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  1. #1

    Default September 2009: Atlanta-Kentucky-Virginia-Atlanta

    Hi everyone,

    Recently discovered this site and think it is great!

    Anyway, my partner Frank and I (Michael) are planning a road trip in September this year. We are looking at 3 weeks in the US in total, dates not finalised yet. Both of us love planning trips and have already spent a lot of time looking at road maps and seeing where we might go.

    We'd be flying into Atlanta on the direct Delta flight from Manchester, which arrives in the afternoon, and we'd probably spend a couple of days in Atlanta before heading off. We will first be heading for Owensboro, KY where we will stay about a week with friends. Then our trip back to Atlanta would be via Monongahela Forest, Richmond, Williamsburg, North Carolina coast (maybe New Bern and/or Wilmington), Charleston, Savannah and possibly Macon. Looking at Google maps that would be about 1700 miles, which we'd aim to take 10 to 12 days (we're fairly flexible on times and don't want to rush). And we'd be looking to stay in motels/budget accommodation.

    We've both driven in the US before, but this is our first long trip together. Does that sounds reasonable? We'd like to avoid the interstates and take interesting routes. Is there anything else we might add?

    As for the car hire, if we're in Atlanta to acclimatise to the time zone before setting off, would it make more sense to get the car from a midtown/suburban location rather than at the airport (in other words, are airport rental places much more expensive)? Any good car hire firms in Atlanta recommended?

    We think this trip would give us a good varied experience of the South-east, national parks, forest, historical cities and the coast.

    Thanks for any tips and recommendations.

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-17-2009 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Sorry, New members may not post off-site links

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You've Got the Basics

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You seem to have already devised a great trip, so I'll just try to fill in your specific questions. Generally, off-airport locations do offer savings on car rentals, not necessarily on the base charge, but on the taxes and tariffs charged to 'support' the airport and local governments. Just check with either the usual travel service search engines such as Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia and others to find the best price and then with the individual car hire firms to see if there is a difference in charges from location to location. As to route suggestions, if you're going from Williamsburg to Charleston, then I'd recommend that you drive down the Outer Banks of North Carolina on NH-12 to Okracoke and then take the ferry over to Cedar Island before continuing southward. This chain of barrier islands has a lot to offer in scenery, history (Kitty Hawk and the first English colony in North America just to name two) and some wonderful undeveloped beaches.


  3. #3

    Default Yes, take the ferries in NC

    Hello '57,

    By all means take the NC 12 route down the Outer Banks. Engage in conversation any of the locals (alas, the few remaining) between about Nags Head and Beaufort and you'll hear a distinct Elizabethan English brogue which should be quite familiar. The term used for the locals is Hoi-Toiders, for the manner by which they pronounce "high tide". You'll pass by Buxton and have a chance to see and climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The view of the Outer Banks from 208' shows them for what they are--a sandbar some 35 miles offshore from the mainland.

    Be advised of the two ferry rides involved: the 45 minute Hatteras to Ocracoke Island run (generally departing each end every 30 to 45 minutes, from the early am through late pm) and the Ocracoke-Cedar Island run (a 2.5 hour run, reservations strongly recommended).

    If you hug the coast all the way to Wilmington, and if you like B&Bs, I heartily recommend The Verandas in Wilmington. It's but a 2 block stroll (or stagger) from the bars and restaurants on the Wilmington waterfront, the verandas themselves are beautiful spots to unwind following a day's travel, the breakfasts are to die for, and the gentlemen who own and operate it are among the friendliest fellows anywhere on Earth.

    Have a great time planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  4. #4


    We've already been looking at ferry schedules so are now definitely going down the North Carolina Coast to Ocracoke. It looks great.

    And though we are mainly going to be staying in budget accommodation, we might just be tempted to try the Verandas in Wilmington!

    All assuming there is no hurricane warnings at that time! We'll be keeping an eye on the forecasts.

  5. #5

    Default Correct you are

    Quote Originally Posted by mjdh1957 View Post
    We've already been looking at ferry schedules so are now definitely going down the North Carolina Coast to Ocracoke. It looks great.

    All assuming there is no hurricane warnings at that time! We'll be keeping an eye on the forecasts.
    Yes, by all means keep track of tropical weather systems. Today's forecasting is very good and you'll know literally days in advance as to any need to re-route. The last thing you'd want to do is drive directly into an evacuating coastal town--not fun.


  6. #6

    Default Final plan

    Right, we've now finalised our dates and booked our flights and car hire. We got a reasonable deal on flights and car through Expedia, so will be picking up our car at Atlanta airport.

    Wed 14th October: Fly from Manchester to Atlanta via Amsterdam with KLM. Arrive about 13.40. Pick up car. Spend one night in Atlanta, visit M L King Centre.

    Thur 15th: Drive from Atlanta to Owensboro, KY. Spend time with friends there.

    Wed 21st: Leave Owensboro to drive to Charleston, WV.
    Thur 22nd: Drive through Monongahela Forest to Williamsburg, VA.
    Fri 23rd: Williamsburg to NC Outer Banks (maybe Nag's Head, maybe Roanoke)
    Sat 24th: Nag's Head to Ocracoke Island. Stay until 26th
    Mon 26th: Drive Ocracoke to Wilmington, NC.
    Tue 27th: Wilmington
    Wed 28th: Drive Wilmington to Charleston, SC.
    Thur 29th: Drive Charleston to Savannah, GA.
    Fri 30th: Savannah
    Sat 31st: Drive Savannah to Atlanta Airport, depart 17.50 to Amsterdam and Manchester with KLM.

    So our only long drive is from Owensboro to Williamsburg, with an overnight in the Charleston, WV area. We would have liked a couple more days but my partner wasn't able to get more time off work. And if there are hurricane warnings we will be making a long detour to avoid them!

    We're aiming for a mix of cheap and decent accommodation, we definitely like the look of the Verandas B&B in Wilmington!

    Any thoughts?

    Is it worth buying a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone in a Walmart somewhere to have contact for emergencies? Is that even possible for non-residents?

    Thanks for any advice.

    Michael & Frank

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Is it worth buying a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone in a Walmart somewhere to have contact for emergencies? Is that even possible for non-residents?
    Yes, and that's about the only way for a non-resident to have a working cell phone here without paying ridiculous roaming charges on their home cell phone, if it's even compatible with our networks. I don't know of any way for a non-resident to just buy a sim card. We only have two GSM networks that I know of - AT&T and T-Mobile.

  8. #8

    Default Thanks for the update

    I'm always glad to hear of plans coming together.

    For a stopover enroute from Owensboro to Nags Head, might I suggest Lexington, VA, Staunton, VA, or Charlottesville, VA. All are over 1/2 way, but not by a great deal.

    You'll want to time your second day's departure in order to pass through Tidewater, VA before around 3pm. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the Monitor & Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel, and I-64 in general tend to get very congested starting around 3pm, when the day shift at the various shipyards and the Navy base ends. I'd give close consideration to taking the M&M route, using I-664, rather than face a greater likelihood of problems with the HRBT.

    And I suppose you're referring to Roanoke Island as to plans for a stopover on the second day. That's a nice little place. The town is Manteo. Think about The Weeping Radish for supper at North Carolina's very first brewpub. There's a new brewpub on the Banks at Kill Devil Hills (adjacent town to Nags Head) and their menu looks pretty nice. You can't miss it--there is a tall tower supporting the windmill which supplies most of the business' electric power.

    Glad to see you're taking in Ocracoke. October can be a wonderful time to visit there. There will be surf-fishermen there in good numbers, their "beach buggies" outfitted with coolers and surf rods galore. Ditto on The Verandas, as October is a grand time to enjoy Wilmington, too.

    Plan on!


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