For those folks driving!

bluezy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Due to everything going on my fiance and I will be driving down for the first time EVER for our July trip! I am looking forward to going through all the resources here to get us ready to go!

We are driving down from Philadelphia!
We've made the drive from about an hour north of Philly many times. We do the I-95 route because my husband does the driving and he doesn't mind the Wilmington/DC/Baltimore/Richmond traffic. Honestly, once you're past Richmond it's like you're "home free" until Jacksonville. :D In 9 drives, we've only had 2 bad slowdowns in the DC area. One was a major accident that had both sides of I-95 closed for 8-9 hours. We knew about the accident before we even left home but figured since it would take us a few hours to get to that area, everything would be cleared up by the time we got there. It wasn't. We didn't realize just *how* serious the accident was -- there were numerous fatalities. :( While we routed around that with Waze or Google Maps, so did everyone else since they were forcing everyone off of the highway. So we were on alternate highways and back roads with thousands of cars and trucks. It literally took us 30 minutes to move a mile through a small town. I think the total detour was about 12 miles but cost us about 2 hours of time. The other delay (different trip) was not as significant and was in the days before GPS/mapping apps. And it was our fault -- we left later than we had planned to and hit DC around 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. Yeah, we weren't thinking and should have taken a different route. If you have EZ Pass, they have (toll) express lanes through the DC area that can skirt you around the heavy traffic -- just be careful as those tolls can add up quickly. They fluctuate based on the time of day and the amount of traffic. We quickly racked up about $20 in tolls to bypass about 10 miles of heavy traffic. It was worth it, but there can be some sticker-shock involved. We have also breezed through DC with almost no traffic and no slow downs. It's just the luck of the draw.

For our drives we used to leave home around 4:30-5:00 a.m. We stop for bathroom breaks and get out of the car and go in to a restaurant for lunch (usually something like Panera or Cracker Barrel). We're not "commando" drivers. We usually arrived in Savannah, GA by about 7:00 p.m. We'd get a room and then either head out for dinner or have pizza delivered to the room. We'd hit the road by about 7 or 8:00 a.m. and have about a 4 hour drive to Disney. We prefer to drive during daylight hours and we like being able to get a good night's sleep before arriving at Disney. The last thing we want to do is start our vacation exhausted. We do like to hit a park for a few hours late in the afternoon/evening on arrival day. We usually just do our 3 pre-scheduled FPs and maybe have dinner and then head back to the room. We feel it's totally worth the extra couple of dollars to add that park day and knock out a few rides. I know a lot of people feel like it's a waste of money to go to the parks on arrival day, but it only costs us ~$25/person to add that extra day so we feel it's totally worth it.

The last few times we've made the drive, we actually split it over 3 days on the way to Disney. We'll leave around 10:00 a.m. and drive until about 5:00 that day. The next day we drive until we hit northern FL -- usually about 8 hours of driving that day. And then we have a 1-2 hour drive in the morning. We enjoy this laid-back drive on the way down but we do still do the 2-day drive for the trip home.

I agree with the others who say to make sure you use Waze (we actually run Google Maps on a 2nd phone so we can quickly compare detour routes if needed). The I-95 exit app is also very useful. We don't make hotel reservations for the drive. We just drive until we're ready to stop for the night and get off at an exit with a lot of hotels. Then we use an app (hotels.com, expedia, etc.) to book the best rate for one of the area hotels.
 

rg35

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
We drove down from the NYC area in December. We left our home at 4am and stopped for the night in GA, but, we're further North than you are. We do better leaving really early in the morning than leaving in the early evening and driving through the night. I'm really glad we took the overnight break because we were better rested than if we drove straight through. It made touring the parks the next day better too!
We do the same thing when we drive down from NYC.

We just bought a new minivan with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, so I was really looking forward to driving down this year but we cancelled our August trip because COVID-19 is running rampant throughout the south.
 

FlappyFish3D

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
anyone drive down in the last few days? Is the checkpoint on I-95 South still being actively used? Was anyone stopped and questioned or made to fill out a form?
 

java

<font color=darkorchid>I am embracing the Turkey B
Joined
Jan 18, 2005
Yes wondering what are the check points like now
 

DanSchwartz

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Are they waiving parking fees when staying overnight at a Disney Resort during the passholder or Florida resident special deals?
 
  • KStash

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 22, 2015
    Hi ya'll, I'm making the drive (by myself) the second week in November from Baltimore. I'm trying to decide whether to stop or go straight through. I'm fine with leaving at 4 am. But I'm going to need a lot of caffeine, which means a decent number of rest stops, lol. Anyone drive straight through by themselves?
     

    MulanMom

    MK is my happy place!
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2002
    Hi ya'll, I'm making the drive (by myself) the second week in November from Baltimore. I'm trying to decide whether to stop or go straight through. I'm fine with leaving at 4 am. But I'm going to need a lot of caffeine, which means a decent number of rest stops, lol. Anyone drive straight through by themselves?
    I have from Eastern PA. We left at 4am and planned a stop overnight in SC. I was with my 2 kids. As we approached the exit for the hotel around 5pm, traffic was lightening up and I still felt like driving. We cancelled the hotel before 6pm and rebooked with the same hotel chain in Lake Buena Vista for the night. Got there around 9:30. I stopped about every 2 hours, including a longer lunch break.

    Hope this helps!
     

    KStash

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 22, 2015
    It does, thanks! I think I'm going to try to make it straight through. According to google maps, it's about a 13 hour drive from Baltimore. If I leave at 4 am, I think I could make it by 8 pm or so, making quick stops every 2-3 hours to stretch my legs and use restroom. :)
     
  • NC State

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 11, 2005
    Fayetteville is about 45 mins from me, I would stop in Smithfield. They have a lot to choose from at the Outlets.
     

    LinaNate

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 26, 2015
    Word to the wise! Do not stay at the Quality Inn in Byron, GA (115 Chapman Rd, Byron, GA 31008). My family of 5 stopped there out of desperation and we kind of got screwed. It was horrible experience in the middle of a 12hr drive to Disney. We should have booked a room in advance but thought we could just drive and see how far we could make it before stopping. Bad, bad call. Always book a room in advance. I'd recommend booking a room in Macon, GA in you are driving straight through the state.
     

    bluezy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 7, 2008
    Word to the wise! Do not stay at the Quality Inn in Byron, GA (115 Chapman Rd, Byron, GA 31008). My family of 5 stopped there out of desperation and we kind of got screwed. It was horrible experience in the middle of a 12hr drive to Disney. We should have booked a room in advance but thought we could just drive and see how far we could make it before stopping. Bad, bad call. Always book a room in advance. I'd recommend booking a room in Macon, GA in you are driving straight through the state.
    I'm sorry you had a bad experience there. I'm sure it was very frustrating after a long day of travel. Do you mind sharing what the issues were?

    We have a 15 hour drive (without stops) to Disney. We usually take 2 or 3 days to make the drive down (2 hotel nights) and 2 days to drive home (1 hotel night). We haven't made reservations for the drive for the last 3 or 4 trips. We start looking for an exit with numerous hotel options by around 5 or 6:00. We just get off at an exit with several hotels and pull into a parking lot and start looking for hotel rooms online (usually through Orbitz, Priceline, etc.). We find one that fits our budget and expectations and book it. We've gotten some really nice rooms at great rates this way. We also sometimes drive to the hotel we're going to book and look around before actually booking. We've never had a problem getting a room and have always had several hotels to choose from even though we're booking literally 5 minutes before we check in (and we were usually a party of 5 so we needed a suite -- still plenty of options). We used to book a room ahead of time but there were a few trips where we ran into a lot of traffic and would have preferred to stop earlier and other times we had clear sailing for the entire drive and could have driven further but at that point we were past the cutoff time for cancelling the reservation. Some of the hotels we booked ahead of time looked great online but when we checked in, the rooms were very worn and things were broken. We dealt with it since we were only sleeping in the room for one night (usually spent about 12 hours in the room). And one time we booked a room that was very nice but was in a far flung area of the town and was really difficult to get in and out of on a one-way limited access road. When we checked in we found out that their restaurant was closed for remodeling (not indicated on the website when we booked a few weeks earlier) and no one delivered food to the hotel. We really didn't want to drive anywhere so our only option was to walk to a Denny's that was so packed we ended up getting our food to go (we only had to wait about 25 minutes for the food but the wait for a table was 30 minutes) and ate in our room. Once we found a nice hotel in a good location in Savannah, GA, we booked that one for every trip until we stopped booking in advance. I think the trick to not booking ahead of time is to start looking for a room before 6:00 and to stick to areas with a lot of hotels and restaurants.

    I hope your Disney stay is much more magical than your drive there!
     

    Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    I'm sorry you had a bad experience there. I'm sure it was very frustrating after a long day of travel. Do you mind sharing what the issues were?

    We have a 15 hour drive (without stops) to Disney. We usually take 2 or 3 days to make the drive down (2 hotel nights) and 2 days to drive home (1 hotel night). We haven't made reservations for the drive for the last 3 or 4 trips. We start looking for an exit with numerous hotel options by around 5 or 6:00. We just get off at an exit with several hotels and pull into a parking lot and start looking for hotel rooms online (usually through Orbitz, Priceline, etc.). We find one that fits our budget and expectations and book it. We've gotten some really nice rooms at great rates this way. We also sometimes drive to the hotel we're going to book and look around before actually booking. We've never had a problem getting a room and have always had several hotels to choose from even though we're booking literally 5 minutes before we check in (and we were usually a party of 5 so we needed a suite -- still plenty of options). We used to book a room ahead of time but there were a few trips where we ran into a lot of traffic and would have preferred to stop earlier and other times we had clear sailing for the entire drive and could have driven further but at that point we were past the cutoff time for cancelling the reservation. Some of the hotels we booked ahead of time looked great online but when we checked in, the rooms were very worn and things were broken. We dealt with it since we were only sleeping in the room for one night (usually spent about 12 hours in the room). And one time we booked a room that was very nice but was in a far flung area of the town and was really difficult to get in and out of on a one-way limited access road. When we checked in we found out that their restaurant was closed for remodeling (not indicated on the website when we booked a few weeks earlier) and no one delivered food to the hotel. We really didn't want to drive anywhere so our only option was to walk to a Denny's that was so packed we ended up getting our food to go (we only had to wait about 25 minutes for the food but the wait for a table was 30 minutes) and ate in our room. Once we found a nice hotel in a good location in Savannah, GA, we booked that one for every trip until we stopped booking in advance. I think the trick to not booking ahead of time is to start looking for a room before 6:00 and to stick to areas with a lot of hotels and restaurants.

    I hope your Disney stay is much more magical than your drive there!
    We do the same thing, I will often look on priceline and the map ahead. We book get some Dinner. Take the kids to the pool.
     

    bluezy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 7, 2008
    We do the same thing, I will often look on priceline and the map ahead. We book get some Dinner. Take the kids to the pool.
    That's exactly what we do: book, dinner, swim. We made a 3000 mile round trip road trip 2 years ago and booked all of our rooms like this. We had a little more flexibility on that trip as there were only 3 of us traveling, but would have done the same thing even if it was 5 of us.
     
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