We're Actually Going to Drive

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Joined: 09/01/2011
Posts: 22482
We're Actually Going to Drive

I made a rental car reservation for my June WDW trip and now I'm a little freaked out. It's been a good 16 years since I've made the long drive, and we've moved since then so google maps is telling me to go an entirely different direction than I'm used to in order to cut hours off of my trip. However it puts me on roads I haven't traveled before, and some of them do not look like major highways.

My goal for the first day is going to be to Make it from Rockford, IL to Macon, GA. The map says 13 hours. Macon is where my Mom always stopped when we were kids so I figured it would be a good choice. From Macon to WDW it looks like it's just another 5 hours. So the second day of driving should be shorter and very manageable.

My biggest issue is that travel is physically hard on my body because of my fibromyalgia. I think I can drive for about 6 hours before I need pain medication, then my husband will have to take over. The kids are still under 21 so they can't share in the driving due to the rental agreement.

Should I opt for more hours on bigger roads that I know? How many breaks should I plan on? Will it be even more torturous time wise if I have to stop and stretch every 2-3 hours? How much time should I schedule for breaks? Should I book a hotel room in Macon for the night I plan on being there?

What's your advice for driving to Disney?

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Joined: 01/02/2013
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I have driven to WDW from Montreal, Quebec three times and we are planning another drive in May 2013. The first two trips we had children riding with us (wife & I) that were teens. The more recent in July 2010 was just the two of us.

Because of worries (well founded ) of the kids' restlessness we stopped twice overnight on the way down on the first trip. For the second we had only our 15 year old (at the time) and only stopped once in North Carolina.

In 2010 (and what we are planning to repeat in 2013) we stopped every four hours to stretch out to make sure we stayed fresh and didn't get overly stiff. The drive (if all goes well) is a combined 24 hours. On occasion we switched drivers at these intervals as well. It would depend on what the next stop was (meal, snack or just a stretch) and how fresh we were.

If either of us were too strained to continue, we'd take a longer break. This is supposed to be a vacation and we wanted to arrive in shape to enjoy.

We tried as much as possible to start early in the day and avoid as much as possible night driving.

For trip #1 and #2 we left the after spending a day in the parks. That was a mistake. For #3 and the upcoming #4 we'll leave early the following day or go a short distance and stay at a roadside motel just after exiting the state of Florida on I95.

Eeyore's picture
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Joined: 11/22/2012
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We have a 7.5 hour drive and I usually nap for a good 5 hours... laugh

Poor hubby drives most of the time. We usually stop for P breaks and stop to eat at a restaurant for lunch. It all depends on what tim we want to arrive. I would say listen to your body, you know it better than anyone else, and stop when you feel like you need to.

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Joined: 10/29/2009
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Our drive is 16 hours. We try to do 12 the first day. We do stop about every two hours. We do stop for lunch and dinner as well. Most of our stops are proabably no longer than 5-10 minutes. Just long enough to get out and walk around a bit. We do not make reservations for our overnight stay as we never know how far we will get that first day.

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Joined: 06/27/2012
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my drive is only 7.5 (or actually a bit longer if I drive the speed limit biggrin ). I actually enjoy the drive...I play my Disney CDs in the car. I also do stop every couple of hours for no more than 5 mins, like Scrappy said, to stretch. I even bring my own lunch along in my cooler so I can graze as I ride down the road without a 30 min plus stop to eat.

I like driving as others said, to have lots of options for when I want to arrive/leave a park, shop at DDT, go to Mass at that gorgeous church off Vineland, and to pack food/drinks in my car for my park days. I have actually come back out to my car at Epcot to grab my lunch, taken it back in, and eaten it near the fountain while enjoying the view. And let's not forget the bringing home souveniers thing...which is why food is packed in coolers. mickey

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Becks534's picture
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Joined: 12/17/2011
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What route do you currently have? I checked from your house to WLV and I got:

1. 39 south to Bloomington
2. 74 east to Champaign
3. 57 south to the junction with 24 outside of Carbondale
4. 24 through a bit of Kentucky and all of Tennessee
5. Pick up 75 south in Chattanooga through Georgia
6. 75 to Florida's Turnpike to 429 and yay you're there!

Except for steps 1 & 2, I've driven this exact route in the not too distant past (summer 2011). All the roads are major interstates and in decent repair and I don't recall any major construction. The biggest challenge really is the length of the drive and going through Nashville and Atlanta. (Best strategy - slow down and just let the locals go around you.) I'd say listen to your body and stop when you need to stop. You don't need to push and as long as you're there by Saturday(ish) everything will be fine. I do think it would be wise to collect some easy yoga stretches that work for you and yes - we BOTH need to get back on the physical training wagon. I'd also suggest that you leave as early in the morning as you can stand - 3:30/4:00 am even. I've found that my body and brain are doing the boring quiet bits on autopilot and by the time it's 10:00 am I'm out of my home turf but awake, still fresh and paying attention.

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Joined: 02/06/2012
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What's the big deal? I drive there all the time. Oh wait, it is going to take more than an hour? Sorry, I am the wrong person to advise on this.

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Joined: 05/07/2012
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I drive from Jersey to around Florence, SC, about 11 hours or so ( including a stop or 2). That leaves me about a 6 hour ride to WDW. My rooms ready by then, I can nap, make my first dinner reservation, and maybe hit Downtown, before I retire for the evening. The next day starts the actual vacation.

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Joined: 09/01/2011
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Thanks everyone! I think we've got a decent plan coming together.

Becks534 wrote:
What route do you currently have? I checked from your house to WLV and I got:
3. 57 south to the junction with 24 outside of Carbondale
4. 24 through a bit of Kentucky and all of Tennessee

This was one of the route options I got that I wasn't sure of. If you say it's major highway then I'm sure I won't have a problem. The other one took me to Terra Haute and then south on what I know to be a smaller road. I'll stick with this route then. I'll be happy if I don't have to add the extra two hours to Chicago and then south.

Becks534 wrote:
I'd also suggest that you leave as early in the morning as you can stand - 3:30/4:00 am even. I've found that my body and brain are doing the boring quiet bits on autopilot and by the time it's 10:00 am I'm out of my home turf but awake, still fresh and paying attention.

I told Geordon that I want to leave about 4am and that he can climb in the back seat of the van and sleep the first few hours if he wants to (which he will). The kids and I have done the road to Bloomington enough for me to be perfectly comfortable on it.

As far as switching I thought I would drive until I couldn't any more, but DH thinks that switching out every couple of hours will help to keep me limber and comfortable. I'm going to split Scrappy's 2 hours and icjonsson's 4 hours and plan on taking a break every 3 hours. That should keep me comfortable with the gas in the tank as well. I'll probably plan on in about 15-20 minute stops.

scrappy wrote:
We do not make reservations for our overnight stay as we never know how far we will get that first day.

This is what I'm struggling with right now. I really want to make sure we stop at a hotel with a hot tub, so that I can take a good soak after the long ride. But there's this little voice in my head reminding me that we may not actually make Macon!

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Joined: 01/04/2013
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We live north of Atlanta, and take the end part of your route every time we travel, and take I-75 through Tennessee a lot too. Once you're on 75, you shouldn't have a problem finding a decent hotel with the amenities you need. Just stick with companies you know and exits that look safe and well populated. My only advice would be to be careful if you decide to stop IN downtown Atlanta. Some areas are better than others, but the suburbs (north and south of the city) should be fine. It's only about 7-7.5 hours for us (again, it should be longer if we drove the speed limit, but who can control themselves when WDW is on the other end of the road?!), so you're still not too far away, even if you stop for the night north of Atlanta. Have fun and good luck!

Kristen K.'s picture
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LFranco wrote:
(again, it should be longer if we drove the speed limit, but who can control themselves when WDW is on the other end of the road?!)

My husband "kindly" reminded me yesterday that I drive like a "bat out of hell" on an expressway and that I probably shouldn't fret about the estimated travel times. laugh

I'm so happy I have everyone here to bounce ideas off of. I'm really starting to feel a lot more comfortable with the whole idea of driving. The kids (ages 19, 18 & 13) are getting pretty excited too, which is great because when I first told them we were driving I was met with death stares.

Now, I need to look for our old car top carrier to stash the luggage in (we'll have a lot of extra stuff for this trip) or see about buying a new one. Hrmmm, I wonder if there's any way we can request a roof rack from the car rental company. I may have to rethink that at the last minute.

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Joined: 01/08/2013
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You can do it! My husband and I made the 20+ hour drive (including gas stops) from Oklahoma in November...the day after Thanksgiving! Drove alllllll night and made it to DW around 4 or so the next day.

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Kristen we drive down from PA 3 times a years now and I don't mind it it a bit. For us it's 95 all the way. If we leave on Friday at around noon, we go till about 9 pm stopping for dinner and a few rest stops, get a room at Hampton Inn for the night and pull into Disney between noon & 3pm on Saturday. It's around 16 hours on the road for us, give or take.