"For 2,000+ Mile Round-Trip Drivers Only!" (Part V)

chepic

I tear up whenever I hear "Welcome Home."
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Hi everyone. We drove back from our march 2020 trip and loved the ride. We live in ma and didn’t have a plan, we drove until Richmond stopped and then made it home in about 8 hrs. Now this time we have a 20 month old. He LOVES the car but is he going to still love the car when he’s stuck in his seat for two days? Boy I hope so. My question is to other roadtrippers who’ve done it with toddlers or babies. We have two potential plans one is to leave mid day around nap time after lunch but this doesn’t put us into a great place for our overnight stop. Option 2 is to leave at bedtime about 7 or so. But then we are driving at night with impaired drivers and through the cities any tips? We know we’ve got I avoid rush hour in nyc, dc etc and we are leaving midweek so it’s something to contend with. Thanks for the help everyone. Happy driving.
Hello there. We haven't had a young one in years, but when we did, we always left RI at midnight and would drive straight through to Disney and be most of the time by 9 pm. Our 2 sons were great in the car and we just had plenty of things for them to do. My husband drove the entire trip and would stop when we needed gas, which is when we would get out of the van and let them run for a few minutes. Each child is different, but that always worked for us. When leaving, we would try for the same schedule, but if we ran late in the am, we would end up staying over in VA and then head the rest of the way the next morning. Good luck
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
My husband is all for driving straight through. He has made the trip all at once a few times when he was MUCH younger lol. I think leaving at night is best so we miss all the rush hour traffic and hopefully he will sleep. Our almost teenager can sleep anywhere these days 😂 so I’m not too worried about her. The current plan is just to drive until we need to stop. I just like to plan so that doesn’t scream good idea to me 😂
 

ddluvsdisney

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
My husband is all for driving straight through. He has made the trip all at once a few times when he was MUCH younger lol. I think leaving at night is best so we miss all the rush hour traffic and hopefully he will sleep. Our almost teenager can sleep anywhere these days 😂 so I’m not too worried about her. The current plan is just to drive until we need to stop. I just like to plan so that doesn’t scream good idea to me 😂
We drive from MA. When my kids were young we stopped in N.C. Nowadays we drive straight thru. It just seems that no matter when/ what time we left we ran into traffic issues.
For some strange reason the drive down is so much worse traffic wise. So weird!!
Good luck!!
 

ninafeliz

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 30, 2001
We’re on the middle of the drive from NW PA. We left at 7:15 this am and made it to our favorite stopover hotel in Pooler GA (essentially Savannah) at 10:15 pm. We hit traffic due to fender benders/rush hour/construction three times- north of Pittsburgh, Charlotte when the express lanes ended, and somewhere in SC not too far from here. I like getting the brunt of the drive done on day 1, but those last 4 hrs always take us longer than they should and feel even longer tomorrow! I hope traffic isn’t too bad tomorrow, we want to be on the road by 8:30. Earlier would be ideal, but we do have to actually sleep and it makes sense to eat breakfast here rather than having to stop again.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
I just watched paging mr.morrow’s new blog and he was driving back down from pa to Florida. I couldn’t believe how long it was from pa to Florida. I am glad you made it safely to your first stop. And soon you’ll be at Disney!! Safe travels, I hope it’s a nice ride for you.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
We drive from MA. When my kids were young we stopped in N.C. Nowadays we drive straight thru. It just seems that no matter when/ what time we left we ran into traffic issues.
For some strange reason the drive down is so much worse traffic wise. So weird!!
Good luck!!
When we drove home the traffic was AWFUL in CT. We go to Ct all the time and never had traffic like that lol. But The drive through the Carolinas was so long! Hubs wants to leave at night so the baby sleeps. Plus the traffic during rush hour here is awful so missing that might be nice. He’s a night owl and I’m still on baby waking up all night schedule, mostly because he just never seems to go more than a month or two sleeping through the night. 😂 I’m the only one who wants to stop in the Carolinas, but leaving at 6pm and driving until we can stop at a hotel we would be so close to Disney at that point.
 

bluezy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Hi everyone. We drove back from our march 2020 trip and loved the ride. We live in ma and didn’t have a plan, we drove until Richmond stopped and then made it home in about 8 hrs. Now this time we have a 20 month old. He LOVES the car but is he going to still love the car when he’s stuck in his seat for two days? Boy I hope so. My question is to other roadtrippers who’ve done it with toddlers or babies. We have two potential plans one is to leave mid day around nap time after lunch but this doesn’t put us into a great place for our overnight stop. Option 2 is to leave at bedtime about 7 or so. But then we are driving at night with impaired drivers and through the cities any tips? We know we’ve got I avoid rush hour in nyc, dc etc and we are leaving midweek so it’s something to contend with. Thanks for the help everyone. Happy driving.

We live in PA and have done many road trips including 9 trips to Disney. We never did the trips to Disney with a child under 4, but did several other trips when the kids were toddlers. We found driving during the day to work best for us...mostly because when we drove at night, the kids slept in the car for most of the ride and then when we arrived at our destination, they were wide awake and ready to start the day while DH & I were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Fortunately, when that happened, we were staying with relatives so they watched the kids while DH & I napped. That wouldn't work at Disney and that's one of the main reasons we never did the Disney (or any other) drive at night. We don't want to arrive at Disney exhausted...we know we need our energy for the week ahead. :D Also, we aren't thrilled with the idea of stopping at rest stops during the night. We try to stop either for a meal/snack or just a quick bathroom break every 2 hours just to stretch our legs. When the kids were little, we would play frisbee, bubbles, catch, etc. with them at the rest stop just to get them moving and a little tired out so they were more likely to sit quietly in their car seat while we were driving. We also didn't want to have to worry about having bad weather during the night while driving (neither one of us has any desire to drive in pouring rain in the dark even on roads we're familiar with. We certainly don't want to do it on I-95).

Our kids were all great in the car when they were little (well, except our youngest who hated the car for the first 18 months or so....but we try not to think about that) so we never really had any issues while traveling during the day. Can you leave earlier in the day and try to get the bulk of the driving done that first day? When we used to do the drive south in 2 days, we would pack the car at night, get some sleep, and get up and on the road by 5:00 am at the latest. The kids would stay in their pajamas and would usually sleep a few hours once we started the drive. We now do the drive south over 3 days. It's much more relaxing for us and gives us more flexibility with avoiding rush hour in major cities. We're fortunate that DH has a ton of vacation days at work and I don't work outside the home so we have the flexibility to take the extra day for travel. I know not everyone can do that. We still do the drive home over 2 days.

We just got back from a Disney trip yesterday and there is quite a bit of major road construction going on in VA and NC (I think that's where it was) and most of the areas are worked on during the night. The stuff that is worked on during the day didn't affect traffic. Our son also drove his family (5 yo and 5 mo) from PA but they left around 6pm and drove until midnight the first day. They got stuck in a total traffic shutdown due to construction in VA. They were at a complete stop for nearly 30 minutes because construction equipment was being moved and repositioned and they needed to use the traffic lanes to do that. During the day, our construction delays/slowdowns were less than 8 minutes (according to Waze) and traffic didn't come to a complete stop, we were just moving slowly for a few miles. We did have some other slow downs on the drive but never figured out what caused them -- they weren't in construction areas and there was no indication of accidents on any of the mapping services. Of course they were always either in an area with no Express Lanes or the slowdown started *after* the last entrance to the Express Lanes. :D Good luck with your drive!

We drive from MA. When my kids were young we stopped in N.C. Nowadays we drive straight thru. It just seems that no matter when/ what time we left we ran into traffic issues.
For some strange reason the drive down is so much worse traffic wise. So weird!!
Good luck!!

Isn't that the truth! We just got home from a Disney drive and the traffic on the drive down had way more traffic than the drive home. Both were during daytime hours on a week day. Why does that happen????
 

deedeew80

Dreaming of My Prince
Joined
May 28, 2004
My husband is all for driving straight through. He has made the trip all at once a few times when he was MUCH younger lol. I think leaving at night is best so we miss all the rush hour traffic and hopefully he will sleep. Our almost teenager can sleep anywhere these days 😂 so I’m not too worried about her. The current plan is just to drive until we need to stop. I just like to plan so that doesn’t scream good idea to me 😂
We have driven to Florida from NJ 4 times, 3 of those times to Disney, and 3 of those times with 2 kids. The first time we did it with kids, my youngest was 5 and my oldest was 7. So far, driving down, we drive straight through. We always say we are going to stop, but my husband (who does almost all of the driving) just wants to keep on going. On the way home, we always stop about halfway, which is usually at Fayetteville, NC. When we leave NJ, we like to leave around 4am and it has always worked great for us. When we arrive in Florida, we don’t go to our resort since check in is the following day. We just stay at a nearby hotel. The one we always stay at is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Apopka, FL, which is about 45 minutes outside of Disney. It’s a great, clean, affordable hotel. It’s also close to Walmart, Target, and other stores. So we always hit those up to get some supplies for the week. Anyway. My kids, and myself, are not car sleepers. So driving overnight would never work for us. If we leave NJ at 4am, we typically arrive to the hotel in FL around 8pm, depending on the drive and stops. Sometimes it’s been later, sometimes earlier. As for how to keep kids busy in the car, lots of activities, snacks, movies/tablets (if able). We have a bag that we only take on road trips to Disney and through the years (whether we have a trip planned or not) I pick up random things to put inside. The kids never usually see the things, so to them, it’s always new. The Dollar Tree has lots of great goodies! Travel games, puzzles, coloring books, etc. And when you stop for gas or food, let the kids get out and run around for a bit. Good luck and have a great trip!!
 

dvczerfs

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
I’ve made the drive a few times. Lol Last trip to Pa. was back in early Feb and I didn’t hit any traffic in either direction. But, it was winter time and a lot of people still weren’t traveling as they are now. I made the drive six times in 11 months last year including a trip with a loaded uhaul, all the trips alone except for the uhaul trip. Leaving at 2:30 am was always my time. Stopping in Kingsland Ga. for the night around 2:30-3:00 pm. Hitting the road the next day at 2:30am and pulling in around 5:30am or so.
I spent over 35 years on the road in sales, driving 40k a year for work so I kind of had a little experience.
My driving long haul days are over. In fact I wasn’t sure how I would do this February but it’s like riding a bike, as soon as I got behind the wheel and heading up 417, it was like the good old days.
Driving with kids was so long ago, I can’t be much help in that department.
Now, my drives are up I4 for seven miles till I hit exit 62, world drive.
The way back is usually after midnight and I can say, the traffic after midnight can be just as bad during the day. Lol
The longest drive I do anymore is up 417 to Sanford airport, parking, jumping on a plane and the reverse on the way home.
Looking back over all those years of driving, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Holy macaroni thank you all for the responses! So much information! I’m sad to think about all the wasted time on google. We are going in October do hopefully by then the VA construction is done. It made me chuckle thinking by back about my daughter, who I’ll be 13 soon LOATHED the car until she was 18 months. I worked when she was little and would just go go go on the days lol had off trudging to see family on both sides. It’s funny we had her so much earlier than our siblings on both sides. Now we had our son in feb 2021 and he LOVES the car but I am a sahm mom now so we don’t drive here there and everywhere anymore. Luckily my daughter outgrew hating the car she loves to take her kindle and a blanket and ride all day. Thanks for sharing all your tips and ideas. Loved the bubbles! I tend to be a worry wort and a pessimist but I’m going to go into this thinking only happy thoughts. In the end we are going to our favorite place in the world and it’s going to be awesome! Happy travels all!! 😀
 

KCMA

Mouseketeer
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
When we drove back in April it was the first time we planned to stop overnight on the way down.. we usually drove straight through ..it’s about 21-23 hour drive for us (East of Toronto) … two kids 9 and 12 who love the car and have been doing long distance roads trips since they were only a few months old.

It was nice to have that end point in the day already planned/hotel booked and not convincing ourselves to keep driving a bit more.. we left home at 3:20 am and arrived at our hotel in North Carolina around 4:30pm.. gave us tons of time to get a good dinner and stock up at the local Walmart and get a good night sleep and finish the 8-9 hour drive the next day. Pulled into the Poly around 2:30 feeling much better then what we would have if we drove straight through like previous trips

We are doing the same thing in three weeks when we head down again
 

ddluvsdisney

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
When we drove back in April it was the first time we planned to stop overnight on the way down.. we usually drove straight through ..it’s about 21-23 hour drive for us (East of Toronto) … two kids 9 and 12 who love the car and have been doing long distance roads trips since they were only a few months old.

It was nice to have that end point in the day already planned/hotel booked and not convincing ourselves to keep driving a bit more.. we left home at 3:20 am and arrived at our hotel in North Carolina around 4:30pm.. gave us tons of time to get a good dinner and stock up at the local Walmart and get a good night sleep and finish the 8-9 hour drive the next day. Pulled into the Poly around 2:30 feeling much better then what we would have if we drove straight through like previous trips

We are doing the same thing in three weeks when we head down again
Wow you made great time!
 

Stratman50th

Loving all things Fort Wilderness!
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
I read these posts and have to laugh. Well, smile at the memories anyway. We drove down to Florida/Disney once or twice a year from MD for many years. Like over 20. We would always convoy with my parents. Never drove straight through, always took two travel days. At first we'd stop someplace in the middle like Walterborough SC. Eventually we stretched it to Kingsland GA, just north of the Florida line. That made for a short trip to Disney on the second travel day. Did that for years until my parents died and we were on our own for the drive. After that we would make our first stop in Jacksonville to stay overnight with family, then a really short drive the next morning. Always left home on a Friday and arrived on a Saturday.
So we eventually bought an RV and towed a Tahoe. I can't say whether it was age (mine) or the extra stress in running down 95 in 65' of combined vehicle, but I just couldn't do those long hauls any longer. We split up the drives into 6hr stretches'. Maybe more, maybe less depending on where we were headed. (Disney was no longer a destination).
Several years ago we moved to Florida permanently and what's really funny is we only live about 25 minutes west of the property down 4, but don't go any longer. We've been to Fort Wilderness a couple of times but there's other places to go.
My point on writing this overlong, nostalgia filled post was just to think on how much age (mine) and time has affected how hard we are capable of pushing a drive.
 

sharadoc

Visit WDW since '86, driving since '94.
Joined
May 6, 2008
I read these posts and have to laugh. Well, smile at the memories anyway. We drove down to Florida/Disney once or twice a year from MD for many years. Like over 20. We would always convoy with my parents. Never drove straight through, always took two travel days. At first we'd stop someplace in the middle like Walterborough SC. Eventually we stretched it to Kingsland GA, just north of the Florida line. That made for a short trip to Disney on the second travel day. Did that for years until my parents died and we were on our own for the drive. After that we would make our first stop in Jacksonville to stay overnight with family, then a really short drive the next morning. Always left home on a Friday and arrived on a Saturday.
So we eventually bought an RV and towed a Tahoe. I can't say whether it was age (mine) or the extra stress in running down 95 in 65' of combined vehicle, but I just couldn't do those long hauls any longer. We split up the drives into 6hr stretches'. Maybe more, maybe less depending on where we were headed. (Disney was no longer a destination).
Several years ago we moved to Florida permanently and what's really funny is we only live about 25 minutes west of the property down 4, but don't go any longer. We've been to Fort Wilderness a couple of times but there's other places to go.
My point on writing this overlong, nostalgia filled post was just to think on how much age (mine) and time has affected how hard we are capable of pushing a drive.
We've been driving since the 90s from PA to WDW and just got back last week. On our way home we decided to break up into 3 days, 6 hours each. It was better for us, and next time we go we should be retired and have all the time we need. We can't handle the 10-12 hour drives any more.

We use 81, 77 rather than 95 which is less stressful traffic wise avoiding major cities, but more stressful truck wise.

We're considering the train but next trip won't be until 12/23 most likely so plenty of time to decide.

@dvczerfs @BC1836 would love to have a reunion!
 

Stratman50th

Loving all things Fort Wilderness!
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
We've been driving since the 90s from PA to WDW and just got back last week. On our way home we decided to break up into 3 days, 6 hours each. It was better for us, and next time we go we should be retired and have all the time we need. We can't handle the 10-12 hour drives any more.

We use 81, 77 rather than 95 which is less stressful traffic wise avoiding major cities, but more stressful truck wise.

We're considering the train but next trip won't be until 12/23 most likely so plenty of time to decide.

@dvczerfs @BC1836 would love to have a reunion!
You must be far enough west (Pittsburg area?) to where the 81, 77 route makes sense. We were pretty far east, actually east of 95 so us going to 81 didn't work out. We have used it to go to Tennessee though. I like it but again, when we were driving to Florida pretty far out of the way.
EDIT: I just looked up where you're at and it's almost right in between 81 and 95 so you could pick either and work your way down.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
When we drove back in April it was the first time we planned to stop overnight on the way down.. we usually drove straight through ..it’s about 21-23 hour drive for us (East of Toronto) … two kids 9 and 12 who love the car and have been doing long distance roads trips since they were only a few months old.

It was nice to have that end point in the day already planned/hotel booked and not convincing ourselves to keep driving a bit more.. we left home at 3:20 am and arrived at our hotel in North Carolina around 4:30pm.. gave us tons of time to get a good dinner and stock up at the local Walmart and get a good night sleep and finish the 8-9 hour drive the next day. Pulled into the Poly around 2:30 feeling much better then what we would have if we drove straight through like previous trips

We are doing the same thing in three weeks when we head down again
I really feel like that’s a better way to do it. We are always flip flopping back and forth. Can I ask what hotel you stayed at? We were aiming to make it to South Carolina or Georgia but I’m curious how the hotels are as of late on the way down . Hope you have a great trip.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
I read these posts and have to laugh. Well, smile at the memories anyway. We drove down to Florida/Disney once or twice a year from MD for many years. Like over 20. We would always convoy with my parents. Never drove straight through, always took two travel days. At first we'd stop someplace in the middle like Walterborough SC. Eventually we stretched it to Kingsland GA, just north of the Florida line. That made for a short trip to Disney on the second travel day. Did that for years until my parents died and we were on our own for the drive. After that we would make our first stop in Jacksonville to stay overnight with family, then a really short drive the next morning. Always left home on a Friday and arrived on a Saturday.
So we eventually bought an RV and towed a Tahoe. I can't say whether it was age (mine) or the extra stress in running down 95 in 65' of combined vehicle, but I just couldn't do those long hauls any longer. We split up the drives into 6hr stretches'. Maybe more, maybe less depending on where we were headed. (Disney was no longer a destination).
Several years ago we moved to Florida permanently and what's really funny is we only live about 25 minutes west of the property down 4, but don't go any longer. We've been to Fort Wilderness a couple of times but there's other places to go.
My point on writing this overlong, nostalgia filled post was just to think on how much age (mine) and time has affected how hard we are capable of pushing a drive.
Awww I love this post. Thank you for sharing it. I’m hoping this starts a tradition for us too. My mom is coming with us, no one in my family shares our love for Disney. I always joke with my husband how I wish we lived in Florida but I know I couldn’t take the heat. We have had horrible storms here in MA since 330 am. I couldn’t live with those day in and day out. Plus I like the memories trips bring us. I do bet fort wilderness is a fun experience. We would go to northern Maine every summer as kids and it was about a 6 hr drive or so. I remember dreading that drive lol. When I got older our trips became shorter and shorter and then the drive seemed too long for those two day trips. Now since Covid we would take long drives just to get out of the house for a day lol and turn around and go home. The worlds ever changing. I hope you have a great day. Thank you again for sharing. Enjoy those palm trees.
 

frapdawn

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
We've been driving since the 90s from PA to WDW and just got back last week. On our way home we decided to break up into 3 days, 6 hours each. It was better for us, and next time we go we should be retired and have all the time we need. We can't handle the 10-12 hour drives any more.

We use 81, 77 rather than 95 which is less stressful traffic wise avoiding major cities, but more stressful truck wise.

We're considering the train but next trip won't be until 12/23 most likely so plenty of time to decide.

@dvczerfs @BC1836 would love to have a reunion!
That’s great to know. 95 is a highway I know well, drove it day in and day out for work so I’m kind of used to it, but trucks terrify me lol. I’m hopeful that a nighttime drive through the big cities works out. It’s fun to read everyone’s stories. And what works for them. It’s such a nice drive. We loved it. But we did it on a friday night into a Saturday so northeast traffic wasn’t bad at all. The worst traffic the entire trip was an accident in the Carolinas. This resulted in a really really nightmarish rest stop. There really needs to be better emergency car toilets. This search has consumed my Amazon account as of late. 😂
 









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