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  1. Default Charlotte to Austin and back

    Hi folks,

    I'll be moving to Charlotte soon and want to see the Austin F1 grand prix on Nov 2nd. This is the general route i've come up with.
    In particular i want to see New Orleans and Birmingham's Barber Motorsports Park and also hoping to find a fun twisty road through the Smoky Mountains. I also put Mobile, AL in there because I was told that would probably be nicer than a more direct route to New Orleans. I'm not dead set on Dallas but it sounds like it would something nice to see. I'm planning to spend 6 days on the road total, so about 6+ hrs per day on the road. I wouldn't mind to change that to 8 hrs a day if that means going through more scenic roads and nice towns/places/landmarks. I wonder if there are any nice coastal roads i'm missing that could be relatively easily incorporated into this route, should I go through Mobile between Birmingham and New Orleans?
    I'm fairly new to the US and any other advice is welcomed.
    Thanks!

    Alejandro

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

    Default Timing Won't Work

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    In order to do all the driving you've mapped out, you would need to spend five 10-hour clays (with basic stop) on the road. If you are only going to drive six hours a day then you'd need six and a half days to complete the trip. And even that assumes that you spend a full six hours behind the wheel and budget extra time for necessities like food, fuel, bathroom breaks, traffic, construction, etc. For comparison, if you just did a direct drive from Charlotte to Austin and back, you'd need to budget a day and a half each way (at 6 hours a day driving), leaving you a couple of days in Austin for the Grand Prix, and a day, but only one day, to spend elsewhere as you choose. You still wouldn't have time for major detours such as New Orleans by way of Birmingham.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thanks AZBuck! And I'm sorry,I meant 6 days just driving, in addition to that I would stay 3 days in Austin. Now, Google says it's 39 hrs driving, but that probably does not include traffic and other items you mention. So is 7-8 hrs a day more realistic budget? I think 4 hrs in the morning and 3+ in the afternoon sound like a nice approach.
    Btw I changed the smoky mountains road for one that goes through Cherokee. Then again living in Charlotte I should be able to go there whenever I want so I can always take the faster road if needed

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

    Default

    Electronic mapping programs' drive times are extremely unrealistic. Add 20-25% to the time to get a real-world time that will allow for traffic, bathroom stops, food, fuel, construction, and time to stretch your legs. My husband and I take the total mileage and divide it by 50 or 60, depending on the type of road. (400 mi of interstate would be about 7 hours. 400 miles of 2-lane could be up to 8 hours.)


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default It Might Work, But...

    Your current route, assuming you use the most efficient rather than scenic routes, would take you six driving days, assuming that you get in six hours actually behind the wheel each day. That's all well and good as far as it goes. But it means that your overnight stops are relatively fixed, and not necessarily where you'd like them to be. On the way to Austin, your overnights would have to be around Birmingham AL and Lafayette LA in order to produce three 6-hour driving days. Coming back, they'd need to be around Texarkana TX/AR and just east of Nashville TN. You can't really push those stops too far in one direction or another without making for at least one long driving day.

    But, as I say, such a plan could work for you. It certainly leaves plenty of time for a couple, or even a few, hour-long stops each day. And you will have the evening in Birmingham to check out the motorsport park. On the other hand, it would probably mean trying to see New Orleans in the afternoon and then trying to get out of town before the evening rush hour. Also, as a general consideration, I like to break up my drives into no more than two hour stretches. Getting out of the car that often keeps me refreshed and alert, besides the obvious advantage of letting me see stuff other than road signs.

    So, continue to play around with your plans. Find the things en route that intrigue you enough for a short stop. Think about where they fall along a day's drive, and realize that slower, twisty, scenic roads have to be time-budgeted as well. Then I'd go ahead and start making reservations so that you're not wasting time on the road looking for places to stay or worse - finding nothing to your liking available. And then just enjoy your trip.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-17-2014 at 11:11 AM.

  6. Default

    Thanks Donna and AZBuck, appreciate the advice. On the subject of reservations, i thought i'd go with an 'any motel on the road' policy, but it may pay off to reserve something more specific.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Reservations or no reservations -- it's your call, of course. Here are some things to think about:

    * If you are planning to arrive somewhere very late, you might want a reservation. No one wants to pull into a town, tired, at 10 pm and find "No Vacancy" signs lit up. Even if you don't call and make a reservation until 2 pm that day, a reservation is helpful for late arrivals.

    * If you are going anywhere on a holiday weekend, make a reservation. This is especially true if you are going to be in a tourist area -- not so much in a small town at the side of an interstate.

    * National Park? Reservations are needed for the more popular ones, and most of the times for the lesser-known parks if you want to stay IN the park.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Yes, but.... Swim Leagues!

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    * If you are going anywhere on a holiday weekend, make a reservation. This is especially true if you are going to be in a tourist area -- not so much in a small town at the side of an interstate.
    Huge Caveat here. Small towns are not immune to being fully booked on weekends during the school year and MID-WEEK during the summer months.

    It turns out that swimming leagues are the #1 reason that small towns completely sell-out their available motel rooms in the summer months. Hundreds of kids, their families and support personnel are constantly (or it can seem that way) on the move in the summer months and I've run into this situation a number of times. Don't assume that towns with motels in non-tourist areas will have any available rooms in the mid-summer months!

    And during the rest of the year -- high school athletics can effectively sell out all available rooms on the weekends as teams travel around their regions!

    Mark

  9. Default

    Sound advice, thanks. Was definitely planning on reserving for Austin, and it sounds like I should do the same for other places. A friend was telling me how her daughter found a great place for cheap while on a road trip using a mobile app, can't recall the name, I wonder if that's a good option vs committing to a specific stop somewhere.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Road apps to use for "great place for cheap" -- hotel.com's app is the one we used more often this summer than the others like Expedia.

    Apps for great food -- TripAdvisor (also a good one for checking out hotel's reviews) and Urbanspoon.

    A non-app for hotels is to pick up coupon booklets at state visitor information centers as you enter a new state.

    Donna

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