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  1. Default Seattle Wa to Reading PA via I 90

    Hello Everyone!

    My girlfriend and I are planning a road trip to visit family in Pennsylvania. We will be leaving Dec. 19th and would like to make the trip in 4 days, this will be a speed run but we will be doing things as safely as possible and getting a complete nights rest each day.

    We will be Taking this trip with 2 drivers in a rental mid size suv Rav4 or similar. I would prefer the I 90 route but I am open to any wisdom or insights that you'd be willing to share. I will be checking weather starting 10-days out.

    The stops i've planned are as follows:

    Start in Puyallup WA - Billings MT - Sioux Falls SD - Fort Wayne IN - Arrive in Reading PA

    I have read previous threads with folks making the i 90 trek and the Sticky about Montana in winter. Aside from the first mountain passes I think this would be the best route.

    Thank you!

    -Brian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,860

    Default Over the Edge(s)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's be right up front from the beginning. You will need to cover 700 miles each and every day to make this trip in four days. That leaves no tome for sight-seeing, no time for traffic delays, no time for sit down meals, and most importantly: no time for weather delays. Now you do have the advantage, since you'll be driving west to east, of having any weather out in front of you so you'll know what you have to deal with. But the fact remains, you are going to need near perfect weather over almost 3,000 miles on exactly the four days when you need it. That may happen, but you simply can't count on it. And pressing on into bad weather because you 'have to' in order to keep to a pre-ordained schedule is possibly the worst decision any cross-country driver can make.

    So, while this trip is theoretically possible, we simply can't recommend it. But, I suspect you're going to convince yourselves to try anyway, because you "want to". So, if you set out, take all the hints listed in the Speed Run article to heart, particularly the need for frequent stops, changing drivers relatively often, and getting a good rest each night. Note that the latter includes not only eight solid hours of sleep, but also an hour or so in the evening to wind down from the rigors of that day's drive and an hour in the morning to get up and fully awake in the morning before setting out. That's ten hours out of your day for "getting a complete nights rest each day."

    Your plan to set up lodging reservations before you depart is good both because it saves you from wasting time on the drive trying to find something 'on the fly' and because it keeps you from trying to 'press on just a little farther' when you're already tired and need to call it a day.

    Even with everything I've already mentioned and that you've already read, you need to be aware that you will need to do a fair bit of driving in the dark. That's unavoidable since you'll be 'on the road' for 13 hours a day (remember you're going to lose an hour each day to time zone changes, on days when there will be significantly less than 11 hours of daylight. If there is ANY water/snow/ice on the road, that plus darkness is a very dangerous combination.

    Finally, you need to reconsider your stopping points. Pallyup to Billings is over 825 miles and that is simply a non-starter. It's way too much for a single day, even with two drivers. Period/full stop. You want to keep your days as close to 700 miles each as possible. Maybe a tad (25± miles) more on day two when you're on the flat open plains, and a tad less on day three when you're navigating Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee and Chicago.

    So, I've just listed a lot of reasons why you should reconsider tying to do this trip in only four days. I wouldn't even think about trying something like this.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-26-2019 at 01:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,436

    Default Not worth the risk.

    You really do need an extra day, even with the best of conditions. To do back to back 700 mile days over 4 days with just the 2 of you is completely unsafe and especially during the winter. To follow a speed run you really need to have 3 people, driver, Co-driver (to navigate and keep an eye on the drivers fatigue) and one who can catch some sleep in the back. This a 5 day trip minimum and if you tried to do it in any less you would be too exhausted to appreciate the welcome your family will be waiting with when you arrive. Take the extra time, arrive safely and have family fun. If that's not an option, fly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,612

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you want to do this as safely as possible, then you really need to plan for a 5th day, at minimum. 600 miles really is the maximum you should be looking to cover in a single day, on a multi-day trip, even with 2 drivers.

    Puyallup to Billings is nearly 850 miles, that's way too far to safely drive in a day. In the real world, not the fantasy times of online mapping programs, that's 15-16 hours on the road and 's about 30% more than professional drivers are allowed to do in a day under safety laws. Having a 2nd driver helps a little, but not nearly enough to do that safely. For the professionals, time sitting in a passenger seat is counted exactly the same as time behind the wheel. You might make it to Billings in one piece, but the fatigue will cause you to be an unsafe driver well before you arrive, and the fatigue will linger throughout the rest of your trip.

    Sioux Falls to Fort Wayne is also a dangerous 750 miles, and worth noting that Fort Wayne isn't located on I-90, and the greater Chicago area is likely to cause you some delays.

    As noted, a 5th day is needed to do this safely, and that's at a minimum. That's still factoring good weather and travel conditions. In Mid-December, there is a fairly high likelihood of seeing a snowstorm that will at least slow you down, if not require you to completely stop to wait for conditions to improve and plow crews to do their thing.

    Traveling at this time of year, I wouldn't lock yourself into a specific route. I-90 is a good choice, but watch the forecasts. If the weather is bad across Montana and the Dakotas, you could consider using I-84/I-84 and come across Wyoming and Nebraska, if the weather looks better that way.

    Even if you take I-90 across the Dakotas, by the time you get to Sioux Falls, it would again be wise to look at the forecasts - dropping south via I-29/I-880/I-80 across Iowa, and I-74/I-70 through Indianapolis would be worth consideration, especially as that would avoid Chicago traffic, and potentially lake effect snow in Indiana and Ohio.

  5. Default

    I see now this will be a 5 day drive in order to be safe so I will take all of your advice planning 5 days and leaving a 6th day for potential weather delays. I definitely do not want to take a chance with safety on this trip.

    I do believe I will be dropping south via 29-80 in order to avoid Chicago.

    Thank you everyone for the sound warnings and advice.

    -Brian

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,332

    Default

    Hi....so glad that you've taken the advice from Michael, Dave and Buck, to take more time. My husband and I have just traveled 1200 miles in two days. Due to the availability of motels, we had to do 650 miles on one day, and I tell ya, it was grueling! The two of us are seasoned road-trippers, too. I sure wouldn't want to do that with 4 days back to back!!!

    Your thoughts to drop south on 29 is a good idea, but bear in mind that 80 goes right through the southern suburbs of Greater Chicagoland. You could drop south to I-70, going around Kansas City on one of the beltlines (I-435, I believe), and go around St Louis on I-270. If it were me, I'd do KC and STL before I'd do Chicago if I was "just passin' through".


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,828

    Default

    I'm going to suggest a route that completely avoids tolls, keeps you away from Chicago and possible lake effect snow. It's only 2 hours longer than the fastest route. NOTE that this is 3000 miles and you would have to do 600 miles a day, assuming good weather, in 5 days.

    I-90 to Sioux Falls SD
    I-29 to just north of Omaha
    I-680 to I-80 to Davenport IA
    I-280 to I-74 to Peoria
    I-474 bypass around Peoria
    I-74 to Indy
    I-465 south bypass around Indy
    I-70 to Columbus OH
    I-270 bypass around Columbus
    I-70 to Wheeling WV
    I-470 bypass around Wheeling
    I-70 to Washington PA
    I-79 to Morgantown WV
    I-68 to Hancock MD
    I-70 to Hagerstown MD
    I-81 to I-78 to Strausstown PA
    PA-183 to Reading

    Overnights:

    Butte MT
    Rapid City SD
    Des Moines IA
    Richmond IN

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    356

    Default

    How many days are you giving yourself to drive back?

    If returning by car you'll be running into at least 2 storm fronts or more because you'll be heading upwind toward the source of the weather.

    Back to back 700 mile days is pretty grueling. Those are 14hr days even where the speed limit is 80 mph. Trying to make that much mileage when running on packed snow/ice is impossible.

    I've made the run from Seattle to Colorado (both ways) many times. I use I-90 to Billings then south to Buffalo where I catch I-25. I've stopped in Bozeman if the roads are dry and fast and I got an especially early start before the Seattle traffic makes the launch difficult. It's pretty tired the next day. But sometimes I've only reached Butte after a very long, slow snowy day. (BTW- Temperatures overnight at Butte seem to be 10F colder than either Missoula or Bozeman. ) Then the next day I might only get to Casper WY due to slick and icy windblown roads. For context, I'm old and very experienced with driving in winter conditions. I use a police/fire scanner to listen to the snowplows and first responders to learn the overall situation around me. Have heard road ice developing an hour ahead of me so I was ready to cautiously deal with it as I reached the area(Boise, ID on I-80)

    Prediction- She might not be your girlfriend by the time this excursion is over !

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,612

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I-29 to just north of Omaha
    I-680 to I-80 to Davenport IA
    FYI - The State of Iowa renumbered I-680 north of Council Bluffs to I-880 earlier this year.

    I-680 in Nebraska is unchanged.

    Also, personally, even though the PA Turnpike is expensive, I probably wouldn't add an extra 50 miles of driving through Maryland to to avoid that $22 toll.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,828

    Default

    The State of Iowa renumbered I-680 north of Council Bluffs to I-880 earlier this year.
    It must have been very recently, it was still 680 when I was up there in July.

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