88 Was fine last September. I personally do not like 86, but that is just a personal thing. After Albany you really should do what smildrum said. You will make up in travel time, the little south you travel on the MA Pike. Just make sure you take 290 north (Exit 10 off the Pike) and you will never see Boston. Summer traffic on roads to ME is heavy whichever route you take. Avoiding Fridays going and Sundays returning will make the whole experience better.
Have a great trip. It is beautiful country.
Since I live in blueberry country here in Mich I would be much more interested in the many lobster sales at every little river near the ocean. My daughter was with us on our last trip and she had lobster for 7 meals in a row. (including breakfast). You could also go through Ontario up to the Thousand Islands and avoid a lot of toll roads. I used to live in Jackson so I know that area well. No, I didn't live at 4000 Cooper street. (state prison)
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Bring lots of small bills for tolls. I did the interstate route to NS last year, my recollection is constant toll roads connected by very short stretches of non toll road. I think it was around $50 - $60, and I was driving a car. The ring road bypass around Boston is quite unpleasant, particularly on the west bound route. All in all, I didn't enjoy it much, but the rest of the trip was pleasant, particularly after you get into NH and Maine and into Canada.
I make the trip to Maine and back every year. Mass TPK is by far the fastest way for you to go. Much slower, but interesting is to go north from Albany, then cut across thru Vermont and New Hampshire. Scenic but very slow. And all the twists and turns and small towns will add up to more miles unless you can spread wings and go as the crow flies. There are no high speed routes East/West thru Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine because of the topography and low demand (except in summer). I've tried most of the back roads and they are fine but will take you an extra day or two. The only Interstate in Maine is I95 which runs roughly North/South and is easy driving except of summer weekends when the traffic is bumper to bumper. Looking on a map you will see that there are no strait roads East/West in Maine. They are all two lane wigglers that follow ridges and river valleys. They loop around the many big lakes and other geographical obstacles and connect thru every small town along the way. A favorite saying in Maine is "you can't get there from hear". Its especially true along the coast. Go slow and eat lobster!
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