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Getting Around Big City Traffic in an RV

| Updated Apr 22, 2019

Some of the best RV destinations come with big city traffic. Here's how to get around it!

If there's one thing I dislike about RV traveling it's getting stuck in traffic jams around big cities.

Back in my working journalist days for newspapers and TV stations, that was the bane of my existence. Each morning, it was an hour commute to get to work. Returning, it was often longer.

And if the weather was bad, it was sometimes better to get a hotel room downtown than try and navigate the 42 miles from work to my house.

So when we began the RV Lifestyle, my one big goal was to avoid city traffic jams as best as possible. And that meant, avoiding big cities.

U.S. Cities with the Worst Traffic

Each year, INRIX, a transportation data firm, releases a report that lists the U.S. cities with the worst traffic. Recently, they released a new traffic congestion report.

The study ranked cities based on delays caused by congestion on U.S. roads and expressways. It also adjusted the measurement according to each city's population. INRIX determined the per capita and cost of congestion for each U.S. city as well.

Here are the five worst:

  1. Boston
  2. Washington DC
  3. Chicago
  4. New York City
  5. Los Angeles

But based on our experience, other big cities that you can add to that list include:

  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Cincinnati
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • Miami
  • New Orleans/Baton Rouge
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Denver
  • St. Louis

How to Avoid City Traffic

Here are five things that work for us:

  1. Time your travel through big cities for Sundays (the best), Saturdays, holidays or non rush-hours (avoiding early morning, noon and late afternoon)
  2. Spend some time and look for two-lane highways that bypass large metro areas.
  3. Use the traffic app Waze. It provides real-time traffic and road reports and is a huge help in daily driving. 
  4. Each state highway department has a website that list construction projects. Check your route ahead of time so you can be aware and plan accordingly for the delays road construction creates.
  5. And when the inevitable happens like an accident up ahead or something else that causes traffic to back up and you find yourself creeping along in stop and go traffic, chill out. Turn on soothing music. Listen to an audiobook. Go with the flow. Look for a rest area to pull into and take a nap or prepare a snack until traffic clears.

Happy trails!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2019-04-22

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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