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  1. Default NYC to NOLA in 3 weeks

    Hey guys,
    We are a couple with a baby (1 year old). We plan to come to New York around mid-May, stay there for a few days, and then road-trip south to New Orleans, then fly back to New York for our returning flight to Europe.
    We have around 3 weeks in total.
    We love good food, wine/beer, nature and some hiking, and sightseeing. We want to feel the culture and learn about its history too.

    Currently the general plan is to pass through these points:
    • Philadelphia
    • Washington DC
    • Blue Ridge Parkway
    • Smokey Mountains
    • Nashvilla
    • Natches Trace all the way to...
    • New Orleans


    We also want to rent an RV, but as this is going to be our first time in one, I'm afraid 3 weeks is going to be too much, so preferably if it's possible to rent it only for a week or so, in some part of the trip.

    How long do you think we should stay on each point?
    Is 3 weeks too much? Should we shorten the road trip and leave a few days for upstate New York?

    Would appreciate any feedback.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,620

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think what you've got laid out should make for a very nice trip, and 3 weeks seems like a very nice amount of time for it.

    I will say that I would not recommend trying to go back and forth between cars and RVs. That would cost you quite a lot of money - as you'd be dealing with multiple one-way drop fees, and it also would end up taking quite a lot of extra time.

    What I might look at doing is using trains/public transit/taxi/uber for your exploration of NYC/Philly/DC, as those cities are difficult to navigate by car, especially with traffic and parking concerns. Then, when you're ready to move onto the Mountain pick up the RV and take it all the way to New Orleans.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,355

    Default

    Hi, and welcome to RTA!

    I would concur with Michael, as RV's are not very friendly in cities. There would be few places to park it in the NYC, Philadelphia and DC sections of your trip, and you'll end up staying way out of town. If you can handle a baby and its paraphernelia on a train, I'd go that route and pick up the RV later.

    RV's are not the budget-friendly things that people assume they're going to be, though. You have the rental fees and the "package fees", and you can end up with a $1000/week bill just for those, THEN you have the overnight rental fees. In many cases, the RV ends up being the more expensive way to go. However, you have everything right there with you. It might help you to go to this thread and pick the questions that most apply.

    If you decide to rent the RV, here are some other posts that will be helpful:
    Camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway
    Camping on the Natchez Trace Parkway
    Camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Hope this helps!
    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,879

    Default Two by Two

    As with the first two responders, I'm going to suggest some major changes to your itinerary to try to save you money and aggravation. Remember, not only have you never traveled by RV before, you have never traveled with an infant before. Trying to combine two new things on a three week journey will, I'm afraid, become too much. So let's examine where you can save money and aggravation and just make your trip more pleasurable all around.

    First, as both Michael and Donna have suggested, I will also urge you to forget trying to do this trip by RV. As noted, they are a huge money sink, especially if doing a one-way drop-off. Second, they are a huge time sink. They are really meant for driving a day or two and setting up camp somewhere, not for city-to-city driving. A simple sedan and 'vacation rentals' would be a far more efficient (time and money) than an RV. My wife and I adopted this mode of travel maybe 20 years or so ago and have never regretted it, even when traveling with young grandchildren. There are several outfits that handle vacation rentals such as Home Away, VRBO AirBnB, FlipKey, HomeToGo, and several others. You rent entire homes or apartments, often we've found, for less than the daily cost of an RV rental even before you pay for a place to park it. And you don't have to deal with emptying the RV's septic tanks, refilling the water tanks, etc. A simple small sedan will be much easier to drive and park, and a whole lot cheaper to drive both on the daily rental cost and the cost of the fuel to keep it going.

    Second, with three weeks and the places you want to see, I think it might easily make more sense, and certainly it would be cheaper, to do a loop trip down to New Orleans by one route and back to New York by another. That would save you both the one-way drop-off fee as well as the cost of two tickets for the flight back to New York. Such a complete round trip would require about 3,000 miles of driving, which at even a leisurely average of 300 miles on 'driving days' would leave you 11 days to explore the cities you'd like to visit. So consider the following routing (described counter-clockwise (or anticlockwise if you prefer): From NYC head inland on I-78 to I-81 and follow that down the Great Valley to northern Virginia and the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. That will take you (very scenically) to Asheville NC and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I-40 will then take you to Nashville near the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

    For the return drive to New York, you would start by heading east along the Gulf Coast, perhaps visiting Gulf Islands National Seashore, then take I-65 to Atlanta GA, and I-20 east to I-95 north which will take you through Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. You can, of course, make the same loop in a clockwise direction. But either way, I think it would give you a good mix of urban history/nightlife and rural scenery/fresh air. It would also save you the hassle of using modes of travel you're inexperienced with, that are expensive, and have to be changed out two, three, or more times on what should be a relaxed and relaxing adventure.

    Finally a couple of other points to keep in mind. Your child will remember none of this, so make sure that you and your spouse get to do the things you want to do. And to that end, I have just given you a rough outline of what your routing could look like. If you do decide to alter your plans and do a loop trip by sedan, we can and will offer you lots of historic, scenic, cultural and outdoor opportunities along it so that each day will have something to look forward to.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,842

    Default

    The only comment I have about Buck's suggestion is this - the traffic on I-95 between Richmond and NYC is terrible, and there are several tolls involved. You may want to dump the car in DC and use public transportation to see DC, Philly, and NYC.

    To save on the one way drop fee, take the train from NYC to DC to pick up the car. Then all you have to do is take I-66 to Front Royal to pick up the Skyline Drive. Just be mindful of when and where you can take I-66 without paying tolls or require an EZ-Pass, and the HOV lane rules.

  6. Default

    Thanks guys, great info.
    The tip about using public transportation in the northern cities makes total sense.
    I'll also adopt the recommendation to rent a car instead of an RV. You got a point there :)

    I'm not sure about the return trip. Having to go back by car will mean that we either have to rush ourselves through the points OR take 4-5 extra days, which will cost quite a lot too.
    I found some affordable deals ($1300 for 21 days), and found that the one-way fee is not too bad ($100-$200). Flight is around $230 for the both us, so in the end it might come cheaper than taking the return option...

    Another point I wanted to clarify is that we 5 days in NY, and then another 3 weeks for the road trip (to New Orleans).
    Do you think three weeks is too much time for such a trip?
    I would love more recommendations :)

    Thanks again

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by deltablues View Post
    Thanks guys, great info.
    The tip about using public transportation in the northern cities makes total sense.
    I'll also adopt the recommendation to rent a car instead of an RV. You got a point there :)

    I'm not sure about the return trip. Having to go back by car will mean that we either have to rush ourselves through the points OR take 4-5 extra days, which will cost quite a lot too.
    I found some affordable deals ($1300 for 21 days), and found that the one-way fee is not too bad ($100-$200). Flight is around $230 for the both us, so in the end it might come cheaper than taking the return option...

    Another point I wanted to clarify is that we 5 days in NY, and then another 3 weeks for the road trip (to New Orleans).
    Do you think three weeks is too much time for such a trip?
    I would love more recommendations :)

    Thanks again
    I think the idea (as listed by different posters) was that, if you drove both ways you'd hit some of your options going towards New Orleans, and the rest on the way back.

    Thus, you would still pay a similar amount for the car, but not be paying the drop off fees and the flight back, and no more for your lodgings, since you'd still be spending the same number of nights, so the real difference would be how the one way and flight costs compare to the extra fuel/tolls (and possibly miles on a car, if they are limited with a given rental) to drive back from New Orleans to DC area.

  8. Default

    The thing is that staying in 3 , 2 nights each is completely different from staying in 6 places, 1 night each. We want to chill on our way. it's a vacation, not a race :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,842

    Default

    See NYC. Take the train to Philly. See Philly. Take the train to DC, see DC, rent a car. Drive to NOLA via the inland route. Return to DC via the coastal route. Drop the car, take the train to NYC, fly home. You have plenty of time to spend 2 nights anywhere you want.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,879

    Default Your Choice

    At its best, what this site does is offer you options and the cost/benefit of each of those options, then lets you decide, based on your preferences, what's best for you. Sometimes posters take our advice, as you did in deciding against using an RV, and sometimes they don't, as you did in deciding to stay with a one-way drive to New Orleans and then return to New York by air. Your vacation, your choice.

    So let's now look at a one-way route from New York to New Orleans that hits all the highlights you initially listed, and see what else is along such a route. I'm going to leave open whether you pick up your car in New York or Washington. As others have noted, having a car in a big city, especially New York City, can be more of a hassle than it's worth. But I could still see picking up you rental when you are ready to leave New York and using it to explore Philadelphia and Washington neither of which is as bad as New York for parking, the biggest problem with having a car in an urban setting.

    Philadelphia is certainly rich in historic sites, having been the home of the Continental Congress which declared America's independence from Great Britain. Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross' House are starting points, all near Independence Mall. Valley Forge is a short distance out of town as are Brandywine Battlefield. Not directly connected to the Revolution, but of historic and cultural interest is Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street. Then there are the many history and art museums (The Philadelphia Museum of Art was famous before Rocky Balboa ran up its steps!), theaters, and city parks - most notably Fairmount Park. One other site worth mentioning in the Philly area, but that you can include on any drive between Philly and Washington, is Longwood Gardens.

    If Baltimore does not figure in your plans, then an option you might want to consider is skipping I-95 between Philly and DC and instead head down the Delmarva Peninsula via I-95/US-13/US-301/US-50 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and cross the Bay into Annapolis. Despite being the state's capital and the home to the United States Naval Academy, I find Annapolis to be a very charming and eminently walkable town.

    Washington is another city chock-full of places worth visiting, mostly centered around the National Mall and including the three seats of our government: Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. As for museums, the best of art, science and commerce are all included in the sprawling Smithsonian Institution. For a little natural scenery close to, but away from, the big city check out Great Falls Park and perhaps the C&O Canal.

    That's enough for right now. We'll get into sites worth seeing on your drive to New Orleans a bit later.

    AZBuck

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