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Old 06-24-2016, 06:00 PM   #1
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Planning a long drive / how much buffer when pulling a trailer?

Guys!

We are based in Tucson, AZ and we are planning a trip up to AM Solar in Springfield, OR during the fall for a solar installation on our Classic. Of course, we Google Mapped the drive and it's estimating around 20 hours, taking us up I-5 through California and into Oregon.

Barring any traffic/construction, I'm curious how accurate you've found Google Maps' time estimates to be when pulling a trailer (we have a 30' Airstream). What percent buffer should I include in our estimated time of travel? 10%? More?

Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:19 PM   #2
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I use Google mileage and divide by 50 to get an average "made miles" per drive hour. Determine hours per day you want to drive and then add in meal/break time (not fuel stops) per your usual behavior. Finally calculate the number of days that takes.
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:19 PM   #3
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We have traveled Tucson to Portland, OR a couple of different routes, pleasant easy drive. We use the mileage from the Maps at 50 mph for our own estimate of time and that works well for driving hours including fuel stops.
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Old 06-24-2016, 11:24 PM   #4
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You can average 50 mph, but you have to push a bit. We made it on our last trip up I5, but take care. The towing speed limit in CA is 55 mph and someday an officer may enforce the law.

We find an extra hour or two can help improve the average speed when traffic or road work slows progress.

Travel safe. Pat
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:11 AM   #5
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Has a lot to do with driving style and how fidgety the campers are but, normally I can take the Google transit time and add 20% gives me very accurate estimate.
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:31 AM   #6
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We add up the miles, then figure 40mph as the overall speed. 8 hours is 320 miles. That's a good days drive for us.
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:43 AM   #7
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You can average 50 mph, but you have to push a bit. We made it on our last trip up I5, but take care. The towing speed limit in CA is 55 mph and someday an officer may enforce the law.

We find an extra hour or two can help improve the average speed when traffic or road work slows progress.

Travel safe. Pat
Good point, I forgot about 55 mph towing limit in Calif (we lived there for many years). We normally tow at 60-65 mph and use 50 mph to plan hours traveled for a given distance.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by sdnet01 View Post
Guys!

We are based in Tucson, AZ and we are planning a trip up to AM Solar in Springfield, OR during the fall for a solar installation on our Classic. Of course, we Google Mapped the drive and it's estimating around 20 hours, taking us up I-5 through California and into Oregon.

Barring any traffic/construction, I'm curious how accurate you've found Google Maps' time estimates to be when pulling a trailer (we have a 30' Airstream). What percent buffer should I include in our estimated time of travel? 10%? More?
60 mph— the speed I routinely tow at on the Interstate— is a mile a minute. I ignore the Google time estimate and just use the distance estimate as my time estimate.

On my drive to Lewisburg, WV from New Orleans, the trip was interstate highway all the way, and I averaged 54mph each day with the cruise control set at 60mph (average speed was exactly 10% less than the setting). So using my "mile a minute" estimate, I'd add 10% if I was on the Interstate highway system. I'd add more if I was on secondary roads the whole way.

Important to note that this estimate is for actual driving time, and does not include any stops. Since I try to stop for about 15 minutes every two hours, with a longer stop for lunch, it can take me as much as nine hours to drive eight hours. Only you can decide how often and how long you'll stop along the way, so you'll have to make that time adjustment on your own.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:51 AM   #9
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Other factors come into play such as traffic, route alignment, road constructuon, and grades. You'll likely be running into a fair amount of traffic around the LA basin (I-10?) and up I-5. If you choose to go north to Flagstaff then to I-40 there's less traffic but significant grades. Traffic on I-5 will also be heavy and stressful from south of Stockton north past Sacramento. Everybody has different tolerance for this. Some tire more quickly.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:04 AM   #10
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Regarding towing speed in California, stay under 65. Over 65 it's a very expensive ticket, and it's enforced. Got nailed by a radar cop sitting in a lawn chair on a freeway over crossing while passing a slow vehicle. Was going 66 or 67 for maybe 20 seconds. Just past the bridge were about 5 pursuit cars lined up and ready to go. Lesson learned, don't pass anybody if there's a bridge ahead.

Regardless, the slow lane on I-5 is packed with trucks, most doing around 60. Everyone else in the fast lane will be bumper to bumper doing 90. You're sort of forced by nature to follow a truck in the slow lane.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:30 AM   #11
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After your solar is done hop over the Cascades and try it out at Camp Sherman along the Metolius River. Worth the side trip.

Cheers,
John
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:10 AM   #12
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Welcome to the forum Steve!

We ignore all Google time estimates, and much of their directions, which can be way off when you get local. Have good maps on hand all the time, including a national road atlas.

For planning purposes of overall time on the road each day, 40 miles per hour is the slowest we go including all stops. This makes for 400 miles in a 10-hour travel day. Towing a trailer, this in itself makes for a hard day.

If we are trying to make time, we will go for a 500 miles day, also in 10 hours, thus averaging 50, with shorter food and rest stops. Harder yet on the humans and animals . . .

For the final push we sometimes will figure on a final sprint to the finish line averaging 60, but doing this for more than 1/2 a day is exhausting and dangerous.

If you string together more than 2-3 days of the above paces, life becomes very unsatisfying and makes us question why we are pushing so hard . . . in our opinions.

Working from your overall mileage (1342) rounded up to 1400, I would first decide how many days you want the trip to take and set goals for each day. Three days @ 400 would leave 200 for the final day. You will be tired at the end, but can maybe rest up during the installation.

The first four days @ 300 would be similar but easier on the human machinery.

If you have to, two days @ 500 plus 400 on the third day would wipe most people out IMO.

Depends on your lifestyles and tolerance for road warrior calisthenics . . .

Good luck!

Peter

PS if we are not trying to get someplace, we slow way down.

After all aren't we towing an Airstream trailer to relax?

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Old 06-25-2016, 11:16 AM   #13
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Planning a long drive / how much buffer when pulling a trailer?

I used to always route through Nevada going from AZ to the Northwest.

For me this was always a more relaxed, easier, and faster drive when towing, even if not the shortest route.

I despised towing through CA.


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Old 06-25-2016, 11:55 AM   #14
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I like the google times, because they take into account the road, but I figure 1.5 to 2 times the time depending on my mood and weather.
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