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I will be driving from Seattle to Boston in March. There are two of us, so we can share the driving, and we're willing to drive quite late though will stop at night. We don't plan on making lots of stops to sightsee though may stop at a few places for an hour or two if time permits. I have a flight back to the UK I will need to catch from Boston, so cannot afford to arrive in Boston late. We don't have a lot of leeway in when we can leave Seattle and when I have to leave Boston, so I have a couple of questions about planning the trip.

There seem to be multiple possible routes we could take and I have read varying reviews of which is best. The straight shot across I-90 is the most direct route and Google is suggesting 42 hours of driving with no traffic. But I have concerns about what the weather on I-90 might be like even in March. Is the risk of being delayed due to weather in March quite low? I don't want to be stranded in snow in Montana or the midwest, but I'm not sure what it's like in March. Might one of the longer more southerly routes be better in this respect?

Which route should we take, and how many days should we leave at minimum for the journey to ensure we make it to Boston on time?

  • How much time do you have? – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '16 at 15:33
  • @Michael A week tops, but hoping we won't have to leave that long – Harry Vervet Jan 30 '16 at 15:40
  • A week is plenty of time even if it snows the whole way there. – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '16 at 16:07
  • I'm not sure I understand the VtC here. How would a travel agent be able to answer this question? – CGCampbell Jan 30 '16 at 16:38
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    I cannot answer for West of Iowa, but East of Iowa, you won't have any problems lasting more than a few hours. The Interstates are traveled heavily enough to be kept clear of snow, and that even if you do encounter trouble, someone will be along willing to help. – CGCampbell Jan 30 '16 at 16:43
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In the Rocky Mountain and Plains states, it is possible to have heavy snowstorms in March. It's also possible to have very warm, late spring-like weather. What's more, the weather can change dramatically over just a few days. You will need to keep an eye on weather forecasts as your planned departure date approaches, to learn where it is likely to snow and how heavily.

While you could run into a snowstorm, in most of these places the highways will be cleared within a few hours of the snowstorm ending, and may even be somewhat passable during the storm. If you have a day or so of leeway in your trip, you should be fine even if you are forced to stop for a bad snowstorm.

Going to a more southerly route isn't likely to help quite as much, though it can, depending again on exactly what the weather pattern is on the day.

You would be best served by having snow chains in your car and knowing how to install them and drive with them. It's entirely possible you'll need these within half an hour after leaving Seattle! When there is a significant amount of snow on the roads in mountainous areas, you'll be required to use them, and the interstates have areas set aside where you can pull off the road to put them on.

There are a few major routes through the Rockies that you may end up using:

I suggest you plan to take the first of these, and depending on the weather forecasts, plan to possibly use another of the routes. But be aware that a storm may be large enough to affect all of them, and have your snow chains.

And remember to consider the possibility of snow on the east coast!


About your route: Be careful with Google Maps' proposed routes. Its "fastest" route crosses through Canada, leading you through two very busy border crossings and their associated waits, each of which can be more than an hour on occasion. I don't believe for a second that it will be the fastest route, and I'd recommend you ignore it. Going through Minneapolis and Chicago seems a better bet to me.

  • Strange, goo.gl/K96VbV Google Maps fastest doesn't cross into Canada for me. – chx Jan 30 '16 at 16:54
  • @chx Yeah, strange. The second time I did the search, it didn't either. Maybe because of accidents or something. – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '16 at 17:03
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    Or Google is actually taking live border wait times into account, which isn't too farfetched. – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '16 at 19:57

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