How far is Chicago from Los Angeles? Here's the quick answer if you have friends taking shifts as driver so that you can make the entire trip by car without stopping.
Nonstop drive: 2,015 miles or 3243 km
Driving time: 29 hours, 7 minutes
This is a really long drive, so it's not very realistic to drive nonstop. To get a better idea of how long this road trip would actually take, scroll down to calculate how many hours it would be if you drive with stops.
Now let's assume you have a private jet and you can fly in the fastest possible straight line between Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois. Because of the curvature of the Earth, the shortest distance is actually the "great circle" distance, or "as the crow flies" which is calculated using an iterative Vincenty formula. For a long distance, this appears as a curve on the map, and this is often the route that commercial airlines will take so it's a good estimate of the frequent flyer miles you'll accumulate as well.
Flight distance: 1,746 miles or 2809 km
Flight time: 3 hours, 31 minutes
The straight line flight distance is 269 miles less than driving on roads, which means the driving distance is roughly 1.2x of the flight distance.
Your plane flies much faster than a car, so the flight time is about 1/8th of the time it would take to drive.
This is a medium length flight, so unless you have a nice private jet, you might be booking a commercial flight. In that case, your travel time would really need to include how many minutes to get to your local airport, wait for security, board and taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and get to your destination. Scroll down to see a more realistic calculation that takes into account all these factors to get a more accurate estimate of your actual flight time.
Realistically, you're not going to want to drive without stopping all the way from Los Angeles to Chicago, especially if you're the main driver. So let's say you're actually planning a road trip to Chicago, and you need to stop along the way to rest. Plus if it's a real road trip, you might want to check out interesting stops along the way, eat at great restaurants, and find a hotel to stay overnight. That's what Trippy is perfect for, helping you figure out travel plans in detail.
Based on the length of this trip, we think you could spread out this fun road trip over a number of days.
Road trip: 5 days of driving
With the full itinerary planned out, we can estimate your total travel time for this trip.
Travel time: 33 hours on the road with 4 overnights
Start in Los Angeles.
Drive for about 4 hours, then stop in Las Vegas and stay overnight.
The next day, drive for about 2.5 hours, then stop at Zion National Park and stay for about 2 hours. Next, drive for another 5.5 hours then stop at Arches National Park. Stay overnight.
The next day, drive for about 4.5 hours, then stop in Vail and stay overnight.
The next day, drive for about 5.5 hours, then stop in North Platte and stay for about 1 hour. Next, drive for another 4 hours then stop in Omaha. Stay overnight.
The next day, drive for about 2 hours, then stop in Des Moines and stay for about 1 hour.
Finally, drive for about 5 hours and arrive in Chicago.
To see all the details on this itinerary, including recommended restaurants, hotels, and things to do along the way, check out the full road trip planner:
In the quick calculation above, we assumed you had a private plane and just wanted to know the time in the air from city to city. But for most of us, we're going to be flying on a commercial airline (whether it's first class or coach). So that means we really need to account for all the extra travel time getting to the airport, waiting for our flight, and making it to the destination.
To give you a better estimate of real-life travel, we've put together a flight itinerary with actual airports. Eventually you'll be able to customize this plan, choosing your own airports and flights. But for now, here's an example we've selected to give you an idea of how traveling might work between airports.
Departure airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Arrival airport: Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
With the airports selected, we can estimate the travel time to and from the airport, based on how far the airport is from downtown.
Getting to the airport: 36 minutes
Getting to your destination: 47 minutes
Now finally, let's look at an actual flight from LAX to ORD on American Airlines and figure out how long it would take to fly including take-off and landing, and time to taxi on the runway.
Commercial flight time: 3 hours, 46 minutes
So now we can finally get an idea of the total travel time from Los Angeles to Chicago including time spent getting to/from the airports, an estimated wait time of 2 hours at the airport for TSA security lines and waiting at the gate, and the actual flight itself.
Total travel time: 7 hours
To see the details on this flight plan, including recommended airports, airline, and route, check out the flight planner:
Trippy has a ton of information that can help you plan your trip to Chicago, Illinois. Start by reading the Trippy page on where to stay in Chicago, or find out how many days in Chicago to visit. Trippy has an entire Q&A community where you can post questions and get answers from expert travelers or locals who know the area. For instance, you might be interested in the answers to this question: What's the best route to drive from Chicago to Los Angeles in winter. If you're looking for a place to stay, you might want to check out The James Chicago Hotel. A great place to eat might be Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. Trippy members can suggest things to do in Chicago like Millennium Park. Check out some of the questions people have asked about Chicago like What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?. Click the button below to explore Chicago in detail.
The distance is the same either way if you're flying a straight line (or driving the same roads back and forth). But for a real trip, there can be plenty of differences so go ahead and check the reverse directions to get the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles, or go to the main page to calculate the distance between cities.
If you happen to know Los Angeles, don't forget to help other travelers and answer some questions about Los Angeles!