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  1. Default Winter Roadtrip: Columbus to San Francisco

    Hi all. My name is Marisol and I am looking to get some feedback from you drivers out there!

    After 3 years- I will be making my way back home to San Francisco from Columbus, Ohio and wanted some feedback on best routes to take. I am traveling the first week of December in my Honda Ridgeline. Heading to Chicago to pick up my uncle who is helping me drive, and leaving from Chi Town the following day (Saturday)

    I am worried about a few things:

    1) which route is the best during this winter season? My truck will be packed with a lot of my belongings so driving through snow is not ideal.

    2) time- we are trying to make good time as My uncle has his flight back to Chicago 5 days after we take off. We were not planning on stoping for sight seeing or anything but it would be nice to make a stop in Vegas or somewhere else worth stopping for.

    3) Rest/ Overnight stops- my brother made this same trip with a cousin last summer and they made it in 36 hrs. Pretty much close to no rest. Since this is my first road trip- I would like to book a hotel somewhere half way or even in Vegas if we are making the stop. Any recommendations?

    I'm 25 years old so I'm a pretty experienced driver, but I've never taken this long of a road trip. Longest drive has been SF to LA lol
    Really, any tips, tricks, feedback is greatly appreciated and will be taken seriously since as of now I have no idea what I'm doing.

    Thanks in advance :)
    Marisol

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default

    Hi Marisol, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    From Chicago to SF you are looking at a four day trip, via the most direct route - which does not go through Vega. To think that your brother made it with one rest meant they were driving well past tired (even if they did not feel it) and probably going into fatigue (one of the greatest killers on the road. And no two drivers does not make a difference. While one is driving the other has to be awake the whole time and alert to make sure the driver is as alert as needs be. Just sitting in a moving vehicle is tiring, and both will get to exhaustion at the same time.

    You need to approach this trip like a marathon, and not tire yourself out at the start.... but pace yourselves evenly across the route.

    For winter driving the best plan is to take the most direct route, to cut down on time on the road. Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to your departure, and have another route planned out, in case there are storms forecast for the first route. Still should you get caught by an unexpected storm, it is a good thing you have five days, as you will be able to check into a warm hotel and sit out the storm, wait for the roads to be cleared before continuing.

    Planning to detour to Vegas would not be a great idea, adding unnecessary time and distance to your trip, which also means extra chance to see winter weather.

    Have a safe trip.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Default

    3) Rest/ Overnight stops- my brother made this same trip with a cousin last summer and they made it in 36 hrs. Pretty much close to no rest. Since this is my first road trip- I would like to book a hotel somewhere half way or even in Vegas if we are making the stop. Any recommendations?
    This was suicidal but they obviously survived. If they had played Russian Roulette with live Ammo and lived to tell you about it, would you play ? Probably not, so I would suggest you re-think this trip and take the advice above, you need at least 3 overnight stops and that will only work if the weather is 'kind' to you and still more than I would recommend for a first multi day road trip. And to do that trip in 36 hours they were not only dangerously fatigued they would have been breaking speed limits by enough to put them in jail at times, thank goodness innocent people didn't get hurt by their foolishness.

    Have a safe trip !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marisol9590 View Post
    1) which route is the best during this winter season? My truck will be packed with a lot of my belongings so driving through snow is not ideal.
    From Chicago to SFO, the best route is I-80, as it is by far the most direct route. Every cross country route in the US, no matter how far south you go, can and does see winter weather. Your best bet is to watch the weather forecasts, and plan to take the shortest possible route. The less time you are on the road, the less chance you'll run into bad weather, and the more extra time you'll have available if you need to sit and wait for a storm to pass.



    2) time- we are trying to make good time as My uncle has his flight back to Chicago 5 days after we take off. We were not planning on stoping for sight seeing or anything but it would be nice to make a stop in Vegas or somewhere else worth stopping for.
    It's a good thing you aren't hoping to sight see, because with a hard deadline of 5 days, you don't have any extra time to work with. Chicago to SF via I-80 is already 2100 miles, which is requires a bare minimum of 3 overnight stops (3.5 days on the road) for safety. Being that this is a winter trip, it is always a good idea to give yourself at least 1 extra day in case there is a storm that slows you down, or even forces you to stop for a day.

    Las Vegas is not on the direct route, and detouring there would add at least 200 miles (a half day on the road) to your trip. Even if you did see good weather, you wouldn't really have time to do anything there, and if you saw any bad weather, you'd have a very tough time making it to SFO in time for your uncle's flight.

    3) Rest/ Overnight stops- my brother made this same trip with a cousin last summer and they made it in 36 hrs. Pretty much close to no rest. Since this is my first road trip- I would like to book a hotel somewhere half way or even in Vegas if we are making the stop. Any recommendations?
    The best way to describe your brother's trip is in a word: homicidal. Doing this trip with just 1 overnight stop would be just as reckless. Driving without proper rest is every bit as dangerous and deadly as drunk driving. The fact that your brother survived his trip without harming himself or others doesn't mean he was safe, any more than someone who drinks a bottle of vodka and drives home without crashing is safe. In both cases, if you engage in reckless behavior enough times, your luck will eventually run out. Having 2 drivers does not change that, and having 1 person drive while the other naps is not a "safe" solution.

    As has been mentioned, you need a Minimum of 3 overnight stops to do this trip safely. Your target stops should be about 600 miles apart - that will take you 10-12 hours on the road, and is roughly the same as professional drivers (truckers) are allowed to travel in a day because of safety laws.

  5. Default

    Guys these are all great suggestions. (It's my first time on a forum and honestly I didn't think I would get any responses) thanks!
    I completely agree with how irresponsible and wreckless my brothers trip was. Definitely something I would not want to do.
    After reading this I realized the 5 day deadline was a bit restricting and stressful so I changed my uncles flight to be 8 days after departure (thank you Southwest Airlines)
    Still this trip isn't meant for sight seeing but now we could have some stops along the way. If we take the most direct route 80, any places you recommend for overnight sleep?
    Also I am the type of person who likes planning things, so booking hotels for our overnight stays is something that I would like to do prior to take off but probably shouldn't since I will not have co trim of weather and time. What do you think?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Do you have some paper maps? If not, you could get a good atlas at your local big box store or book store, and that's a great start. If you're a AAA member, that would be a good place for individual state maps. The maps, or the atlas, would show you a number of places that might be a good stretch-your-legs stop.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default Booking Hotels.

    Winging it for this time of year should be fine. However, if you are more comfortable with booking, why not mark on your map which places are roughly 500 - 550 miles apart, and see how you go. If all is well and things are fine sailing you can always call up at lunch time on the day, and book. Especially if you have noted names and contacts of the places which appeal to you.

    Good move to shift the flight. You will be more relaxed about the trip, and can go with whatever the weather dishes out for you.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Leaving your lodging choices open to change because of the possibility of weather disruption would work in your favour. As mentioned above, look at goals for each day and make a list of convenient hotels that suit your budget and write down their contact details so you can book while on the road. The weather forecasts are quite accurate a day or 2 ahead so you could ring the night before. Night 1 you would be looking at either Iowa City IA or Columbia MO depending on routing. Then North Platte NE, Evanston WY, Reno NV leaving an easy run to SF. This is just a rough guide based on locations so you can 'juggle' with it a bit. If you stay on the west side of any City you will have a clearer run in the morning rush as you will be heading out of town while the workers are heading into it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marisol9590 View Post
    I am the type of person who likes planning things, so booking hotels for our overnight stays is something that I would like to do prior to take off but probably shouldn't since I will not have co trim of weather and time. What do you think?
    You certainly shouldn't need to make reservations anywhere along your trip. The first week of December is traditionally the slowest time of the entire year in the travel industry, as people have just returned from Thanksgiving and haven't yet left for Christmas.

    Still, if you want to make reservations at hotels because you like the security of knowing exactly where you'll end up, you can still go ahead and do that. Just make sure the places where you plan to stay have liberal cancellation policies. Many places will allow you to cancel your reservation up until the afternoon you are scheduled to arrive. As long as you're not booking places that lock you in days in advance, or worse, doing something like priceline or hotwire where you can't make any changes to your itinerary, you should be fine.

    With the extra time, you aren't limited to I-80 anymore, and if you still want to go to Vegas, that's now certainly a possibility you can consider. With Vegas in the mix, you could use I-70 across the Colorado Rockies, or go down I-55/I-44/I-40 through St. Louis and OK City. Just remember, going south doesn't mean you're necessarily going to see better weather. Even sticking to I-80 as far as Salt Lake City, and then, if you've had good weather and have made good time, you could head south on I-15 to Vegas.

    If you took I-80 and just focused on getting there. Lincoln, NE; Rawlins, WY; and Elko Nevada could make good stops from Chicago onward. (Note in Dave's suggestions, he's talking about leaving from Columbus, and must have missed your plan to spend the night in Chicago to pick up your uncle.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Ooops.

    (Note in Dave's suggestions, he's talking about leaving from Columbus, and must have missed your plan to spend the night in Chicago to pick up your uncle.)
    Yes I did miss it. Apologies.

    Dave.

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