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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    London
    Posts
    7

    Default Orlando, FL to Hamilton, IN, to Chicago, IL

    Hello All,

    As our summer vacation in July, my girlfriend and I are coming over from London, UK staying with her family in Miami, then travelling to Lake Hamilton for a family party. From there, we go to Chicago where we fly home. I have a rough plan....

    6- Fly from LHR -->MIA Pick up car and drive to Boca Raton
    7 -Boca
    8- Ditto
    9- Ditto

    *** Road trip starts! ***

    10-Leave for Disney (Early!) (4h drive) - Stay night near disney
    11-Leave (early!) for Savannah, GA (5h drive) - Stay night in Savannah
    12-Leave (early!) for Smoky mountains (7h drive) - stay near Dollywood
    13-Dollywood, then drive to Nashville (3.5h) - stay in Nashville
    14-Nashville - Stay in Nashville
    15-Nashville then drive to Indianapolis (4.5h) - Stay in Indianapolis
    16-Leave (early!) for Hamilton lake (2.5h)
    17-Lake Hamilton
    18-Lake Hamilton
    19-Lake Hamilton then drive to Chicago (3h)
    20-Chicago
    21-Chicago
    22-Chicago then fly home ORD -->LHR

    We are both interested in quirky roadside attractions- the stranger the better, love music, and I can't wait to hit the road. Flights are being booked, but I haven't done anything else... I'm 29 she is 22, and we are looking to do it on a reasonable budget- ie. not stay in too many roach motels! Will be renting a car at the Airport, and hopefully pre-booking

    Would be great if anyone has the time to

    a) Suggest any tips for one-way car rental- was thinking Budget/Avis seem to be the best rates with the biggies
    b) Any tips for saving money on motels- was looking at super 8/Holiday inn type places- any bulk discounts- any good places to stay en route?
    c) Any ideas for stops on the way- what shouldn't be missed! Food/drink/sights/smells!
    and d) any recommendations for good maps/ sat nav that I can rely on to reduce the number of arguments ;)

    Any suggestions welcome, and I'd be happy to repay the favour if anyone is looking for help when coming to London!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    11,003

    Default a couple changes

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your plan looks pretty good, but there is one area I would strongly recommend changing. I would not ever try to drive 4 hours and then "do" disney. That's really going to just knock you out! Disney is a huge place - with 4 theme parks - and obviously you can't see it all in a day, but you want as much of the day as you can for it. Plus, personally, if I'm going to be spending about $150 (for 2 people) on theme park tickets, I'm going to want to spend the whole day there! Also, by getting there right when the park opens, you can enjoy yourselves a bit more before the peak crowds of the mid-day. Near Disney the town of Kissimmee is filled with dozens upon dozens of hotels, and all that competition can make for some great deals, even on some nicer places, so spending 2 nights here shouldn't add much to your costs.

    Between Nashville and Indianapolis, you'd be going right past Mammoth Cave, so that would be an obvious stops - Louisville also has a nice downtown area with several museums, including the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory (complete with world's largest bat).

    As far as car and motels go, there really is no magic other than shopping around for the best prices. You pretty much will have to be dealing with one of the major car rental chains since this is a one way rentals, and I've never found a huge difference between the brands, so I'd just go with what's cheapest. With motels, some of the different chains (which often include several different brands) do have rewards programs where if you stay a certain number of nights, you get one free. However, sometimes it takes a few days to process the rewards, so it can be a little more difficult to take advantage of on a relatively short trip. It also is easy to get hooked into that kind of promotion and end up spending more than you want on a room, just so you can "earn" your reward. If you're planning to prebook your rooms and you don't think your schedule will change at all, sites like Priceline and Hotwire where you book a class or an area of a city rather than a specific hotel can offer extremely good deals, but there are no changes allowed after you make your reservation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    London
    Posts
    7

    Default Thanks!

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for the tips- good to know about the car/hotel stuff... Have been searching around, and there seems to be a wide range of prices- Budget seem to have the best one way deal at about £550 (including the $300 one-way charge).

    As for Disney I think we are just going to stick to one park- Magic Kingdom (my girlfriend's request)- I think you are right- one day isn't enough to do everything.

    Thanks for the tips- Mammoth caves look great, and I'd love to see the world's largest baseball bat....

    Cheers for responding!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,485

    Default

    For hotels, hotels.com is a good site to research rates, and discount rates are often available by booking through them. If you want to stay in a Motel 6, some of their properties offer a "Click 6" discount rate when booked through their site. If your girlfriend wants to drive the car, you need to research underage driver charges - most rental companies surcharge for drivers under 25.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    London
    Posts
    7

    Default Nashville --> ??? --> Hamilton, IN

    Hi there,

    Am driving up from Nashville as part of a trip, and the destination is Hamilton, IN. Am looking for somewhere to stay for the afternoon/night between these places.

    Natural choice is a motel somewhere around indianapolis on the freeway, but would like to stay somewhere we can go get a bite, and take in some more local atmosphere.

    Any ideas or suggestions? Kokomo seemed to jump out because of the Beach Boys song, but no idea of anywhere else.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jeff
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-22-2010 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Merged - Please do not create multiple threads about the same trip

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,485

    Default

    Considering you can make the drive in one day in under 9 hours, why not just "wing" it and stop when you see something that interests you?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    7,986

    Default Worth Looking At

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Kokomo is a bit off your route, and was probably chosen for the Beach Boys' song strictly for the alliteration, but Marion, IN is more convenient and offers a bit of Americana and history, particularly if you are going to be there on the right dates in mid-June.

    AZBuck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,485

    Default

    Assuming you mean the Hamilton that's near South Bend, Kokomo is right on the most direct route - US-31 from Indy to South Bend. Marion is on the way to Fort Wayne on I-69.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    London
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Perfect! Thanks guys. Marion looks like a perfect stop. Will be going there between 15/.16 July, so miss the june activities...

    As for winging it, I am already on thin ice with my (slightly less adventurous) girlfriend, so a pre-condition of the trip is to find a hotel for every stop in advance...

    So, for my next question that you knowledgeable folks might help with...

    Going to be in Pigeon Forge, TN on the afternoon evening of the 12th July, then Dollywood on the 13th before heading to nashville in the evening.

    I was thinking of just taking the easy option and going to the dixie stampede show on the 12th, but perhaps there is a nicer place to stay than Pigeon Forge, that is not too far that would be more interesting to spend the night in. Would love to get some live music, some good local food, and a few beers within walking distance of a hotel... Any ideas in that area?

    Cheers!!

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