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  1. Default Advice on the following itinery

    Hi,

    We are planning our first US road trip in August/September, starting and ending in NYC.

    The plan so far is as below:

    Day 1 (21st August) - Flight into JFK, afternoon in NYC
    Day 2 - NYC
    Day 3 - NYC
    Day 4 - Hire car from EWR and drive to Skyline drive for 1st night, possibly stopping in DC for a very brief sightsee/lunch
    Day 5 - Drive BRP to approx. Fancy Gap
    Day 6 - Drive BRP to Asheville
    Day 7 - Drive to Nantahala for White Water Rafting
    Day 8 - Drive to Nashville
    Day 9 - Nashville
    Day 10 - Nashville
    Day 11 - Drive to Memphis
    Day 12 - Memphis
    Day 13 - Drive to Chicago
    Day 14 - Chicago
    Day 15 - Drive to Niagara
    Day 16 - See Niagara/drive to Finger Lakes early evening
    Day 17 - Finger Lakes
    Day 18 - Drive back to EWR to drop off car and return flight is 10pm.

    Based on this itinerary, is there anything glaringly obvious that is a no-go? Judging by route planners, there shouldn't be more than 8 hours solid driving in any one day, and there are 2 of us to share the driving, although obviously the Blue Ridge Parkway will be a slow leisurely drive.

    Any suggestions on recommended routes (or routes to avoid!) from Nantahala to Nashville, Nashville to Memphis, Memphis to Chicago and Chicago to Niagara would be greatly appreciated. I know the latter two will be all day drives, so drives with some nice rest stops would be best, but not at the detriment of too much time, although the first two we would be looking for the most scenic with more leisurely stops as we will have more time.

    Also, any suggestions of anywhere to rent a car from cheaper than EWR that will allow us to return it there would be appreciated. We will be staying in Manhattan however want to weigh up cost/time of having to drive through New York if we pick the car up there. The one thing we have realised is that our return day is Labor Day, which is why we have such a late flight and will allow most of the day to get there - so don't really want to be messing around travelling the return end, so would rather drop off the car at Newark.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts/suggestions. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Carhire consolidators.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You don't state from where you are flying into JFK, but if it is from Britain or Europe, I recommend you check out car rental costs through a consolidator such as carhire3000.com. They can often be cheaper than anything you hire direct. For instance, we have heard of one way fees, and under 25 fees being waived.

    It is definitely cheaper to to pick up your car in Newark than anywhere in NY. Besides, you are not going to want a car during your stay in NYC.

    Depending where you are from, and whether it would involve extra visas, I suggest that from Chicago to Niagara you look at taking the route through Canada. It is a good route, and avoids the toll roads through the various States. Cross the border into Canada at the Port Huron/Sarnia crossing, rather than the Detroit crossings, which can get very congested. Maybe make your way to Lansing for the night, after your day in Chicago.

    Considering your exit day is Labor Day. Traffic can get hectic on this last of the summer weekend. I'd try to get to somewhere close to I-81 for a run back to Newark, and to get to JFK in time for your flight. All it takes for there to be an accident on the road, and you could be held up for hours.

    I'll leave the other routes for those who are more familiar with them.

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Thanks, that's great.

    Yes, we are flying from the UK, so I will check out the website you suggested.

    We don't require anything additional to travel through Canada, so will certainly look into the routes you suggested, and see if there is any possibility of travelling the day before - although I don't want to leave ourselves short of time in Chicago, it's going to be a whirlwind trip as it is!

    I'm dreading the Labor day traffic, I know it's going to be a nightmare, I just hope it isn't a horrible end to our trip! We just couldn't make the dates work any other way. And I'm hoping the trip to Newark will be better than the cross-city battle to get to JFK, which is why we chose that flight.

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

    Default

    Day 4 - Hire car from EWR and drive to Skyline drive for 1st night, possibly stopping in DC for a very brief sightsee/lunch
    It's quite easy to drive from Newark down to Skyline -- we did the reverse back in 2011. What is NOT practical is stopping in DC for "a very brief sightsee/lunch". I would take I-80 to I-81 south, to avoid the traffic on I-95 and to get yourselves close to the start of Skyline Drive at Front Royal. Going into DC is a lot out of the way, and in only an hour or two, you're not going to see much. You will be stuck in traffic (that's almost a 99% guarantee) and then, once into DC, there's really no place to park. Most people park outside of DC and ride the Metro in.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Ah, so this is where routeplanners don't give you all the information - they all show the I-95 as the quickest route! Thanks Donna.

    DC was only a nice-to-have, as we thought driving past so close it would be a shame not to, neither of us particularly have our hearts set on going, so we can certainly look at alternatives.

    Do you have an recommendations of stopping points along the way on the I-80/81 route?

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I would take I-80 to I-81 south
    From EWR, take I-78 to I-81. You don't need to stop, you are going to be crunched for time enough trying to leave EWR and drive the Skyline Drive in one day. If you need lunch, fuel, or a rest stop there's plenty of facilities all the way from EWR to Front Royal.

  7. Default

    Thanks, we aren't trying to do the full skyline drive in one day - we are looking at staying about halfway in. If there is anywhere particularly interesting en route, we'd like to tie this in with a lunch stop and/or a small bit of site seeing - traffic and stops aside, route planners are showing around 6 hours of driving, and given that we are leaving early am, I would think we should be able to have one or two comfortable stops, without just seeing the interstate all day, or do you not think this would be possible?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are planning on staying in any of the 3 lodging choices on the Skyline Drive, I'd make reservations as soon as the booking window opens up.

    It is about 5.5 hours from EWR to Front Royal. Hagerstown is about 4 hours out of EWR, that would be a logical lunch stop. There's nothing I can really recommend for a "quick" sightseeing stop, everything I'm aware of would take a lot more time to see and are well off the Interstate - such as Hershey, Gettysburg, or Harpers Ferry. You are pushing the day, I wouldn't stray from the Interstate. Your logical second stop would be in Front Royal before you enter the park.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
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    Default

    If you can't get reservations along the Skyline Drive, there are plenty of places at Front Royal on the north end, and then Waynesboro on the south end. We stayed in Staunton (we were heading north on I-81) and then spent a good 5+ hours on Skyline Drive before driving to north-central NJ that same day.

    Gettysburg is definitely NOT a "quick stop". We spent 2 days there and did the driving tour and spent a morning in the Visitors Center, and felt that we could have stayed another couple of days!


    Donna

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

    Default Might be a better choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by tbear View Post
    .... the cross-city battle to get to JFK, which is why we chose that flight.
    Is there not a train from Newark to JFK?

    Lifey

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