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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 1622 times)

J N Winkler

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #50 on: May 09, 2019, 04:22:47 PM »

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.

For the kind of mission work Kphoger does, overland travel in one's own personal vehicle is really the easiest way to do it.  For a person like me who generally visits Mexico as a tourist, air travel is more feasible, but it makes the most sense for Mexico City and the Yucatán peninsula resorts.

The process for obtaining a tourist permit and temporary vehicle importation, as Kphoger outlines it, has many steps, but it is generally painless at smaller border crossings like Ojinaga.  In my experience, two-thirds of the trouble is connected with return to the US, and while most of it has to do with the border wait, in-person cancellation of the temporary vehicle importation creates poorly documented constraints that have to be navigated, since once the permit is cancelled, you are limited in the POEs you can reach without travel into the Mexican interior.  At Nogales, for example, the wait (entirely the fault of the US) was so bad I would gladly have considered diverting to Naco or Douglas, but I had no certainty of being able to reach either without being turned back at an internal customs post.

I likened being an American abroad to being the main character in the Edward Everett Hale short story because we really are a very under-served constituency.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #51 on: May 09, 2019, 04:37:28 PM »

Flying in is not reasonable for me.  I have a family of five, and I'm usually traveling with at least three other people—sometimes as many as a dozen of us total.  Also, as I mentioned, I load our vehicles down with a lot of cargo.  Besides which, if we did fly in, then what?  Haul all our stuff to a car rental lot?  Our work sometimes involves traveling off-pavement for miles (for a few days one year, in fact) with heavy cargo and people crammed in to each vehicle.  Not to mention that going off pavement typically voids any car rental insurance contract.

But that's not really the issue.  All of the steps I outlined (southbound)—even with two or three vehicles and up to a dozen people, including being searched—has never taken me more than 80 minutes total.  That's out of nine driving trips across the border.  I did luck out one trip, because both my southbound and northbound trips were in the direction opposite a holiday travel rush, but that would have added no more than 45 minutes to my total time.  You can lose that much time just by stopping to eat instead of doing drive-through.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #52 on: May 09, 2019, 04:48:51 PM »

At least that way, you're renting a Mexican vehicle, which might deter the Mexican police from glancing your way.

I don't recall ever being singled out by the police for having US plates.  And that's out of probably something like 7000 miles of driving in Mexico with US plates.  I've been through plenty of checkpoints, and I've even been pulled over for speeding and bribed my way out of a ticket once.  But the only times I've had my US registration mentioned were (1) the municipal police officer from Nuevo Laredo who pulled me over for speeding saying that a ticket wouldn't count against my insurance because it was a foreign policy, and (2) an army officer at a roadside checkpoint west of Saltillo (in full riot gear and face mask with rifle) mentioning "gringo" to her fellow officer after I'd handed my ID through the window (she wished me well in English when she handed it back, with what sounded like a smile).
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jakeroot

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #53 on: May 09, 2019, 05:23:45 PM »

Flying in is not reasonable for me.  I have a family of five, and I'm usually traveling with at least three other people—sometimes as many as a dozen of us total.  Also, as I mentioned, I load our vehicles down with a lot of cargo.  Besides which, if we did fly in, then what?  Haul all our stuff to a car rental lot?  Our work sometimes involves traveling off-pavement for miles (for a few days one year, in fact) with heavy cargo and people crammed in to each vehicle.  Not to mention that going off pavement typically voids any car rental insurance contract.

My bad. Didn't realize you were a tour guide! Genuinely. I see JN's comment above about missionary work.

At least that way, you're renting a Mexican vehicle, which might deter the Mexican police from glancing your way.

I don't recall ever being singled out by the police for having US plates.

I recall in another thread, discussion about American vehicles in Mexico without front plates being a target for the police.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #54 on: May 10, 2019, 12:52:41 PM »

I recall in another thread, discussion about American vehicles in Mexico without front plates being a target for the police.

I mentioned that I once had to explain to a local cop that my state doesn't issue front license plates.  But I was not targeted by the police at that checkpoint because of it:  every vehicle was being stopped.



Gotta wonder if a fly-drive vacation might be a bit easier?

Because flying has fewer steps and less waiting?  Ha!  Good one!   :-D
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jakeroot

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #55 on: May 11, 2019, 01:04:46 PM »

Gotta wonder if a fly-drive vacation might be a bit easier?

Because flying has fewer steps and less waiting?  Ha!  Good one!   :-D

hell of a lot fewer steps than crossing the Mexican border, apparently.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2019, 01:38:39 PM »



Gotta wonder if a fly-drive vacation might be a bit easier?

Because flying has fewer steps and less waiting?  Ha!  Good one!   :-D

hell of a lot fewer steps than crossing the Mexican border, apparently.

Yeah, right.  We'll skip the first step of either driving in and paying for parking or taking public transit;  let's assume you just walk into the airport off the street.

Wait in line at the ticket counter.
Request a ticket to wherever you're going.
Show ID.
Pay for the ticket.
Check your baggage.
Wait in line at security.
Take everything out of your pockets, take your shoes off, strip down naked, whatever...
Proceed to your gate and sit around doing nothing for a while.
Wait in line at the gate when it's time to board.
Present your ID and ticket.
Upon landing, wait in line to get off the plane.
Proceed to baggage claim and wait around till you find yours.
Walk out.

And before you say some of those steps can be avoided by purchasing an online ticket and not checking a bag, allow me to say that some of the steps in driving into Mexico can be avoided too.  Specifically, the vehicle importation permit can be obtained in advance.  I don't do that, primarily because I don't like the idea of sending the originals of my personal and vehicle documents in the mail to a government agency and then waiting around for them to be processed and come back to me. 
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ftballfan

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2019, 02:17:37 PM »

I usually take the fastest time route, but I have taken different routes in order to clinch counties or certain segments of highways.

Two weeks ago, I had to drive 700 miles all over lower Michigan for my father's work. The total mileage would likely have been in the 600-650 range if I had optimized the route as much. My points of interest were as follows:
Manistee -> Kaleva -> Brohman -> Bridgeton -> Grand Rapids -> Baroda -> Jackson -> Albion -> Springport -> Six Lakes -> Morley -> McBain -> Manistee
From Bridgeton to Grand Rapids, the quickest route would likely have been B-35 south to M-46 to M-37 into Grand Rapids. However, I went B-35 north to M-82 to US-131 into Grand Rapids in order to clinch (a) M-82 and (b) all state highway mileage in Newaygo County.
Going to Baroda, I clinched BL I-94 through Benton Harbor and St. Joseph instead of using I-94.
In Albion, I clinched BL I-94. If I had more time, I would have clinched M-199 and possibly the Marshall BL I-94.
In the Eaton Rapids area, I clinched M-188, which IMHO is the biggest waste of a state highway in Michigan.
In the Lansing area, instead of getting on I-96 at exit 101, I took M-99 all the way to I-496 and then to I-96.
Between Morley and McBain, the quickest route would have been US-131 north to M-115 east to 48 Rd/Stoney Corners Rd east. Instead, I cut through the Canadian Lakes area to meet M-20 and M-66 in Remus, and then went up M-66 to McBain.
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jakeroot

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #58 on: May 13, 2019, 02:55:12 PM »

We'll skip the first step of either driving in and paying for parking or taking public transit;  let's assume you just walk into the airport off the street.

Wait in line at the ticket counter.
Request a ticket to wherever you're going.
Show ID.
Pay for the ticket.
Check your baggage.
Wait in line at security.
Take everything out of your pockets, take your shoes off, strip down naked, whatever...
Proceed to your gate and sit around doing nothing for a while.
Wait in line at the gate when it's time to board.
Present your ID and ticket.
Upon landing, wait in line to get off the plane.
Proceed to baggage claim and wait around till you find yours.
Walk out.

And before you say some of those steps can be avoided by purchasing an online ticket and not checking a bag, allow me to say that some of the steps in driving into Mexico can be avoided too.  Specifically, the vehicle importation permit can be obtained in advance.  I don't do that, primarily because I don't like the idea of sending the originals of my personal and vehicle documents in the mail to a government agency and then waiting around for them to be processed and come back to me. 

Let's be realistic for a moment, and recognize that there are some massive differences:

1) I'm referring to domestic flights; you, to crossing an international border by car;
2) each process can be sped up based on one's own experiences and preparedness;
3) not each step necessarily takes a long time, even if there are many steps.

For me, flying is much simpler than how you've presented it. I can usually be at the gate in about ten minutes (my ticket is on my phone, I use PreCheck, I don't check my bags). But for others, especially those in groups, it can take a bit longer. Mostly due to those who don't fly very often, and just aren't as prepared. But you can speed things up a ton by having everything ready to go. I just don't see how driving into Mexico can necessarily be sped up much, beyond obtaining that permit ahead of time. You can become accustomed to the process, but it still takes a certain amount of time, even on a good day.

Specifically when talking about crossing the Mexican border, one's proximity to the border, and the destination thereafter, is also pretty important. For those who live a significant distance from the border, there are hefty travel expenses. Flying usually isn't cheap, but if you're limited on time, it can be worth it.
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Flint1979

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #59 on: May 13, 2019, 03:40:28 PM »

I usually take the fastest time route, but I have taken different routes in order to clinch counties or certain segments of highways.

Two weeks ago, I had to drive 700 miles all over lower Michigan for my father's work. The total mileage would likely have been in the 600-650 range if I had optimized the route as much. My points of interest were as follows:
Manistee -> Kaleva -> Brohman -> Bridgeton -> Grand Rapids -> Baroda -> Jackson -> Albion -> Springport -> Six Lakes -> Morley -> McBain -> Manistee
From Bridgeton to Grand Rapids, the quickest route would likely have been B-35 south to M-46 to M-37 into Grand Rapids. However, I went B-35 north to M-82 to US-131 into Grand Rapids in order to clinch (a) M-82 and (b) all state highway mileage in Newaygo County.
Going to Baroda, I clinched BL I-94 through Benton Harbor and St. Joseph instead of using I-94.
In Albion, I clinched BL I-94. If I had more time, I would have clinched M-199 and possibly the Marshall BL I-94.
In the Eaton Rapids area, I clinched M-188, which IMHO is the biggest waste of a state highway in Michigan.
In the Lansing area, instead of getting on I-96 at exit 101, I took M-99 all the way to I-496 and then to I-96.
Between Morley and McBain, the quickest route would have been US-131 north to M-115 east to 48 Rd/Stoney Corners Rd east. Instead, I cut through the Canadian Lakes area to meet M-20 and M-66 in Remus, and then went up M-66 to McBain.
I clinched M-199 one time and didn't even realize I did it until I got home and in fact never even knew about M-199 until I did that. M-188 is one I clinched just to do it and it really is a pointless highway. It's just there to serve the VFW Children's Home on Waverly and what's funny is that highway has more traffic outside of Eaton Rapids than it does in Eaton Rapids, neither of which is a very high traffic count in the first place. I think it was the same night I clinched M-99 that I clinched M-188.
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kphoger

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #60 on: May 13, 2019, 09:47:10 PM »



Here's my point:  How much time passes between the moment you walk into an airport and the moment the wheels leave the runway?  Ten minutes from the front door to sitting down at the gate is pretty impressive, even with only carry-on and no need to stop at the ticket counter, but then you still have to wait for your flight once you get there.  I typically (used to, back in my single days, when flying was an affordable option) plan to be at the airport at least 90 minutes ahead of departure time.

Tying this back to the actual thread topic, minimizing the border wait time is part of my route planning.
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sparker

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #61 on: May 14, 2019, 06:07:12 AM »

It all depends upon who controls the agenda for the trip -- myself or someone else (singular or plural).  If it's myself, then I'll either -- depending upon time consideration -- select a "beeline" trip or, if brevity isn't a criterion, select something (fully or partially) that I haven't done before; if that isn't possible, then at least something I deem interesting.  If the trip is initiated by someone else not my GF, then it all depends upon who's driving.  The last trip I took, the previously mentioned 2-day SoCal jaunt over New Years', was with someone else supplying the vehicle and doing all the driving; my role was navigating the L.A. area (and occasionally overruling his GPS!) -- involving getting him to where he needed to go as well as making a stop at my storage unit near my former High Desert residence to snag some stored equipment.  But to satisfy his time criteria, I needed to plot the closest thing to beelines possible (although I did get him to use CA 99 en route home through the Valley rather than I-5 so I could check on upgrade progress plus the initial HSR construction near Fresno).   

Lately, because of my business, my trips have often zig-zagged between customers, vendors, or marketing targets.  One of my last cross-country trips when I was still based in SoCal visited a dealer in Denver, another in Kenosha, WI, a supplier in the Rochester, NY area, a dealer in Beckley, WV (nice way to get both I-99 and the New River Bridge into the mix), a vendor in Florence, SC (clinched much of the southern end of the I-73 corridor in the process), my GF in suburban Atlanta (where she was caring for her ailing father at the time), a dealer in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, a potential client for a sideline business in Jasper, AL, family in Broken Bow, OK (clinching I-30 in the process), and a close-to-beeline home via one of my seemingly zillion trips on US 287 between Wichita Falls and Amarillo and I-40 west of there.  In the late 1990's and early 2000's, that would have been a typical cross-country trip for me.  Today -- particularly since I'm now nearing 70, trips such as that might just be a bit too much; right now, I'm contemplating a fall trip to Denver for a trade show; although I won't be exhibiting this year, a couple of my business associates have seen the exhibitor list and want to go anyway -- and for the first time, I may let them go, take pictures and acquire information, while I stick close to home and tend to business here.  I normally would do all that myself more than willingly, but recent health issues have been a sticking point (just coming off a bout with pneumonia!).  And the older she gets, my GF is increasingly less willing to spend time on the road (and corresponding time off work!), preferring to fly out to my destination once I'm there.   

But I'll probably be limiting any out-of-state road trips to one per year as long as I can actually do them -- but in the process (and considering time of year and weather conditions) find new routes to get to even familiar destinations.   
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intelati49

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #62 on: May 14, 2019, 08:07:00 AM »

Choose the least annoying route.

Meaning, the best mix of fuel efficiency, time, length, annoyance... I mean, there's a few routes where exiting off at *a particular road* is the "fastest" route but bottlenecks and close stoplights make a back way faster and less annoying (stop and go kills my MPGs)....

bemybear

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Re: Route planning priorities
« Reply #63 on: August 21, 2019, 03:00:02 PM »

I'm definitely a bit eccentric about route choice.

1. If the drive isn't anyplace particularly interesting to me and I just want to get there AND I can do the drive at an off peak time I'll take whatever would be suggested by GPS or obvious routing.  But if I want to go someplace and I have reasonable expectation that the freeway will or might likely be annoyingly busy (such that maintaining speed limit +5 or more MPH will require a lot of effort or not be possible) then I'm likely to try for a back road even though it will surely take longer.

2. I ALWAYS try to avoid getting onto a limited access road for less than 2 miles.  I don't know why but merging onto the freeway just to take the next exit always makes me crazy so I'll take any reasonable frontage or local road I know every time if I can avoid it.

3. At least when living in Scranton (with I-476) or near Rochester (with I-90) I take the tollway anytime I can even if its slightly longer because in the case of going from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre or from home (Victor NY) to work (near Greece), the tollway is much more pleasant and has very little speed difference between peak on off peak travel compared to I-82 or I-490 respectively would.

4. If I have to drive somewhere truly horrendous or at the very worst time then of course there isn't much real choice to be made. But I structure large parts of my life to make this a rare outcome.
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