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  1. Default Peoria, IL - San Francisco, CA


    I will be driving from Peoria to San Francisco soon. I have done some trips from Peoria, IL to Columbus, OH before but have never been on such a long trip. I will be driving by myself with a car full of stuff. I have read some threads here, done some research and seems like I-80W would be my best bet. I do have some questions and would appreciate your suggestions/tips on this road trip.

    1. How long is it recommended to drive in one day?

    2. Are there any streches on I-80W without gas stations or services?

    3. Should I make reservations in advance?

    4. Is it recommended to take a AAA membership or something similar before I start my trip?

    Any other suggestions or advice with the trip would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Enjoy the journey

    Hi Mavs, and welcome to The Great American RoadTrip forum.

    That's a great trip you are in for, with a wonderful drive through the Rockies. Make sure you take your camera, you will have a little time to record your favourite moments and places.

    1. Driving a full day you can cover around 500 - 600 miles. At the top end of that, you get very little time to admire the scenery, or stop to admire some of the great sights along the way.

    2. Fuel stops are abundant along most of the interstates, and this is true of I-80 with the exception perhaps of across Nevada. Fill up at SLC, Elko and Winnamucca.

    3. As to whether to book accommodation, or wing it, that depends greatly on when you travel and how fussy you are with your choice of lodging. The further you get into the tourist season, and the more fussy you are, the more I would recommend you book ahead.

    4. For peace of mind, some sort of roadside assistance is always a good idea, but that is completely up to you, and how confident you feel about your vehicle.

    This would be a comfortable four day trip at 500 miles a day, allowing for some time to stop and 'smell the roses'. The only other advice I could offer is.... enjoy the journey.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Just the Same, Only More So

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The thing about a long cross-country RoadTrip is that it can be seen as either an incredibly daunting task or nothing more than a series of connected pleasant drives. If you've driven from Peoria to Columbus (a shade under 400 miles), then you've already driven a fairly significant RoadTrip leg. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't try to drive too much more than around 550 miles on any one day of a multi-day RoadTrip, and the drive to Columbus is about 3/4 of that. If you were to string five of those together, or four of the 550 mile days, then you'd be in San Francisco. So that should give you a first, rough idea of how long to take for your journey. Then you need to add in any stops. Taking four or five days would allow some time for several simple stops each day, and such stops are highly recommended for your safety and enjoyment. But if you want to take longer than an hour or so at a given stop that you find particularly intriguing then that will have to be factored into your plans in addition.

    As to your other specific questions: Nowhere along the Interstates will you be more than 25 or 30 miles from motorist services, and usually not even that far. Also cell coverage is usually adequate as well, even when crossing large expanses that are otherwise uninhabited. I would, if you are not comfortable fixing your own car should it experience a minor breakdown, join a good motorist's club. AAA, perhaps the best known, costs $70-110/year depending on the level of membership. For that you get free roadside service should you need it, free towing (up to some mileage limit depending on level of membership), and perhaps most importantly, the knowledge that there will be someone to answer your call 24 hours a day should you need help. Even if you don't need their emergency help, membership will often get you a 10% discount on motel rates and free maps and guide books.

    As for planning and pre-booking of rooms, there are two (at least) schools of thought. But in this case, where spontaneity does not seem to be an over-riding concern, and safety and comfort are, I'd go ahead and make reservations. This lets you take your time, in the comfort of your own home, to comparison shop among the motels available rather than trying to find something at the last minute as it's getting dark and you're tired and tempted to 'see what's at the next exit'. It also gives you the comfortable knowledge that there's a bed waiting for you. If you decide to do the trip in five days, relatively equally spaced stops would be Lincoln NE, Cheyenne WY, Green River WY, and Battle Mountain NV. If you go for a four day transit, then overnight stops would be in the neighborhoods of Grand Island NE, Rawlins WY, and Elko NV.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    An advantage to purchasing a membership in AAA is the free maps and routing assistance that is available. When staying in an area, too... one can go into the AAA office and get free materials and advice for that area, usually more than the average flyers available at the welcome centers and in the lobby of your hotel.

    There are three stretches in Nevada where there are more than 35 miles between fuel stations. It's 411 miles across Nevada on I-80. Fuel up in Wells or Elko, Winnemucca, and then in Reno before you cross into California. (Fuel taxes are higher in CA)


  5. Default Thanks!

    Thank you so much for your replies guys! I do have a better idea now on how to plan this trip. I may have to do it in 3 days depending on the time I get but will definitely try to strech it to 4. I agree that reservations in advance and AAA would be great for piece of mind and help me determine my stays in advance.

    I would love to stop in between and enjoy the scenery but like I said before depending upon the time, if I do this trip in 4 days, does anyone have any recommendations on some good sight seeing places along the way that would not require long stops?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default No Can Do

    You simply cannot make this trip in three days. That would require driving nearly 700 miles a day. That is unwise, unsafe, and with little or no experience simply impossible. Professional long-haul truckers who do such things for a living are limited by law to around 600 miles a day for their own safety and that of everyone else that must share the road with them. While you might just be able to push yourself to nearly 700 miles on the first day, on the second day you would be exhausted and trying to do another 700 miles would have you viewing the insides of your eyelids, rather than the road, for long periods of time.

    If you take no other advice away from this site, take this: Four days minimum for this trip!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    If you need to do the trip in 3 days, you should be looking at plane or train tickets. 3.5 days is the bare minimum you should plan for to do this safely. Driving 700 miles a day, 3 days in a row, pretty much promises that for large parts of your drive you will not have had enough rest to be a safe driver.

    Again, doing this in 3 days is strongly discouraged, and if you do, then don't make hotel reservations, as that will only increase the temptation to drive even farther than your body can handle. At least stay flexible so you can stop short.

    4 full days, on the other hand, does allow some time for several short stops. The RTA Map Center should provide lots of ideas, and here are some more good suggestions.

  8. Default

    Thanks again guys for your advice and suggestions. It is more important for me to drive safe than to rush things. I would rather make it 4 or 5 than push myself do it in 3.

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