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  1. Default January loop around US - advice welcome

    Hi all. I'm new to this great site; found it googling for an upcoming road trip.

    My map is too big to embed, but you can see it here:

    I am starting from my home in Seattle, and these are my planned stops (to see friends and family): Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, Brunswick (GA), Atlanta, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs, LA, San Francisco, Seattle.

    I'm leaving 1/2/2013 and need to be home by 1/28/2013. I will be driving a Mercedes GLK 350 with all wheel drive. I do not have snow tires or chains, but can purchase them if needed. Budget is not really an issue, but I would like to keep it as cheap as possible.

    My biggest unknowns are the long gaps between planned stops (Seattle > Chicago, Atlanta > San Antonio, Lubbock > Grand Canyon) that I can't knock out in a single drive.

    Anyhow, any general advice on a trip this long or tips on things to see along the way are greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Time with family and friends could be an issue.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    On long trips like this it's important to pace yourself for both comfort and safety issues. We generally recommend travelling between 500-600 miles per day maximum for multi day trips. [9-10 hours] That's on Intertsate and major Highways with time for basic stops, but with no major sight seeing, plus weather can hamper your progress and that should be planned for. The main thing is that you should have no real need to book lodgings in advance, so you could just roll with it and see how your days unfold while trying to keep to a rough schedule on when you will be arriving at your friends/family homes. For example, from Seattle to Chicago you should allow for a minimum of 3 overnight stops if your main focus is just in the getting there. You could look for places that interest you to visit and/or to stop for the night and repeat throughout your trip.

    With a trip that is likely to cover 9000 plus miles with lots of little detours you can expect it to be 16 'or so' days dedicated to driving. Whereas that leaves you with 10 days to spend however you want, it's not actually enough time to spend a full day at each of the places you wish to visit with family and friends.

    Your trip is certainly doable, but there is a lot to cover. As long as you have no plans for 'a few days here' and 'a few days there' you should be fine.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to take it pretty easy except for the first leg because I have to be in Chicago by 1/4 for a birthday party. Here's what I'm thinking, roughly (knowing that the first leg is very ambitious and the most likely leg to be de-railed by weather):

    1/2 - WA > Butte, MT - 620 mi
    1/3 - Butte, MT > Murdo, SD - 731 mi
    1/4 - Murdo > Chicago - 778 mi
    1/6 - Chicago > New York - 790 mi (may break this leg up but don't want to)
    1/7 - or 1/8 NY > Boston > New York (day trip) 434 mi
    1/9 - NY > Chesapeake, VA - 362 mi
    1/11 - Chesapeake > Brunswick - 554 mi
    1/13 - Brunswick > Atlanta - 307 mi
    1/15 - Atlanta > New Orleans - 472 mi
    1/16 - New Orleans > San Antonio - 545 mi
    1/18 - San Antonio > Dallas - 274 mi
    1/20 - Dallas > Lubbock - 345 mi
    1/21 - Lubbock > Grand Canyon - 717 mi
    1/23 - Grand Canyon > Palm Springs - 412 mi
    1/24 - Palm Springs > LA - 107 mi
    1/25 - LA > Redding, CA - 545 mi
    1/26 - Redding > home - 628 mi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Going to Happen

    Trying to drive more than 2100 miles in under three days is unwise, unsafe, and frankly nearly impossible. You should be aware that professional long-haul truckers are prohibited by law from trying such an endeavor because incident after incident and study after study have shown drives of such length (and perforce limited sleep) result in too many fatal accidents. If you need to be in Chicago sooner, then you need to leave Seattle sooner. 2130 miles requires a minimum of three and a half days to be driven safely. Not to mention that even if you do pull it off, you'll be so exhausted that you will be in no shape to enjoy whatever it is you rushed to Chicago for.


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

    Default Non starter.

    I have to agree with Buck, it's too much to attempt at anytime of year but worse in January. One day of travelling 700 miles would be quite exhausting, but then to do the same again for 2 more days on the bounce could be fatal !

    If the party is on the 4th you just won't make it unless you leave earlier from home. Murdo to Chicago would most likely be 14-15 hours so if you were on the road at 6am [after a previously exhausting day] you would not get into Chicago until 9pm, totally exhausted and not in a party mood !

    You can still have an amazing trip, but the start and other areas need a rethink. Chicago to NY really needs an overnight stop, even if it's just 2 or 3 hours from NY, and to drive to Boston and back for a day trip is really going to leave you no time in Boston, you will just be driving most of the day. It would be slightly less miles if you were to head to Boston from Chicago with an overnight stop half way [Buffalo?] and then on to NY.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default ditto - plus

    I have to agree with the above posts that your driving goals are far too much to be safe, and they'll pretty much guarantee that you'll be too tired to have much fun. The fact that you think your overall plans are "pretty easy" makes me thing you don't really appreciate just how huge, and aggressive of a plan you've laid out.

    I'll also note that you originally pointed out - quite correctly - that you'd needed a stop between Lubbock and the Grand Canyon, and you've now removed that from your plan. You could get from Lubbock to Palm Springs in 2 days, but wouldn't have enough time to make a detour to the Grand Canyon worth the effort.

    On top of all that, this trip is planned for January. It is almost a sure thing that you will see a handful of days with winter weather, and not just on the first leg. You can, and likely will, see winter weather throughout your trip, including the southern states. You haven't built in any time for the slowdowns and delays that are so inevitable you need to plan for them.

  7. Default

    Thanks all for the thoughtful responses. I can tell I came to the right place.

    I can leave Seattle one day earlier, but that's it. I shouldn't have said I have to be in Chicago on the 4th, it's more of a want to because it's a good friend's birthday. I don't know her Chicago friends, so It would be nice but I'm not determined. I originally sketched a longer day 2 and shorter day 3 to get into Chicago earlier in the day... But now it seems like the whole leg is just not realistic and I will revise.

    The "pretty easy" was more about the middle of the trip when I was planning legs well under 500 miles and a couple of days after long stretches. But... yeah... not so easy it sounds like.

    I am probably being too optimistic about the weather. Having done TX to CO in the winter several times before I should really know better.

    On Lubbock to Grand Canyon, I was ok with stopping wherever I got tired since hotel is required regardless and I wanted at least a half day to gawk. Could have made that clearer.

    So this has gotten longer than intended... The tl;dr version is thanks for the thorough attention to my plan and the great insights and feedback. Looks like i needed a reality check. I am going to request another week of vacation and post an update after it is approved.

  8. Default

    Ok, so I am taking an extra week off, leaving a day earlier, and removing one stop. Here's what I have now:

    Jan 1: Home > Butte, MT - 620
    Jan 2: Butte > Rapid City, SD - 598
    Jan 3: Rapid city > Austin, MN - 534
    Jan 4: Austin > Chicago - 378
    Jan 6: Chicago > Pittsburgh - 471
    Jan 7: Pittsburgh > New York - 370
    Jan 9: New York > Boston > New York - 434
    Jan 10: New York > DC - 227
    Jan 11: DC > Virginia Beach - 228
    Jan 12: VB > Atlanta - 589
    Jan 15: Atlanta > New Orleans - 478
    Jan 16: New Orleans > San Antonio - 575
    Jan 18: San Antonio > Dallas - 275
    Jan 21: Dallas > Lubbock - 345
    Jan 22: Lubbock > Winslow, AZ - 580
    Jan 23: Winslow > Grand Canyon - 131
    Jan 24: Grand Canyon > Palm Springs - 432
    Jan 26: Palm Springs > LA - 107
    Jan 27: LA > Redding - 545
    Jan 28: Redding > Portland - 421
    Jan 29: Portland > Home - 208

    That gives me 5 days of leeway after the return for weather/ fatigue stops or other unexpected delays. Better?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would say that looks much better. The one area that remains an issue is boston. As dave mention, it would be shorter to go from chicago to boston and then down to nyc. Either way, trying to do it as a daytrip from new york really seems pointless. By thetime you deal with traffic, you won't have nearly enough time to make the trip worthwhile, so that's a spot to use at least one of your extra days.

  10. #10

    Default Some prep ideas

    Hello Techsan,

    As you fine-tune your day-by-day plans, keep in mind a few general purpose thoughts:

    Staying connected to the WWW will be very helpful. In addition to's close-up real-time radar for any locality you may choose, most states in the snowbelt have a network of live webcams located all over the place and in particular along Interstates at crux points like passes. With the ability to look ahead in real time, driving into a bad situation which you could avoid by hanging back for a few hours becomes a voluntary thing.

    Don't rely solely on GPS. Invest $20 in a current Rand-McNally or other nationwide highway atlas and be familiar with using it. See "Death by GPS" discussions herein for more reasons to do this.

    Make sure your front and rear windshield wipers are in tip-top shape. Replace them if they're not. Top off your wiper fluid tank with de-icing fluid before you leave Seattle and make sure you've got a full gallon on board to keep it topped off. It's possible you'll be running in zero to subzero temps in some of the I-90 passes or elsewhere along your trip, so de-icing fluid would be much preferred. Spend another couple or four bucks on a brand-new squeegee and a roll of good paper towels. While most fuel plazas in the snowbelt take care to keep such items well-stocked by the fuel pumps, you'll be glad you have your own when you encounter one which is not so well equipped. When I'm on a RoadTrip such as yours, I habitually clean my windshields, door glass, external rear-view mirrors, headlights,and taillights at each and every stop. The sand and salt-laden spray you'll inevitably be running in can badly affect your ability to see well enough, so vigilance and preparation on your part can assure good, safe visibility is but moments away, whenever it's needed.

    As soon as you're clear of the salt spray highways, invest in a trip to a car wash featuring an undercarriage spray. Do it again once you get back to Seattle if you get back into the crud on the return leg.

    Safe travels and enjoy your RoadTrip!


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