, but then, who wouldn't?

    As for the route, I don't really care which way we go. I'm actually a little uncomfortable driving my car on the highway (I've had public transportation for 2 years and my car is not the best), or at least driving it very fast. So I'm already planning for this to take a little longer than average. I should have an I-Pass available to me, if that matters any. Also, I'll personally be doing most of the driving myself, so there won't be any significant "shifts" (I say that now, but I'm sure my desire for sleep will win out).

    Anyway, I'm really not sure where to start other than that. I'm not really concerned with seeing a lot around the D.C. area, because I'll have plenty of time to check that out once we're moved in (we'll actually be moving up to the Norfolk area at some point).

    So I guess I'm asking for suggestions about 1) the best general route to take, 2) idea for places to visit along the way, and 3) any other general tips for a noob, whose never done an inter-state road trip.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA! You've come to a good place for help!

    But I'm a little confused. If you're a little concerned about lodging and the cost of it, the longer your driving days, the less you have to stop to sleep. From IL to VA is going to be two pretty long days on the highway or three slightly shorter ones. That would be one overnight or two, plus the lodging on the other end. If you want to stop and see something along the way, allot three days (or more for longer stops.)

    Here, we're not into "best route". The "best route" is the one that YOU want to take. Either go get a good atlas or, if you're a AAA member, get some maps from them. (If you're worried about your car, having AAA membership would be good peace-of-mind for road service anyway.) There are so many great routes you could take.

    Places to visit along the way are many. That's why we always recommend that you pick up a paper map or atlas and take a good look at it. Good maps or atlases will have places of interest marked on it.

    As far as newbie road trippers ... relax and enjoy it as much as you can! Try to stop at least every couple of hours -- for gas, stretch, bathroom, etc. Carry snacks and a cooler in your car if you can because it will save you a ton of money over buying that kind of stuff in convenience stores. Check out the Saving Money forum here on RTA, since you are concerned about that.

    Once you've looked at a map and have decided what interests you to see, come on back here and we can help you put the points together for a route, and more.

    Have fun planning!


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some First Thoughts

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I think your planning will be the exception to the general rule of First: Find some attractions that really appeal to you and Second: Connect those attractions with some good, scenic roads. In your case, given your desire for a slower paced trip, I think the roads will come first. From Joliet to the Appalachians there won't be much of a problem. There are several excellent four lane, divided (but not controlled access) highways through the Midwest including US-6, US-24, US-30. US-224, and US-250 among others. Your biggest concern is actually where to cross the Appalachians as that will be as hard on your car as high speeds. I think your best bet is to use the Potomac River Valley for as gentle a crossing as possible. That would mean heading for Morgantown, WV and then using I-68 and US-40 into the Frederick, MD area and then use US-15/US-17 to get to Chesapeake while avoiding the traffic hassles of both Washington and Richmond.

    Even avoiding the Interstates in this way, the trip should be well within a steady two day drive, meaning you'd only have to pay for one night's motel room. If you really want to take your time and stop in museums and other sites along the way a second night and third day shouldn't break the bank. I'd be more concerned about pushing yourselves (especially you as the primary driver) too hard and without enough sleep. It's simply a false economy to try to skip sleep because it 'costs' too much.

    As for museums and 'unique' sites, the two are quite complimentary and often free. As you will be driving right through a number of small towns, take the time to seek out local historical societies and museums. Often these are free or accept free-will donations (and are quite understanding of recent college graduates) and the docents and curators can offer additional insight into local events and some surprising attractions known only to the 'locals'. They are an invaluable and too often overlooked resource.

    AZBuck

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for your response!

    I'll have to look at a map to conceptualize all the roadways you just mentioned (geography is really my one weakness), but I'm really glad that you brought up crossing the mountains. I hadn't even thought about that, and I would definitely like to make a more "gentle" crossing.

    Thanks for the advice about small towns. I wasn't really sure if most people who do road trips plan out what they want to see, first, or just check out what they see along the high way. I'd hate to get all the way there and realize we hadn't stopped to see a singe thing. But I think with some routes in mind, I can start looking at what's along the way.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default I'll back all of that.

    When I read your questions, I was ready to jump in and respond, since your kinda trip is right up my alley. But then I read the two excellent responses you already have.

    So all there is for me to say is, have a great trip, and enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by PosyPods View Post
    ... just check out what they see along the high way.
    That is by far my preferred way, especially if you are on the scenic routes and minor highways. In small towns locals are proud of their attractions, and will be only too happy to share them with you.... especially if these are unusual or unique.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-18-2012 at 10:21 PM. Reason: added more

  6. #6

    Default

    The lodging on the other end will be free (we'll be staying with relatives), and I would be fine with doing two nights of on-the-road lodging. Fortunately, I am a member of AAA, and I probably do have some maps from them around here somewhere.

    I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has experience driving this area and knows of any attractions that are particularly worth taking a certain route.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Few of Historical Bent

    As I noted earlier, if you follow say US-30 for the most part through Indiana and Ohio, you'll be on a relatively pleasant four lane road through picturesque farming country. You'll also be passing right through a number of towns with historical connections and societies/museums that celebrate that history. A sampling of instances would include the Richardville House and the History Center in Fort Wayne IN, the Van Wert County Historical Society in Van Wert OH, and the Wyandot County Museum in Upper Sandusky OH. Then between Mansfield and New Philadelphia, OH-39 would take you through the heart of Ohio Amish country. The final highlight of your trip, at least for the historian in you, would be the drive down US-40 between Washington PA and Grantsville MD which would take you over the old National Road and past Fort Necessity National Battlefield, the site of Col. Washington's baptism under fire. Also, someone is building a replica of Noah's Ark in Frostburg MD if that piques your interest.

    AZBuck

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    As I noted earlier, if you follow say US-30 for the most part through Indiana and Ohio, you'll be on a relatively pleasant four lane road through picturesque farming country. You'll also be passing right through a number of towns with historical connections and societies/museums that celebrate that history. A sampling of instances would include the Richardville House and the History Center in Fort Wayne IN, the Van Wert County Historical Society in Van Wert OH, and the Wyandot County Museum in Upper Sandusky OH. Then between Mansfield and New Philadelphia, OH-39 would take you through the heart of Ohio Amish country. The final highlight of your trip, at least for the historian in you, would be the drive down US-40 between Washington PA and Grantsville MD which would take you over the old National Road and past Fort Necessity National Battlefield, the site of Col. Washington's baptism under fire. Also, someone is building a replica of Noah's Ark in Frostburg MD if that piques your interest.

    AZBuck
    Thanks! You've given me a lot of things to look up and consider.

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