Roadtrip! Only in a responsible parent sort of way.
September 4, 2009 12:53 PM   Subscribe

We are traveling from Chicago to Columbus, OH next week and to keep things interesting we'll have our 15-month-old in the back seat. I'm wondering if people who have made this drive have advice in terms of routing, avoiding traffic tie-ups and stopping points.

The little one travels well for the most part. The commute to day care is almost an hour each way, and we've taken him to Iowa a few times (5 hours each way). However, this is the first trip where we don't reasonably expect him to sleep for the great majority of the drive. Our thought was to leave just after lunch (his usual nap time), take an early dinner/get-out-and-run-around-a-bit break either at a rest stop or a local park, and continue on. My fear is that if we go through Indianapolis we'll hit it during rush hour and add significantly to our travel time. We'd like to get into Columbus at a reasonable hour as well. Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by Morydd to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have done this trip many times. It's not really that bad of a trip - you can do it in about 6 hours if you drive quickly and the traffic is not too bad. I have only ever taken I-65 to I-70, because the prevailing speed along I-70 is as high as 80 mph. Unless I-65 is horrible, you will probably never save time taking the "Northern variant" on the Indiana toll road.

By far the worst part is getting out of Chicago. I-65 and getting to it are both usually pretty nightmarish, and are much worse with construction (of which there is currently a lot). I would try to avoid leaving Chicago during or around rush hour - other than that I don't think that the time of day will have a significant effect. I-70 has a lot of truck traffic, so you may feel more comfortable during the day.

My fear is that if we go through Indianapolis we'll hit it during rush hour and add significantly to our travel time.

Don't worry about this at all - I have driven to and through Indianapolis several dozen times, and have never had the traffic affect the drive much at all.

There are tons of services along I-65 and I-70 - nothing is remarkable enough to stick out in a good or bad way.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2009

I have also driven this route many times, and I echo all of iknowizbirfmark's points. If you are worried about Indianapolis, you can route around it by using the 865 and 465 (so, 65 -> 865 -> 465 -> 70) as noted above. We've done it both ways though and never had problems in or around Indianapolis. What can ruin your day is construction on I-65. Through much of last spring, there were major delays (up to an hour) near Lafayette, so it pays to check the construction status before you go. There are many places to stop on the way for food and snacks as well.
posted by Maximian at 1:44 PM on September 4, 2009

I'd reccomend stopping for a break around the north side of Indianapolis. Carmel and the surrounding area has plenty of places where you should be able to rest and let the little guy romp around for a bit.

However, there is (as of last weekend anyway) a lot of construction underway on 70 between Indy and the Ohio border. Depending on what time you hit it, you might sail through doing 65, or you might have to slow way down.
posted by aheckler at 1:54 PM on September 4, 2009

I have family in Columbus and I've made this drive many times. If you're looking for a more relaxing drive, I suggest hopping on route 30 as soon as you're in Indiana (I-65 goes right over Rt 30 in Merrillville) and taking 30 to Upper Sandusky, then hopping on 23 and taking that south to Columbus. You'll avoid Indianapolis completely this way. It''s about a 5-6 hour drive, not including stops.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:56 PM on September 4, 2009

(Well, that 5-6 hours does not include your travel time from Chicago to Merrillville.)
posted by IndigoRain at 5:57 PM on September 4, 2009

I've done this trip several times, both going down 65 (nightmare) and going down 57 and cutting across on 74 (you have to get back up to 70, which is tricky, taking you around the edges of Indianapolis. However, if you follow the Google maps directions to a T, it's fine. Caution, they seem completely wrong, but they're not.) This seems a little more out of the way, but it's a more interesting drive, with numerous easy-to-stop in towns along the way, starting with Urbana, and it takes about the same amount of time, because you avoid 65, the Indiana Toll Road, and I80, all horrible roads.

(Flickr set of this route) Especially note the worth-the-trip border gate (?) between Ohio and Indiana.

Our road game on these trips was making up mottos for IL, IN, and OH. Our faves-- "Indiana! Because it's in the way!" "Indiana-Drive Through Us!")
posted by nax at 6:48 PM on September 4, 2009

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