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  1. #1

    Default Chicago to Miami in April

    Hi.

    Were taking a road trip from Chicago to Miami this April.
    We are 4 adults (30 ish) and 3 children. (two 2 year olds and one 11 year old)

    Were renting an RV and is spending about 10 days driving.
    Im thinking about taking the route:
    Chicago --> Indianapolis --> Nashville --> Birmingham --> Tallahassee --> Orlando --> Miami
    and avoiding the big highways as much as possible.

    Is 10 days enough for this trip? We want to be able to explore a lot of things on the way down.
    What are the places that we shouldn't miss out on?

    Thanks in advance.


    /Ola

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Generally Speaking

    Välkomnande! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You'll need about three days worth of time for the driving portion of your trip. That means that you can spread out your remaining seven days however you see fit. For example, you could take eight days to get to Miami, including a stops all along the way and a couple of Days at Disney World, and still have two days on the beach. So yes, your ten days should be plenty of time for a very enjoyable trip.

    I'm a little confused however since the cities you list as intermediate points on your trip are all connected my Interstates (motorways). That is, in fact, the purpose of major highways - to connect major cities. If you want to "avoid the big highways as much as possible", then you may have to avoid the big cities as well. That said, I would first recommend that you get a good (large scale) map, or atlas, of the United States and have a look at some of the following 'lesser' highways. These cover much of the same ground as the Interstates, but will allow you (force you, actually) to drive at a slower pace. US-231 down to Mammoth Cave National Park past Nashville and into Huntsville and Montgomery all the way to Dothan AL. Even though this is not a 'big highway', it gets you all the way from Chicago to almost Tallahassee. Between Tallahassee and Orlando, you might want to take a small detour over to Okefenokee Swamp. We can be of greater help if you have specific types of things that you would like to see on your trip.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi. Thanks for your reply.
    You are absolutely right. We should probably avoid those towns altogether.
    When I enter Chicago to Miami in Google Maps and check "avoid highways" I get the following route: http://g.co/maps/3v5hm
    Is this a good route to start with? And then add some extra stops.

    We are looking to see some odd roadside attractions.
    For example were gonna stop and see the Worlds largest ball of paint :)
    But we would also like to add some nature experiences.
    So any recommendations in those areas is highly welcome.

    Also. If anyone has rented a RV one way Chicago to Miami please share your experiences. Were having trouble finding companies who are willing to accept our request. So far we only found one.



    /Ola

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default One of Several

    The beauties of the 'old' US highway system are that it was built from existing roads that already went to interesting places, that it goes to many more places than the Interstate (motorvägar, thanks for that) system, and that it has developed a host of alternatives over the years. To make the most of it, you just need to know a few things, primarily how its roads are numbered. North-South roads (the ones you're interested in) end in odd numbers with the major ones ending in '1': US-1, US-11, US-21, US-31, US-41 as you go from the east coast to the west. Roads which branch off of those routes and/or run roughly parallel have a third digit out front: US-131, US-231, US-331, etc. The major routes which go from the Midwest (Chicago area) to the South are US-31 and US-41. So pretty much any US highway which ends in those two numbers will be taking you in the right direction. I suggested US-231 which has the benefits of going nearly all the way from Chicago to Florida, and passing near a number of scenic attractions. The route Google has given you uses other roads (note that among these are US-41, US-431, and US-221 (which fit the numbering pattern I've explained) as well as several state highways.

    All of that is to just give you some confidence that you can easily wander away from the route that any computer program or any person (including me) gives you, go wherever you want, and still find your way back to a major road heading in your direction. Which brings us to a couple of the best pieces of advice we generally give here: 1) Pick your destinations first - there will always be roads to get you there. Take a map and start making those places you want to see. You can start with the world's largest ball of paint that you found, and I would certainly add Mammoth Cave that I mentioned in my last post, as well as any others that you find in your research, and then start connecting those points by way of the roads that are out there. Picking your road(s) first tends to limit your options on what to see. 2) Don't try to pack too much in. Even though you have plenty of time for the drive, leave a bit of that for serendipity, running across the unknown. You'll be on what many travelers would consider the 'back roads', away from the Interstates where every exit looks the same. You will run across many more things than you can plan for, so leave time each day for those finds.

    Now, where to look for sites to see. With all modesty, this site - RoadTrip America - has one of the great and growing databases of roadside attractions built into its mapping routines. For starters, you can just give it Chicago and Miami as starting and ending points (Step 1) and then tell it to find all attractions within 100 miles of that route (Step 2). You can then zoom in and check out those sites in a little more detail to see which of them appeal to you. Other sources of locations of great natural beauty are the National Parks website, the National Forests website, and the National Wildlife Refuges website. In addition, each state maintains its own state park system, so be sure to do a search for {statename state parks}. Finally, for those very odd roadside stops, check out Roadside America.

    Now, about renting an RV one way for a long cross-country trip. To be honest, I think that most RV renters are typically local dealers who will turn a few of their vehicles into rentals. But these are intended to be let to locals who will use them for a relatively short vacation and then return them back to the dealer. There are actually very few national companies with facilities throughout the country that can do long one-way rentals, and yes they're going to be more expensive than a local rental. Two of the major players are Cruise America and El Monte, but you can find more information here.

    AZBuck

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks so much for all the information AZBuck. Tack!
    The whole road naming system is really good knowledge.

    I took a short road trip last year where I started out in New York, through the catskills, then to Itchaca, and then down to Atlantic City and back to New York.

    We traveled on a lot of big highways, because we didn't really know. And we really got the sense that we missed a lot.
    This trip we will have more time and knowledge.

    Thanks again and keep up the swedish lessons.


    /Ola

  6. #6

    Default

    Alright, now the route is down US-231 from chicago to florida.
    Is there any places along the way that you should avoid because they are unsafe?
    We are traveling with three children and don't want to find ourself in a place where we shouldn't be.


    /Ola

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Again, as Buck has said already, I really think you should stop focusing on worrying about highway numbers so much and really focus in on what you want to see. You talked about missing out because you focused on the interstates on your last trip, but ultimately these are just roads. No matter which kind of highway you take, if your only concern is sticking to a specific route, you can miss out on a lot of things that are just off that highway. Worry first about what you want to see and do, and then find the roads that will get you there.

    No, there are not any generic places you should avoid. Every place is someone's hometown, but of course, there can be places with higher crime or you just don't feel comfortable. Typically, its pretty easy to tell these areas just using your own common sense built-in radar. If some place doesn't feel right, then keep moving, it really is just that simple.

  8. #8

    Default

    Hello again.
    Soon the trip is about to start and I have done a bunch more research.

    I have a question.
    We will average around 200 miles per day on the days we are driving.
    Is that a reasonable amount?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Yes, that is very reasonable. Even if you are sticking to 2 lane highways, you're only talking about being on the road for 4-5 hours on those 200 mile days.

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