- Sep 7, 2008
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. 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.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!
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.