Driving MA >> AZ by myself next month

I’ve done my share of nearly-one-coast-to-the-other road trips before but never by myself. I’m driving my mom’s new car (purchased in New Hampshire, where her summer home is) to Arizona, where she lives for the rest of the year. I was going to AZ anyway for my high school reunion (20 years!!!:eek:) and she was going to need to ship it there anyway, so she’s paying me what the shipping people would have charged her, and flying me home. Win!

My GPS will play audio books and I have an audible.com account with a pretty big accumulated library, so I’ll definitely be listening to those along the way.

My trip will start out by driving from Boston to DC, where I’ll stay one night with my ex-husband fer free, then I begin my trek west and start looking for cheap motels as night falls each day.

Anyone have any wisdom to share, know of any major construction to be routed around, or have any other opinions about how to make this drive a fun experience rather than a miserable toil?

If you’re an AAA member, their Tour Books are handy when you’re on a road trip. Despite the many online sources available, it’s nice to have a hard copy that has maps, points of interest, and listings for lodgings with rates, amenities and phone numbers.

As far as construcion delays are concerned, State Highway/Transportation websites usually have listings for projects with road closures, detours and the like.

If you have a laptop (or iPhone, or similar device) I highly recommend perusing Roadfood.com before you start, and planning your trip around all the wonderful dives that exist on the backroads of this country.

At least, that’s how I plan road trips…

I don’t really want to do back roads. I want to do interstates and get there the fastest way possible*. I’m not really looking to have an adventure. Also remember I’m female and so a lot of stuff that might sound fun to a guy would just seem unwise for a woman traveling alone.

*I’d rather spend more time IN Tucson, visiting old friends and so on, than randomly driving places I have no connection with in the middle of the country.

Yeah but those are the best places!

But if all you want is interstate, I’m not aware of any major construction along the way. At least not the way Google maps says. Your best bet in getting there fast is to fuel up quick and not screw around in gas stations. You’re looking at 8-10 stops minimum for just gas, playing around for an extra 20 minutes each time will add 200 minutes, or 3-4 hours. It’s easy to do too. So stop, put gas in, pee and go.

Also gas up either the night before when you stop or right before you leave. The stops will kill your time if that’s what you want to really do.

I’ll second this. I’ll add that I’ve been in a strange town, faced with a “motel strip” of independent places (i.e. not the well-known chains with reputations), and IME, being able to pull over and quickly consult the Tour Book has told me which places are clean and safe and within my budget.

For your own health and safety, do not stay in motels/hotels where your room door opens directly to the parking lot. Always stay at places with a staffed lobby and access to your room is via an interior hallway.

If you post your approximate route / schedule, some Dopers might offer you spare bedrooms / sofas to crash on. More sociable and cheaper than motels; presumably safer too. We’d offer but you’ve got DC covered already.

I’ve never done more than 10 hours by myself but we have done cross-country driving. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room for stops to revive / refresh yourself - you won’t have anyone to talk to (which would help a lot with alertness). If you get drowsy, don’t try to tough it out - pull over somewhere and walk, potty, maybe even nap until you feel better.

By what you have explained:

In 3 days:
Day 1: DC to central Tennesee -
Day 2: Central Tennessee to Abiliene, TX -
Day 3: Abiliene, TX - Tucson, AZ -

If you are a road warrior, 2 days…Texarkana is about half way.

I haven’t been down by Tucson in a while, but leave some time for the endless security checkpoints in the Southwestern US. The freeway will go down to one lane and then you’ll have to open the driver’s seat window to the officer keeping America safe.

Looks like MA -> AZ is around 2500 miles - figure 40 hours of driving plus stops. If you simply want to make good time, do it in 3 days of around 14 hours each. If you really want to go for it, you should be able to make it in 2.5 days.

Best route looks to be: MassPike, I-84, I-81, I-80, I-76, I-71, I-70, I-44, I-40. Only truly large city is St. Louis - try to hit that outside rush hour.

But she’s starting in Massachusetts.

Nothing here to add as far as the travel but to say have a safe and fun trip driving through these different parts of the country. I can’t wait to read your post about how the drive. Take care.

I believe this route takes you through the quaint little farming community called Indianapolis. 14th largest city in the US with a population of over 800,000 compared to that large city at 52 on the list with just over 350,000 people. Oh yeah, and Tulsa at 47.

Wow, this is a thing? That’s pretty cool.

Just try to vaguely map out where you’ll be each night; I did a cross country road trip and only had trouble when night fell near Sturgis, and the rally was going on :smack:. It’s easy as pie to find a place in the middle of nowhere for cheap, unless there’s something big going on, which, in the late summer, is still a possibility.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Columbus, OH (16), Oklahoma City (31), and Albuquerque (34).

Well I’m definitely going MA > DC first. Partly just as an excuse to visit my ex-husband, and also because it really only added something like 2 hours to the route.

ETA: The new car is a Prius, so hopefully I won’t have to stop for gas quite so much as I normally would :smiley:

I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here - the chart you want to use is this one ranking metropolitan statistical areas. It shows St. Louis at #18, with Indianapolis at #34.

I drove through both about 4 weeks ago and can report that in terms of potential for traffic delay, Indianapolis isn’t even in the same league.

MSA ranks: #32, #44, #57.

A bit over 20 years ago, the hubby, our daughter (who was only 2 at the time) and I traveled from MD to OR by car. One of the things we did was to map out, in the morning, how many miles we wanted to make that day, then find a Motel 6 at our destination point. When we stopped for breakfast, I would call the Motel 6 we were headed for and make a reservation for that night. You may be able to do better, if you have WiFi access, by using something like Priceline or Travelocity (where, in my experience, you can get a 3.5 star hotel at a 2 star price).

Otherwise, I only have a couple of pieces of advice: carry something to nibble on! If you find yourself getting sleepy, or ‘road-hypnosis’, try nibbling something. It’s hard to sleep while you’re eating! Also, make sure your cell phone is charged at all times. I’m sure you know this already, but hey, a reminder never hurts!

Stay safe, and have fun.

Just following directions. The DC to Tucson route is what she was concerned about. :wink: