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In the modern day of phones and electronics, a GPS may be your primary source of navigation. These devices can be beneficial – that is until you get that dreaded notification, “Lost satellite reception.” Then what? Resorting to a paper map can be an excellent alternative, but it doesn’t allow you to calculate arrival time, fuel costs, or anything of that nature. Maybe a drivetime calculator could help? But do drivetime calculators really work?
Drivetime calculators can alleviate all that hassle. With this handy device, you’ll never have to guess if you’ll arrive on time again. You will be able to plan trips with ease and familiarize yourself with cost estimates before leaving. There will be no surprises, as everything you need is in one convenient calculator.
What is a Drivetime Calculator?
Drivetime calculators use the number of miles and speed in miles per hour (or kilometers per hour) to determine the amount of time it will take to reach your destination. Each one varies, and some offer more details than the rest. A driving distance calculator will estimate the span of two locations and include a map with step-by-step directions, whereas others will determine fuel costs and consider time for stops.
Let’s say you’re looking to travel from Yellowstone National Park to Zion National Park (640 miles) at a consistent 50 miles per hour (mph) with two 10-minute stops. If you put that information into the calculator, you would find that it takes 13 hours and 8 minutes to travel from Point A to Point B. For planning purposes, you can compare driving times based on average speed. For example, the same trip would take 11 hours at a constant 60 mph, but 16 hours and 20 minutes at 40 mph.
The burden of planning a vacation is diminished with an RV drivetime calculator. When traveling to multiple destinations, it is imperative to know how much time you are going to spend driving. You can plan an entire trip in just five minutes as long as you consider overnight stays and breaks. Thinking ahead allows you to avoid RV parks with hefty rates and presents you with a cost-effective route. Saving money here and there goes a long way, especially when trying to cut down on expenses.
Fitting all your needs into one trip doesn’t have to be complicated. A driving calculator can give you a precise departure time and keep you on track. In fact, if you have to arrive at your destination by a specific day and hour, you can quickly determine the latest possible time you should leave.
There may be times that you wonder if driving to your location is more convenient than flying. This tool can be useful to generate a side-by-side comparison of RV driving time and fuel costs versus airline tickets, hotel prices, and car rentals. RVing is typically the preferred method as it cancels out expenses like housing and airfare; however, it can be reassuring to examine the cost differences.
Factors to Consider When Calculating Drivetime
With any adventure, there are many factors to consider and choices to make. Drivetime calculators cover all your bases by accounting for stops, speed variations, and time zones. You can also find the length between two cities, addresses, or exact locations.
Any RV owner knows that frequently stopping for gas is necessary when traveling long distances. Imagine being stuck in the Grand Canyon National Park with no gas – that surely would not be fun! That being said, having an idea about fuel stops and costs beforehand will prevent issues later on. The drivetime calculator computes these fuel costs by analyzing the miles per gallon (mpg), the price per gallon, mileage, and average speed.
Speed is a significant factor when considering driving time, as moving at a faster pace will allow you to reach your destination sooner. For example, arrival times may be shorter for someone who is driving 60 mph versus someone who is traveling at a steady 50 mph. The calculator accounts for these variations and adjusts arrival time based on average speed. This can help find which rates accommodate your needs. Faster isn’t always better, but having an idea about traveling time can alleviate an enormous amount of stress while driving.
Making stops along the way is another common occurrence when traveling. Whether it be fuel stops, food stops or pulling over for five minutes to take pictures, these all add to travel time. To account for these factors, simply insert your estimated number of stops and stop times into the calculator to find your arrival time. Compared to a standard GPS that does not acknowledge stops, this method is much more efficient when estimating arrival time.
How Accurate are Drivetime Calculators?
It is important to remember that drivetime calculators are purely based on estimates and do not always take traffic and speed fluctuations into consideration. Exact travel times may vary as the calculation is merely a mathematical equation for standard speed and mileage.
When determining average speed, note that it’s typically better to overestimate your travel time. For example, if you find that you travel at about 45 mph on backroads and 60 mph on the highway, it’s most beneficial to choose 50 mph as your average speed. This will leave extra room for any unexpected mishaps or additional stops. Plus, you are bound to feel much less rushed if you allot more time in advance.
While some calculators account for traffic, many do not. If you are traveling in populated areas at rush hour, then you’re likely to add on a couple hours. Likewise, construction is a potential drawback that can set you back. It’s tough to know what a day of traveling will bring, so be sure to use your best judgment when calculating driving time.
Predicting exact fuel costs is also tricky, as each gas station charges its own price. Mpg may also change slightly depending on speed and terrain. Frequently stopping for traffic lights is going to give you a much lower mpg compared to a flat, paved road or highway.
To obtain maximum results, use this tool as a general guideline rather than strictly abiding by its calculations. Keeping track of travel affairs in a spreadsheet may better help you estimate time and expenses. In general, it is most useful to document the details of your trip to use as a reference later.
What are the Best Drivetime Calculators?
Each drivetime calculator is slightly different, and some offer more or less than others. Choosing one that suits your needs will deliver the most desirable outcome. For RVers, it is best to find a trip planning tool that allows you to enter your RV dimensions into the program to ensure the proper clearances for your RV along the route. You don’t want to get stuck at a 10′ tall bridge with an 11′ tall RV!
Free Online Calculator Use is an all-in-one calculator that includes multiple features, such as traveling time, arrival time with stops, and driving distance. It can be used to assess departure time and gas costs while factoring in time zones and speed adjustments.
PRO TIP: For those looking to plan a vacation from start to finish, RV Trip Wizard and AllStays Pro are exceptional tools. They each provide access to information about RV parks, tourist sights, roadblocks, and discounts. You can even spruce up your itinerary by adding destinations along the way! Export your trip to Google Maps or GPS for easy access on a computer and phone or tablet app.
Motorhome Road Trip is another tool used to research total distance, gas costs, and driving time. Wild Texas is similar, although it does not deliver data about gas mileage. Other calculators, such as KOA Fuel Cost Estimator, solely offer insight about fuel costs and allow you to make estimates based on fluctuating gas prices.
What Other Ways Can I Calculate Drivetime?
If you don’t have computer access or prefer an alternative method, no worries. Just download a drivetime calculator app on your phone or simply perform the time calculations yourself.
Google Maps and Waze are applications geared towards shorter excursions, as they are less accurate for trips over 1000 miles. Therefore, drivetime calculator apps made explicitly for RVing are likely a better choice.
Drive Time Calculator measures travel duration, arrival time, and distance. It also uses your location to find nearby food, gas, and attractions. Road Trip Planner, Roadtrippers, and inRoute Route Planner, on the other hand, are more focused on trip planning and stops. Each can be downloaded from the Apple and Android Stores.
Contrarily, some may not wish to use any assistance. In that case, calculating the cost is straightforward when using a method called forecasting. To estimate fuel expense, simply divide the total mileage by your average mpg to find the number of gallons needed for the trip. Then, multiply that answer by the cost of gas to see your total cost. This technique can also be applied to items like food costs, entertainment, RV parks, and much more. Learning to forecast is extremely valuable as it can save you time and money.
Regardless, these calculators can be quite helpful when estimating travel time and cost. Although there’s room for improvement, it is still practical for particular information. Whether you choose to use a service or make the calculations yourself, it is always crucial to plan before leaving. Vacations aren’t meant to be stressful, so always be sure to keep your RV drivetime calculator nearby!
RELATED READING: By the way, if you are an RVer and you would like to learn how to increase your MPG while you drive you should check out our articles called What is the Average Gas Mileage for a Class C RV? Although I wrote it for Class C RVs, many of the driving tips also apply to any type of Motorhome, travel trailer or 5th wheel too.
Do you have an awesome trip planning tool that you use? Please share it with us in the comments below!