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  1. Default AZ to Minnesota-1st Road Trip

    Hi Everyone!

    My husband and I are driving (with our pup) this August from Mesa, AZ to St. Paul, MN. We're planning on leaving after work on a Thursday and driving 2.5 hours to a family cabin in Heber, AZ to get a kick start on the trip and a few hours under our belt. We're having trouble deciding to either go through NM-OK and up through Kansas towards MN or going through NM-Colorado-Nebraska.

    The times on Mapquest are relatively close (Colorado route a little longer) but does anyone have any opinions on which route is easier to drive? We also need a stopping point for that 1st long day of driving. We're trying to aim for 12 hours each day Friday & Saturday.

    Thanks for the help! I've been staring at maps and re-doing directions over and over and have been going a little crazy. :-)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Default Mapping program time estimates are a fantasy

    Your plan to jump start the trip by driving to Heber that first day is a good idea, but there's a problem with the rest of it. Map Quest, Google, and all the other mapping programs have an essential flaw: their time estimates assume that you'll be traveling at or above the speed limit, non-stop, from beginning to end. In the real world, you'll stop for gas, for breaks, for lunch. There will be times when you're stuck behind slow trucks, you may be slowed down by weather; the list goes on. As a rule of thumb, you should add 20% to those time estimates. The two back-to-back 12 hour days you're envisioning will be 14.5 hour days, and that's simply too much. For safety sake, we recommend a limit of about 10 hours of driving, which equates to at most 550 miles on the road. You can stretch that a little bit, but you really need more than two days to make the drive from Heber to St.Paul safely. Long haul truckers are limited to 10 hours behind the wheel in a day, and they're professionals who drive every day. First time road trippers (or even seasoned veterans) would be asking for trouble, trying to cover the 1500+ miles from Heber to St. Paul in two driving days. You'll need three days to make this drive safely, regardless of which mostly Interstate route you choose.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the timing advice! Does that apply even with splitting the driving between two of us?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona


    Unfortunately, yes. The passenger isn't getting much of a break, not even if they're napping. You'll both be battling fatigue by the end of a ten hour driving day. Fatigue is insidious--it sneaks up on you, and it can be deadly.


    Incidentally, welcome to the RTA Forum! You've chosen a great resource for advice about your road trip!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Rick is correct. The only way splitting up the driving works, to make a speed run (a lot of distance in a short amount of time), is if you have THREE or more drivers. The driver and the one riding shot gun must keep each other company and keep eyes on the road.

    Commercial drivers must only drive 10 hours at one sitting. It doesn't matter if they can drive 600 miles in that amount of time, or 200 because they sat for 6 hours in a major hold-up. The non-driving passenger must count any time sitting in the front seat (even on the passenger side) as driving time. White-and-yellow line syndrome is a reality, and causes accidents.

    My husband and I have a personal rule of thumb, and that's only after more than 30 years of road trips: no more than about 600 miles in a day. And recently, no more than 2 of those in a row, because BOTH of us get dog-tired after two back-to-back.

    Take 3 days from Heber to St Paul. You won't regret it. As far as the drive is concerned, we find I-40 to be much more pleasant, and prettier, than I-80. The only bummer to I-35 through KS is largely turnpike. The toll rates aren't bad, though.


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


    I have to completely agree with what's been posted. If you could complete this trip in back to back 12 hour days, perhaps you could push through and complete it, but that's not what you're looking at in the real world. If you stick to the interstates, you're looking at a bit more than 1600 miles (and if you take some of the 2 lane road options that save miles, the slower nature of those roads would mean a similar, if not longer, travel time.

    Realistically, back to back 12 hour days would only put you around Omaha or Northern Missouri, depending upon which route you choose, and that's assuming you're making good time, with minimal stops - which when you're also traveling with a pet is extra difficult to do, as your stops will take more time and you'll need to make extra stops for your pet. Back to back 800 miles days would be around 15 hours, and just way too far to do safely.

    If you go via I-40/I-35, I'd be looking at Amarillo and Kansas City as places to spend the night, while Walsenburg CO and Grand Island NE would be good choices on I-25/I-80. But as everyone has indicated, no matter which way you go, you really need to plan for an extra day.

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