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  1. Default New Orleans to Boston in 2 days?


    I'm glad I stumbled onto this forum - I have really enjoyed reading through old postings. I'll be driving from Mandeville, LA to Cambridge, MA in a couple of weeks as part of a move (I'm going back to school for an MBA). I'll be on my own since I'm flying my wife and baby up separately... we didn't want to make the baby drive 1,500 miles.

    I've seen the guidance on this forum to expect an average of ~52-57 mph, and correspondingly to plan on 500-550 miles per day. However, I'm 24, in great health, and have a very interesting set of lectures to listen to on the roadway. I have driven 530 miles (to Dallas) multiple times with no issues. I even did it after work once... starting at 4 PM... that was a bit much. I average at least 60 mph on these trips, with my wife and baby along for the ride, and I can imagine going much further without difficulty. 75 mph is my cruising speed. Am I missing something in planning for a longer trip?

    I plan to shoot for about 900 miles the first day, and then the last 600 miles the second day. On day one I plan to drive from 5 AM until 8 or 9 PM, eat a nice dinner at a restaurant, then sleep and rise semi-early again for day two (7 AM start?). On day two it looks like I could plan to arrive late-afternoon.

    Question 1: Please poke holes in my plan if I am too optimistic. Should I pay the extra money for a second night? I must pick up my wife and baby from the Boston airport at the end of "Day 3" - the day after I plan to arrive.
    Question 2: Is the Google-suggested route a good one? It starts with I-59N and switches to I-81N. This seems good because I avoid I-85/95, which I imagine as being pretty clogged up along the East Coast.

    Thanks very much for your input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    We certainly can't stop you, but there is a reason you've read the recommendations.

    What you are proposing is simply not safe, and as a solo driver, you're likely to kill yourself or someone else. 900 miles is a brutally long day on the road. It is 50% more than a professional driver is allowed to do in a single day - because of safety. The simple reality is that the human body can not, regardless of age, maintain the level of concentration and focus needed to safely operate a 2 ton vehicle at 75 mph for 15+ hours at a time. You will be drifting, daydreaming, and losing focus, it is just a reality. There is also the reality that by the time you start "feeling" really tired, you've already gone well past the point of being a safe driver, and that by then you'll be relying on an overtired brain to make a good decision of getting off the road.

    Your goal of covering 900 miles in 15 hours is very unlikely, as the longer you are on the road, the more you need to stop, and the more likely those stops will take more time. Being able to average 75 mph as a cruising speed on busy eastern freeways would also take a fair amount of good luck. Having done an 900 mile drive, due to a family emergency, I left at 6 am, gained an hour driving west, only really stopping for fuel and for an hour for lunch, and I didn't arrive until midnight. That was very tiring, and I had help driving.

    The other thing I didn't have to do is get back in the car for another 10+ hours the next day. While we'd never recommend any solo driver try to cover 900 miles in a day, there is also a big, big difference between doing one long day on the road, and trying to do something like that as part of a multi-day trip.

    Think of it like a sprint vs. a marathon, if you tried to run a marathon the same way you ran a 40 yard dash, you wouldn't be doing very good after the 1st mile, much less the 20th. In that same way, if you drive for 15+ hours in one day, you will be exhausted the next day, probably for the next few days, no matter how much sleep you get. There just is no way you can expect yourself to be in a condition to be at your best behind the wheel on day 2, especially not after a couple hours behind the wheel again. By the time you get to hours 5,6,7 etc on that second day your driving skills will be severely compromised.

    Statistically speaking, what you are proposing will make you nearly as likely to be involved in a crash as someone who is legally intoxicated after a night of drinking. As I mentioned earlier, Professional Truck Drivers are limited to roughly 600 miles a day for this very reason, any more and they become a danger to others.

    You can almost always find motel for $50-75, sometimes even less. Is that cost really worth taking the chance that you leave your wife and baby without anyone to pick them up, ever again? I know the answer for me, but that is something you'll have to decide for yourself.

    As far as a route, avoiding I-95 and the DC/NY/Boston corridor at all costs is always a good plan.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would recommend you make it at least a 2.5 day drive - spend the first night in Knoxville and the second night in Scranton. This will get you into Boston before afternoon rush hour on the 3rd day.

    Best way is, in fact, I-59/I-75/I-40/I-81 to Scranton, then I-84 through Waterbury, I-691/I-91 to south of Hartford, CT-15 (Charter Oak) bridge to I-84 to the Mass Pike (I-90).

    I can almost guarantee you if your cruising speed is 75 mph, you will arrive late with a fistful of tickets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Plan for the unexpected.

    A further thing you will need to factor into your plan is the unexpected. It does happen. On my current trip, it was 60 mins to cover less than 1 mile, when I came upon a serious accident up ahead.

    Think of your family, and leave a little flexibility. glc's route is one similar to which I have taken up north. It will see least congestion (hopefully) and few tolls.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    If you can possibly find the $ to make the 2nd night's stop, you will be doing yourself and the others on the road a big favor. There are many ways to do this, but using coupons is a fine one. Use Hotel Coupons site before you leave, and download/print coupons.

    My husband and I have done 750 mile days on the road. That was when we were young, and we usually did NOT try to do two of these, back-to-back. We also didn't do them on purpose -- it usually happened because I didn't calculate the mileage properly (this was pre-Internet days). We were SO tired! These days, 600 miles is the most we will drive, generally taking us about 10-11 hours IF we don't run into traffic snags, major construction areas with pilot cars, and we are on interstate highways.


  6. Default

    Thanks to all - you have given me a lot of great input.

    Midwest Michael - It makes sense that we're dealing with a concentration issue, rather than an issue of physical capability. It sounds kind of like when they test physicians' abilities after a 15 hour shift... no matter how good they are, judgement and coordination are not on par with what they should be.

    I'll plan on doing a second night somewhere. I don't want to compromise my safety or anyone else's by driving in an improper state of mind. Converting the trip to 2.5 days may allow me to stop a couple of times for one-hour tourist visits. Any major suggestions?

    I appreciate the detailed route info, glc. I will follow your advice there. Are law enforcement more active further up north? I have never driven north of I-20. In my domain of LA and TX, I cruise at 75 mph always, and have never received a ticket in my 8 years of driving.

    Lifey, My wife and I learned about the "unexpected" on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge (I10 in LA... 17 mile bridge over the swamplands). We sat with our engine off for 3 hours while they cleared a wreck! People were literally using the restroom off the side of the bridge... what else could you do?

    Donna, I'll check out that hotel coupon site. I'll probably do my first night at a Marriott - I'm one night shy of earning a free one. My second night I'll probably just hunt for the cheapest thing I can find.

    Thanks again for your input!

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


    Thank you for making the wise decision.

    The comparison to doctors hours is a good one, with the additional note that the concept of "road hypnosis" does increase the risk of actually falling asleep while drowsy behind the wheel.

    Here's a good list of places to take a break from the road, no matter which Interstate routes you take. Also, make sure to take advantage of the RTA Map Center which is specifically designed to help you find interesting stops along your route.

    Once you get into the Northeast, the top speed limits are 65, not 70, and that will make it much more likely for you to get stopped and ticketed for doing 75. In states with a 70 mph limit, it would be unlikely, although certainly not impossible, for you to be pulled over for going 5 over.

  8. Default

    Oh wow, I didn't know the speed limit was lower up there. I generally max out at "5 over" regardless of the speed limit, but I am used to driving where the limit is 70.

    Thanks for link! I'm off to do some planning...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have developed the habit of setting my cruise control to 3 mph over the limit since I got pulled for 6 over out in the middle of nowhere in Montana a few years ago. If you set it for 5 over, confirm that with your GPS, most speedometers are a bit high so that may only be 3 or 4 over.

    The farther you go northeast, the lower the limits get, and you will find long stretches of only 55 in congested areas and on older roads. You may be safe just "following the flow" but you may get pulled out of traffic simply because you have out-of-state plates.

    If you are looking for Marriott properties, there are some Fairfields in the Knoxville area with rates starting at $89. Farther east, the best you are going to do is a Courtyard in Bristol at $125. All Marriott properties in the Scranton area are over $100. There is a Rodeway Inn in Moosic at $45. Reviews aren't very good but there are a ton of other hotels in the area under $100.

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