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  1. Default Massachusetts to California

    Hey everyone,

    I'm new to this and have never attempted a trip like this before. Me and a buddy of mine are planning on driving from Massachusetts to San Francisco this spring break. We will be leaving on a Thursday, and the latest we would possibly wanna get there is the Thursday a week later. I know this doesn't give us much time, but the trip isn't as much about site seeing as it is about getting there quickly and then being in Cali. I was just wondering if anyone could give us any tips or advice for beginners, and let us know what is the quickest we could safely and realistically get there. Also anything we may not think of bringing that will be important etc.. We will be flying back to massachusetts from Cali, so a we dont have to worry about the return trip.
    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The Basics of a Transcontinental Drive

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While everyone will approach RoadTrips a bit differently, there are a few basic rules that apply to all of them, especially those that have to cover a lot of miles in a limited timeframe. First of all, recognize (as you do) that your time is constrained and that you have to make the most of it. That does not mean driving like a bat out of hell for hours upon hours. It means maintaining a steady pace that you can keep up for days on end - in your case six days, the minimum time needed to drive safely from Massachusetts to San Francisco. Plan on covering right around 550 miles a day, not much more, not much less, and stick to the plan. Don't be tempted to drive too many miles on any day which will just leave you exhausted the next day, of dawdle sight-seeing which will leave you scrambling to catch up. Plan to make a few stops each day at local state parks, small towns, etc. to take a break from the road and keep your minds sharp. If you don't detour too far, such stops won't slow you down too much and will make the trip both safer and more pleasant.

    As to routing, it's best to keep it as short and straightforward as possible. In your case there are a couple of reasons to not take the most direct route which would be I-90 to Chicago and I-80 the rest of the way. First I-90 is a collection of toll roads in the east, and second, Chicago has terrible traffic. What I'd suggest is that you take I-84 down through Hartford to Scranton PA and use I-81 to get on I-80 from there to Youngstown OH. Next up would be I-76 to Akron and I-71 to Columbus and I-70 west. Finally at Indianapolis, get on I-74 and take that up to the Quad Cities and get back on I-80 for the rest of the drive. That routing misses most of the tolls and avoids Chicago.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The scenic route.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    As to routing, it's best to keep it as short and straightforward as possible. In your case there are a couple of reasons to not take the most direct route which would be I-90 to Chicago and I-80 the rest of the way. First I-90 is a collection of toll roads in the east, and second, Chicago has terrible traffic. What I'd suggest is that you take I-84 down through Hartford to Scranton PA and use I-81 to get on I-80 from there to Youngstown OH. Next up would be I-76 to Akron and I-71 to Columbus and I-70 west. Finally at Indianapolis, get on I-74 and take that up to the Quad Cities and get back on I-80 for the rest of the drive. That routing misses most of the tolls and avoids Chicago.
    This is a route I have driven several times. Mostly I would agree with the above route. However, the scenic route does not add much in miles or time, but gives an opportunity to drive some of the most scenic routes, and definitely the most scenic Interstate in the country.

    In western NE I would leave I-80 and take I-76 to Denver. Then follow I-70 through Glenwood Canyon and Utah, and US50 through NV. Time permitting, you could take the detour over Loveland Pass in CO.

    Taking the scenic route, you do need to be aware that there is a stretch of about 100 miles after Green River in UT where services are scarce. Be sure you have a full tank when you leave Green River. Similarly, US50 in NV has few services between Ely and Fallon, so fill up in Ely. But these are not reasons to avoid some of the greatest scenery you will see along the road.

    Have a safe trip.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    What are you taking for a car? A rental, especially if you are under 25, is going to be very costly with the one way dropoff surcharge, and if you are under 21, impossible.

  5. Default

    One of the purposes of the trip is actually to drive my friends car out to him in California. Obviously driving it out may not be the most cost effective but we are doing it as a trip for fun and to serve this purpose. It is a 2008 ford focus.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    That's as good a reason as any to take a cross country road trip!

    Recommended things to bring:

    Money
    Credit and/or debit cards
    AAA membership
    Smartphone and/or laptop/tablet
    Cheap Styrofoam cooler for drinks/snacks (throw it away or leave it out there)

    You should probably pack fairly light if you have to fly back home, unless you fly Southwest where 2 bags fly free. You do have to be prepared for cold weather in the mountains.

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