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  1. Default Hi, advice on Seattle to Massachusetts trip?

    Hi everyone, i have been reading posts and taking notes for a week now. My g/f and i are driving from Seattle to Mass on Friday. Im going to try to go along I-90, then down to Devils Tower and across, South of Chicago etc. Are there any nice diners along the way? Any cheap motels? How do we plan where we are going to be at a certain time? Just drive until it starts to get dark and start looking for a place to stay?

    We would like to maximize the experience, as i think most people dont ever get an opportunity to drive across the country. We have ~8 days to do this. Any tips on how we can do this and make it a memorable experience without breaking the bank?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default No need to break the bank.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by TDean16 View Post
    Any tips on how we can do this and make it a memorable experience without breaking the bank?
    Get hold of the coupon books found at rest areas, welcome centres and most truck stops along the way. There are three or four different ones. Also available online. These have great deals, and make staying quite affordable. Just one hint, always ask to see the room before commiting. Check that the smoke alarm has not been disabled and that the door can be locked from the inside, with the chain, or similar lock, and that it is what you are looking for. If you are denied this, move on to another place.

    It is best not to drive till dark. Plan to stop before dinner time. Find your accommodation and have a relaxing meal before settling down for the night. It will make for a great next day.

    Having driven this route several times, in both directions, I know you are in for a great trip. Eight days is a nice amount of time to stop at some of the attractions along the way.

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Hi Lifey, what coupon books? I also have AAA, should i go to my local office and see if they have anything?

    We love little diners and nature, is there anything in particular you recall being exceptional on your trip? I really want to go to Devils Tower... I think Mt Rushmore is on the way also. Anything else?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default resources

    If you have not yet done so, I'd check out RTA's map center. It's got great ideas for places to stop right along your route, including some unique dining and lodging options.

    Specific diner recommendations on a trip of this size are tough, as there are usually good places to eat in every city, and we could never know where you'll be hungry or what you'll be hungry for! The other issue is that restaurants turn-over and change hands so often that a good restaurant today could be a terrible place tomorrow. For example, my favorite little lunch-counter hamburger shop in South Dakota had been open since WWII, and the last time I was there, it was under new ownership, and within a few months, it was shut down. There are entire books dedicated to "road food" and if you've got a smartphone, there are several apps that can help you find places that have been highlighted on tv shows, like "diners, drive-ins..." Just keep in mind there, you could still run into information that is out of date, and places that no longer exist (lord knows, I've had that problem more than once trying to track down a "recommended" restaurant.)

    Of course, the other highly recommended idea is just to ask a local where they eat and/or look for places with full parking lots!

    For cheap hotels, the coupon books Lifey suggested are a good way to save money. If you'll have web access on the road, using internet search engines (including RTA's hotel search) or the blind bid sites like priceline can help you find good prices, if you're willing to gamble on what you get for a hotel.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Free-styling Takes Experience

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As you read through the many discussions on these forums, you'll see some recurring themes: "Best" RoadTrip car; What does "best" even mean?; How many miles to cover in a day?; and others. One of those is the debate between whether it is better to pre-book each night's lodgings or to just 'go with the flow' and find a spot in the evening wherever you end up. While there is much to be said for both sides of that debate, for a novice RoadTripper on a long cross-country drive with limited time resources, almost all of the debate points come down on the side of pre-booking accommodations.

    With the detours and side trips you plan to make, you'll need to sped six solid days on the road driving. That only leaves you two days worth of time to spread among the vast number of attractions you'll be driving by. Now, you could spend your time on the road worrying about how much farther you can get that day, what sort of motel you might find before you're ready to collapse, whether they'll have a vacancy, how much it will cost, how much farther will I have to drive tomorrow to stay on pace and a hundred other little details that will simply detract from the freedom of being on the road. Or you can work all that out beforehand, make reservations, and simply know that if you reach each night's motel, you'll reach your ultimate goal. Until you have enough experience to know the basic answers to al those questions, as well as be familiar with your own travel style, it pays to have a plan.

    So, if it were me, what would that basic plan be? Route-wise, I'd take I-90 as far as Albert Lea MN than swing well south of Chicago by using I-35 to Mason City. From there use US-18/US-218/I-380 to connect with I-80 east at Iowa Cirty. At the Quad Cities, switch over to I-74 and follow that to Indianapolis and I-70. At Columbus OH use I-71 to return north to I-80 east and take that to Scranton where a short jog on I-81 will connect you to I-380 and I-84 up into central Massachusetts. That not only keeps you well 'south' of Chicago and out of its traffic but also off all the toll roads in the Midwest.

    Timing-wise, I'd plan on two full days to get to the Rapid City area with overnights around Butte MT and Spearfish SD. Then spend a full day in that area exploring Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Wind and Jewel Caves, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, etc. ending up near Murdo or Presho. For the rest of your trip, then, you can take the days a bit slower, covering fewer miles but taking a few hours out each day to explore sites along the way. Evenly spaced overnights the rest of the way would be roughly Clear Lake IA, Champaign IL, Ashland OH, and Scranton PA. You can certainly adjust those a bit to suit your own needs and interests.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TDean16 View Post
    Hi Lifey, what coupon books? I also have AAA, should i go to my local office and see if they have anything?
    AAA will get you discounts at many hotels, off their basic rate, but it can't usually be used with other discounts, like coupons.

    As Lifey mentioned, the coupon books are generally found at rest areas, truck stops, and similar locations. They are free and in a newspaper type rack with other free publications. I've never seen them at a AAA office.

  7. Default

    This is great info, thank you everyone. Does anyone know if there is a site out there that will show the miles along the way? Im having trouble figuring out how far everything is from each other even using the 100 mile key at the bottom.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Pretty much all the major online mapping programs (google, mapquest, etc) will let you drag and drop starting/ending points to determine how far a segment is.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default You can't beat paper maps.

    Quote Originally Posted by TDean16 View Post
    This is great info, thank you everyone. Does anyone know if there is a site out there that will show the miles along the way? Im having trouble figuring out how far everything is from each other even using the 100 mile key at the bottom.
    You are a member of AAA. Go there and get your free paper maps of all the States through which you will be travelling. It will give you a much better overview of what you are looking for. Never rely on technology alone. It has its place, but does not replace good paper maps.

    The first time I drove this route I divided it up by the number of days I had and just plotted it along the way. That way I knew if I was ahead of my schedule, I had time to stop and check out some attractions. If I was behind, I knew I better stick to the road.

    Having just driven from MA (Boston) to Iowa, I differ a little from Buck's route. Check out US30 through IL, IN and OH. It is a highspeed road, and more direct.

    As mentioned, just check rest areas everytime you stop, and truck stops/travel plazas everytime you fill up and you are bound to come across the coupon booklets.

    Lifey

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