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  1. Default Students traveling from Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA

    Hello!

    So glad I found this site. Myself and 3 other Boston students are traveling across the country for internships in Los Angeles. We are starting to think about where we wanna stop, and what route to take. None of us have ever driven cross country, so it's new to all of us. We plan on driving approx. 12 hours a day, but if that seems impossible please let us know! Here's a few questions I have...

    1) Should we make reservations at hotels ahead of time? Or just show up to a hotel when we are done driving?
    2) Best way to split up driving? We are taking two cars with four people.
    3) Best route? Which cities should we stop in? Any places you recommend seeing?


    Any suggestions other suggestions would be helpful! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,695

    Default 5 day bare minimum.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You should plan on this trip taking a minimum of 5 days with time to take the appropriate rest breaks along the way and to get food, bathroom breaks and fill with fuel etc. With those breaks and real world travel situations you should be on the road for 10-11 hours a day which is about the limit we recommend for multi day trips and is more in keeping with what professional drivers are restricted to by law for saftey reasons. It's fine to do a 12 or 14 hour day as a one off journey, but to repeat it day after day means that fatigue sets in real quick and drowsy driver is a danger to themselves and those that share the road with them. If you had an extra day [or two] you could take a little more time out to relax and explore places you will be going by and I would strongly recommend taking at least 6 days as this is your first cross country trip. Forget about what any mapping program may tell you, they do not consider the rest breaks and food us mere mortals need and nor do they consider traffic congestion or construction delays.

    There is no single 'best route' so the first thing you need to do is look at a map and see if there is anywhere in particular you would like to see and decide on how much time you have/want. I80/76/70/15 would take you through the scenic Rockies and Southern Utah, or you could head down to St Louis [Gateway Arch] and take I44 to I40, perhaps take a 'peak' at the Grand canyon NP. There is not a significant time difference in either route and if you want to take more time you can get off Interstate for a while, but while sticking to Interstate you should aim for a City no more than 550-600 miles from where you start out.

    Hotels won't be a problem to find and the cheapest you will find a way from the City centres and nearer to Interstate exits. If you plan it so that you stay to the west of any major city when heading west, it will be mean that you will driving away from it the following morning as a majority of the morning rush is heading into it.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-05-2013 at 05:25 AM. Reason: typos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,982

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mflahert2010 View Post
    2) Best way to split up driving? We are taking two cars with four people.
    Out of curiosity, why the two cars? Are you taking so much stuff you can't fit it all into one?

    I don't know that there is a best way to split up the driving. With 2 cars you will be able to switch up who is riding with who, although you might also find that a regular routine of the same two people in each car each day. That's just something you'll have to work out as a group.

    I would recommend picking up a good pair of two-way radios to stay in communication on the road. I think you'll find they are far easier to use and more reliable than just trying to stay in touch via cell phones.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,504

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I too, agree that 10-11 hours on the road is about maximum in order not to wear yourselves out. Even if you split the driving, sitting in a car for long periods of time day after day is very tiring! 550-600 miles is about maximum that my husband and I will do per day, especially when we have to do several days in a row of it.

    As for hotels -- unless you're traveling on a 3-day weekend (Memorial Day, Fourth of July), usually you don't need reservations. You can probably use the little coupon booklets you find at Welcome Centers and Tourist Bureaus, and occasionally truck stops, to find reasonably priced accommodations along your route. Bear in mind that the coupons won't always work on a Friday or Saturday evening in a prime holiday area.

    As for splitting up the driving, it seems to me that there would be a few ways to do it. If all 4 are covered by insurance to drive a particular car, you could switch off in 2 or 3 hour increments. (Check with the insurance companies for the drivers whose cars are being driven, first. If the others own a car being left behind, they could check with their insurance company to see if they are covered when driving a friend's vehicle.)

    As for best route -- I concur with Dave, above. You really could go either way -- either I-80/76/71/70/15, or I-80/76/71/70/44/40/15. It really depends on what you want out of the trip. If you take the I-70 through Denver into Utah, you'll have some gorgeous scenery when you go through Vail, Glenwood Canyon, and the San Rafael Swell (UT). It's probably the most beautiful interstate driving in the US, IMHO. Yet cutting down from St Louis on I-44 to I-40 is beautiful in its own way: from west of Albuquerque across Arizona gives you a lot of different landscapes (desert to mountain elevations). I've driven both sets of roads in the last few years and they are good interstates. (We loved I-80 across Pennsylvania!)

    Go to the RTA Map Center and take a look at what's along each of these routes. If you have the time and the $$ for the extra time on the roads, there are so many places to stop. Just for starters: Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton OH (freebie museum, full of aircraft). St Louis has the Arch, the museum of the western expansion, a free zoo, and a tour of the Budweiser plant. Graham Cave along I-70 or Meramec Caverns along I-44. And so much more!


    Donna

  5. #5

    Default It Depends

    Quote Originally Posted by mflahert2010 View Post
    Hello!

    So glad I found this site. Myself and 3 other Boston students are traveling across the country for internships in Los Angeles. We are starting to think about where we wanna stop, and what route to take. None of us have ever driven cross country, so it's new to all of us. We plan on driving approx. 12 hours a day, but if that seems impossible please let us know! Here's a few questions I have...

    1) Should we make reservations at hotels ahead of time? Or just show up to a hotel when we are done driving?
    2) Best way to split up driving? We are taking two cars with four people.
    3) Best route? Which cities should we stop in? Any places you recommend seeing?

    Any suggestions other suggestions would be helpful! Thanks!
    What is your timeframe? Is your goal speed or do you intend to wander?
    As for 1), I wouldn't reserve ahead unless you are traveling during an especially heavy season or special event (e.g., when my wife was going through Indianapolis on Memorial Day weekend..) By mid-afternoon, you usually have a good idea of where you would like to stop. You can always call ahead then to make sure there are rooms available - just have some way to have access to hotel listings (stop briefly at a McDonald's and use the Wifi if nothing else).

    As for routes, I-80, I-40, and I-70 are all about the same length. If you are just going for speed, pick the route that appeals to you most. (or the one with the best weather forecast for your trip).

    If you have extra time, spread out a map. What looks fun to you?

    Jon

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,212

    Default

    just have some way to have access to hotel listings
    I use the hotels.com app on my smartphone for that.

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