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  1. Default Austin, TX to Orlando FL route advice-BIG family in a BIG van

    Hey y'all,
    We are planning a trip with 7 kids to Orlando. We are taking our boys from the boys home we run and our biological son. The ages range from 18 years to 22 months, with only one kid under 10 years.
    Here is the advice we need:
    1) can we do it in 2 days with only one nights stop? We had originally planned to drive it in 3 with 2 overnights but the budget gets ever tighter as gas rises (our 12 passenger van is not fuel effecient!).
    2) If we can do it in 2 days, where should we stop?
    3) should we try travelling late into the night so the kids can sleep away some of the miles or is this a disaster waiting to happen with overtired kids?
    4) If you would reccomend 2 overnight stays, what cities should we stop in?

    I'm so glad to have found y'all, we are novices at this considering we've only really driven around TX. Thanks for any help!

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

    Default good news

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The good news is that you can do this trip in 2 days. It's at about the limit for how far you'd want to do in 2 days, and you'll be on the road for 10-12 hours each day plus stops, but it can reasonably be done.

    The halfway point would be the Gulfport/Biloxi area where you should have no problem finding a place to stay.

    As far as driving early in the morning or late at night, the problem usually isn't overtired kids, it's overtired adults! In this case, since you've got 2 pretty evenly spaced days, and because you've got so many kids and because most of them are older/teens I don't know that you'll have much luck trying to "trick" them into sleeping by traveling at odd hours. I don't think it would really work or make sense in this case.

  3. #3

    Default A big undertaking

    Hello ajbaker04,

    It is quite the road show you're taking on and I admire you for your considerable efforts.

    Mapquest shows 1,128 miles from Austin to Orlando which puts it at the very outer edge of the day's travel distance normally recommended herein. I'm more than a little concerned about both the size of your group and their youth and wonder whether or not they're up for back-to-back 10-12 hour days on the road. Perhaps breaking it up into two shorter days and part of a third is better, and since you're presumably overnighting at a motel at both Orlando and on the road, what's the cost difference?

    I would not consider driving at night, as the deer are active and you'll be very tired, at best. A recipe for disaster--yes.

    If I were doing it with a single overnight, I think I'd look to stop east of New Orleans, perhaps in Mississippi or westernmost Alabama. A two-nighter would have me stopping on the east side of Baton Rouge and again perhaps around Tallahassee.

    One of your many challenges here is that you're passing through wall-to-wall summer vacation territory from the Mississippi beach communities to well into Florida, and if your trip out, back, or both will be on a weekend, finding rooms may be a challenge. Seems to me a considerable amount of calling ahead and booking overnight reservations well in advance is the way to go.

    This strikes me as a military operation of a sort in terms of its logistics. If you're already running a household with your large family, perhaps you're accustomed to it and perhaps it doesn't seem so daunting. My wife and I took our 2 boys, then 8 and 4, to Orlando about 20 years ago and it was a HUGE thrill for all of us. We did Raleigh, NC to Orlando in a day each way (about 600 miles) and we used a large conversion van my late father then owned. On each leg we were loaded up and rolling by 4:30 am. I dedicated an hour or more the night before fueling the truck and getting all but the last of our collective gear loaded up. That way we barely awakened the boys and they dropped immediately back off to sleep once we got moving. The boys would sleep the first 3-4 hours that way and their trip seemed a little easier on them since they missed all of the dark morning travel.

    Best of luck and have a ball at the Mouse House!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The bad news.

    Well, not really bad news.

    With a BIG family in a BIG van your journey [that as mentioned is already around the Max we would recommend for a [2] days travel ] will take longer than your 'average' family. Getting the Kids fed is going to take longer, bathroom visits are going to be more frequent and it will generally just take longer to organise them and round them up each stop. That along with a larger, slower van and baby needing attention 'as and when' will make these days too long IMO.

    I think you may well arrive exhausted and cranky with a one night stop, and think the safe option would be a 2 stopper. I would say around Baton Rouge LA and Tallahassee FL and finish off on day 3 would be good 'markers' but you could push a little further.

    Have a great trip !

  5. Default Slight change in plans-stop in New Orleans

    I ran it by the family and everyone wanted to stop in New Orleans the first night and spend some time there the next day. So it looks like the first day will be over 8 hours, then a three hour & 15 min to Pensacola, and then a seven hour 15 min stretch to Orlando. We will be spending most of the day in New Orleans and make the 3 hour trip to Pensacola that evening. Anywhere in New Orleans we should hit? We've never been there. I thought I read on the forums that the french quarter was the place to see. Would y'all agree?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Yes, the French Quarter is the major tourist area of NOLA.

    And you do need to understand that the travel times you get from a computer program are only accurate if you constantly drive at or above the speed limit, never slow down, and never stop for any reason. Real world travel times will be longer, especially with the size of your family. Expect each of those legs to take at least 1-2 hours longer than you're currently planning.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    With your gang, you are really looking at 10 hours from Austin to Nola, 4 hours from Nola to Pcola, and 9 hours from Pcola to Orlando. That's using 50 mph as the average - sure, you can cruise at 70-75 on the Interstates outside of the metro areas but you will be making a lot of stops.

  8. #8

    Default Much to see in New Orleans, perhaps too much?

    I can't say my one trip to New Orleans, in 1988, left me with the impression it's a great place to take a young family. The French Quarter seemed to a full-speed frat party in the streets 24/7. My trip was not during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, either, but instead was a random non-remarkable weekend in September. Aside from the frat-party sights, the stench in late Summer was close to unbearable. Decorum prevents me from going into further detail, but you should get the idea. Not that I personally mind seeing and even participating in that kind of thing, mind you, but I had no interest in bringing my young sons there.

    That said, there are riverboat cruises which might appeal to your group (while keeping them away from the French Quarter), and N O has a very nice zoo (or at least HAD one before Katrina--best check ahead).

    My colleagues are of course correct, too, that your "beginning to end of day" basis travel speed is likely to be no more than 50 mph. One must really bend the limits and stop very, very little to average 65-68 mph, and more cautious driving with minimal stops rarely provides for more than a 55-57mph average. I'd consider 50 mph a fortunate outcome with a group the size and ages of yours.


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