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  1. Default Driving from Maryland (DC Metro Area) to Naperville, IL Leaving December 23rd

    I am planning to drive from Maryland/DC suburbs to Naperville, IL on December 23rd and back on December 28th, barring any weather problems of course. I'm taking this drive with my 3 year old and 8 year old in tow and although we plan on doing this in one day, we will stop to stretch/eat, etc. along the way. My sister will be with me on the way back, so I'm only driving on my own on one way out. Hoping if we leave the DC area around 5:30am, we'll get to Naperville before bedtime (8pmish). I was considering the Turnpike route up to PA, then through OH, into IN and IL. However, is there an advantage to taking the more southern non-turnpike route, even though it's longer? Does it place me closer to Naperville if I'm not approaching Chicago from the Turnpike Route? Any advice is appreciated and if you could offer details on the non-turnpike route, I'd love to hear them! Thank you!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Safety first.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I can't help with your routing questions but I would like to voice my concern of trying to cover around 750 miles in a day when you are accompanied by 2 young children and no one to help supervise them or share the driving. It would be very challenging in the summer with longer daylight hours and nice weather. With shorter days and the real risk of running into potential weather related delays plus possibly lots of traffic on holiday weekend, I think you should rethink this for safety's sake. If your children start to get tired and cranky at a time when you are feeling much the same way it isn't going to be pleasant and safety could become an issue. At the best of times we only recommend you drive a max of 600 miles per day, around the same as a fully experienced trucker is allowed to do by law. If you can leave during the afternoon of the 22nd it would be so much better, or plan to arrive midday on the 24th.

  3. Default

    If we need to stop overnight, we will. I'm not ruling out a stop if we have to and would not compromise safety in order to drive straight through if I feel overwhelmingly tired or the children couldn't handle it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default on this timeline

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you're going to try and make this trip in one day, then the turnpikes and tollways (and a little luck) are really your only option. Even that most direct route is more than 700 miles, and as Dave indicated, is already stretching the limits of what you can safely do in a single day (especially when you're the only driver and you've got to consider kids).

    The "non-turnpike route" which would involve I-68 across Maryland to I-79 to I-70 to at least Indianapolis adds at least 75 miles - and even more miles are the last thing you want to do in this case. Even that assumes you are cutting north on I-65 at Indianapolis, which brings you into Chicagoland near Gary, IN - at the exact same place you'd heading into Illinois by sticking to the tollways. The only way you'd be approaching Naperville without coming into Illinois via I-80 is if you make your way over to I-57 or I-55, either by using I-74 towards Champaign or cutting over from I-65 on 2 lane roads (which I would not recommend). In either case, that would push your total travel distance up beyond the 800 mile mark which would be a very bad idea for a one day trip.

    I would at least give some thought to, as Dave suggested, trying to get out the evening before and at least making it a few hours down the road on the 22nd or arrive on the morning of the 24th - which is going to significantly reduce your stress and fatigue, especially if you see traffic or weather delays (and the weather forecast isn't looking particularly good on the 23rd at this point).

    In fact, based on the weather forecasts, I think sticking to I-70 might be helpful in this particular case (right now, it looks like there will be precipitation both routes, but the temps should be warm enough to keep it to rain on I-70, where you might see more mixed rain/snow/ice on I-80), but again, if you are going to go that slightly longer route, then an overnight stop is strongly recommended. Planning to stop when you feel "overwhelmingly tired" is problematic, because by the time you've reached that point, fatigue has already been impacting your driving abilities for quite some time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have made a very similar run many times. Take I-270 out of DC to I-70 to I-68 to I-79 back to I-70. Out of Indy take I-65 to I-80 to I-355. Take the appropriate bypasses around Columbus and Indy. If you don't have an EZ-Pass, there will be several cash tolls in IL. It's still a lot cheaper than taking the toll roads all the way across.

    One day? It CAN be done, but I strongly discourage it, especially in the winter. It just won't be safe, especially with only one driver and small children.

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


    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    If you don't have an EZ-Pass, there will be several cash tolls in IL. It's still a lot cheaper than taking the toll roads all the way across.
    "a lot cheaper" is relative though.

    The tolls across PA, OH, and IN will cost about $29, with an EZ-Pass (if you don't have one, get one).

    The toll-free route adds 75 miles, if you look at the cost of operating a car - which is usually calculated around 50 cents per mile - that's $37, so you could actually argue that taking the tollways is cheaper in the long run.

    Even if you only look at gas, you're going to spend about $10 more in gas to avoid the tollways, so the real savings is only about $20. To save that $20, you're spending about another hour and a half on the road.

    If you're looking to cover this in a single day, I'd say that hour and a half of time savings is way more valuable than $20.

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