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  1. Default MA to FL-First Trip...and solo at that!

    Hello All! I have been reading your posts for the last couple of weeks and have already gained such great advice just from reading your suggestions for other posters! I am planning a trip this year (late spring…early June-ish) from the Boston area to Orlando to visit some friends. In the past I’ve flown down for a long weekend or so, but have always had a desire to see more of our great country and thought I would take the opportunity to combine both into one trip. I have one week (or up to 9 days if counting Saturday to the following Sunday) and would like to travel down via a route that parallels the Appalachian Trail. My first thought was to rent a car and take 4-5 days to drive down and 2-3 days visiting my friends and fly back. My priority is to be able to take my time and enjoy all there is to see along the way. I am very interested in not only the natural beauty of the area, but also the opportunity to meet locals and fellow travelers. I will most likely be taking the trip solo, which is a little scary but exciting at the same time! So, my concerns are this, one of course is safety, and I do feel much more comfortable after reading many of your posts on solo women travelers (thank you Judy for your wonderful inspiration!) Also, the cost of a one way rental car is much more than I expected. Of course if I factor in the rental car cost, gas, hotels (no sleeping in the car for me, thank you very much), and my airfare back it’s still not bad for a week’s vacation. But I tend to be frugal and now am also thinking how much I enjoy driving my own car (a recent model Toyota Corolla) and my comfort level behind the wheel, gas mileage, knowing its history and safety vs driving an unknown rental by myself over and around mountainous roads. So, now I am toying with the idea of driving down as planned but taking a little less time, also a day less with friends and driving home via 95 which I can probably do easily in two days. The bottom line is weighing between being in a car I know and am comfortable in + lower over-all cost vs more time to spend travelling and visiting + not having to make that highway (probably boring) drive home at the tail end of my trip. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default One other option

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I'm not sure how well it will work with the rest of your itinerary and plans, but there is one other option you could think about. Amtrak has the Auto Train where you could load your own car on board the train and simply ride much of the way back towards home.

    Even if you do take I-95 back towards home, I assure you it won't be boring.

  3. Default life is never boring if you make the best of every moment

    Thank you, Michael, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a car train! Really my concern was more about the drive back cutting into my time. Believe me, if I had another week it would be great to take that drive back up north at the same pace as my drive down. I’m more afraid of cramming more driving than I can handle into one week. And am looking for anyone’s experience with rental cars and their safety/experiences driving vs their own. Probably a sill thing to worry about, but something that’s been on my mind just the same. Maybe saying the ride back would be “boring” wasn’t really the right word to use, just not what I wanted to focus on and rushing reminds me a lot of my usual work week, lol! But thank you anyway, I do love the article about no trip being boring. That’s a great philosophy for everyday life, too!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Glad to be an inspiration to you!

    That gives me warm fuzzies. LOL You should scope out some posts by Gen who has packed in a lot more solo travels than I have for even more inspiration.

    To be honest, I would really be inclined to go with the drive your own car down and take the auto-train back option (or vice-versa). Whichever fits better into your schedule. In the time you have, that might be your best option.

    The few times I've done the train, I've really enjoyed it. A few years back, I actually drove to Portland (3 hours) to take the train to Seattle for a Mariner game. Seattle is 2 hours from me so this actually resulted in more driving but they had an extra ticket that they weren't asking me to pay for and I this gave us time to visit on the train. Such fun! Glad I did it. And even though I've driven this particular stretch of highway dozens of times, I saw things you generally can't see from the highway (when the tracks paralleled the highway) and areas I'd never been to before (when it went away from the highway). Anyway, I think you'd enjoy it if you gave it a chance.

    As for renting a car...rental cars are generally new models, well-maintained, and very safe to drive. However, anytime you drive a car different than what you're used to, there's a short learning curve. If you decide to get one, I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure you know where all the controls are before you leave the parking lot and be careful with cornering and braking until you get used to how the car handles in those situations.

  5. Default Thank you!

    Thank you for the advice. I am going to look into the train thing, I sounds like a good option and a way for me to get some travelling in while I'm sleepping since I'll be a little rushed for time on the way home. And that will be a bit more time I can spend with my friends which is very important to me, too.

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