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  1. Default Driving from RI to Outer Banks, NC with 5 year old and 2 year old. Advice Needed.

    I will be taking my first every attempted drive down to The Outer Banks in NC (Emerald Isle the lower part of the Outer Banks). We are going to visit family and are thinking of attempting this drive rather than forking over 2 grand for tickets. I'm looking for some advice on a few things since everyone on this board seems to really be knowledgeable. I was thinking of attempting the drive straight through the night in hopes that my kids will sleep through the night in the car (Leave around 8pm and hope to arrive around 8am) or atleast a good portion of the drive down.

    1. What do you recommend as far as traveling through NYC & DC. Should I drive straight on 95 since I'll be traveling through their late at night or early morning? or should I avoid NYC and DC and go around like on the Tappen Zee Bridge? If anyone has done this many times before I'll take complete recommended driving directions all the way down since I have no idea what the best way to go is.

    2. Do you think I'm being too ambitious to make it all in one day with two small kids? This is why I'm thinking about driving through the night. I think it would be too much if did this during the daytime during their awake hours. Plus I feel like the traffic would be much less at night and early morning hours. Although night time road work could be an issue as well.

    If anyone has any other advice. I'm all ears since this is the longest drive I have ever attempted. I plan on rotating driving with my wife around 6 or 7 hours into our drive so I'm not completely destroyed when I arrive in NC in the

    Look forward to hear your advice.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default a really bad idea, on many levels

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry to tell you, there are a lot of things wrong with your plan. The end result is that if you attempt this, at best, you're setting up your family for a miserable experience, at worst, you're actually putting your family in a significant amount of danger.

    First off, you're talking about a trip that's nearly 800 miles. Even in the best of situations, that's a day and a half drive. Despite what online mapping programs may tell you, in the best case, you're looking at about 15-16 hours on the road - and driving through the NY-DC corridor is rarely "best case," even in the middle of the night.

    That's just too far to travel safely in a single day, even with multiple drivers. Just sitting in a car is fatiguing, so saying you'll switch after 6 hours on the road doesn't actually help. A professional driver would not be able to attempt anything close to what you've proposed, because of safety laws.

    Adding to the danger is your idea to drive in the middle of the night, when your body is crying out for sleep. Driving late at night makes it even that much more important that 2 people are awake at all times.

    And then on top of it all, even if you ignored the major safety concerns with attempting a trip like this, you're just setting yourself for a miserable vacation. Both you and your wife will be beyond exhausted once you finally arrive in NC. You will need a couple days to recover, while your kids will be rested and full of energy, and that's just a horrible combination.

    If you want to drive, you should, but you need to completely rethink how you approach this. You need to plan for an overnight stop, and while you might be able to get in a few hours while your kids sleep, that should not be the backbone of your plan. Instead, plan to stop frequently so the roadtrip is something your kids can enjoy, instead of sleep through.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    I think it would be a HUGE mistake trying to do this drive overnight. You should do it during "normal" awake hours. This is also a full 2 day's drive, it's over 800 miles. Absolutely no way can it be done in 12 hours. Plan on splitting the drive roughly in half and make frequent stops to let the kids out to run around for a bit.

    Exactly where in RI are you starting from - I know it's a small state but it makes a difference in the recommended route.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Much, So Wrong

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As someone who has driven long distances, and through the night, and with young children I can tell you that your plan simply won't work. You just can't combine those three elements and expect this to be any fun, let alone safe.

    First of all, It's nearly 800 miles! That's not a day's (or a night's) drive. It's nearly two full days, no matter what some fantasy-based computer program tells you. Having two drivers will NOT help. Neither of you will get any meaningful sleep, and indeed neither of you SHOULD sleep in such a plan. The non-driver needs to stay awake and monitor the driver to make sure that (s)he is alert and not nodding off.

    One of the reasons I drove a lot at night was that those were my normal working hours. I helped staff the graveyard shift at a hospital just a bit north of you on I-95. There are a few benefits to driving at night, mostly just that there's less traffic. But if you're not alert, or not used to the differences such as limited visibility, higher percentage of drunk drivers, fewer motorist's services, increased construction activity, lack of any scenery whatsoever, etc., it can be a time of heightened danger. There's a reason we saw far more accidents on our shift than during the day or evening shifts, even with the vastly decreased number of drivers.

    Finally, there's the kids. Is this really what you want their first experience of a RoadTrip to be? Stuffed in a car late at night and awoken the next morning (if you're lucky) 500 miles down the road with mom and dad so cranky that those final 300 miles are a trudge with everyone at each others' throats? Because that's what you're signing them up for. The drive could, and should, be part of the adventure.

    So what would I suggest instead? First and foremost that you do this during the day when everybody's awake and alert and can enjoy it. Second, plan on at least a day and a half, or better yet two days, to get to Emerald Isle and another two days for the drive home. Third, take different routes down and back so as to maximize the number of new places you get to explore. Fourth, avoid the major cities as much as you can to take some of the stress off the drivers.

    Specifically, I think you should look at the following two routes, one inland, and one following the coast. The inland route would have you 'thread the needle' between Hartford and New Haven, depending on exactly where home is in Rhode Island, heading for Waterbury CT and I-84. Take I-84 to Scranton and I-81 south to Winchester VA and US-17 to Fredericksburg where you'll pick up I-95 south. At Wilson NC use I-795/US-264 around the south side of town and pick up NC-58 which you can take (occasionally duplexed with US-70 or US-17) to Emerald Isle.

    The coastal route would require that you navigate New York City on I-95, and then take the Garden State Parkway down along the Jersey Shore to Cape May and the ferry over to Lewes DE. Next US-9/US-113/US-13 will take you to the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel over to the Norfolk area. From there it's just US-17 down past New Bern NC and NC-58 into Emerald Isle.

    Both of those routes will require an overnight stop. If you break the trip mid way, roughly Chambersburg PA for the inland route and Cape May NJ for the coastal route, you'll have time each of your drive days for some fun stops at state parks, on the beach, etc. Check with your wife and kids for things they'd like to see (besides the insides of their eyelids) on such a trip.


  5. Default

    Wow! Thanks for the helpful information. Never really thought about all those good points you make. Guess I'm going to have to rethink this then. The problem with making it a two day drive is we only have 1 week of vacation at the beach that would essentially make it 4 days of travel counting getting there and back which would only leave three days at the beach house. Perhaps the flight might be the way to go this time and then plan to drive when we can schedule accordingly for those extra travel days. Thank you for the helpful information.

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