I haven't done the drive from western PA, but from the Scranton area I like to take rt. 84 all the way to Mass. then 90 to 290 to 495, then 95 on into Maine. This avoids a lot of the traffic slowdown spots.
You can avoid even more of the traffic choke-points by investing a little more time in a route we often (almost always) use these days.... From your starting point in western PA, make your way to Harrisburg by whatever route works best for you. From Harrisburg, take I-81 north to Scranton-Wilkes Barre, where you'll pick up I-84 east toward New York State and Connecticut.
Take I-84 east to where it intersects with I-87 north toward Albany. Take I-97 north (not quite all the way to Albany) to signs for the New England Spur, providing connections to I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike). Take I-90 east to I-495 (we avoid using the I-290 loop through Worcester, MA because of several bad experiences with local traffic congestion in downtown Worcester). I-495 north gets you around Boston without getting close enough to ecxperience any of its traffic congestion. I-495 literally dumps you onto I-95 north toward New Hampshire and on into Maine. This route will add a few miles and a few (but not many) dollars in tolls, but you'll avoid all of the congestion that I-84 traffic experiences as it goes through Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford, CT.... Except for a stretches near Harrisburg, Scranton-Wilkes Barre and Springfield (MA), we find that our route is generally a speed-limit, set the cruise control and relax kind of drive.
A good overnight stop (again, one we use on almost all of our trips south from New England) is the Hampton Inn in Middletown, New York, a short ways west of the junction of I-84 and I-87. It has very, very easy access to and from I-84, offers a very good breakfast as part of the room rate, and has three good restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel. Not sure where you're starting in western PA, so can't guess accurately how long it will take you to get there, but I can tell you that (for your planning the next day), we generally say that if we're on I-95 in Augusta, Maine by 10:00AM, we're at the Hampton Inn - Middletown by suppertime, with the usual number of pit stops, gas stops etc along the way....
thanks everyone - will have to check out the routes further
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