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  1. Default WI to FL, 8 1/2 days

    Hello I'm looking for some opinions on a possible roadtrip. My husband and I would like to bring our 2 kids (8 and 5) to Florida. We are considering driving in our minivan. We live in Kenosha, WI. Our destination would initially be Orlando for one night and day at Disney, but we would spend the next four nights in my parents' condo near Sarasota.

    We have friends just outside of Atlanta. My idea was to leave Friday after dinner and stop midway through Kentucky, just past Louisville. Then get up bright and early and head to Atlanta. Spend the evening with our friends and their kids. Have a healthy dinner, get some sleep, head out after an early breakfast, and get to Disney in time to have dinner and swim that evening.

    We would spend that Monday in Magic a Kingdom and from there, when we leave at night, head to my parents condo near Sarasota. We'd have four nights and three full days to hang out at the beach, maybe tour a few thing. We'd leave Friday to head back to Atlanta. Sleep at friends' house, the spend Saturday on a leisurely drive through TN, enjoying sights and such. Stay the night in Clarksville, and head home Sunday. We could possibly extend this by a day, the stay in Sarasota will not add much cost to add a day to it. But vacation time may be a consideration.

    Now, I've calculated flying from Milwaukee to Orlando and renting a car. Truth is, we wouldn't be saving a ton of money, by driving. $5-600 I'm thinking. But I thought the roadtrip aspect of it might be fun. Visit friends, see Tennessee, etc. and I hate flying. Our son has never been more than 4 hours from home, we haven't been able to afford much in the way of vacations. And we aren't going to be able to turn around and take another big trip the next year. So I thought we'd get more bang for our buck this way.

    But that's a TON of driving with little kids. We are talking half the days of our trip spent on significant car rides. Most people are telling me it's not worth it.

  2. Default

    Tl;dr version:
    Is about 24 hours driving each way worth it for a vacation of about 9 days?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Beware of That First (and Similar) Steps

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The first thing that jumped out at me about your plans, even before all the wonderful plans for seeing friends and visiting Disney World, was that absolutely 'killer' first evening. It's simply not going to happen. Kenosha to Louisville is 370 miles, through Chicago on a Friday evening no less! That would be a solid day's drive with kids and is patently unsafe when tacked onto the end of a working day, and getting the kids ready, and packing up the car... If you really feel the need to get out of Kenosha that evening, I would urge you not to plan to get much farther than north-central Indiana, not even as far as Indianapolis. Maybe around Dayton or Monroe. I would also urge you to make reservations for that night so that you aren't tempted to go any farther but more importantly so that you aren't wasting precious time looking for a motel room late at night, tired and cranky. Get a good night's sleep and continue on the next morning refreshed rather than already/still worn out. It would still be possible. especially if you and your husband can trade off driving every two to three hours (combined with R&R breaks for the kids), to get to Atlanta the next day, although you'd be arriving fairly late in the evening, hopefully after that city's notorious rush hour.

    You face a similar problem with your plan to "leave at night" and drive from Disney World to Sarasota. That's a two and a half hour drive at best, with no stops, no food, no gas, no rest room breaks. That's hardly going to make a fitting end to your children's visit to the Magic Kingdom. Since you're under no time constraints once you get to Sarasota, you'd be much better off letting them go as long as they can on their one day at the park and take a motel room just west of Orlando before making the drive to Sarasota the next morning. Another reason to forego these evening and night drives is that the kids would get to see nothing of the countryside that you're driving through, so that rather than being a RoadTrip for them it's just being confined to the minivan, no different than all those trips less than four hours from home.

    As far as the money and kid's experiences go, I think you're right to go with driving rather than flying. But to make the driving experience a pleasurable one, it can't just be strapped into the back seat for hours on end going well past sundown when they can see nothing. There are other ways to save money on a RoadTrip, many of them discussed here. But if this is going to be a unique opportunity for you and the children, do everything you can within your budget to make it memorable for all the right reasons.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Buck hit on most of the same things that I saw potentially problematic with your plan.

    Getting to Louisville "after dinner" would pretty much doom your trip, making you and your family exhausted before you even get started. The North side of Indianapolis is the absolute farthest I consider traveling when leaving in the late afternoon, and that's assuming we're going to be getting fast food on the road.

    Also don't underestimate how tiring it will be to spend a full day at Disney. Like you, I've got free lodging with relatives available in the Tampa area, and driving back after a day at the theme parks is not a good idea. There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels in the Orlando area - spent the night, so you can enjoy all of your time at Disney without worrying about the long drive ahead.

    You didn't say when this trip is taking place, but if it is early in summer, you might be able to consider flying down there and driving back. Rental car companies often offer excellent deals to drive one way out of Florida in the spring. I was able to rent a full-size car car Tampa to Madison for $10 a day using one of those deals - although those offers typically start in April and start running dry in June. If you're not traveling until July or August, it would probably be too late.

  5. Default

    Thanks for your advice so far.
    Kenosha to Louisville is only 6 hours if the kids sleep. My husband is a real night owl, so I thought driving, say 6:30 to 12:30 was reasonable. (We will split drive time for the duration of the trip.) But that would mean driving through Chicago 7:30 Friday night. I have no idea if thats a bad traffic time. And it would mean our first night on the road may not be a long sleep.

    I too was concerned about driving to the coast after a day at Disney. We have been to Disney before the kids, and my husband keeps assuring me it's no biggie. I'm not as sure.

    Sounds like this plan needs some tweaking. I was trying to avoid days much longer than 9-10 hours in the car, but still allow enough time to spend on the gulf coast.

    I'd love to fly and drive! I'll check into it. I'm actually looking at June after the kids get out of school.
    We have a drive to Minneaplois coming up, so that will give me a better idea of how the kids tolerate long driving.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default No, It's Not

    Kenosha to Louisville is only 6 hours if the kids sleep. My husband is a real night owl, so I thought driving, say 6:30 to 12:30 was reasonable.
    There are several things wrong with those assumptions, and that's what we're trying to warn you about. First: Kenosha to Louisville is not a 6 hour drive, That is only true in the fictional world of computer-based mapping routines. They assume that you will drive at or above the speed limit for every minute of every hour that you're on the road. In the real world where you have to deal with traffic (Chicago on a Friday evening! and Indianapolis), and have to stop for gas and bathroom breaks at a minimum, this is going to be a minimum of seven hours. Second: I would be very surprised if you actually got on the road by 6:30. I'm assuming that you only have the one car and that it will not be available for loading until after everyone's home from (a long day at) work. It would also make sense to have dinner at home before setting out. Between those factors and dealing with young children while packing up, making sure that you're not leaving anything behind like a favorite toy (or favorite child), I would be very surprised if you actually got on the road much before 7:00. Late, but still not late enough to get you through Chicago after evening rush hour, Cubs or Sox traffic, general date night traffic, and all the other people trying to get out of town for the weekend. All of that means you'd be lucky to get to Louisville much before 2:00 AM, making for a bad first day and an even worse second day.

    The trick to keeping this trip from becoming all about driving 9-10 hours a day is simply to not do that. Be smart about the driving rather than just trying to bull through it to get it out of the way. As I've gained experience with RoadTripping, I've come to realize that making the drive enjoyable can be accomplished by driving lees every day, having an 'adventure' or two every day, enjoying every day. That all makes the entire journey more enjoyable than gritting my teeth and getting through a chore. If you're worried about how your "kids tolerate long driving", then it's clear the drives you've got planned are too long and go too late into the night. In the end, the decisions will be up to you and your husband, but if you want our advice (why you're here, no?) and based on our experiences (my own started when I was 5 years old and continue today with my grandchildren), then that advice is simple: Relax. Enjoy the drive. Don't push it. And most importantly, don't treat the kids like cargo to be delivered to some remote adventure site. Treat the entire trip as the adventure. Ask the kids if there's anything they want to see between Kenosha and Orlando besides the back of the front seats in the van.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Once again, Buck basically hit the exact same things I was going to mention.

    Get home from work, feed the kids, pack up the car, and be on the road at 6:30 sounds quite optimistic. Even if you didn't have all of those things, something usually come up that cause you to get on the road later than you planned. I'd consider getting on the road at 7-7:30 a success... so now instead of getting in at 12:30, you're optimistically arriving at 1am.

    Friday night through Chicago, you're going to almost certainly see at least some slowdowns. I assume you'll take the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and avoid downtown (a true Friday night nightmare) but even there, I'd expect to see at least a half hour of delays, especially in the section along I-80 through the far south suburbs and into NW Indiana. Now that 1am arrival time is looking more like 1:30.

    Then you've got the real world travel times vs. online mapping programs. Real world, in good conditions, that almost 400 mile drive will be about 7 hours instead of the 6 you'd hoped for. So now, your arrival time looks more like 2:30am.

    But wait, as you were driving through Indiana, you crossed into the Eastern Time zone, so the clock actually says 3:30, and by the time you're checked into a hotel, it's not a solid 4am before you're in bed.

    And remember, you're planning to get up bright an early to head onto Atlanta!

    That's how quickly things can snowball if you try to push too hard the first day.

  8. Default

    Yeah, I see what you're saying.
    I'm starting to wonder if, given our time and budget, we should decide between a roadtrip OR a Florida vacation.
    It looks like the drive out of Florida rental car deals mostly end at the end of May.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Maybe, Maybe Not

    The plan you outlined in your original post was to get to Orlando in 2+ days, with stops in Louisville and Atlanta. I don't think that either Michael or I think that that's impossible. It's just that you were being overly optimistic in how far you could get on that first Friday evening. But with the relatively minor change of making your first stop just northwest of Indianapolis instead of trying to get to Louisville, your plan could still work. Similarly, the suggested change of spending the whole day at Disney World and not trying to leave early and get to St. Petersburg that same evening is, again, a minor change. You would need either two very long days, or two more reasonable days along with another evening start, to get back to Kenosha from St. Pete, but that would still leave you three nearly full days in the St. Pete area. That could be a very rewarding trip for both you and your children. We have simply been trying to point out a few scheduling problems that can be easily overcome so that the entire trip could be something that everybody enjoys. This could be as simple as stopping every few hours (see the list of possible stops in my first reply), or even simpler - treating the drive itself as part of the adventure rather than as a monumental chore getting in the way of the adventure.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thinking of the children.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie99 View Post
    We have a drive to Minneapolis coming up, so that will give me a better idea of how the kids tolerate long driving.
    A single day trip is no comparison to a multi day trip.

    Do you want the children to 'tolerate' a road trip, or do you want them to 'enjoy' the trip, and be eager to get back into the car the next day..... and for that matter, the next trip?


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