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  1. #1

    Default Swiss Couple's First US Road Trip: New Orleans To Chicago with some big detours

    Hello Forum,
    This website is awesome and friendly and I have enjoyed reading everyone's experiences. This is my first post..soooo here goes.....
    I'd appreciate some wisdom to help the parents of our exchange student travel safely from New Orleans to Michigan then to Chicago. The French speaking couple (limited English skills) will arrive in New Orleans in early June 2010. They love to hike or rent bikes, and they also love wine. They enjoy some town cultural experiences, but they appreciate art and architecture as well. I do not know yet what type of car they will rent. They do not have a SET number of days in each preferred city, but they did say they wanted to visit these cities. (except Louisville is flexible too)

    Their rough itinerary follows:
    1. New Orleans: ARRIVE JUNE 3
    2. Savannah, GA (I tried to get them to pick either Savannah or Charleston, but either my French is too poor or they REALLY want to see both of these great cities really badly...) Is there a closer town along this route...It will be a long day of driving between these first two cities, I keep explaining that the distances are great.
    3. Charleston, SC (AND they want to really experience the mountains on the way to Nashville)
    5. Louisville, KY (if they do not want to drive straight through to MI)
    6. Northern Michigan (to see their son and our home town) ARRIVE JUNE 12 or 13
    7. Chicago, IL JUNE 16 or 17 and depart JUNE 20 (because they booked their return ticket from here and they'd like to drive on Route 66..if only for a short distance.......)

    They will be traveling with a GPS. Are GPS directions generally correct regarding time/distance/directions in the moutains or does the GPS offer advice without taking into consideration the terrain/rate of speed?

    My biggest questions/concerns revolve around the trip from either Charleston or Savannah to Nashville. I am not familiar with this area of our country.
    A. What route would be the best for this leg of the trip?
    B. They are not afraid of winding mountain roads, and I think they'd even spend the night in a small town if there was a suggestion of a special place or springs, wine tasting areas maybe?

    C. Will it be ok for them to not book hotels ahead of time because they are not sure how long they will stay in each city?

    D. The father really wants to be able to drive on Route 66, even if only for a short distance. Before they leave from O'Haire, would this be possible? IS there any landmark or location indicating the beginning of the "historical Mother Road"? Is there an interesting sight for them to seek here before leaving for Switzerland?

    E. Do they have too much planned for their time constraints? June 3- June 20

    I do appreciate any comments. Their son has become our son this year. I have truly enjoyed learning about their country through emails in French. They have been practicing English and are very brave to tackle this huge trip. I'd love to help them enjoy our country.
    Thank you for any help. :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A couple of comments - I'd add 20% to any drive times a computer will estimate. There really isn't much to Route 66 in Illinois except as a frontage road to I-55 and some stretches through towns that have been bypassed by I-55. Probably the best compromise would be through the towns of Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, and Lexington - terminating at Bloomington/Normal. A round trip from the O'Hare area to Bloomington with detours through these towns one way can very easily be done in a day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default All That and More

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your guests are looking at about 6 days worth of actual driving, so that leaves them 11 days or so to explore cities and hike the mountains and rivers on their way. Not a bad ratio of driving to fun. GPS is a useful tool, but only one tool among many for staying on course and on time. Also required are alertness and observation by the driver and/or navigator, a good overall sense of where you are and where you're going - best provided by a good map or atlas rather than a 2"x2" GPS screen, and a knowledge of the limitations and assumptions going into the GPS's recommendations. Specifically, it helps to know that the GPS will (almost) always recommend the biggest road with the highest speed limit, not the most scenic or interesting, and that time estimates are based on the unrealistic assumption that you can drive at or above the speed limit and never have to stop or even slow down for traffic, to get gas, to eat, to use restrooms, or anything else. A fair rule of thumb is that for anything other than the most local of time estimates that you add about 20% to the times they give you

    So, on to your specific questions:

    A) I heartily agree with their desire to see Charleston, but whichever city they leave from on their way to Nashville the route is basically the same. take I-26 to Asheville (the Biltmore Mansion may appeal to them as well), US-19 south to the junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap, and the BRP to its terminus at US-441. US-441 will then take them through Great Smoky Mountain National Park to Sevierville, where a short stretch of TN-66 puts them on I-40 east of Knoxville and thence to Nashville.

    B) The drive through the Great Smokies offers excellent mountain driving, and if they spend any time in Asheville, they can also drive the BRP north for a day trip or visit Hot Springs, NC and take the waters. This area is not known for its wines, but there are wineries in the Nashville area and around Louisville, KY.

    C) Other than around Great Smoky National Park, the should have no trouble finding accommodations at the last minute.

    D) Understand that US-66 was decommissioned as a US highway 25 years ago and does not exist anymore as a numbered through road. and the only place where they will even be close to its old route is Chicago. While in Chicago, they may also want to visit the Field Museum (natural history), the Art Institute of Chicago, or the Museum of Contemporary Art.

    E) Already answered in the intro. They should have a great time.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-22-2010 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Repaired terminated sentence

  4. #4

    Default Greatly Appreciated...

    Wow! thank you for both of the replies. The info about the routes is most helpful, and I am relieved to think that they have enough days planned for the cities that they'd like to see. Thanks for the info about Route 66 too.

    I continue to look for options for them. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for the first leg of their trip..New Orleans to Savannah, GA.....this leg seems long and maybe should be broken up with an overnight somewhere, AnY suggestions?
    Any suggestions about the route to make it more enjoyable? Thanks again. Nicolian*

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Yes, New Orleans to Savannah is almost 700 miles and should not be attempted in one day. Where to stop would be dependent on the route taken and how far they want to drive the first day. They could make it a day and a half - arriving in Savannah around noon, to give them time to sightsee same day. If they take I-10 to I-95, a good first day's drive would be to Jacksonville. They could reach there in about 10 hours and there will be a wide choice of lodging.

  6. #6

    Default New Orleans to Jackson, FL.

    Thanks. I will certainly advise them to stop somewhere along the way between New Orleans and Savannah. Are there any unsung sights along that route? Arriving in Savannah around noon is a good idea though. I will pass all of this information on to them. I appreciate the advice and the information shared throughout this website....I will be posting again.

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