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  1. Default Need advice on driving trip from Los Angeles, CA to Rochester, MI

    Hello all,

    I will be going to a graduate school in Michigan this upcoming August. I have never done this before and am pretty stressed out on how to deal with this situation. I have leased a brand new car, so there are no worries on that end. It gets 40-50 mpg as well. Google maps without toll roads state that it is a total of about ~2,200 miles. Idealistically, if I went 80-85 mph for 9 hours a day, I should get there in 3 days. The problem is I don't know where to stop for sleep for the first two nights that will be very affordable. Please point out any flaws I have with this plan. Thank you for your help !

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default one more

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but you're not going to be able to make this trip in 3 days. You need a minimum of 4 hard days to make the drive safely.

    Even if set the Cruise at 80, it doesn't mean you'll actually be driving 80 for every minute of the day. You'll have other traffic, you'll have to slow down for construction, you'll need to stop for fuel, food, restrooms, etc. In the real world, in a speed run type pace, you're doing good to average even 60 mph over a full day on the road - that yes, that is assuming you are driving at or slightly above the speed limit.

    That means, over the course of 9-10 hours, you're going to cover about 600 miles. That's also about the limit for what you should be planning to do in a day, and it's in line with what professional drivers are allowed to do in a single day because of safety laws.

    I'll also point out that despite what the window sticker may have said, there are very few cars that can actually get 40-50 mpg while driving 80+ mph. Such numbers are typically inflated a bit - as they reflect tests done in "perfect" conditions, and as you increase your speed, especially above about 65, your fuel consumption increases significantly.

    If you are going to do this trip as fast as safely possible, you need to plan for overnight stops in Richfield, UT; Sterling, CO; and Des Moines, Iowa. You should probably prebook rooms, as you don't really have much flexibility to go any more or less than those stops - you're already at the brink of what you can safely do in 4 days. That's especially true for the 1st day, which, while is a bit shorter than some of the following days, After the Richfield area, you enter a stretch of about 100 miles without any significant services.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    This is a 4 day drive, not 3 days. You will also be getting tickets for doing 80+ most of the way, most of the rest of the country doesn't drive like you do on the LA freeways. Keep it down to 5 over or less. Allowing for traffic, construction, and rest stops you will be on the road for at least 10 hours a day. Google Maps travel times are about 20% optimistic when stops and delays are considered.

    Fastest way is I-15/I-70/I-76/I-80/I-94. Overnights would be Richfield UT, Sterling CO, and Des Moines IA.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for the advice guys. Do you guys recommend any cheap options for staying overnight at the three stops you mentioned? Hostels? Truck stops? Motels?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Richfield has a number of lower cost motels, which is what I suggest as a "cheap option". There are two ways to get the price down. One is to find a coupon book when you pull into Utah, at the State Information/Visitor Center/Tourist Bureau. If you plan to use coupons, get into town early. (My husband and I define "early" as 3 or 4 pm.) That means leaving LA around 5 am, to beat Rush Hour LA Style (unless you are traveling on a weekend, meaning you could leave around 6 am). The second way is to get your hotel through a pre-paid reservation, such as on the hotel's website or a consolidator such as Expedia,, and the one on RTA.

    I wouldn't recommend truck stops, as that would mean you'd have to sleep in your car. Unless your vehicle allows you to stretch out completely, you won't get the rest you need. I also wouldn't recommend hostels, as you won't find them in Richfield or Sterling (though there may be one in Des Moines).

    Where you can save money is on your food. Take a cooler and a tote bag for picnics. You can shop a lot cheaper at your favorite grocer, before you leave LA, than you can at convenience markets along the way. Most motels offer some sort of continental breakfast these days, but you can also take fruit, cereal, and milk if that's what you'd prefer. You don't even have to eat "out" for dinner -- simply go to a local grocer and see what they have to offer in the line of precooked meals. It's a lot less expensive than going out to eat, and far healthier than fast food.

    Oh -- Michael and GLC are "right on" when it comes to the travel time required. This is a 4-day trip, not 3. It will be 4 days of about 550-600 miles, around 10-11 hours. Make yourself stop, as you will pay for it the next day if you try to drive more than that.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You need to budget about $75 a night for hotels. To get the best price, you will probably have to consider nearby towns in addition to the ones we indicated. Use our Hotel Search to get an idea of prices, when you put in a specific city you get results within 50 miles. Then see what you can find coupons for when you enter each state. If you are a AAA member (highly recommended) most hotels will give you a discount.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Hostels

    The only convenient hostel to your route is about 10 miles south of Richfield, in Monroe. However, it is not the sort of place you want to stay for a mere overnight stop. Neither do the reviews sound like it is the place you need on your trip. There are some great hostels in Denver, but I think that may not be far enough for that day's travel. I have stayed at the International, the Melbourne International and the 11th Ave. Most of that was years ago. There is not one hostel in IA.


  8. Default

    I figure on averaging 50 mph on long trips. That would come to 44 hours or about 15 hours per day for three days. Start at 6am and drive until 9 pm. That would be pretty exhausting.

    Even driving 80 mph, you might only average 50 mph for all the reasons listed. Maybe not on the first day, but eventually you will take longer than anticipated getting gas, having a meal, getting stuck in traffic or an accident pile up. You might get lucky, but more than likely you'll need 4 days. The real problem is if you determine that you WILL get there in 3 days.

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