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  1. Default Dallas To Chicago

    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post in this forum, before I embark on my first road trip in the US; from Dallas to Chicago and back.
    I will have about 6 days for the entire trip and want to spend more time sight-seeing in Chicago. I'll be travelling with my wife and 1 yr old kid (his first road trip), so will have to pace the journey accordingly.
    I'll need some advice/guidance on:
    1) What's a good time to start from home, afternoon, evening, night?
    2) Would St. Louis be a good first night halt? This way I'll have less ground to cover the next day and spend more time in Chicago.
    3) Any recommendations for economy lodging? I'm not looking at anytihng too fancy, just needs to be clean and safe and close to the interstate.
    4) Any recommendations on the return route? Or should it be the same?
    5) Any idea on how much would the toll taxes amount to? Is there any toll tag that I should buy before hand or just pay cash?

    Thanks for you help,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! To answer your questions:

    1) The best time to leave is when you are fresh and awake. For most of us, this is in the morning. If you decide to leave after work one day, then you drive for a couple of hours and then find a place to sleep for the night. Don't be tempted to drive for 6 hours after a full day's work, that's asking for trouble.

    2) That's about 700+ miles in one day, which is more than is allowed for professional drivers, and definitely very hard on that little guy. (I just traveled with two grandchildren under 2, this summer. Take it from me, you'll need to stop a lot with him!)

    3) There are a number of good budget chains, and some mid-range. You'll be looking at $70 or less for a family of 3. It would be a good thing to carry your own porta-crib or pack-n-play. You can look at the hotel-finder on this page to find availability and pricing. We always stop in a truck stop or rest area and look for coupon books with good deals on lodging. Remember you can always ask to see a room before committing to stay there. If they refuse, then walk away.

    4) If you have time to use a different route, by all means, I would! In checking Mapquest, I see there are 3 routes that are within 60 miles of each other in one-way lengths.

    5) I will let somebody else answer this for sure. I still recall the days of driving through Chicago and feeding the toll machines every few miles!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You are looking at a trip thats just a bit under 1000 miles each way, so thats 2 pretty full days on the road, considering that you are traveling with a little one. I think you need to leave relatively early in the day, although if you want to wait until after rush hour, that could make sense.

    St. Louis is farther than I would recommend while traveling with a family. It will likely take you 11-12 hours, once you factor in basic stops. Rolla, MO is about as far as I would suggest. Check RTAs hotel reservation section at the top of the page to see what places you can find in your budget.

    I am always a believer in taking a different route if you can, and in this case, it doesnt add many miles to go back via Memphis (I-57/I-55/I-40/I-30). Memphis is roughly the halfway point and would make for a good stopping point.

    You will only have a short section of tolls in Oklahoma and then whatever toll roads you use around Chicago. Relative to your fuel and other costs, they will be a tiny portion of your roadtrip expenses. An I-Pass would cut the cost of your tolls in half in Illinois, but unless you will be frequently going back to IL, or the northeast states that use EZ-Pass (where an IPass will work), then its probably not worth the deposit and hassle of getting a transponder.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First: A Strong Dose of Reality

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There is simply no way that you can leave Dallas in the afternoon/evening/night and be in St. Louis for your first night's stay. No Way. That's a drive of over 600 miles. More than professional long-haul drivers are legally permitted to drive in a day due to safety limitations. And far more than you should be contemplating driving in a single day, let alone one that doesn't start until a good chunk (most?) of the day is already gone, let alone with an infant on board. I cannot emphasize enough how bad an idea that is. You should plan to start as early in the morning as you are able. Also plan on making at least a couple of short sanity breaks along the way. And finally plan on getting no farther than halfway to Chicago - roughly Lebanon MO.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default All things equal.

    This is my first post in this forum, before I embark on my first road trip in the US; from Dallas to Chicago and back. I will have about 6 days for the entire trip and want to spend more time sight-seeing in Chicago./
    As above. To have your family want to do a second road trip sometime in the future by making this one a safe and enjoyable experience, you will need to divide your time equally, 2 days out, two days in Chicago and 2 days back and enjoy the road trip part as well. If that doesn't fit with your plans you really need to find extra time, or put your road trip on hold and fly.

    Have a great time.

  6. #6


    If possible, you might consider leaving Dallas in the late afternoon/early evening and driving a couple of hundred miles. Muskogee, OK might work - there are a number of lodging facilities there. This would allow you to reach St. Louis in a reasonable time the next day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The fastest route from Dallas to Chicago is US-75/US-69/I-44/I-55. The halfway point is Springfield, MO, which has a good selection of budget hotels at Exit 80. I have personally stayed at the Super 8 and it's acceptable.

    Tolls will be $2.00 on I-44 in OK, pay cash. There won't be any tolls in Chicago if you take I-55 into the city. Note that there is NO inexpensive lodging anywhere near downtown Chicago that would be safe.

  8. Default

    Thank you all for your invaluable suggestions and advice.
    We just returned from the first road trip and already looking forward and planning for the next one!
    We stopped at Springfield, MO for the night and took the same route on the return journey.
    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Thanks for reporting back. Glad to hear everything went well. Hopefully you'll get to take a new route for your next one!

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