Route 81/77 instead of 95 was definitely the way to go!

HeatherC

Alas...these people I live with ...
Joined
May 23, 2003
Just wanted to give an update on our drive from Massachusetts to Hilton Head, SC for any of you interested in the 81 route vs 95.

Because we were driving both ways on a Friday in the summer, we decided to take the 81/77 route. And it was GREAT!

We left our house in central MA at 3am on a Friday morning. We drove 84 to 684 to 287/87 over the Tappan Zee and stayed on 287 until Route 78 west to Harrisburg, PA. We then connected with 81 south. The ride was so easy. No traffic whatsoever until we hit Charlotte, NC around rush hour...which we knew ahead of time. We stopped there around 5pm and stayed at the Residence Inn on Tyvola Ave. We had dinner, free breakfast and were back on the road by 8am. We arrived in Hilton Head around noon.

Coming home we left Hilton Head at 6am and drove straight through to Massachusetts stopping only to use the bathroom and fill the gas tank. We took our time and even had a hotel reserved ahead of time. But the ride was so easy we decided to go all the way and arrived home at midnight. (18 hours exactly.)

While we were driving, we kept checking google maps on our phone with the traffic updates. We kept seeing 95 as all "red" with stopped traffic from DC up through NJ. Our route was green all the way! Definitely the right choice when traveling during the busy summer season on a Friday.

The route itself is so pretty with rolling hills and lots of farms and mountains. I wouldn't drive this way in the winter, but any other time of the year it is just great. The trucks were not a problem at all. They would pass on the left and immediately get back over to the right. Nothing at all like 95.

So even though it may be a little longer mileage wise, it is definitely the way we will go in the future. (Google maps has it as 45 minutes longer than 95).

Hope this helps someone else with their planning.

Happy travels!
 

KINGBOBOFTHENORTH

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
I-81 has a one stretch where you pass from Pennsylvania to Maryland to West Virginia and then Virginia, all within about a half hour. Really seems like you're "flying" when you hit that many states so quickly. And then in North Carolina there is that one stretch where I-77 is up in the mountains yet the entire valley is below you and the interstate drops down to the much lower altitude as it heads into Charlotte. I-81 is a great road and nowhere near the traffic (and cities) that one contends with along I-95.

BobK/Orlando
 

Robert P

GLOBEX - taking over your world one country at a t
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
Glad you had a good trip. We switched to the inland route from NC to Mass. several years back, and still think it's a better drive. Would love to know the toll savings going inland versus 95, if anyone else has that info.
 

HeatherC

Alas...these people I live with ...
Joined
May 23, 2003
Robert: The savings must be significant. The only toll we paid was the $5 toll on the Tappan Zee on the way home. Nothing on the way down.

I'm still amazed at how easy a ride it was...and beautiful to boot.
 

BigTigger

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
We drove from the Raleigh/Durham area of NC to central MA in May and per my EZ Pass account, we paid $25.80 in tolls for the Maryland to NYC stretch on I-95/NJTP. Here's the breakdown:

MD - Fort Mchenry Tunnel - $2.00
MD - Kennedy Memorial Highway tolls - $5.00
DE - Newark Plaza tolls - $4.00
NJ - Full length of NJ turnpike - $6.80
NY/NJ - George Washington bridge (peak time) - $8.00

We also paid $1.66 for the NY - New Rochelle toll and $1.10 for the MA Pike tolls from I-84 to I-495.

Looking at the same trip last August going south, the New Rochelle and GW bridge tolls aren't collected, but the Delaware Memorial Bridge toll is for $3.00. Going south, the NJTP is $9.05. Both trips on the NJTP were from exit 1 to exit 18W, I'm not sure why the southbound is more expensive.

Is the construction around Harrisburg on I-78 and just south of there on I-81 complete?
 

Robert P

GLOBEX - taking over your world one country at a t
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
We drove from the Raleigh/Durham area of NC to central MA in May and per my EZ Pass account, we paid $25.80 in tolls for the Maryland to NYC stretch on I-95/NJTP. Here's the breakdown:

MD - Fort Mchenry Tunnel - $2.00
MD - Kennedy Memorial Highway tolls - $5.00
DE - Newark Plaza tolls - $4.00
NJ - Full length of NJ turnpike - $6.80
NY/NJ - George Washington bridge (peak time) - $8.00

We also paid $1.66 for the NY - New Rochelle toll and $1.10 for the MA Pike tolls from I-84 to I-495.

Looking at the same trip last August going south, the New Rochelle and GW bridge tolls aren't collected, but the Delaware Memorial Bridge toll is for $3.00. Going south, the NJTP is $9.05. Both trips on the NJTP were from exit 1 to exit 18W, I'm not sure why the southbound is more expensive.

Is the construction around Harrisburg on I-78 and just south of there on I-81 complete?

Thanks for that information. I know going up inland route is $5 at the Tappanzee, and coming back we have @ $1 at the NJ/PA line, but that's it.

We're hitting that Harrisburg area heading North in August. I'll try to report back for an update.
 

ryankelli

Mouseketeer
Joined
Dec 28, 2009
We live right off of 81 just across the river from Harrisburg. It still is a little backed up now and then but not bad at all. Enjoy the drive.popcorn::
 

HeatherC

Alas...these people I live with ...
Joined
May 23, 2003
There is a little bit of construction south of Harrisburg...but it was really insignificant going both ways. Going down we hit Harrisburg around 9am and zipped right through the construction. Coming back we hit the area around 5 and also zipped through.

They have the left lane shifted over one lane with Jersey barriers which they made into express lanes. Means you can't exit for a couple miles from that lane. Really nothing to worry about from what we saw.
 

glen65

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Thanks. This looks like a great route. We live in the Lehigh Valley (Bethlehem, PA). We usually take 476 south to 95 in the Philly area. Going the 81 route is only 5 minutes longer. We're going to give that a try.
 

happily single

Left foot first!
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Can anyone point me in the right direction?? I need to get directions from RI to Orlando and would love to use the Route 81/77 the OP suggests
 

HeatherC

Alas...these people I live with ...
Joined
May 23, 2003
Hi There! OP here.

Coming from RI, I believe the easiest for you would be to take 95 to the Merritt Pkwy. You Basically want to go 87/287 over the Tappan Zee bridge and follow the directions from above.

I forget where/how the Merritt connects with 87/287, but google maps should show it.

Very easy to do. I think you will enjoy the ride.

Have a great trip!
 

glen65

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
This should do the trick...

Head northwest on I-287 W/I-87 N
Take exit 15 to merge onto I-287 S/NJ-17 S toward New Jersey
Take exit 21B to merge onto I-78 W toward Easton Pa
In Pa, 78 merges into 81. Merge onto I-81 S Passing through Maryland, West Virginia and into Virginia
Take exit 81 to merge onto I-77 S toward Charlotte NC Passing through North Carolina, Entering South Carolina
Keep left at the fork, follow signs for I-26 E/Charleston and merge onto I-26 E
Take exit 169A to merge onto I-95 S toward Savannah
 

happily single

Left foot first!
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Thank you!!! I was having a "duh" moment. As soon as I posted I simply used Mapquest and voila....directions:rotfl:
 

EpcotQueen

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 6, 2003
Thanks. This looks like a great route. We live in the Lehigh Valley (Bethlehem, PA). We usually take 476 south to 95 in the Philly area. Going the 81 route is only 5 minutes longer. We're going to give that a try.

We too live in Bethlehem and take the 81/77 route to go to our son's in Atlanta. Traffic easy even through Charlotte. Harrisburg, as mentioned, has construction with cattle shoots but that's the only spot. Driving down again for Easter. Will let all know if anymore construction zones. We may just try 422 to 76 which cuts across to 81 to avoid the Harrisburg mess.
 

glen65

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Hi Neighbor!

We're heading down in June. I'm looking forward to hearing about the construction after Easter.
Thanks
 

Girlie1

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 5, 2008
After much research, we took this route to DVC at HHI last summer. I was terrified of 95 due to a prior experience driving to FL many years ago. It was a very easy ride with plenty of rest areas and pretty scenery. We hit no traffic, even on the weekend. We are headed back that route this June for what now will be our annual family summer vacation :cool1:
 

EpcotQueen

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 6, 2003
Rest areas along the way are among the best. Clean, attractive, feel safe. We always stop for a picnic lunch during our drive south. When we take the dog along there's always plenty of doggie space. And....it really is a beautiful drive in parts!
 

Yankeemouse

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
so glad to hear about this route. We did the drive from Conn. down 95 once, total of 20 hrs. driving, and I really don't want to do it again, but if airfare stays as high as it is, then we may have no choice.
 

glen65

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
We've drove from the Lehigh Valley, PA to the Myrtle Beach area countless times and have almost always taken 95 straight down. I've never drove further south than that. This will be a nice change because this will make almost the entire trip have some new scenery.
 








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