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  1. Default Philly to Florida Key West

    Hello,

    I'm looking for general advice on a road trip from Philly to the Key West from roughly January 3-7. I'm a fairly new driver and this would only be my second major road trip with the first being a road trip to Maine that I took last year. I specifically would like to know what kind of driving conditions to expect at this time of year, whether sightseeing along the way with this time frame is feasible, realistically what kind of a budget for the driving portion alone should I shoot for, any shortcuts or tips, etc. Generally I would like to hear from those who have taken this trip on a 5 day budget in January (or anything similar). Looking forward to hearing and thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,178

    Default Round Numbers and Other Generalizations

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    At just under 1,400 miles, this trip will take two-and-a-half to three days to comfortably complete the driving in good weather conditions. With five days you have a couple of days 'spare' to account for delays due to untoward weather and for sight-seeing. You won't know the weather conditions for your drive until just a day or two before you set out, so keeping that spare time in reserve is important.

    Monetarily, I use a figure of $125-150/day as a rough rule-of-thumb when doing general planning for RoadTrips. That accounts for food, lodging, and gas but not any admissions to venues along the way. It also, obviously, depends on your taste in accommodations. You can save money by staying at budget motels such as Motel 6, Super 8, Econo Lodge and Red Roof Inns, or spend more to stay at upscale resorts. Your fuel costs will of course depend on the mileage your car gets, but you can do your own estimate using our Fuel Cost Calculator.

    If the weather looks good for the time you'll be on the road, you can consider something other than a straight drive on I-95. A couple of possible scenic alternatives are outlined HERE.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-21-2018 at 12:33 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,167

    Default

    I personally would completely avoid I-95 between Philly and Richmond VA!

    Go out to Harrisburg and pick up I-81, take that south to I-77 to Columbia SC, then I-26 to I-95.

    5 days one way is easy to work with, but 5 days round trip is impossible.

    Driving conditions are not possible to predict until you are a lot closer to the day of travel.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I personally would completely avoid I-95 between Philly and Richmond VA!

    Go out to Harrisburg and pick up I-81, take that south to I-77 to Columbia SC, then I-26 to I-95.

    5 days one way is easy to work with, but 5 days round trip is impossible.

    Driving conditions are not possible to predict until you are a lot closer to the day of travel.
    You can partially think out your planning for gas and toll road costs along with alternative route planning at this useful website:
    https://tollguru.com/

    GLC's advice will help you avoid expensive toll roads and traffic back-ups. Of course, you may opt in for some I-95 travel if any of the sights you wish to visit are along that route, in which case you want to consider time of day routing. Much of the Federal workforce in the DC area will be away on vacation through Friday, Jan 4th, but that is tempered by the heavy southerly SnowBird traffic that time of year. However, morning rush hour should not be as bad.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,178

    Default Route Generalizations

    One of the major benefits of doing a RoadTrip is that your car is at your command. It will go exactly where, and only where, you tell it to go. I generally agree that I-95, particularly between Boston and Washington (the infamous BosWash Corridor), should be avoided if at all possible. However, at this time of year, I'd probably also try to avoid I-81 which in PA, MD and VA can see significant snow. Your simplest and most direct alternative would be to use I-95 just between Philly and Wilmington DE and then use US-13/US-113 south from there to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (toll, but worth it!). You can also use DE-1 for parts of that stretch, but it is a toll road and at this time of year traffic should not be heavy on the US highways.

    After crossing over to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area US-58 will take you back to I-95 south with most of its tolls and major metropolitan areas behind you, and with the warming influences of the Gulf Stream that much closer to your route. You can, of course, follow the coastal route I suggested in my previous response if you want to take your time and do a bit of sight-seeing. The choices are yours.

    AZBuck

  6. #6

    Default

    Couple tips from my personal drive to Key West.

    - I highly recommend stay out side of Miami and just drive through Miami.
    - The Key West Express - If you prefer, there is a ferry takes you from Ft. Myers to Key West. Will save you driving through Miami and six hours of driving however you will need to detour to Ft. Myers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,192

    Default Once in Florida.......

    ....you may consider leaving I-95 soon after Jacksonville, and opt for US-1 and/or the very scenic A1A, or even alternating between them.

    At Ft. Pierce you will come past The Arcade building and its magnificent murals. Worth a stop.

    If you'd like to bypass Miami, take I-595 west from Ft Lauderdale to US-27. Then take that south. It becomes FL-997, take it all the way to Homestead. It is not a heavily travelled road, and quite scenic. It will also give you access to The Everglades NP.

    The trip along the Keys can be done in two hours, but it is worth allowing quite a bit more time to stop at some of the attractions along the way.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,167

    Default

    That's a very good suggestion to avoid Miami. The toll roads in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are now cashless and your EZ-Pass from up north is not accepted. License plate tolling carries a surcharge. If you were just to take I-95 through Miami to the end, it dumps you out on US-1 which is not a pleasant drive till you get past Homestead.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    <snip> and your EZ-Pass from up north is not accepted. <snip>
    Be aware that EZ-Pass is now accepted on some Florida toll roads, so if you have one wrap it up in tin foil and put it away unless you want to be double-billed. I believe there are three different road tolling agencies in the Orlando area alone. Time for a universal automatic tolling company for the entire USA (not that I condone toll roads but it isn't always an option). I believe the SunPass will cover all FL toll roads/bridges, etc.

    https://www.thenews-messenger.com/st...da/1158551002/

    The map shows a real leviathan of EZ-Pass toll roads in the Orlando area.
    https://www.cfxway.com/wp-content/up...assFinal-1.pdf

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,167

    Default

    That's only in the Orlando area. EZ-Pass cannot be used in the Miami area.

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