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Thread: Avoid Atlanta?

  1. Default Avoid Atlanta?


    Wife and I are taking a Road Trip near Christmas to visit her parents. We're traveling from South Bend, IN (North Central Indiana) to Orlando, FL. My wife is afraid of flying so we are doing this by car.

    Both of us really hate heavy traffic situations and crazy drivers. My wife used to live in Atlanta before we where married and she and my dad (a Truck Driver) have told me that the drivers in Atlanta are highly crazy and very aggressive drivers. (No offense to anyone living in Atlanta).

    My own limited experience there agree's with this as once ended up having to do an unplanned lay-over in Atlanta on a flight and the ride between the hotel and the airport has to count for the scariest moments of my life inside of a car. The driver was crazy and breaking 100 mph (Thats just something you don't do in Indiana, people who do that go to jail.) and the worst thing is that he wasn't even the craziest driver on the road.

    According to MapQuest estimates I can go around Atlanta by following I-65 to Montgomery, AL, then taking a non-interstate highway for about 2 hours to I-10 and that route would take about an hour total of extra driving time.

    Objective is mostly to get there to Celibrate Christmas, but it looks like we arn't going to be pushing too hard to make the best time and giving ourselves plenty of time for the route. (2 full days with a planned hotel stop to sleep inbetween)

    Two questions are.

    1. Do you think its worth it to go around Atlanta? At the schedule if we went through Atlanta we could probably go through there late at night, which may make it significantly easier.

    2. How confident do you feel about MapQuest's driving time estimates?

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

    Default Alabama

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I don't know that I'd agree with your assessment of Indiana drivers, as I've seen some pretty crazy/speed demon drivers on Indiana freeways, but I digress!

    The route you're talking about going through Alabama is certainly an acceptable one. In fact, I did that exact route (US-231 via Dothan) just last year while driving to the Tampa area. Its largely a 4 lane road, and while you'll have a few stoplights and slowdowns, its a well maintained highway that sees a regular amount of traffic - the biggest issues is that it is a little hectic going from I-65 to US-231 in Montgomery which has a lot of stoplights and is a fairly busy commercial area.

    Of course, on the flip side, I drove home through Atlanta and didn't have any problems at all with traffic, going through the city in the early evening right after dinner. If you go "brave" Atlanta, I'd try to avoid rush hour, and you could certainly use the I-285 bypass to miss downtown. But I wouldn't try to go through so late you're shifting your entire schedule around to miss it (there's really no way that you'd be going through very late at night without really pushing yourself for a very long day that first day)

    As far as mapquest or any other computer programs travel time estimates - they are nearly always very optimistic. You'll usually need at least 20% more time once you factor in just the basic stops for fuel, food, restrooms, etc.

    In any case, you're looking at 2 nice full days on the road, where you'll be looking at traveling about 10-12 hours each day. If you decide to go via Atlanta, Chattanooga would be about the perfect midpoint, while via I-65, Cullman, Alabama would be the mid-point with a number of motel options.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-20-2010 at 11:10 AM. Reason: finished thought

  3. #3

    Default A laudable goal, that one is...............

    Hello valpo,

    You betcha I'd consider avoiding Atlanta, and I do so whenever I get the chance. I put my own experiences driving in the ATL metro area right up there (well, down there) with DC/Baltimore, Chicago, and the LA Basin. While late at night would likely be somewhat better, I've been through ATL at 9-10pm and later and it was STILL terrible. It's reasonable to expect Holiday traffic will add materially to the headaches, no matter the time of day/night.

    I took a peek at your proposed alternate and I like it. The Alabama Coastal Plain below Montgomery should provide a relatively flat and gentle ride, and both Troy and Dothan are decent small cities. I'd trade I-65 from Nashville to Montgomery and beyond for I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta and beyond in a New York Minute.


  4. Default

    Micheal: Yeah I figured the Mapquest estimate to be in terms of just driving time with no stops. In terms of stops, if we where going through Atlanta we would probably stop at a hotel someplace just after the Atlanta Metro area. With my other route, I would probably shoot for someplace just before or just after Montgomery, AL. Thats about 12 total hours of driving time, add in stops I figure on driving for 14 total hours. Then the next day we can have a somewhat easier day of about 7 to 8 hours of driving time, maybe 9 to 10 hours tops total time.

    Thanks for the information on US 231, that was one of the aspects I was most worried about. It didn't look like it went through too many small towns but I was still kind of concerned. I don't like to leave the Interstates a lot on my trips because of the greater number of unknowns.

    Foy: Thanks for your response.

    Also something we are concerned about is we are going to be traveling with our puppy most likely. He's a Lab-Mix and will be 6 to 7 months old at the time of the trip. The good news is that we have already taken him on a short road trip to go camping. (About a 4 hour drive)

    I-65 looks like it has a good number of rest-stops down it which will give him plenty of places to go to the bathroom. I'm not sure how the rest-stops would look like going the other way.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would really urge against trying to push all the way to Montgomery or Atlanta on that first day. That's more than 700 miles which is significantly more than we recommend when you're going to have to get up and be back on the road again the next day. Throw in the fact that you've got a puppy and will need to make even more stops than usual, and you could easily be on the road for 15-16 hours, and will leave you exhausted to to be on the road for 10 hours the next day.

    We generally recommend that you limit yourself to a maximum of about 600 miles a day on a multi-day trip, and even less when you're traveling with with children or pets where you need to make more stops.

    Birmingham is a little over halfway, and is 620 miles from South Bend. I could see you making it that far, but I really wouldn't try to push beyond that.

  6. Default

    I'll take that into account thanks. Another thing I like about this route is that it stays on I-65 for the majority of the route. My wife is a person who doesn't handle situations where there are unknowns very well. So I do most if not all of the driving when we are traveling. However she can handle staying on an interstate pretty well. Given that most of this route just sticks with I-65, I can let her handle a lot of the driving.

  7. Default

    Another question about this trip. . . We've heard from multiple people that Alabama can be a place that is rather unfriendly to those outside of the area.

    Can anyone speak to this from experience? Cause in talking to my wife about the trip she's not terribly enthused about the idea of staying in Alabama due to previous experience with the state and my brother who has also been in Alabama has stated that people treated him poorly because it was clear he was from the north.

  8. #8

    Default We reap what we sow


    A strong sense of the decorum required of regulars here in the RTA Forums precludes my entering my initial reaction to these comments.

    So, my official reaction is just as in the subject line: We tend to reap what we sow. Politely stated, when we enter a place of business, anywhere, projecting a sense of respect for the proprietors and employees, we tend to be treated with respect. When we don't, well, we should not be surprised to be treated poorly. Shabby treatment of those who begin their interactions with shabby treatment knows no state line borders, sir.

    Quite frankly, I find myself wondering if Interstate travel is the best idea for you and your family. I don't recall quite such an angst-ridden travel-planning thread, nor one which so regularly and blatantly cast aspersions on people from regions other than your own.

    Good luck with your trip.

    Foy (from North Carolina)

  9. Default

    I don't mean to insult Alabama or anyone in it. I personally have never been there, just as I've personally never driven in Atlanta, although I have been there, on flight connections and once riding through. The only personal experience I have there with drivers agree with what I've heard.

    As far as with Alabama, I'm only basing this on what I've heard. Personally I wouldn't worry about it, unfortunutly my wife is more concerned with it then I am. She tends to be of high anxiety. I usually have to plan around that for anything. In fact we would be flying, except she is afraid to fly.

    In the past I've never had problems with road trips. Wife and I had a road trip from Jacksonville, FL To Charleston South Carolina, to Blue Ridge, GA to South Bend with no problems. I personally have had several road trips, did one from South Bend to Jacksonville FL with other people. We went through Atlanta at night and I was asleep when we drove through. I've also driven three times from South Bend to Nashville, TN and back without problems.

    I've also done several road trips while in college in Valparaiso, IN to places like Champaign IL, Columbus OH, Ann Arbor MI. Never had any problems on these either.

  10. #10

    Default There's the answer!


    It seems your own travel experience is similar to mine--you've never had a problem, no matter where you've been. Me either.

    So the problems of others ultimately have no effect on your own plans and expectations, nor should they.

    Safe travels and enjoy your trip. I happen to like Alabama a great deal. I've met lots of folks there who are quite different from me, my family, and my friends and neighbors, but isn't that one of the great things about interstate travel?


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