Driving from Houston to Orlando..advice needed please!

Discussion in 'Disney World Tips' started by pktbMouse, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. dspud

    dspud Earning My Ears

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    Laredo Transplant (originally from central Illinois) here. My wife and I are driving from Laredo with our 2 year old daughter to Houston on June 7. June 8 we pick up my 6 year old neice flying in from Illinois about 10:30 A.M. and plan on driving to pennsecola or destin. We plan on spending June 9 at the Beach before tackling the rest of the trip to Orlando June 10. Our preferred method of travel is driving unless for time will not allow it. We have a Dodge Grand Caravan though so it makes it nice.

    For a beach day on the way down there, are there any other good locations along the panhandle that might be a little cheaper than destin? Seems that area is a little high for lodging.

    Flying to Disney with two children might save a little time and hassle, but will eat a better part of a GRAND of cash. Thats just to much money for the small hassle as far as I am concerned. At least when the total trip is only 15-18 hours total.
     
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  3. Disney Mommy 3

    Disney Mommy 3 DIS Veteran

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    Check out Gulf Shores, Alabama...I have lots of friends who take their vacations here and don't bother with Destin anymore,...they say it's the same great beaches, but without all the hoopla and expense of Destin,..I am sure there are more activities in Destin, but if it's a great beach experience you are looking for--and headed to WDW that's the highlight!!-I think you would enjoy GS!!! In fact, we are looking into taking a vaca there this summer... I know Destin is 'more thrill's" but I would really just like a vaca where the kids play in the sand and I don't do anything!!!:rotfl:
     
  4. Hootch

    Hootch DIS Veteran

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    the Gulf coast at least once a year and have tried to mix up our vacation spots.

    Gulf Shores/Orange Beach is calmer than Destin by far. There are a couple of decent restaurants there. This is our most common excursion since it is closest to our house. We're probably heading down there over Memorial Day weekend.

    Pensacola is easy access. I-10 runs very close to the beach and there is a spur that runs withing a couple of miles of Santa Rosa Island.

    Destin/Ft Walton is just too crowded for me. I have had to sit through two and three lights on 98 during late afternoon. We avoid if possible.

    98 A - there are a number of small towns along 98A between Destin and Panama City. There are more houses and condos than hotels.

    Panama City - A couple of years ago we spent three nights in Panama City Beach after our Disney trip. We stayed at the Sunspree which is a Holiday Inn hotel. It's great with kids. They have activities for kids during the day and movies by the pool at night. There is a miniature golf place next to it. That trip we only left the property for dinner. The rates are not cheap but they usually give you kids eat free coupons and ocassionally free drink coupons.

    The Forgotten Coast - east of Panama City. There is a hotel on St George's Island (I think the Bucanner). That is a really relaxing area. I would love to go back. My wife isn't of the same mind. We were there when a hurrican came through and the beaches were pretty messed up.
     
  5. punch57

    punch57 Mouseketeer

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    We get about a 4 hour head start on y'all. The last time we drove to WDW was 1997 !!! Myself DW DS DD, DBNL DSNL DN in our Ford Aerostar !!! We drove it straight through, that van was so overloaded it was not funny. I10 @ 90 miles per hour with the gas pedal to the floor. It was a trip I will never forget. We usually fly now. But with the airfair for our May trip costing $308 each we may drive next time. :moped: :car:
     
  6. pktbMouse

    pktbMouse DIS Veteran

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    Thank you all for your advice.... for our way down to Orlando, I did some research and checked reviews and I have a list of good hotels (all under $95 a night with a pool and free hot breakfast!) starting from Biloxi all the way to Tallahassee (didnt book anything, just going to call on the road). We will see how far we can get before we stop. On the way back we booked 2 nights at the Days Inn Panama city beach for a little beach rest before heading home. We are leaving Friday 4th May, around 7am when we check the dogs in for boarding, coming back 14th May. We have hired a mini van for the trip so it should give us more room and be a little more comfy. We will see how it goes...Im sure the trip will be fine..having said that we may be flying again next year no matter what the cost!! We could have flown for the same money but the vacation would have only been 6 days long in total. Driving definitely gave us more nights and allowed us to stay in the CBR as opposed to last year when we stayed in POP. My 9yrs olds birthday is coming up next week so we are getting him an Ipod and filling it with games. We have the little tv for the car, new DVD's, games for the DS, hubbys has put stuff on the Ipad and I am buying little games and stuff and putting them in a box. Again thank you all for your advice...if you can think of anything else, please let me know. I will be sure to tell you guys how the trip went.:thumbsup2
     
  7. Mamiamjo

    Mamiamjo "M-I-C... S-E"

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    We have driven a few times but prefer to fly. On the last trip that we drove, we stopped in Pensacola on the way down and then I think it was Biloxi on the way back. We have also driven straight through before, but I have trouble staying awake all night driving, so we only did that twice. The next two times we drove, stopping around half way. One other trip, we took some extra time and spent a few days in PCB (nice beach) before heading to WDW. Since then we have flown each time, but if airfare continues to get crazy like it has been, we may need to drive more often.


    Good Luck and have a great trip!
     
  8. dspud

    dspud Earning My Ears

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    I think I may take your advice, we are JUST looking for a beach day, so that sound great!
     
  9. perdidochas

    perdidochas DIS Veteran

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    I live in Pensacola. Pensacola is the place on the Panhandle where I-10 gets closest to the beach. That's a pretty good idea.
     
  10. FloridaFun

    FloridaFun Mouseketeer

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    I loved reading all the driving tips. Personally, we love to drive vs. flying as we like to have our own mini van while at Disney World. We make set stops along the way and pack a picnic lunch which we eat at a neighborhood park. This way the kids get to run around and play while getting something better than McDonald's.

    I also love audio books as mentioned in another post. Check you local library as ours has a number of them on little MP3 players that you can check out like a normal book. We also get them on CD that the whole family can enjoy listening too.

    Enjoy!
     
  11. trishwal

    trishwal Convince me to take our family to Disneyland.

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    Our kids are 11 and 15, and on the last day of school at early release we're high-tailing it to New Orleans (should check in to a hotel at 9ish, just in time to go enjoy a little nightlife!). We plan on seeing the morning sights until after lunch the next day and then driving and spending the night at a HoJo in....wait for it...... Midway, Florida. Looks nice, decent reviews, less than $100 per night.

    On the way back we've found we JUST WANT TO GET HOME so we'll probably try to switch out drivers and do it all in one day. We have two days, just in case.
     
  12. WishUponAStar

    WishUponAStar Mouseketeer

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    We drive from Sulphur, LA (2 hours East of Houston) and have done it several ways. Leave at 7:00 and drive it all the way, half way, or stop one hour away. Each had advantages and disadvantages. You can leave early and drive until the kids can't take it anymore, use your phone to make a priceline ressie. McDonalds and truckstops have hotel discount books. We have left at 9:00pm, driven all night taking turns and arriving tired but early, check in and head to the parks for a few hours before napping. Kids sleep all night, don't need to be fed or need as many bathroom stops. We have left at 3:00 am, drive until breakfast and our first gas stop 4 1/2 to 5 hours (Mobile, AL for me). Stop at fast food places that have play grounds give the kids a chance to eat and run for a while. On our last two trips we have left at 3:00am driven all day and gotten a priceline room at a retirement place called The Villages. It is one hour away. Spend the night, wake up and in one hour you are checking in at your WDW resort. Stopping halfway, between Pensacola and Tallahasee, still leaves another full day of driving. Kids don't look forward to two days on the road. We have left at midnight. Driving at night offers several advantages- less traffic, cooler, few big trucks, no construction or delays, stopping at large well lit truck stops for gas is good too at night. Disadvantages are that it is night. Car trouble is always a fear. At any rate it is 12-13 hours from Sulphur (843 miles) if done nonstop. Figure in any gas stops, meal stops, restroom breaks and you can determine your arrival time. I made a spreadsheet with driving times and distances from my area if anyone is interested email me at epcot1988@yahoo.com
     
  13. bwang123

    bwang123 Posts: 1,457,177,981

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    we are in northwest houston and have driven the past 2 years, most recent being the 2nd week of March (with a 5 & 1 year old).

    as someone mentioned, do what you can to avoid baton rouge around 4pm on a weekday. the past 2 years, we got caught up in it and will make sure we don't in the future. also, this past March, there was construction right after 210 near L'Auberge. We took 210 and avoided heavy congestion and saved tons of time. I would check on the status of that and plan accordingly.

    the first year, we stopped in Pensacola for the night, went to the beach in the early morning and then headed to Orlando. the kids loved it. On the way back, we drove straight to the house, leaving Orlando early AM.

    this march, we brought a small cooler with food so we limited our stops to mostly bathroom breaks. we stopped in Biloxi (probably should have driven further) but we found a cheap hotel and ended up getting there earlier than expected. So, we went to sleep early and left about 5am and drove to Orlando. We arrived in the afternoon, checked in and had a lot of time to spend at Magic Kingdom. On the way back, we stayed in Pensacola and went to the beach.
     
  14. vwaller72

    vwaller72 Mouseketeer

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    We leave Houston at about noon so we are always hitting Baton Rouge in that rush hour window. It's absolutely killer. This year I've been watching the traffic patterns around 4:30 in Baton Rouge online and trying to find a way around it.
     
  15. RobertLC

    RobertLC Mouseketeer

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    For our trip from Long Beach, MS to Orlando, my wife got so worked up and excited over the trip that she compiled a spreadsheet of every exit and rest area along the way, complete with which brands of gas was sold at the exits.

    I'm sure I could get you a copy if you had use of such a thing.
     
  16. WishUponAStar

    WishUponAStar Mouseketeer

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    I did something similar with truck stops on a spread sheet. Do a search for truck stops such as Flying J, Loves, etc. Sort by state and it shows which are on major highways or interstates, exit numbers and if they have a restaurant or not. You can plan gas stops, meals, bathroom breaks, etc. Of course a GPS can do almost the same but I like having a piece of paper in my hand.
     
  17. jordancej

    jordancej Howdy from the Great State of Texas!

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    Howdy from Sugar Land! I just wanted to say Hi, and have a great trip! :)
     
  18. jordancej

    jordancej Howdy from the Great State of Texas!

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    Dup post
     
  19. Butterbunkins

    Butterbunkins Mouseketeer

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    DH hates to fly so we drive from Chicago. The first time we did it we drove straight through. Of course this was with no kids - just us. But we would never do that again.

    We love road trips so driving was not a problem for us. And for long road trips especially we like to leave at night. We switch off and there is much less traffic at night. Our straight through drive was fine (except hitting Atlanta during AM rush hour) until we hit the Florida border. Then we got really tired. But we still okay to drive and since we were so close we didn't want to stop so we pushed on. We arrived in the early afternoon, but that day was still shot for us because we were so exhusted. On the way home we stopped when we got tired and it ended up being a perfect spot for us to stop so we always make that our overnight on the way home now.

    Now on the way out there we make a few stops and make it part of our vacation. It makes the trip more enjoyable without being so tired to start the trip. Out last trip we stopped in Gatlinburg for 2 nights since DH had never been there. Then one night in Daytona Beach so we could watch the sunrise and so we would only have a short drive to WDW.

    For our upcoming trip we are camping for one night about 6 hours from home. It's where we got married and we are leaving the night before so we can arrive really early and have a nap and then the whole day. The next morning we are driving to just outside Knoxville (about 5 hours away) to stay with family for the night. Then that next morning we will have a long drive going the rest of the way to WDW with a scenic detour through the Smokeys. Then we are just camping and relaxing at FW for 2 nights before we meet up with the rest of the family at BWV and start touring the parks.

    Make the drive part of our vacation has really helped to make our time at WDW more enjoyable.
     
  20. jpthom17

    jpthom17 magic for me

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    We depart from the Cypress area on May 4th too! Taking our grandaughers (9 & 7) for their first trip to Disney. We plan on leaving at 4:00 a.m. on the 4th and go to just east of Tallahassee. The next morning leave around 8:00 and head on to Disneyworld. Coming home we will stop in Biloxi then back to Houston. We are pulling our fifth wheel and will be staying at Fort Wilderness. Have a great trip!!
     
  21. BunBun

    BunBun Mouseketeer

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    Howdy Neighbor! I'm from Conroe, not too far at all!

    I do have a question though - I saw that you are bringing your 5th wheel and my eyes just about bugged out of my head. Might I ask why you would bring the camper that far with the cost of gas? I have to wonder if you could stay in a pretty fancy on site hotel with the premium dining plan for the cost of hauling it! We upgraded from a large pop-up to a small-ish 5th wheel last summer, but I'm almost regretting it with the cost of fuel. (And, I hate backing the new one up, but that's a whole new topic!)

    I'm just being nosy, if the question is too intrusive I would surely understand. :goodvibes
     

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