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  1. Default Driving Minnesota to Florida


    We are driving from St Paul to Fort Meyers in three weeks. Looking for advice on best route/avoiding traffic and tolls.

    It looks like there are three options:

    1. Iowa route - through Cedar Rapids/St Louis/Nashville/Atlanta

    2. Wisconsin and avoid Chicago - Take 39 at Rockford, head through Champaigne IL, avoid St Louis and go through Nashville

    3. Chicago route - Chicago/indianapolis/Louisville/Nashville

    We are planning on leaving on a Saturday around 4pm. Any thoughts on best routes/goals for getting to Florida on Monday

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Welcome to RTA!

    This probably isn't going to be what you want to hear, but the short is: 1700 miles in 2 days plus a few hours is not smart. Do not believe the smart maps (Google, iMaps, MapQuest) when they say you can drive it in 24 hours. That's an un-real world estimate, where they don't allow for stopping for bathroom, gasoline, food, stretches, or any real-life things like bad traffic, construction (starting to get heavy now in summer), or accidents (someone else's).

    We don't condone straight-through driving here, but if you had to make a speed run, it would have to be with multiple-drivers (i.e. more than 2). In a speed run, one drives, another is a second pair of eyes riding shotgun, while the others take a little shut eye. I've been part of a speed run and it is just not an experience I would like to repeat, because you don't get decent sleep in the backseat of a car. I won't recommend this method at ALL.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think the route using I-39/I-74/I-57 straight down the middle of Illinois is your best bet. It's all freeway and doesn't have any obvious traffic spots, and has only 1 toll entering Illinois (MN pass is now connected to the EZ pass network, so you can use that if you have one, otherwise you have to pay online).

    The route through Iowa is also a reasonable option, but isn't quite freeway standard and could potentially have some 2 lane roads - depending upon if you were thinking of going down I-35 or taking US-52 through Rochester as Google may suggest. Going through Chicago wouldn't be my recommendation, unless you love traffic and extra tolls.

    Once you get to Nashville, you might consider taking I-65/US-231 through Alabama instead of I-24/I-75 through Chattanooga and Atlanta, which can be problematic traffic spots.

    I will also echo Donna's note of recommending you try to find some extra time for this trip. I used to fairly regularly drive to Tampa using this same routing, and I'd leave in the late afternoon, stop for the night in central/southern Illinois and again in Alabama or Georgia, and then arrive on the evening of the 3rd night. However- the big key is I am starting 5 hours south of you, and my destination was 2 hours north of yours, so you're basically trying to do an extra 7+ hours of driving in the same amount of time. Even leaving at noon on Saturday would be a significant help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default "The Art of the Speed Run"

    You've read Donna's mention of the "speed run" -- here is an oldie-but-goodie article we published about this practice a few years ago. "The Art of the Speed Run."

    I have done a number of speed runs over the years - the fastest and most insane was LA to Washington, DC in less than 61 hours. I would never recommend that anyone attempt this.

    By the shortest possible route, your trip is 1609 miles -- and driving at 70+ mph, but factoring in eating, construction delays, weather delays, all of the usual stuff -- the fastest you can drive this safely is about 29 hours -- which would be nearly four (4) full days of driving, so trying to do it in less then three full days is a bit dicey.

    If you can find some more time in your trip, please do so.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would recommend I-94/I-39/I-74/I-57/I-24/I-75. You need THREE FULL DAYS to do this safely unless you have 3 or more experienced drivers. You may have traffic issues in Nashville and Tampa and you will probably have traffic issues in Atlanta.

  6. #6


    Atlanta is almost a guaranteed slow roller. The Tampa area is also very, very congested. I would not want to be a tired driver going through either of those cities and the stop-and-go driving contributes to the fatigue effect. My rule of thumb is if time is of the essence then fly, don't drive.

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