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  1. Default Road trip - taking in New York and Chicago

    Hi all,

    I am Irish and am planning a road trip with my partner for September. We have three weeks and want to fly into NY, visit Chicago for a few days and also visit somewhere else (either before or after Chicago).

    Any advice on where to go? We have a long list of things we want to do in NY and also in Chicago - in between we would like to see some smaller towns and definitely some nature!

    All ideas/advice welcome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    9,358

    Default Between the Two

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You don't say where you'll be flying home from, The thing is, if you return to Eire from New York, you can save a bit of money on your car hire and perhaps on your airfares as well, and take two different routes between the two cities.

    There are several possibilities for itineraries between New York and Chicago. I'll broadly outline a few, generally working from north to south. First up, then, would be a trip through New York's Finger Lakes and along the southern shore of Lake Erie. basically, you would take I-87/NY-17 out of the city and up past the Catskills to Binghamton, then I-81/NY-79 to Ithaca and then west through some scenic wine country to Watkins Glen. From there NY-14 north along the shore of Seneca Lake would bring you to US-20/I-90 which roughly follow the old Erie Canal to Buffalo/Niagara Falls. Then I-90 would take you along the southern shore of Lake Erie to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cuyahoga Valley National ParkCuyahoga Valley National Park, then across Ohio and Indiana to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Chicago.

    A more direct route would be to take I-80 out of New York to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Areaand on to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, Staying on I-80 would take you through some heavily wooded areas of the Allegheny Mountains with scattered state parks, lakes, hiking trails and the like. Then, around Youngstown OH, you'd switch over to I-76 and take that out onto the farmlands of Ohio, following it until it terminates at its junction with I071. From that point, roads like US-24 and US-30 would take you through the small towns of the Midwest ending up in the Chicago area.

    The southernmost route would have you first head down through a few of America's major east coast, and historic, cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore to Washington, from which you would take I-70/I-68 west up the Potomac River Valley to Morgantown WV. Using I-79 to reconnect with I-70 would then take you west to Dayton and the US Air Force Museum and Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Speedway. I-65 would then get you up to Chicago.

    Any of those routes will work for you. Each would take roughly two days to get between New York and Chicago, offer plenty of opportunities for nature hikes, small towns, historic sites, etc. So, take a look at them and see which appeals most to you. Once you decide, we should be able to offer more specific recommendations for things to see and do en route.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Oh wow - thank you so much for the detailed response!

    We were thinking of flying into New York and flying home from Chicago - but as we have three weeks it would be possible to fly into NY, take one route to Chicago and then a different route back and fly home from NY again. Do you think that Car Hire and flights etc will be a lot more if we fly into and out of two different cities? With the car hire we sort of thought we could rent in one city and drop it off somewhere else - but maybe that is a lot extra?

    We were thinking of taking the route that allows us to see some of the lakes so the first route sounds perfect. I sort of like the idea of doing two different routes between cities and honestly had not thought of that at all - the second route that takes in some state parks etc sounds good.

    I will take out a map later and have a good look (as well as go over your answer in detail). Will post again once we have decided.

    Go raibh míle maith agat. Am really happy to have found this site - there is so much info here! :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    Taking a "one way" trip incurs 2 additional expenses - renting a car in one city and returning it in another will generally come with a "one way" surcharge of several hundred dollars, and "open jaw" airfare is generally more expensive than returning from the same city. This is why we recommend a "loop trip" if time permits. You definitely should have the time.

  5. Default

    Thanks. I did some research and flying into one city and out of another costs aprox €1,000 extra!! Also, car rental with drop-off in another city is $500 more expensive (for the biggest car) but assume there is a comparable difference on smaller models also. We had been thinking that the difference in car hire would probably be less than the petrol costs of driving back - but it would seem we were very mistaken!

    We have decided on flying into New York, spending maybe five days there, taking route one above (a trip through New York's Finger Lakes and along the southern shore of Lake Erie). Spending three or four days in Chicago...then route two back to New York (A more direct route would be to take I-80 out of New York to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Areaand on to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania).

    AZBuck - You said above that each route would take about two days. Is that a 'fastest time you can get there' or is that taking time to see lots etc. Would it be better to allow three or four days for each part? We are Irish - so don't believe in rushing around...I would prefer to schedule four days and take our time at it if that would be better! :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Default Time to Travel

    Two days would cover basically just the driving time - at a relatively relaxed pace - for each of the transits between New York and Chicago. Your westbound leg would take a bit longer than the eastbound leg, but only by an hour or two. With trips of this size, I much prefer to think in units of days. Now, when I say "at a relaxed pace" that is meant to include 2-3 short stops during the day for hikes through scenic parks, visits to local museums, a real sit-down meal, etc. But it does not include long duration stops for major attractions which much be budgeted for separately. So yes, if you can add a third or even fourth day - do so.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    In my young and stupid days I used to drive between a NJ suburb of NYC and a suburb of Chicago straight through. It was about a 15 hour drive. I now take 2 relatively equal days to do it, spending a night in eastern OH or western PA.

    Petrol to drive between NYC and Chicago should be less than $200. In fact, with a small car and a direct route, it can probably be done for less than $100 - but the most direct route involves toll roads. Your prices in IE are over twice what ours are.

    Another tip - compare car rental rates for off-airport locations, you can frequently save a considerable amount. Also check with UK consolidators such as carhire3000.com.

    If you rent a car in the NYC area, see if it comes with a "EZ-Pass". This is a toll transponder that works in all the states you will be traveling in, and it can save time and keep you from having to pay cash tolls. However, make sure they don't come with an excessive service charge.

  8. Default

    Thanks for the advice! We have booked flights to and from NY...so now the real planning begins :)

    I am currently looking at hotels in NY for both legs of the journey! Also am trying to decide if we need to book somewhere to stay on our road trip days or if we should be ok just stopping somewhere and finding a hotel...If we book we will have to be a lot more structured but I think I would prefer that to sleeping in the car!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
    Posts
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    Default

    Look at hotels outside of NYC to avoid paying really high rates. Try to find one which is near public transportation in and out of the city. Wait till you are ready to leave to rent the car - driving in NYC is a pain and parking is scarce/expensive.

    On your road trip days, you shouldn't have a problem finding lodging as you go.

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