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  1. Default Chicago - DC in 14/16 nights

    Hi all. My best friend and I live on opposite ends of the world so are planning a trip to the States to catch up and thought a road trip would be fun. We're not going until May 2018 but would like to start looking into costs and route possibilities now (after all planning and anticipation are all part of the fun!)

    We'd like 2 nights in Chicago to start and at least 3 nights in DC at the end. We'd ideally like to take in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania en route too but not sure if that's possible in the timescale and also not sure which places of interest to hit when we're travelling - although Hershey Park has an allure about it! )

    Any recommendations about where to go, stay, what to see, where to eat would all be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    First thing I would do is grab a paper map or atlas, and start searching. If you don't have one, you can order one from the RTA store (scroll down) and it will be there in a few weeks. Have your friend do the same. A lot of interesting things will be noted on paper maps that would not be on an electronic mapping program like Google maps.

    Two weeks is a nice time to be able to take a leisurely trip from Chicago to DC. If you went direct, it would be about a two day drive. Is this a round trip? It's usually less expensive to do a round, or loop, trip, as far as renting a car goes. You could go one route to DC and take another one back, which would eliminate some zig-zagging.

    You and your friend should get a plan together of where you want to go and how you want to attack this. Compromise is probably going to be necessary. As far as where to stay -- you and your friend will also have to discuss what type of accommodations you're going to use (tent? cheap/midrange/expensive hotels? Bed and breakfasts?), and then figure out a day-to-day plan of where to end up for the night.

    For eating, most motels/hotels in the US will offer some form of a continental breakfast, though not all of them do. When we need to take a meal along our trip, we'll usually ask the hotel desk clerk what's available, or where s/he would go with a family for dinner if she could.

    If you have any questions along the way, holler, we can give you some help. Same with fine-tuning a basic plan, that's what we're here for.


  3. Default

    Hi Donna

    Thanks for replying. I hadn't thought about making it a round trip but it makes sense! I've worked out an itinerary that I'd love you to take a look at to see if it's reasonable.

    Day 1 Arrive DC & stay at airport hotel or somewhere outside of the city.
    Day 2 Early start. Pick up a car and drive to Philadelphia. Spend 6-8 hours there then drive to Hershey and stay the night there.
    Day 3 Spend the day in Hershey at the theme park or just taking in the museum and local sights then drive to Gettysburg and stay the night.
    Day 4 Spend 6ish hours at Gettysburg then head to Ohio ( I plotted out Sandusky but for no other reason than I saw it on someone else's itinerary and it's on the way to Chicago - not sure what there is there so if there's somewhere better on that route, I'm happy to take suggestions.)
    Day 5 spend the morning in the area we stayed overnight in then travel to Chicago.
    Day 6 & 7 Chicago
    Day 8 leave Chicago midday for St Louis and spend the night.
    Day 9 spend 6ish hours in St. Louis the head to Louisville KY and spend the night.
    Day 10 spend 4-5 hours in Louisville then travel to Charleston, West Virginia and spend the night (this is just a rest stop but if there's somewhere else on this route that has something to see we'd be very interested.
    Day 11 travel to Roanoke and spend the night.
    Day 12 travel to Annapolis, spend 4-6 hours there then travel to DC and drop off the car
    Days 13-16 DC
    Day 17 travel home

    Hotels are middle of the road - Hyatt Place, Homewood Suites, Marriott etc. Accomm was coming in at around £1200 each for the 16 nights. Not sure how much petrol and car hire would be but would obviously factor that in to the budget

    I also wondered if we'd be best to drop off the car in Chicago and pick up a new one when we leave rather than pay for parking (every hotel elsewhere that I've priced up has free parking) or by the time we'd paid one way drop off fees twice, would we be cheaper just to park the car?

    Thanks for your advice

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Looks pretty good, but a couple of things you may want to tweak:

    Gettysburg -- you can do the basic drive in 6 hours but it will be quick. You won't be able to do the visitor museum, *and* the drive, it's just too extensive.

    A couple of years ago we drove from Gettysburg to Ohio. It was a good 8 hour drive. If you're not going to Cedar Point theme park, you might find a better place to stay than Sandusky, especially if it's a weekend! The motel rates go up and it's harder to find some place.

    If you drop the car in Chicago and then get a new one, you'll have TWO one-way drop offs, and they will be far more pricey than parking you may have to pay for. What do you intend to see in Chicago? I'm thinking you may be better off staying out in the 'burbs and taking the Metra in to the city, depending on what you want to see. Most Metra parking is free, then the Metra isn't all that pricey -- probably less pricey than parking. Once you get back to DC, you can drop the car. Stay someplace along the public transportation line there and you won't have to worry about paying for parking.

    Here is my trip report from 2014. Go to post #28, then #32 and forward, regarding Gettysburg, Ohio, etc.

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 08-07-2016 at 08:33 PM. Reason: added link

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