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Old 11-03-2013, 01:58 PM
 
2 posts, read 3,406 times
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Hi Guys

Read some great advice so thought might ask you all.

My Wife, me and our 2 Years old Daughter are flying from London to Chicago in Dec 2013, Flying back on 2nd Jan 2014.

We will meet and spend couple of days in Chicago, with my friend.

From there we all 2 couples and 2 kids (under 3) are planing to Travel by Road to Florida.

We want to make the most of our trip to the USA.

We were even considering to hire a RV, so we can save money on the hotel stays.

Please suggest us a good way of traveling and a good route, things to see and do, considering it will be winter.

Thanks for reading
Sri
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:06 AM
 
Location: Whispering pines, cutler bay FL.
1,912 posts, read 2,473,108 times
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To begin with that trip just from Chicago to Miami by car not site seeing about three days and it depends on how much time you want to spend in Miami.

I would plan that carefully since if you rent a RV camp ground space gets pretty full, in Miami there is a campground Larry and penny Thompson on 184 th but that is getting pretty full right now and there might not be available spaces.

Also do you want to spend any time in Orlando and see the theme parks?

We would need a little not details to suggest more on your road trip.
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Old 11-04-2013, 02:19 PM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,624,328 times
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Agreed we need more information to help or give better advice. Here's what I got so far for you to contemplate.

December is a coin flip on winter storms, so you may have to drive in snow/ice/snow storms until you get past the 'Mason Dixon' line. (about 1/2 way from Chicago to Miami) I've done the math a bunch of times and it usually does NOT work out that you save money renting an RV. You do get a much different experience, but saving money isn't usually the case. Figure 5-6 mpg, gas is an average of $3.25 for regular, 1400 miles to Miami (figure at least 3,000 round trip) plus the cost of the rental, which a lot of times you need to ADD a per mile driven fee on top off. 'Campgrounds' with 'services' still cost something to stay at, good sam discounts will get you into the $20 - $40 per night range. Disney is of course, more per night. An SUV should get around 18 mpg and has a much better and 'flat' rental rate. Although you get to pay more for your Hotel stays, figure an average of $120 per night per room, up to 2 adults/2 kids per room. Disney will be more - unless you stay on the outskirts. We rented a nice house for $150/night outside of Orlando... You can find similar deals in Miami.

As far as route - stay on the interstates, like I-65, to I-24, to I-75 on the way down. Anything with the same blue/red symbol as those and an 'I' number is a major road and is maintained in the winter. Obviously, a major snow storm will still shut those down. Also, I keep my routes fluid - so if a major storm or accident shuts down I-75, I will have alternate or bypass routes in mind. I would say I alter my routes probably 30% of the time when I take my cross country trips. (About every year we take a cross country driving vacation). It also depends on what you want to see on the way down. For example, you may want to see some touristy/trappy areas like Branson, Mo or Gatlinburg, TN. (or Nashville). Personally, if you are going to make the trek all the way down to South Florida, you should go all the way to Key West. It isn't that much further... For whatever, reason people like to see Everglades National Park- and it shouldn't be overwhelmingly hot/humid/buggy during December. I also like John Pennekamp Park in Key largo and the glass bottom boat tours.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:17 PM
 
Location: Whispering pines, cutler bay FL.
1,912 posts, read 2,473,108 times
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Dakstar you are my hero! Thank you for the reverse early fall trip up north!
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Old 11-05-2013, 04:41 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,537,635 times
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There are so many variables here I wouldn't begin to know how to address them all. This really depends on what your preferences are. So I'll just tell you what I would do:

I can't tell if you are the one with a kid or not, but assuming you are, then you have a child who can fly. Road tripping from Chicago in winter is very rough, and borderline insane in my opinion with an RV and a driver not from the States. Plus, you don't have nearly enough time. Road tripping the States is not really what you're picturing if you're on the interstates - all you'll see is about 2,000 miles (3,000km?) of bare trees, flat highway, and highway bank. There is very little to see from any interstate. To see the sights, you need to get off onto the smaller roads, but that takes a huge amount of time. You're looking at several long days straight of high-stress, dangerous driving with black ice and possible storms each way, and several days additional if you stop to do anything. There is no "making the most of the States" in that.

An option would be to take a train so you can see more countryside and don't have to drive, but trains are not cheaper in the US than airfare even though they take tons longer. Almost everything will look gray until you hit southern Georgia, anyway. This country is huge, to make the most of it I'd recommend flying from Chicago (watch the dates - stay at off-peak times to keep the fares low, generally it would be about $300US roundtrip and the kids are free if they're in your lap, but holiday time can be higher), and then renting a car in FL. Florida itself is huge, about 9hr drive from one end to the other assuming you don't have car trouble or stop much, so it really depends what you want to do and where.

St. Augustine is great if you're into the history stuff - it's the oldest city in the US (founded by the Spanish) and is very beautiful and beachside. Of course, there is the tourist bonanza that is Orlando. There are plenty of beautiful seaside towns heading south along the Atlantic, and the more artsy feel of Marco Island on the Gulf side. Then there is cosmopolitan Miami and South Beach, and the islandy feel of the Florida Keys (note - Key West is fascinating, but is more like Vegas on a tiny crowded island - if that's not your thing with babies in tow, no need to go 100 miles out of your way). If money is a concern, there are plenty of non-touristy places that are beautiful. Keep in mind that you are coming at the busiest time of year for FL, and prices and space with be in flux accordingly. Note, Northern Florida may not be exactly hot at that time of the year although it will be pleasant - if you want HOT, you'll need to go all the way down to the bottom of the State, and even then it might only be in the low 80s F.

If it were me and I had a whole month here, I'd hit the road and take my time going down to see as much as I could in multiple states. But if I only had about 2 weeks, I'd see my friend in freezing Chicago, then hop in a plane together, and rent a car in FL. I'd take 3 days in Orlando if I'd never seen it before and didn't think I'd get another chance (I personally hate touristy stuff, but it's worth seeing if you're into it), and then 3 days in Miami or the Keys (Miami is about 1.5 hrs from Key Largo in that season, and Key West is 4 hrs from Key Largo, so seeing all of it may not be an option if you also want to have time to do things). If there was extra time I'd go to the Everglades, and St. Augustine too. If all I wanted to do was get some sun and relax on a beach in peace and quiet and save a little cash, I'd go straight to a hotel somewhere between Juno and Jupiter and stay there the whole time. My personal opinion is that the best beach in all of Florida is Crandon Beach in Miami on Key Biscayne, though.

Hope you have a good time, and that your flights in and out of Chicago are not delayed or cancelled due to weather. Chicago is a great place, but I only like it in the summer - it becomes a completely different world when it's hot and green! If you do drive, be safe! But if you're here for fun and not to work, I recommend flying and seeing the best of what you came to see.
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:31 PM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,624,328 times
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I think the OP really needs to narrow down what they want to accomplish...

Starfishkey - Your idea to fly and rent a car in Miami (or even Orlando) is good one if the idea is to just explore Florida.
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Old 11-06-2013, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Miami
6,853 posts, read 21,091,006 times
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Moving this to the Florida forum.
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Old 11-06-2013, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Broward County FL
652 posts, read 1,520,399 times
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Don't rent an RV, the rental charges, extra fuel alone will cost much more than driving in a regular vehicle.

The largest major attraction along the way will be Nashville if you are into country music.
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Old 11-07-2013, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Florida
23,801 posts, read 11,651,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
I think the OP really needs to narrow down what they want to accomplish...

Starfishkey - Your idea to fly and rent a car in Miami (or even Orlando) is good one if the idea is to just explore Florida.
I agree. First off, an RV is a giant pain to be driving around Fla in December. Heavy traffic and it's hard to find enough room to park those things, so you would still need a car to get around town. That's what you see lots of on the road--RVs towing a car.

I've done that drive in the winter and, frankly, the scenery until you get to Fla is just brown dead trees and grass against gray skies--not really very nice. The chances of hitting inclement weather are pretty good also. We hit a snow/ice storm from VA to Tallahassee in December once, and it was a nightmare. Southern states do not have a lot of salt or snow clearing machinery so it was driving on the interstate with sheer ice for miles--forget back roads. Finally drove down an exit and all motels were booked so we slept in car until morning when ice melted.

Just my opinion, but I would also fly and rent a car, then spend the time in the Fla sunshine and warmth. December is not a great time for road trips through the midwest. Unless you are driving west, there's not a whole lot to see.
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