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  1. Default First time tripper - moving from Toronto, Canada to San Francisco

    Hi Roadtrippers,

    My wife and I are moving from Toronto, Canada to San Francisco. We are packing our belongings into our car and drive across the US to San Francisco. We plan to take the trip over the 4th of July long weekend.

    As this is our very first time doing a road trip like this so we need your advise on what are the best and safest routes. What areas to avoid and any good hotels and stops along the route. As we will have our belongings all packed in our car so we want to stay in safe areas to prevent any break-ins. We are setting aside 5 full days for the trip. The only places that we wanted to visit are:
    - Chicago
    - Arches National Park

    Other places that are nice to visit but not required are:
    - Zion National Park
    - Las Vegas
    - Reno
    - Sequoia National Park

    I plan to drive only when the sun is up. By the time sunset comes, we want to check in to a hotel. So that means no more than 11 hours driving per day.

    Thanks in advance for any advise that you can provide us.

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

    Default You'll Need Far More Than a Weekend

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    This is a five day drive, minimum. That's with no major stops such as Chicago, and no major detours such as any of the national parks you mention. I have no problem with your only driving while the sun is up, or getting a full night's sleep at the end of each day, or making short stops on or just off your main route. But unless you have significantly longer than "the 4th of July long weekend", your plan simply isn't going to work. If you really are as time constrained as you say, and again you will need a [b ]minimum[/b] of five days for the direct drive, you need to stick to the shortest possible, all-Interstate route. That's ON-403/ON-401/ON-402 to Sarnia, I-69 to Battle Creek MI, I-94 to Chicago, and I-80 the rest of the way to San Francisco. Chicago is just about a day's drive from Toronto, so you can spend an evening there, and Reno is also on the direct route, so you can spend a couple of hours there, but unless you can find significantly more time than what you've indicated, none of the other destinations on your wish list are really possible.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Hi AZBuck,

    Thank you for the advise.

    My wife and I are taking turns driving and we can squeeze in an extra day if needed but that's the most we have. Also, we can skip Chicago if needed in exchange for one of the national parks.

    Sjdude

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Unfortunately...

    It is a common misconception that having two drivers results in being able to cover more miles in a day. But unless you have at least three drivers sticking to a strict rotational schedule that is simply not true. Ideally you should have two drives awake at all times so that one can do the navigating, pour the coffee, act as an additional pair of eyes, and perhaps most importantly keep tabs on the driver. None of that helps you go faster. Now consider the fact that with an additional person the length of every stop will be determined by the slower of the two of you. And then there's the fact that you will almost certainly need more bathroom breaks - again determined by the person who needs the most stops.

    Your problem is not the number of drivers, it is the number of days. Five is the absolute minimum required for this trip. Unless you have more time than that, and you haven't indicated that you do, you don't have time for any sight-seeing or anything other than the job at hand - driving by the most efficient Interstate route from Toronto to San Francisco.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I will totally agree with AZBuck here -- this is a full five days of driving, taking only the minimum number of breaks and not doing any sightseeing.

    As far as hotels to stay at, places to eat and similar, I'd recommend that you get reservations for the nights of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, if you are in any touristy areas just by the route. Use Google Street View ahead of time to look at any likely places and see what you think. When you pull into a place, use your common sense and instincts. If it seems like a seedy area, it probably is, and I'd move on.

    People move all the time using their vehicles. When we're on the road, we see U-Hauls and SUV's full of stuff all the time. As you pack, don't leave valuables out in plain sight. Instead, pull those into the motel room with you, or bury them so far inside your car that they won't be noticeable. This would be things like computers, tablets/pads, phones, iPods, cameras, and more. Make sure, of course, that your suitcases for the trip are the last things you pack!

    Treat this move like 5 work days -- because that's what it will be. If you can give it more days, you will be able to treat it a little bit like a vacation and actually see something like you've mentioned!


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Toronto to San Francisco via the route recommended by Buck is 2633 miles. This means you have to drive 525 miles a day - EVERY day - for 5 days. With only gas and bathroom stops, that's 10 hours a day. Take an hour for lunch and there's 11 hours.

    Equally spaced overnights:

    Chicago (southern suburbs)
    Lincoln, NE
    Rawlins, WY
    Elko, NV

    If you can do a 6th day, you could spend 2 nights around Chicago and see the city. Defer your other desires for later dates, everything else you list except Arches is easily reachable in 1 day from SF and would make good long weekend trips.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Don't be fooled.

    If you are planning your journey using online mapping programs such as Google maps, do not be fooled by their fantasy world drive times. A journey of this lenght should be measured in days [yes, 5 of them] and not hours as per the 38 hours Google maps suggest. That would mean driving at 70 mph non stop for all of those 38 hours, an impossibility when you consider the need for fuel, food and rest breaks and the need to allow for possible congestion and construction delays. To do 11 hours of driving every day with a minimum of breaks for the basics, you should still 'only' expect to cover 600 miles per day and that is already pushing the limits of what proffesional drivers are allowed to do by law. By pushing yourself like this you might gain a 1/2 day break somewhere, but in all honesty you would be better off breaking your driving into equal 500-550 mile days and take more regular breaks and have a little down time in the evenings wherever you end up.

  8. Default

    Thank you everyone for the helpful tips. Yes, this is our first time to do a long road trip - and most probably will repeat this for years to come.

    With the tips that everyone provided, we decided to add one more day to the trip to make it 6 days instead of 5 so that we can at least spend some time touring and make the trip more enjoyable. Having said that, what would you recommend the places we tour? Chicago is no longer a must-see so we are open to all suggestions on the places we stop by to enjoy some scenery and stretch our legs.

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

    Default Spread It Out

    With only a day to spend seeing things on a six day Roadtrip, I would spend that day not at any one place, but on one or two hour-long stops each day. That is, make each day a bit more relaxed so that you have time to discover something about the land you're driving through rather than rushing sown the highway for five days so that you can spend one day at one and only one major stop. Besides local parks, wildlife refuges, and small museums, you could spend a little time in Chicago and Reno - particularly if you pace your drives so as to spend the night there. Perhaps Salt Lake City would fall into that category as well. But otherwise, major national parks would just require too much of a detour to be visited, even with six days.

    AZBuck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Chicago does fit into an overnight easily, it's a one day drive from Toronto. However, Reno doesn't really fit in without adjusting things in between Chicago and there. It's only about a 4 hour drive in to SF from Reno. If you wanted to spend a morning in Chicago and a morning in Reno, overnights would adjust to Iowa City IA, Ogalalla NE, and Salt Lake City.

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