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  1. Default Portland OR to New York City, first time roadtrip :)

    Hello all,

    My husband and I are moving to NYC from Portland, Oregon. We are taking my car and driving our way across. Well, we both don't know much about road tripping and to be honest, I get scared of driving off to parts unknown. However! I am excited to try something new in life. Google shows me the basic map as do other map websites but I wondered, where do you know where to stay and when to stop driving for the night? What if there's no city for miles upon miles and you think you're lost in the dark with no cell reception!? *Ahem* So...I guess my question is, for two newbies to the road trip game, where is a reliable itinerary online I can use? Does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone done this venture before? I am hoping the trip can be done within one week, with stays in hotels in cities spread across the USA. Also, my Prius is what's transporting us. It ain't no Subaru.

    Any help, itinerary suggestions, advice and more is greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    11,012

    Default The basics.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The main thing to have to avoid driving off into parts unknown and ending up in the dark miles from anywhere are good old paper maps. Sure use electronic devices as an assist but do not solely rely on them. The trip can be done within a week, but I would allow 6 days a minimum requirement where you will drive for most of the day but have time for plenty of short breaks for food, fuel and rest. So as first time travellers you should be looking at covering around 500 miles per day and no more than 550 on any single day. You can find Motels just off Interstate but if you want to head into City centres this will add to time and mileage and you will see more traffic congestion. When staying near a major city try and find lodgings on the east side, this way you will avoid the worst of the morning rush as you will be heading in the opposite direction of those heading into work. You have a choice of routes and one may interest you more than another, or there may be a city or attraction you would like to see, but an example of how things could work here you are. Portland>Twin Falls Idaho>Rawlins Wyoming>Grand Island Nebraska>Davenport Iowa>Akron Ohio>NY.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,346

    Default

    Dave has done an excellent job of laying out the basics of how to go about planning this trip, but there are a couple myths in your post I think should probably be busted, and should ease your fears a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by BraveNectarine View Post
    What if there's no city for miles upon miles and you think you're lost in the dark with no cell reception!?
    First, as Dave indicated, if you are looking at maps before and while you head out on the road, there is no reason you should ever end up in the dark in a spot where there isn't a city for "miles upon miles." First, even in the most remote parts of the country there aren't that many places where you'd go more than about 50 miles between cities. Along the interstates, even relatively small towns have plenty of services to cater to the thousands of people who drive those roads every day. Still, having said, again, if you're following maps (and not just blindly going where a GPS tells you to go) you should always know what is coming up next on the road you're on.

    As far as cell reception goes, it's generally pretty good right along the interstates (data can be more spotty than voice), but keep in mind, for nearly 100 years people did roadtrips across this country when there were no such thing as cell phones, or when cell phones were quite rare and used by only a tiny minority of the population. When you're on the interstates, you're on a highway system that is being used by millions of people every day, and again, even in the most remote sections of those highways, you still have hundreds of people using those highways every single hour of every single day.

    Also, my Prius is what's transporting us. It ain't no Subaru.
    This is a pretty common myth that gets posted here, and really speaking to just how effective car companies have marketed the far more profitable trucks and suvs (to the point that Ford is even getting out of the car business to focus on them!). There is no point on this trip where 4 wheel drive would ever be needed, and Prius is a perfectly good vehicle for traveling cross country - a trip that thousands of other Prius owners have also taken.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
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    Default

    Funny, when I read "It ain't no Subaru", I thought about two of our old Subaru's, both SEDANS, no 4WD or all-wheel drive back then, only front-wheel drive! Each of them, at one time or another, got us across the country.

    With a Prius, you'll have to be diligent about how you pack it. I'm assuming you're either completely starting over, or sending a lot of things across country commercially?

    How to plan -- you've gotten some great advice already. I plan trips for my husband and I using paper maps to decide the basic route, then Google Maps to figure out distances. (Please don't use it to get travel times, as those are totally unrealistic. Instead, take their mileage and divide by 60 for interstate travel. That gives you the average mile-per-hour.) I know that a 500 mile day will take us between 9 and 10 hours, depending on how long our meal stops take. That's a long enough day.

    For peace-of-mind, these are some essentials we "can't live without": some form of roadside assistance plan (we are AAA members), a road atlas, a set of paper maps, a book called The Next Exit (which lists things at every exit off interstates), and our smartphone loaded with the Gas Buddy app.

    As far as motels go, there are a few ways of looking at this. Some folks like the ability to just take what comes along and looks good, so they don't make reservations. If you're watching the money out-go, you can pick up coupon booklets at truck stop/travel centers along the way, and find motels that way. Bear in mind that a lot of those rooms are gone by dinnertime, so those coupons are great for folks that pull in early. Often, though, these coupons are only good Sun to Thursday. We've been turned down a few times over the years and offered rack rate!

    The other is to pre-plan your stops and get reservations. My husband and I don't like to prepay at all, just reserve with the ability to cancel. We also try to stick to one chain so that we can build up points toward a free night -- our favorite is the Choice chain (Rodeway, Econo Lodge, Clarion, Quality, Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn).

    Hope this helps! Ask any questions you may have as you try to plan -- someone here will help!


    Donna

  5. Default

    Hi Southwest Dave,

    Gosh, I greatly appreciate your tips and advice! You are a savvy traveler. I printed out your response to keep with me and wondered if you had a suggestion for a good paper map company/brand I could buy? I am going to stick to the 500 miles per day and follow your advice on staying on the East side of towns/cities to fight traffic. Once I get a paper map I will lay it out and put stars on the city outline like you provided, to help guide us along. Thank you so very much!

  6. Default

    Hi Midwest Michael,

    Thank you! I mentioned to Southwest Dave that I printed this convo to keep with me on my travels. I am happy to learn that my car is just fine to get us across the US. That was a myth I always believed (only big 4 wheelers can haul us across). And you are so very right about the cell phone thing-- eesh, they used to be something only luxury cars had in them and for certain demographics. People have traveled just fine without them. I guess horror films involving scary long roads get to me :P I shared with Southwest Dave I will be sticking to 500 miles per day and mapping out my city stops on the paper map once I get them. I am eager and excited! Thanks again for your help!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BraveNectarine View Post
    wondered if you had a suggestion for a good paper map company/brand I could buy?
    I've always found the good old Rand McNally Road Atlas to be my favorite. I always like their formatting and the price, of about $10, is hard to beat.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    Rand McNally is our brand of choice, as well. As for paper maps, if you are a AAA member, you can pick up their maps for free at your local AAA office. (If you're not a member, we find them to be a good peace of mind, as they offer both emergency road service as well as travel planning like road maps and "tour books".)


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,497

    Default

    Allow me to recommend a specific route which would be an easy 6 day drive and avoids the majority of tolls in the eastern states. Follow along with this using your atlas and Google maps.

    Take I-84 to just east of Salt Lake City, then I-80 to Gary IN. Then take I-65 south just a few miles to US-30, take that east to Fort Wayne IN. Use the marked bypass, which is I-69 north to I-469 back to US-30. Take I-71 north to I-76 east through Akron to Youngstown and get back on I-80 east to NYC. All these are Interstate quality highways except US-30 through IN, which is multilane divided with a few traffic lights and primarily a 60 mph speed limit.

    Plan on overnights:

    Twin Falls ID
    Rawlins WY
    Grand Island NE
    Davenport IA
    Mansfield OH

    None of these cities are big enough to worry about rush hour traffic. You will have almost continuous cell phone coverage. There is a $1.10 cash toll in IL, no more tolls till you try to get into NYC. When you get there, first thing you need to do is get an EZ-Pass.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Twin Falls, as recommended above by glc, has 2 things right there in town, if you feel like gazing at beauty after a day of interstate: The Perrine bridge over the Snake River Canyon. Park on the southwest side, not far from Outback Steakhouse, and walk back over the canyon. Or, drive a bit through town over to Shoshone Falls (get directions at the Twin Falls Visitor Center where you park for the bridge). It was a few dollars for parking there at the Falls, but they were very pretty. I'm sure if you get there after some rain has hit upstream, they'd be even prettier!

    The Quality Inn there in Twin Falls was a nice place to stay, a couple of years ago. They even had 2 indoor pools, one in each section of the hotel. There were plenty of places to eat within walking distance, if you were so inclined.


    Donna

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