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  1. Default Dec. Trip from West Coast to East Coast: Road Conditions.

    I'm trying to decide whether or not to drive or fly home for winter break. I'm a college student in Washington State, and would like to drive home to Maryland, so I don't have to leave my dog here.

    I've made the drive a few times already, but during the summer. The Route I take usually has be go through Billings Montana, then I usually try to head south and avoid the turnpikes and tolls. So I end up in Kansas City, and then keep making my way East to the DC area.

    So its I-90, I-29, and I-70

    Does anyone know how those are during the winter?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Add a Day (and Save a Few Miles)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The thing about driving cross-country in the winter is that you can never be sure of what the weather will be like for the entirety of the trip, even on the day you leave. So the only thing you can do is to leave enough cushion in your planning that you can sit out a day to let any inclement weather blow over you and give the road crews time to plow/sand/salt before you get back to laying down miles. A day is usually enough such cushion. If you don't need it, fine, you get to Maryland a day earlier than you planned. If you do need it, you get to sit out the worst of any storm in the warmth, comfort, and (most importantly) safety of a motel room.

    You can also save yourself about a hundred miles of driving by staying on I-90 into Minnesota, using I-35 south to Clear Lake/Mason City IA, and then cutting southeastward on US-18/US-218/I-380 to I-80 at Iowa City. Then take I-74 from the Quad Cities down to I-70 at Champaign-Urbana IL. In addition to still missing the turnpikes and their tolls, you'll miss the traffic of Kansas City and St. Louis.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    In the winter, I think I'd drive the extra 100 miles unless you know for a fact that US-18 etc. is clear and dry and is forecast to stay that way when you are on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The shortcut through Iowa that Buck suggested, including US-18, is at least 90% Freeway/Expressway, and is going to get about as much attention from road crews as the Interstates.

    The alternative if someone wanted to stay exclusively on the Interstates would be to take I-29 to I-680 to I-80 and use that across Iowa, picking up Buck's instructions from there. That would still be a whole lot shorter/faster than going all the way down to KC and StL.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The other thing that no one has mentioned is the time factor. I have no idea how long you have for winter break, but you'll be using 10 days for the round trip travel, where flying will only use 2 days. In my daughter's college days, she always flew home for winter break so that she'd have more time at home. She did miss her car while she was home.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    That's what I get from posting from memory instead of having my mapping software open - Michael's alternative suggestion is what I would take, it's only 25 miles longer than US-18 etc. It will also keep you out of Waterloo.

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