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Road trip stops from Seattle to Rhode Island?

Travel Forums North America Road trip stops from Seattle to Rhode Island?

1. Posted by bluetape (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hello, I'm a 19 year old college student going into junior year to a school in Rhode Island this fall. I am originally from Seattle, and I've decided to bring my old car from high school along to RI this coming year because the need for a car is rapidly growing as the years go by. I'll be going with my 18 year old sister. I am not too worried about gas, since the car has a really good mileage for a 14 year old Civic (30mpg) and it's not like I'm planning to stop at bars every night and splurge my money. I plan to go through NYC for sure, since it is right on the way, and possibly Chicago as well.

Google map tells me that it would be a trip a little over 4000 miles. My parents and I have once driven from Seattle to Las Vegas in one go, without stopping to sleep, though we did trade off driving, and my best friend and I did a mini road trip of 6 hrs from Seattle to Portland on a single drive last year. So I have a little bit of practice in long drives.

We plan to power through driving, like trying to go about 800 to 1000 miles in one go and then stopping at a nearest town for sleep. We want to reduce the number of nights as much as possible to save on hotel bills (and when we do stop for the night we are planning to stay at actual nice hotels, not motels, since it's two girls going cross country and it would be safer to stay at a fancier place than dodgy inns, even if it would cost more.) If the situation calls for it, we are ready to have to drive through the night as well.

So we aren't doing any sightseeing this trip. It's solely to get this freaking car from one coast to the other. Does five days (and four nights) sound like a reasonable schedule? And we are planning to POWER through this thing, but since I've never driven so much before in my life, maybe someone who has done a similar distance (or just 2000+ miles) can tell me how long this initial "lets DO THIS" mood lasts during the trip.

Also, I am estimating that the nightly stops would be somewhere in Montana, North Dakota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania/New York. Does anyone know well-sized and relatively safe towns in these states that one can expect to find hotels?

And this is a one-way trip. I will be staying in RI for the term, and my sister would return via plane.

Any advice, things I should remember etc, recommendations are very much appreciated!

2. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

First, let me suggest you don't plan to "POWER THROUGH". I had some college-aged friends who tried exactly that (thought they would alternate driving with each one taking 8-hour shifts for 4 days) (drive for 8 hours, then sleep for 8 hours, then drive for 8 hours, etc.) and ended up in the hospital for 5 months after falling asleep in the mountains west of Denver and ended up driving off a cliff and into a river. I've known others who didn't fall asleep, but who almost did--or who managed a shorter distance but regretted doing what you suggest.

A reasonable amount of traveling (max) per day is about 500-600 miles. Since it is only 3,000 miles from Seattle, WA to Providence, RI (don't know where you are getting the 4,000 number), this means that it would take about 5 or 6 days to drive this distance if you made no special stops, and had no mechanical problems.

I suggest, however, that since you are traveling across the entire country you might want consider making this a 7 or 8 day trip and making short stops to see Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, some sites in Chicago, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and the sites of New York City.

Consider the following:
Day 1 - Seattle to Butte, Montana (593 miles of driving)
Day 2 - Butte, Montana to Sheridan, Wyoming (via Yellowstone National Park, taking the route that goes by Old Faithful Geyser (440 miles of driving)
Day 3 - Sheridan, Wyoming to Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Mount Rushmore
National Memorial, and with a side trip to drive through Badlands National Park (620 miles)
Day 4 - Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Chicago, Illinois (572 miles)
Day 5 - Chicago, Illinois(take a little while to see some sites, then drive on) to Cleveland, Ohio (345 miles)
Day 6 - Cleveland, Ohio to New York City, New York (461 miles)
Day 7 - Take some time to see New York sites, like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, or Central Park, then drive on to Providence, Rhode Island either on Day 7 or on Day 8 (181 miles).

Good luck and enjoy your trip.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2013, at 07:14 by Calcruzer ]

3. Posted by bluetape (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Oh, my bad. For some reason I had written 4000 thousand instead of 3000. oops.

Thanks for the input. But unfortunately, as I have posted before, me and my sister don't really have the luxury of a sightseeing road trip, since the purpose is to just drag the car to the east coast as fast as possible. So we would have to skip over places like Yellowstone. We probably won't stop for the national park either, but the route that you've laid out (I just checked in on the map) seems really straight forward with reasonable distances between stops. So thanks! :D

I hope that your friends are alright; sleepy driving really is scary stuff. Hopefully the many 70-hour no sleep sessions during school years I've done would have trained me against dozing a bit. I'll take your advice and extend the trip. I think me and my sister will be able to gauge our driving tolerance after the first chunk of driving, and then adjust the schedule accordingly.

Thanks for your advice and taking the time to lay out the schedule and all! It's amazing help!

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2009 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Get a road atlas at the bookstore and study the interstates (that will be one boring and sleep-inducing trip). You can't really expect to stay on an exact itinerary since you never know what will happen exactly. You never know when they're doing road maintenance, when you will get tired or bored (often on that trip) or hungry. You can also go to the websites of the various motel groups (Best Western, Choice, etc.) to see what they can offer and prices.

On the interstates, you can do it in 3 days usually. Make sure the car is in decent condition for the trip! You can always rent a trailer from U-haul - imagine you have plenty to bring?

If you like good food, as I do, you should study the Roadfood site so you can stop where they serve it.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2013, at 10:38 by Daawgon ]

5. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!


Thanks for your concern about my friends--but as this happened about 20 years ago, they are fine and (since they were Argentinian foreign exchange students) back in Argentina.

They were lucky since when their car went over the cliff, nobody saw this happen and they ended up in the river with broken legs and in waist-deep water. They only survived by waiting until nightfall and then flashing their car lights and honking the horn when they heard a truck drive by. Even then it took until the 3rd night before some trucker got curious and stopped to see what was making the lights and noise. Imagine being stuck in a river for 3 days and nights. They also got lucky that their car got stuck in the river with the lights facing upward--and that they weren't in a section that would have washed their car downstream and out of the range of the road they drove off of.

And back then, nobody had cell phones with them--although I'm not sure one would have worked anyhow since they were in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, just keep this in mind and when you get tired, pull over and rest (or do so at the next town). Also keep in mind that since you are traveling from west to east, you will lose 3 hours of daylight on this trip (1 hour for each time zone you cross). This will also make a long distance drive more difficult.

[ Edit: . ]

6. Posted by squeakywipers (First Time Poster 1 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hello, just came upon this post and wanted to add my two cents

February of 2013, I drove by myself from Seattle, Washington to West Palm Beach Florida for a job (postdoctoral position, I will have to move around a lot the next few years). Back then I was fresh out of grad school and was driving a '94 Toyota Celica. My 3 rules from my experience:
1 - dependable car (my car was old I had a mechanic check it before departure)
2 - depedable cell phone reception (stay on the interstates, I consistenly had cell reception)
3 - do not drive more than 8 hours, that's about 700-800 miles a day (if you are sharing the drive with someone, you guys could go further before stopping at a hotel)

In April of this year I drove from West Palm Beach Florida, back home to Seattle, Washington. I am close to landing a position in Rhode Island, and may embark on yet another road trip soon!