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  1. Default Deep South 2-3 wks, What city to fly into

    So I am planning a road trip for the deep south with two kids 7 & 15. I would like to visit national parks, camp out a few nights, go river rafting, ziplining, hiking. rodeo, eat lots of southern local foods, charming small towns, plantations, mostly blues and some country music. I think I'd like to end it with a couple days in the beaches of outer banks north carolina. We would love to learn and visit some slavery related history, and just overall interesting history for my not too interested in history teen. We would be flying from nyc, and probably renting a car down there or doing bus/trains depending on what's best. And then fly out of a different city, possibly north carolina.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Majors

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You will usually (but not always) get a better price by flying into a major hub and foregoing the 'puddle jumper' flight into a smaller, regional airport. As I look at your itinerary wish list, it seems clear that what would work best for you is something like a loop trip that covers roughly Tennessee and North Carolina from the Mississippi River to the coast. Now one of the benefits of a loop trip is that it doesn't matter where you start/end it, so any airport in that general area will work just fine. The major hubs are Atlanta (Delta), and Charlotte (USAir) although I'm sure you could find direct flights into both Memphis and Nashville from one of the three New York airports as well. So those are the possibilities you should be looking at. The other benefit of taking a direct flight is not one of dollars and cents but one of sanity. When traveling with kids, it really is much easier to just have the one flight with no connections to be made in a limited amount of time.

    Another benefit of loop trips is that they are generally cheaper since you aren't buying 'open jaw' plane tickets or paying one-way drop-off fees on the car rental. Such fees can add several hundred dollars to your transportation costs. With a two to three week vacation window, the time needed to close the loop is readily available to you and can be used to set up an itinerary where you're not zigzagging around trying to include everything that you want to see and do in a 'linear' trip.

    Now, there is another, often overlooked, way to save money on a fly-drive trip and that is to rent the car somewhere other than at the airport. You can often save upwards of $100 on a weekly car rental by taking a cab or shuttle to an off-airport franchise of a major rent-a-car company, thus avoiding the taxes and fees slapped on airport travelers by local governments. Here, however, you'll have to trade off the money savings against the hassles involved in getting you and your kids to the off-airport site.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    With 2 to 3 weeks, why don't you just do a loop trip from NYC? This will save you a considerable amount on airfare. If you are a NYC (or nearby) resident, do you own a car? If you are not a resident, or are a resident without a car, you could rent one from somewhere in the metro area that offers the best rates.

    There is some mighty fine scenery, history, and outdoors things to do on the way down south along an inland route, then you can return along the coast.

  4. Default

    I do own a minivan, I just wasn't sure i would be able to cover everything I wanted to do by driving there. So this opens up new possibilities that I haven't even covered. Any help planning this. What would be some places to look into? Would I be able to go as far as Texas comfortably. For the most part, I don't want to drive more than 5 hours at a time. I think by then, it just starts to get very tiring.
    What cities would you recommend camping and what are some must have supplies. Camping is the one thing that's going to make or break my kids trip. They have been begging to do this, I'm a newbie at this but totally willing to make non-life threatning mistakes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Making the Most of 'Short' Days

    The thing about only wanting to drive five hours a day is that it just means that there are more hours in the day to be out of the car visiting historic sites, hiking in scenic locations, making your own (healthier) meals, and otherwise just having fun. For example, It is easy to get from New York to Philadelphia in far less than five hours, meaning that you can leave home well after morning rush hour and arrive in Philly well before evening rush hour. If you park in the garage under Independence Mall you will be within walking distance of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross' House, the USS Olympia, Elfreth's Alley, and Ben Franklin's grave. And although cities aren't set up for camping there is still at least one public campground, French Creek State Park, an hour's drive from downtown Philly.

    Pretty much the same hold's true with Washington DC and Maryland's Smallwood State Park; Virginia's Historic Triangle and Chippokes Plantation State Park; etc.; etc. You can make an entire trip out of relatively short drives to historic and scenic sites without too many problems, well except for trying to get to Texas on such a limited daily driving budget. But a route that went down the east coast to the Outer Banks, across North Carolina, through the Great Smoky Mountains, with stops in Nashville and Memphis, and then basically back through Kentucky (Mammoth Caves), West Virginia (whitewater rafting on the New River), and up through eastern Pennsylvania (Gettysburg, the Poconos, and the Delaware Water Gap) would be a very leisurely paced, enjoyable trip.


  6. #6


    Using your own car will save significant money - not only will you not need three flights, you also won't need a rental car or train tickets; what you'll want to be cognizant of is that you'll have maintenance costs before, maybe during (depending on mileage) and/or after return, like oil changes. On balance that shouldn't bring your cost higher than flying.

    If you don't have AAA, it's a fairly inexpensive option to have just in case, and it'll get you discounts at hotels along the way too, which usually will pay for the AAA membership.

    If you'll be doing national parks, it pays to get the annual pass for the parks - that's $80 and pays admission fees - some parks have add-ons you pay for still, with or without the pass, but not many. This nice thing with that is that it'll be good for a year, so you can use it to also go to more local national parks with the kids all year.

  7. Default

    So saying I'd like to go as far as texas. How long do you think the trip will need to be, and can you guys help coming up with some cities to do my loop.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Getting to Texas

    Depending on where you want to go in Texas, you're looking at about 1700 miles more or less. If you only want to be on the road five hours or less each day, and see cities along the way, you're looking at about six days (at least) to get there, and six days to get back. Sprinkle in a few days in Texas and a day or two to see stuff on the way down and the way back and you're looking at needing three weeks for such a trip. Two weeks would really be a bit short of what you would need for the trip with your stated goals and style.

    A loop trip (simply meaning that you take a different route down and back) can be described (counter-clockwise) as going through the following cities: Harrisburg, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Atlanta, Charlotte, Richmond, and Washington. Ultimately the choices of routes, destinations, and places to spend time along the way are up to you. And certainly we can continue to help you with advice before those decisions (where we are now) and specific suggestions for attractions once you've made them.


  9. #9


    New York
    Gettysburg, PA
    Harrisonburg, VA (Shenandoah Valley)
    Roanoke, CA
    Nashville, TN
    Memphis, TN
    Little Rock, AR
    Dallas, TX
    Houston, TX
    New Orleans, LA
    Montgomery, AL
    Atlanta, GA
    Savannah, GA
    Charleston, SC
    Charlotte, NC
    Raleigh, NC
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Washington, DC
    Philadelphia, PA
    New York

    If it were me, I'd take 3-4 weeks to enjoy what's to see in and around that route, which is about 4,000 miles. If you get 20mpg, that's 200 gallons of gas you'd need, at $4.00 per gallon, your fuel budget is $800.

  10. Default

    Thank you for this. I'll get started on mapping this, and will get back to you guys with some more questions. I can definitely take 3 or so weeks. I'm not working this summer. My fear was that the longer the trip, the more expensive it gets.

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