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  1. Default Philadelphia to Florida Keys

    Hello,

    I am taking a solo trip going from Philadelphia to Florida and back, by myself. I am used to long and frequent drives (I average ~3000 miles/month) but this is going to be my first road trip ever. It will take place in mid to late July.

    The length of the trip depends on how much time I can take off of work. At minimum I'd go for 4 days, making a long weekend from Friday to Monday. Preferably though I'd rather just take a whole week but I'm going to plan my trip through as if it were only 4 days.

    My plan was to take as many scenic routes going towards the Keys (due to time constraints). I'd love to take as much backroad/country side driving as possible and then on the way back up from Florida I'll just straight shoot it on I-95 in a day. Also, I plan on just sleeping in my car for convenience sake. I've slept in my car before and I'm perfectly comfortable doing so as long as I can find a place where it is legal to do so.

    So my questions are as follows:
    1) Suggestions on routes to take going down. Where should I get off the interstate to see some backroads. I love nature so any scenic and country routes would be great as well as any state/national parks. Additionally, when should I just get back on the interstate for time-sake.

    2) Locations to sleep. Should I just look for a 24hour big-box chain off the highway to park or would it be better to find a truck/rest stop along the interstate. I can sleep in pretty much any conditions so noise wouldn't bother me.

    3) What to avoid. Just general suggestions. Obviously I'll avoid going through cities during rush hours or try to go around them if it would be faster. Generally, this is the part where I would just want to stay on the interstate and just pass right through.

    4) Due to time, I may have to drive during the night. However, that's obviously not my preference because I'd miss all the sights and beauty. My plan was to begin my drives around 2-3 AM and stop every few hours during daylight to see various things and continue driving until around sunset then sleep.

    5) Money. I plan on bringing my own food and water, probably just bread and lunch meats. I'll stop at convenience/grocery stores to restock and eat at a restaurant every once in a while to break the routine and try local flavors (suggestions welcomed). I'm calculating between tolls, gas, food, and general expenses, I will be burning approximately a grand on this trip. My truck gets about 17 mpg and I can't avoid every toll booth.

    So my general plan (please feel free to provide suggestions on) is as follows:
    -Leave Friday morning around 2 AM and begin my drive.
    -Make various stops along the way, enjoying myself thoroughly, and try to get at least half way before I sleep Friday night.
    -Start again Saturday morning and again, make enjoyable stops throughout the day. Plan to arrive in Florida by Saturday night and sleep somewhere in Florida.
    -Sunday I would enjoy the Florida Keys, spending adequate time seeing them all. I would like to spend the entire day, morning until night, at the keys.
    -Monday morning I straight shoot it back along I-95. I was planning on leaving around 4-7 AM (depending on how late I stay up Sunday night at the Keys). Drive for about 7-9 hours, nap, then drive the rest of the way home. I should be back in time to go to straight to sleep for work on Tuesday.

    I'm pretty good with directions. I always carry a compass in my vehicle and I plan on buying a paper map. My friend has also been kind enough to loan me his GPS so I may take advantage of that as well. In the end however, I'm not afraid of getting lost because as far as I'm concerned that is part of the adventure!

    If I've forgotten to mention anything please just let me know. I'll monitor for comments so I'll reply to you. Thank you in advance!
    Last edited by Love2Drive; 06-02-2014 at 05:50 PM.

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

    Default Seems a Pointless Exercise

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The fact is that from Philadelphia to Key Largo, the very start of the Florida Keys, it's just over 1250 miles. That is the absolute limit of what can realistically be driven in two days, and even that's stretching the point. Anywhere else in the keys is out of the question. So with only four days you have just enough time to drive one of the most brutal (in its northern reaches) and boring (in its southern stretches) bits of highway known to man: I-95. All so that you can spend a night in the dark in a motel room and get up the next morning and do it all over again on the drive back. You won't have any time for sightseeing. You won't have any time for 'back' or scenic roads. When you start/stop make no difference, there are simply limits to what a human body can accomplish in 96 hours. I don't see the point other than to burn gas.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    AZBuck, you make valid points.

    The first thing I just wanted to address is that I'll be sleeping in my vehicle, no hotels or motels. But I do see your point that my trip is very short. I am still going to try to take an entire week off for the trip but I still have to plan accordingly.

    Even still, if all I get to do is go there and back, at least I can say I did it. I'll enjoy the drive regardless.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Unless your vehicle is a camper van, or has another way of letting you stretch out and sleep, you WON'T sleep well inside the vehicle. Then you become like a drunk driver on the road -- fighting to stay awake. You could lose your life, or cause others to lose theirs.

    With four days, I think I'd find something else to do. Driving 2500 miles round trip, much of it on crazy I-95, in 4 days is just not something to brag about.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Love2Drive View Post
    -Monday morning I straight shoot it back along I-95. I was planning on leaving around 4-7 AM (depending on how late I stay up Sunday night at the Keys). Drive for about 7-9 hours, nap, then drive the rest of the way home. I should be back in time to go to straight to sleep for work on Tuesday.
    There are plenty of issues with your plan, but this one is the grand daddy of them all. It will take you more than 24 hours on the road time to drive from the Northern Keys to Philadelphia, and yet you think you're going to be able to leave Monday morning, and not only get back in one day - you think somehow you're going to have time to sleep and be able to be at work the next morning! I'm sorry, but the math just doesn't work, there simply aren't close to enough hours in the day.

    Even if you can get a real nights worth of sleep in your car, it doesn't change the fact that you don't have enough hours in the day to do anything other than drive there, and immediately turn back around and drive back, without seeing anything else! Trying to see things means you are stealing time from the time you absolutely need to be resting in order to be a safe driver. There are good reasons why professional drivers are prohibited by law from even attempting what you've laid out.

    I can appreciate a good long drive. I'll take your 3,000 a month and raise you 5,000 a month. (About 60k a year.) I do that all week long and still love the idea of getting in the car for a roadtrip on the weekend! But your plan isn't anything that resembles fun. You aren't respecting the amount of time it will really take to cover these miles, and you certainly aren't respecting the amount of rest you need to be a safe driver, much less be in a condition to enjoy your time. Saying "you did it" simply is not worth risking your life and the life of everyone else who will be on the road with you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not my definition of 'enjoy'.

    Having driven I-95 in FL twice in the last couple of months, the only thought I can add to all the valid comments above is, you have not allowed for the hold ups at all the construction sites.

    I cannot see how you could say... "I'll enjoy the drive regardless."

    It takes a minimum two and a half hours to drive the Overseas Highway. That is if there aren't any holdups, accidents or construction, especially on the two lane bridge sections. Speed limits on the Keys are 55, 45 and 35, not only enforced, but no one drives faster.... often much slower.

    Lifey

  7. Default

    I just wanted to update saying I was able to get a whole week off, so the trip will be a Saturday to Saturday vacation.

    Some things I just wanted to point out. A lot of people basically just told me that I didn't have appreciation for the driving time. This isn't something I just haphazardly threw into the mix. I understand driving times, delays, and mishaps. It's not like I'd be hanged for being a day or so late coming back. In terms of rest, I never stated I'd be skipping out on sleep. I'd sleep from approximately 7PM-3AM which is 8 full hours. In terms of comfort, like I said, I can sleep in my vehicle as long as it is legal to do so wherever I am parked.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    We are very happy to see you are giving yourself the amount of time you need to actually make this a worthwhile trip.

    As far as respecting drive times, I'll say this, you gave us a plan where you said you were going to leave the Keys on Monday morning, and you expected to be back at your job on Tuesday, and you expected to have time to sleep. That is physically impossible to do. It was around 35 hours worth of tasks in a 24 hour period. That is why every single person who has commented on your trip so far did not believe you were respecting drive times or the amount of sleep you need to be a safe driver.

    Also, FWIW, Sunset is going to be around 8:30 in mid-July, and it won't be dark until after 9 - so that's a quite a big difference from saying you're planning to sleep around 7. It would seem to be a little odd to plan to sleep during the last hours of daylight so you can wake up in the middle of the night - and if you aren't used to sleeping that early, it would probably be pretty tough to actually fall asleep at that time. This is another thing that hopefully you don't need to plan to do anymore with the extra time you have.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I think you will have a much more enjoyable time, giving yourself a week instead of a crazy 4 day trip. I had read the same thing Michael did -- that you were going to try to do a 1000+ mile trip in one day. Short of speeding along the highway at 90-100 mph, I didn't figure out how that was going to work. On here, we always advocate for safety and following the law -- it's how we roll.

    You'll be able to get all the way down to Key West, with the new week-long plan, without rushing your trip, too. And hopefully going to be able to enjoy the beach!


    Donna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Sleeping in the vehicle.

    If you are going to insist on sleeping in your car, at least do it where it is legal. South of Orlando it is difficult to find any place to legally park and sleep safely. For the rest of your trip I would recommend truck stops. The ones which allow overnight parking are 24 hr operations, many have night time security, they have people coming and going all night, and are well lit. Hard to get away from the light unless you have dark curtains on all your windows.

    Invest a mere $15 in the Truck Stop Directory to see exactly which truck stops allow overnight RV parking. They are the ones where you will be fine.

    In FL most rest areas have night time security, and those are safe for staying overnight. I always let them know I will be parking overnight. But once again, when you get much past Orlando, rest areas and truck stops are as scarce as hens' teeth.

    Along the Keys there is not one facility to legally park overnight. That area is also strictly policed.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-05-2014 at 05:10 AM.

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