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  1. Default Southeast Roadtrip 4 weeks

    Hi everyone,

    My wife and I, two Dutch seniors, are planning a trip in April/May 2013 for 4 weeks to the Southeast and we would really like some tips as to how we have to plan the route to take.

    We would like to start and to end in NC to meet old friends.

    We would like to see the Smoky Mountains first and then go to the Southcoast. From there to the Eastcoast.

    We would also like to see Savannah and Charleston.

    What we like :

    Small idyllic towns
    Breathtaking views
    Not to be in a hurry
    Meeting nice people

    We are renting a car in Holland and we will stay overnight in hotels/motels/cabins (We know about coupons).

    What are your thoughts?

    Any tips would be much appriciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Set-Up, Roads, Towns

    Welkom! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Being a bit long of tooth ourselves, my wife and I share many of your travel preferences and have gradually changed our RoadTrip methods to meet our changing tastes. So here are a few general things we do on our trips as well as a few specifics about the Southeast.

    The easy and obvious recommendations first. Stay away from the Interstates/autobahns, big cities, and chain motels and restaurants - those are pretty much the same everywhere. Instead take the slower-paced US and state highways through small towns (more specifics later). Stop at small local visitor centers and historical societies, even libraries, for tips on what to see. We have had some of our most interesting, intimate and rewarding encounters as results of such inquiries taking us to venues too small to make any national or even state lists of places to go. Stay at Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) rather than hotels. Again, the hosts are generally a font of local information as well as (usually) interesting people in their own right. Go 'downtown' in small cities and towns for your meals. In places of about 5,000-10,000 people there are generally a few local restaurants that survive on repeat business from the locals. It may not be haute cuisine, but it will generally be good, wholesome and bountiful.

    OK - now some specifics. First off, be aware that there is no direct, non-stop service between Schiphol and North Carolina (Charlotte is the major airport), but the cost for a one-stop round-trip ticket to Charlotte is only slightly more expensive than a direct flight to either Washington DC's Dulles and Atlanta's Hartsfield airports. Next up is the car hire. Many of our European visitors have been able to get better deals by arraigning for this item through a European consolidator such as (note that prices are quoted in Pounds) before even leaving home.

    And some itinerary items. There are a number of scenic roads in the South. Tops on the list is probably the Blue Ridge Parkway which would be the perfect link to Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you land in Washington but would otherwise be a bit out of your way. But if you don't get to the BRP there are other roads you should explore including the Cherohala Skyway, the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, the Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway, the Natchez Trace Parkway if you're headed for the western Gulf Coast, Ashley River Road and Edisto Island National Scenic Byway near Charleston, and the Outer Banks Scenic Byway for both some great seashore as well as an 'ocean-going' ferry ride or two. Use those roads to link together a few small idyllic towns such as Lexington VA, Asheville NC, Natchez MS, Cedar Key FL, and be sure to poke around some of the many little towns on the Georgia and South Carolina coast where the distinct Gullah dialect is the local language. Smaller towns are everywhere through the South and finding them on your own as you travel the scenic roads will be an adventure and a bit of serendipity.

    Well, there's only so much space here, but if after checking out the above links you still have questions, don't hesitate to ask.


  3. Default

    Dear AZBuck,

    Thanks a lot for your quick and detailed reply.

    Your recommendations about highways, small towns, accommodations and food will be used for sure.

    Because our friends live in NC we will start and end in Charlotte or Raleigh.
    We will hire a car by the Dutch RAC. It is cheaper and we are sure about the insurances.

    My main problem is to make a nice route through the south.

    This are our "wishes" ;

    1. Savannah and Charleston

    2. travelling max. 2000 - 2500 miles.

    I would like your advice about this route :

    Charlotteville - direction Chattanooga - direction Memphis - following the Mississippi to Vicksburg or Natchez - direction Montgomery - Thomasville - direction Eastcoast- Savannah - Charleston - Goldboro NC (end).

    I have not had time to explore all your scenic roads, but I hope that I can travel from one to the other. That will be perfect.

    Thank you for your time and energy to answer our questions in such an elaborate way,
    and will certainly use your tips.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default That Should Work

    If you close the loop, returning to either Charlotte or Raleigh - wherever you start your trip, you're looking at about 2,250 miles. But that assumes travel mostly on Interstates. If you use the scenic and/or local roads, you can sometimes get by with fewer miles, but you will spend more time behind the wheel. It's simply a necessary trade-off, and one that I am more than willing to make in my own travels.

    Let's take Charlotte to Chattanooga as an example. The short (time) route would be down Interstate 85 to Atlanta (ouch!) and then up I-75 to Chattanooga. That's roughly 350 miles and a bit over 5 hours of driving time (plus any stops). But if you take the scenic route, US-74 to Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway to its end at US-441 and then that road through Great Smoky Mountain National Park, finishing up with US-411 down the backside of the Blue Ridge to US-64 and Chattanooga, then you've decreased your miles (admittedly just a bit) to 340 miles but increased your driving time by almost two hours. Now that's a trade I would gladly make, even though you will not only have to put in two more hours behind the wheel, but you will be making many more stops. But the stops are, in my humble opinion, what a good RoadTrip is all about. And who knows, you could easily end up sitting in Atlanta traffic for two hours on the 'quick' route.

    Similarly, you can look at US-61 between Memphis and Natchez instead of I-55, US-84 across southern Georgia instead of I-10 across the Florida Panhandle, and US-17 up the Atlantic Coast instead of I-95.


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