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  1. Default Summer Road trip New York to Chicago

    Hello all, i am new to this site and looking for help on a road trp i am doing later June / Early July Next Year.

    The Trip

    We are planning to drive from JFK Airport to Chicago over 6 days then stay in Chicago and do the return journey in Two days.

    I am just looking for advise on which routes take, as i would like the scenic options, i have been looking into this a bit. i think i found one called route 6 in Pennsylvania. Also another few things that we would like to do on the way is Cedar point and maybe Columbus Zoo.

    As i am from the UK, we will hiring a car, at the moment we only have a compact car, Chevrolet avea but could upgrade to a Nissan Maxima or something similar. Now i never drove in america before but i driven abroad before. is it better to have an compact car or maybe need something a bit bigger if we are doing about 1500 miles.

    Regarding accommodation is it best to book before hand, i was thinking if we didn't book before go, could end hours looking for suitable accommodation? are the motels on the road that cheap??

    any advice on this trip would be much appreciated.

    thank you for your time

    Matt & Kayleigh

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    As far as scenic routes go, US-6 is a really pretty drive.

    For your lodging needs, there's probably little need to book ahead. "Cheap", of course, depends a lot on what you are used to paying. My husband and I usually rely upon the mid-to-low range. Often lowest are the "mom-and-pop" owned. Another way to find lower-cost lodging is to find coupon books at state information centers/visitor centers (usually located right after you pull across a state line) or at some truck stops. The only downside to coupon books is the need to pull in early to be able to take advantage of these, and that they often don't work on weekends (Fri-Sat nights). Budget chains include Motel 6 and Rodeway. Mid-range chains include Super 8 and Econo Lodge.

    For your vehicle, it's very much personal preference. The difference between an Aveo and a Maxima, besides Chevy vs. Nissan, is the trunk space (boot space). However, I can also say that when you rent a car, you are not necessarily reserving "an Aveo". There is probably a caveat in the small print that says "or similar". We prefer more legroom when we travel, but you may have different preferences.

    BTW, it is quite easy to NYC-->Chicago in 2 days. Having 6 will give you plenty of time to stop here and there.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Maps will help you plan.

    Since you still have more than 15 months ro plan this trip, may I suggest that you purchase yourself a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. Order it now and you will have it in a couple of weeks. It will give you, in great detail just where the scenic routes are and what attractions there are along the way. Good detailed maps will show you so much more than a small screen possibly can. A little websearching will then give you details of all those attractions.

    With 6 days you can choose to venture a little north, and/ or a little further south. To work out how far north or south you have time to wander, assume that it will take you on average one hour to cover 50 - 55 miles. This includes all essential stops, but not sightseeing.

    Even on the return trip you should be able to make the trip a toll free trip....... until you get to NYC itself.


  4. Default

    thank you very much for coming back to so quick :)

    thank you very much on your advice, regarding the lodging how much would you say mid - low range is? as we only need somewhere to sleep.

    yeah the hire company does say or similar so i guess you wont know till you get there what it will be. Would recconmed to get a GPS? dont like using GPS in this country as it takes away half the fun of a road trip.
    Would you rate driving in the states hard, the main worry is around the cities but i think i should be fine.

    Thank you again


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Roads, Cars, Motels, Sites

    I wrote this response to another Brit looking for some idea of what driving on American roads was like. It's still pertinent. What I also think you will find as you shop for a hire car is that it is only marginally more expensive (maybe two or three pounds per week) to get a 'mid-size' or 'intermediate' class. The added boot space and interior comforts as well as a larger engine make this my go-to class when I rent. You may get slightly fewer miles per gallon of petrol, but at 25 pence/liter I don't think you'll care much. Our European friends can sometimes get better rates from a local consolidator such as Europcar or RentalCars. I would definitely not take the GPS option from the hire firm. For what that would cost you for a week, you can buy your own. If you and/or your passenger are comfortable reading maps that is the way to go. Roads in America are well-marked. You may have to drive around a bit in cities, but see my earlier reference to the cost of petrol here.

    As for a rough idea of what motels typically cost, I use the following rules of thumb: Low cost (Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, etc.) $50-75/£35-52 (very occasionally less); Mid-range (Day's Inn, Holiday Inn, etc.) $75-100/£52-70; Upscale (Hilton, Doubletreee, etc.) $100+/£70+. Those rates will include at least two people per room, sometimes up to four. Reservations aren't needed as a rule, but if you know where you're going to be on a given evening, you can sometimes get a lower rate by booking ahead. The main advantage, though, is that you'd be doing your shopping ahead of time, comparing various motels in a given area, and not just taking whatever is handy at the end of a day on the road.

    Some other places you might want to consider as you head west to Chicago are Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Bass Islands, Greenfield Village, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-21-2016 at 10:55 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would agree with Buck that as long as the midsized car is only a few bucks more, it's usually worth the money. You'll get a more comfortable car, that's much more likely to have some extra features like bluetooth, cruise, etc. Also keep in mind that what a rental company defines as a "compact" car is considered a subcompact to the rest of the auto world, while a "midsize" will generally get you whats actually a compact, etc. In your example, the Aveo was one of the smallest cars on the market - but I sure hope they don't actually try to give you one, since the Aveo hasn't been made in 5 years!

  7. Default


    thank you again for your time on the reply, all this is much appreciated.

    i know my hire company says i can have a Nissan Maximum or similar, have you seen this car or drove before?? its seem a nice car, which i read the spec does come with GPS as standard.

    one place we was looking to visit on the way was Centralia, the ghost town, i don`t know if have heard if its worth a visit or not.

    Also another thing regarding fuel, would you say it would be best to fill up out the cities? or does it not matter where you go?

    Thanks Again


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Centralia

    Quote Originally Posted by finchmatt View Post

    One place we was looking to visit on the way was Centralia, the ghost town, i don`t know if have heard if its worth a visit or not.
    A few years ago I visited Centralia. It is definitely worth visiting, especially if you are able to go for a walk to where the smoke is still coming up through the pavement. Not everyone has moved out, there are a few hardy souls still there, they will no doubt tell you where to go.

    On your way to Centralia, you will come through Ashland, a lovely little town with the most amazing architecture. The sort of place to stop and go for a walk..... or maybe look for unique accommodation and stop the night.


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


    The Nissan Maxima is actually considered a "Premium" class car with most companies, so if you can get that for a similar price as the Aveo quote, I'd jump on that in a heartbeat.

    Keep in mind, of course, it is always going to be a Maxima or similar - some of the other cars you could end up with include a Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, or a Chrysler 300. In any case, you should end up with a very comfortable car.

    For fuel, it doesn't matter too much where you fill up, although suburban and locations near a highway are often a little nicer, and at times a little cheaper than stations in the middle of a city. You might consider downloading the gasbuddy app onto your phone, which will let you see the gas prices at stations in both a list and a map format.

  10. Default

    Well we have to pay an extra £85 pound for the Maxima or similar. the other option we have is a Hyundai Elantra which is and Extra £63, i guess this will have better MPG, as fuel is so cheap i don`t think it something to worry about??

    Cheers Again Matt

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