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  1. Default Upstate NY to Sarasota Florida- Advice Please

    Hi. I plan on doing a road trip from Upstate NY to Florida within the next month. First destination will be Sarasota for a week to visit family and then on to Key West. I will not be in a hurry. I will be going by myself (with my dog). I have done the drive before, but shared driving. I will be having my van looked over before the drive, (it's been well maintained) new tires put on, and I signed up for Triple A last night.

    I am converting the van to a small hotel room on wheels, in case there's a problem finding a hotel that will accept a large dog.

    Can you tell me how I can avoid the Virginia mountains? And any neat things to see along the way?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Define 'Upstate'

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Having lived in central New York (Ithaca), I remember that many of the long-time locals hated the term 'upstate' because it basically included everything outside of New York City, as though the five boroughs were all that mattered about the state. More specifically in your case, it makes a great deal of difference whether you're starting from Buffalo or Albany. The routes from those two cities to Sarasota would be completely different all the way down to South Carolina at least. So we need at least that much info before we can offer you any meaningful advice about the route.


  3. Default

    Ok-sorry. I'm not far from Buffalo NY

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I am converting the van to a small hotel room on wheels, in case there's a problem finding a hotel that will accept a large dog.
    This might be do-able once you get far enough south, but it could be cold almost to the Florida line. You're best bet is to get to, get a coupon book at any state line tourist bureau where you might stay the night, or call ahead to particular La Quinta or Motel 6's, for the dog. The coupon books have motel coupons, and many ads either say "pet-friendly" or "no pets". You can call ahead to those and find out about any size restrictions. (We used to tow an RV, and even one or two RV parks looked at the size of our dog and raised an eyebrow - at 115 lbs., she wasn't to be messed with. So I understand motel manager's feelings about pet sizes.)


  5. Default

    Donna- Thank you for the advice. I did look over their website the other day and saved it to my favorites. I appreciate the tip for the coupon book. I am checking the weather frequently in the other states, and realize it may be too cold at night to stay in the van in some states. I'm trying to be as prepared as possible. It's unusually warm here now, but I know that could change quickly. I've been doing a lot of reading about vandwellers, and how they stay warm.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You are going to have to take a substantial detour to avoid the mountains. You are going to have to go way inland or out to the coast.

    To go inland, you could take I-90 to Cleveland, I-71 to Louisville, I-65 to Montgomery, US-231 to I-10 to I-75. This is a 3 day drive with overnights around Louisville and Montgomery.

    To go via the coast, this is going to put you in the miserable I-95 corridor, you would have to take the Thruway almost all the way to NYC, then I-287 through NJ to the NJ Turnpike and I-95 through Baltimore and Washington. There are also substantial tolls this way. Also a 3 day drive, overnights around Wilmington DE and Florence SC.

    Either way, you will be spending an extra 6 to 8 hours on the road from the most direct route, which is I-90 to Erie, I-79 into WV, US-19 to Beckley, I-77 to I-26 to I-95. Overnights this way would be Wytheville VA and Jax.

    Taking the most direct or the coast route, you can either take US-301 out of Jax to I-75, or stay on I-95 to I-4.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default If Time Is Not a Constraint

    Yes, it's possible to "avoid the Virginia mountains" and it will only cost you about 120 extra miles or about two more hours of driving. What you'd do is stay on I-90 all the way through Pennsylvania to just shy of Cleveland where you'd take I-271 south to I-71 all the way to Cincinnati. There you'd pick up I-75 south all the way to Florida. Now, that adds a few large cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Knoxville, and Atlanta! vs. Charlotte on the 'normal' route) and their environs to your drive, but you seem to be more concerned about I-77 through the Appalachians.

    However, as Donna pointed out, you have to get pretty far south before you can plan on sleeping in an unheated van. Even at Chattanooga, you can expect temperatures around freezing overnight in December, so plan on staying in motes instead. If you follow the route I outlined above, your overnight stops would be around Lexington KY and Macon GA. Those would make for three relatively evenly paced, but not terribly long days of driving which would leave a little bit of time each day for stops to refresh both you and the dog. In that regard, state parks are some of your best options. Again, the Welcome Centers often found on the Interstates as you cross state lines are a great resource for information, and state maps (often free) as well as coupons for reduced rates at motels.


  8. Default

    GLC-Thank you for the information. Adding 6-8 hours doesn't sound good.
    I guess I'm a novice because I'm not sure what Jax is?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Jax = Jacksonville, FL

  10. Default

    Thanks Mike and AZ. I'm going to look closer at the maps and think about how I want to do this.

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