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Poll

When planning a route (putting aside any adjustments made strictly for roadgeeking purposes!), do you:

Plan the shortest route by distance?
- 1 (2.2%)
Plan the fastest route by time?
- 22 (47.8%)
Plan the most fuel/efficient route?
- 2 (4.3%)
Choose the least annoying route?
- 17 (37%)
Other (describe in comments)
- 4 (8.7%)

Total Members Voted: 46


Author Topic: Route planning priorities  (Read 1623 times)

kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2019, 02:13:31 PM »

In regard to driving on two-lane roads, passing pole position equates to about a one-second following distance and I find that very uncomfortable as a passenger.

Yes, the passenger definitely feels less in control than the driver when following closely.
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webny99

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2019, 02:53:58 PM »

At least with the information I have, I personally wouldn't bypass Laredo if it was going to add that much time. I don't see anything wrong with the I-35 > Mexico FR 85 route.
Border wait times are typically longer at the downtown crossings, the customs building in Nuevo Laredo is awkward to get to, there are plenty of stoplights in Nuevo Laredo.  In contrast, the Colombia border crossing usually has fairly short lines (I've seen it wide open before), the customs building is very convenient, there is a total of three stop signs and zero stoplights between I-35 and Fed-85 going that way.

The 18 extra miles seems to roughly equate to 18 extra minutes, so all other factors aside, that would sway me towards the I-35 > Fed-85 route. But like I said for the Austin example, I would probably try both routes a few times before deciding on a preference.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2019, 03:40:43 PM »

The 18 extra miles seems to roughly equate to 18 extra minutes, so all other factors aside, that would sway me towards the I-35 > Fed-85 route. But like I said for the Austin example, I would probably try both routes a few times before deciding on a preference.

Border wait times are longer, with more variability, on the southern border than on the northern one.  (I suspect this reflects an underlying belief that Mexico has a deeper pool of less desirable immigrants than Canada and a determination to punish US natives for spending time in Mexico.)  I think the point Kphoger is working to is basically that it is a no-brainer to take the route that is 18 miles longer.
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Flint1979

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2019, 03:46:27 PM »

I know that when you go to Canada you generally don't have much of a problem, the issue is always coming back to the US. Is it the same way with Mexico? I've never been to Mexico and haven't been to Canada since about 2003.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2019, 03:58:48 PM »



At least with the information I have, I personally wouldn't bypass Laredo if it was going to add that much time. I don't see anything wrong with the I-35 > Mexico FR 85 route.

Border wait times are typically longer at the downtown crossings, the customs building in Nuevo Laredo is awkward to get to, there are plenty of stoplights in Nuevo Laredo.  In contrast, the Colombia border crossing usually has fairly short lines (I've seen it wide open before), the customs building is very convenient, there is a total of three stop signs and zero stoplights between I-35 and Fed-85 going that way.

The 18 extra miles seems to roughly equate to 18 extra minutes, so all other factors aside, that would sway me towards the I-35 > Fed-85 route. But like I said for the Austin example, I would probably try both routes a few times before deciding on a preference.

Current wait times, northbound at the US side:

Laredo — Bridge #2 — 60 minutes
Laredo — Colombia Solidarity Bridge — 0 minutes

Does that give you an idea of why one might want to avoid downtown?  Don't push all other factors aside.  They matter.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2019, 04:00:27 PM »

I know that when you go to Canada you generally don't have much of a problem, the issue is always coming back to the US. Is it the same way with Mexico? I've never been to Mexico and haven't been to Canada since about 2003.

I've typically had a longer wait time to re-enter the USA, yes.

At least in the general lanes, every single vehicle coming north has to stop and speak to a customs officer.  This is not the case heading south, where there is a red/green light setup:  stop if the light turns red, proceed if the light turns green.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2019, 04:00:42 PM »

I know that when you go to Canada you generally don't have much of a problem, the issue is always coming back to the US. Is it the same way with Mexico? I've never been to Mexico and haven't been to Canada since about 2003.

It is always harder to get back into the US than it is to leave it.  On entry to Canada there is a script to be worked through--Firearms?  Alcohol?  Tobacco?  Goods to be consumed or left in Canada?--but other than that, it usually goes pretty quickly.  Mexico can be faster or slower depending on what you are trying to do.  If you are staying less than 72 hours and not travelling outside the frontier zone, questioning is usually very perfunctory.  If you need to secure a tourist permit and carry out temporary vehicle importation (both necessary if staying longer than 72 hours or travelling outside the frontier zone), the required formalities take about 30 minutes exclusive of waiting.

When re-entering the US, the issue is that staffing is not responsive to load.  Many years ago I tried to re-enter at Mariposa (Arizona SR 289 crossing) at the same time as seemingly millions of Californians trying to return from the coastal Sonora resorts.  (Apparently there are draconian sanctions in California for not having kids back in school the day after Christmas vacation.)  I had the battery go flat after about 3 hours of waiting.  This was a bona fide emergency and gave me an excuse to jump the queue by allowing the car to roll down the hill into neutral, where a Mexican trinket seller helped me ease it over the tire shredders and onto US soil where it could be jump-started using a battery charger the US officials keep on hand.  (The battery charger could not be taken into Mexico.)  I read later that there was still a long line when Mariposa closed for the night, so people had to U-turn and join the (very long) line for DeConcini in downtown Nogales, which is open 24 hours.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2019, 04:03:43 PM »

I had the battery go flat after about 3 hours of waiting.  This was a bona fide emergency and gave me an excuse to jump the queue by allowing the car to roll down the hill into neutral, where a Mexican trinket seller helped me ease it over the tire shredders and onto US soil where it could be jump-started using a battery charger the US officials keep on hand.  (The battery charger could not be taken into Mexico.) 

You don't carry jumper cables in the car?
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2019, 04:04:41 PM »

And just a general observation:  if you obtain a passport and use it to travel outside the US, in the eyes of US officialdom you become the man without a country.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2019, 04:07:01 PM »

You don't carry jumper cables in the car?

I had them, yes.  It was simpler to engineer rescue at the border itself than to look for someone else in line who might be willing to give me a jump off his or her battery.
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oscar

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #35 on: May 08, 2019, 04:10:33 PM »

I know that when you go to Canada you generally don't have much of a problem, the issue is always coming back to the US. Is it the same way with Mexico? I've never been to Mexico and haven't been to Canada since about 2003.

I've been to Canada a lot, and the border hassles US -> Canada generally are not much less than Canada -> US. On the Mexican border, the hassles on the US side are generally worse than on the Canadian border, while on the Mexican side they aren't usually much of a problem at all. But I did draw two searches entering Mexico. YMMV. Both cases I was just day-tripping and not venturing beyond the border area, which as others note probably helped reduce the Mexican-side hassle.

With Mexico, there's something to be said for crossing over and back as a pedestrian, rather than in a vehicle. A more hassle-free return to the U.S. plus not having to purchase the mandatory Mexican auto insurance policy. 
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Rothman

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2019, 04:12:41 PM »

Ducked back and forth across the border at Alexandria Bay just yesterday.  Canadian customs officer was bored.  American customs searched my empty trunk.
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webny99

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2019, 04:30:02 PM »

Does that give you an idea of why one might want to avoid downtown?  Don't push all other factors aside.  They matter.

Oh, absolutely. When I checked yesterday, it roughly equated to 18 miles adding 18 minutes, but that was southbound.
I get that wait times can vary wildly, and your preferred route probably is often faster going northbound.
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jakeroot

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #38 on: May 08, 2019, 04:37:34 PM »

My last two drives between Seattle and Vancouver (with NEXUS) have consisted of identical questions in both directions:

Entering Canada: "any goods?" ... "thank you"
Entering US: "purpose of visit?"  ... "OK"

(literally said "OK"...say "thanks", bud! I don't know if I'm good to proceed or not.)

The shortness of this may be due to staffing for the regular lanes. The sheer number of Canadians who shop in Washington State has grown immensely as Vancouver gas prices near $5/gal USD, bu not all have NEXUS. This shifts staffing over to the regular lanes to handle declarations, etc, away from the NEXUS lanes. For the first time ever, last week, there was only one open NEXUS lane entering BC at the Peace Arch. Took me a whole five minutes to get through :-D.



I most often use the route that's most reliable. I filed that under "least annoying". These usually give me better fuel economy, too. Driving in stop-and-go traffic gets annoying with a stick as well, so whichever route keeps me moving is good with me!
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2019, 05:05:07 PM »


Does that give you an idea of why one might want to avoid downtown?  Don't push all other factors aside.  They matter.

Oh, absolutely. When I checked yesterday, it roughly equated to 18 miles adding 18 minutes, but that was southbound.
I get that wait times can vary wildly, and your preferred route probably is often faster going northbound.

How did you determine that?  I don't know that Google accounts for the border wait time.
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webny99

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #40 on: May 09, 2019, 12:03:51 PM »

Does that give you an idea of why one might want to avoid downtown?  Don't push all other factors aside.  They matter.
Oh, absolutely. When I checked yesterday, it roughly equated to 18 miles adding 18 minutes, but that was southbound.
I get that wait times can vary wildly, and your preferred route probably is often faster going northbound.
How did you determine that?  I don't know that Google accounts for the border wait time.

If the road segment shows up with live traffic (which it does in this case) I would assume border wait times are included. It's probably not exact, but a pretty good rough estimate -- same as any other congestion, just with a bit more volatility.

As of the time of this post (11 AM local time):
Northbound: 58 minutes, 47 without traffic. Read: some delay, allow for 15-20 min wait at the border.
Southbound: 53 minutes, no mention of delay, small road segment showing red near the border. Read: minimal to no wait at the border.

Obviously, I'll never know to what extent that holds true!  :)
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froggie

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #41 on: May 09, 2019, 01:11:11 PM »

Quote from: J N Winkler
It is always harder to get back into the US than it is to leave it.

Usually, but not always.  My last couple times up to Quebec were the other way around...easier heading back into Vermont.  Had my car fully searched heading north once last year.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #42 on: May 09, 2019, 01:46:18 PM »




Does that give you an idea of why one might want to avoid downtown?  Don't push all other factors aside.  They matter.

Oh, absolutely. When I checked yesterday, it roughly equated to 18 miles adding 18 minutes, but that was southbound.
I get that wait times can vary wildly, and your preferred route probably is often faster going northbound.

How did you determine that?  I don't know that Google accounts for the border wait time.

If the road segment shows up with live traffic (which it does in this case) I would assume border wait times are included. It's probably not exact, but a pretty good rough estimate -- same as any other congestion, just with a bit more volatility.

As of the time of this post (11 AM local time):
Northbound: 58 minutes, 47 without traffic. Read: some delay, allow for 15-20 min wait at the border.
Southbound: 53 minutes, no mention of delay, small road segment showing red near the border. Read: minimal to no wait at the border.

Obviously, I'll never know to what extent that holds true!  :)

Even if those wait times are legitimate, it still doesn't account for the difference in time spent at the actual customs office.
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webny99

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #43 on: May 09, 2019, 01:51:44 PM »

Even if those wait times are legitimate, it still doesn't account for the difference in time spent at the actual customs office.

Can't speak for Mexico, but at US and Canada crossings, if you're spending more than 3-5 minutes at the actual booth, you've probably got bigger problems than having picked a slow crossing.

(I'm used to NEXUS, so anything more than 30 seconds / a few brief questions feels like a long time to me.)
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2019, 02:09:19 PM »


Even if those wait times are legitimate, it still doesn't account for the difference in time spent at the actual customs office.

Can't speak for Mexico, but at US and Canada crossings, if you're spending more than 3-5 minutes at the actual booth, you've probably got bigger problems than having picked a slow crossing.

(I'm used to NEXUS, so anything more than 30 seconds / a few brief questions feels like a long time to me.)

When I'm traveling to Mexico, my time at the border includes...

paying the bridge toll,
proceeding to/through the inspection area,
parking,
walking into the customs building,
waiting in line,
presenting my passport to the immigration officer and requesting an immigration form,
filling out the immigration form,
waiting in line again,
paying for the immigration form (may or may not be at a separate window),
getting the immigration form stamped by the officer,
waiting in line at another window to obtain a temporary importation permit for my car,
presenting all sorts of personal and vehicle ID (with copies),
paying a deposit on my vehicle importation plus a processing fee,
going to the bathroom,
walking back out to the parking lot,
applying the RFID sticker to my windshield,
getting back on the road.

All of that process doesn't even take into account the possibility of being questioned and/or searched at either of the following:

CPB checkpoing on the US side,
Navy checkpoint on the Mexican side,
Customs officers on the Mexican side

The heavier the vehicle, the more likely it is to trigger a red light for inspection/search.  I drive a seven-passenger SUV, I load it beyond capacity, I use a rooftop cargo box, and I generally have at least five people in the car.  Even if my car doesn't get searched, I'm usually traveling in caravan with one or two other cars and, if they get searched, then I have to wait for them to finish up.

Coming back north again, my time at the border includes...

waiting in line (in my car) to have the permit canceled and RFID sticker removed,
parking,
walking into the customs building,
waiting in line,
presenting ID and cancelation paperwork at the window,
obtaining the refund for my vehicle importation deposit,
going to the bathroom,
walking back out to the parking lot,
getting back on the road,
paying the bridge toll.

Then there's the matter of waiting in line and the possibility of being questioned and/or searched on the US side, and/or later on at the interior checkpoint farther north.  (So far, I've never been searched at the interior checkpoint so.)

So, as you can see, there is a LOT more for me to consider than just how many minutes of driving Google Maps says it will take.  Each of those steps has its pros and cons at each border crossing point, and a lot of the waiting can vary substantially.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #45 on: May 09, 2019, 02:35:00 PM »

. . . Navy checkpoint on the Mexican side . . .

They have the navy doing that now?  In my day these puestos de revisión militar were all army.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #46 on: May 09, 2019, 02:44:35 PM »


. . . Navy checkpoint on the Mexican side . . .

They have the navy doing that now?  In my day these puestos de revisión militar were all army.

How can you tell the difference?  I assumed they were Navy merely because the drug war in Mexico is under Navy command.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #47 on: May 09, 2019, 03:26:05 PM »

How can you tell the difference?  I assumed they were Navy merely because the drug war in Mexico is under Navy command.

They were wearing olive green fatigues.  In Mexico army uniforms are green or khaki while navy (including marine) uniforms are white or dark blue.  Now, admittedly, I was not trying to read shoulder or collar insignia, so I can't exclude the possibility these were naval personnel who had been issued army-style uniforms for extended shore duty.

(Mexican flag officer ranks are confusing, BTW.  One-star general is brigadier general, just like the US, but two-star general--equivalent to our major general--is brigade general.)
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jakeroot

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #48 on: May 09, 2019, 04:01:10 PM »

When I'm traveling to Mexico, my time at the border includes...

Holy shit. No wonder I've never driven into Mexico. That sounds miserable. You can always rely on Waze for Canada, especially with NEXUS (as it knows if you have a pass, and sees the extra lane).

Gotta wonder if a fly-drive vacation might be a bit easier? At least that way, you're renting a Mexican vehicle, which might deter the Mexican police from glancing your way.
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webny99

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #49 on: May 09, 2019, 04:21:48 PM »

When I'm traveling to Mexico, my time at the border includes...

...

So, as you can see, there is a LOT more for me to consider than just how many minutes of driving Google Maps says it will take.  Each of those steps has its pros and cons at each border crossing point, and a lot of the waiting can vary substantially.

Holy shit. No wonder I've never driven into Mexico. That sounds miserable. You can always rely on Waze for Canada, especially with NEXUS (as it knows if you have a pass, and sees the extra lane).

Uh, yeah, what he said.  :wow:

I always knew crossing into & out of Mexico was more challenging than Canada, but I had no idea the difference was on that monumental of a scale. That makes US>Canada crossings look like the EU in comparison.
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