Mouse on Wheels
October 15, 2012 1:53 PM   Subscribe

It looks like we won't be able to afford flying for our Disney trip this November, so we're driving. Point of origination: Madison, Wisconsin. Drive time is 22 hours.

Data points:

We have a Chrysler T&C with 2 DVD players and RCA input for another device (like our Xbox). We've basically got an entertainment center on wheels. We don't have to worry about keeping the kids busy, I think. We have 3 drivers, and 6 people total. I think we're set for 1, perhaps 2, days of travel.

We'd be leaving for the trip on the 20th of November. Our only limitation here is making our dinner reservations on the 21st. Check-in at the Disney resorts is 24/7, but the room isn't typically available until, at the earliest, Noon on the day you check in. Our last day in the parks is the 1st of December, with no room reservation for that evening. Our intent is to leave on the 1st, stay overnight somewhere on the road, and then get home by the 2nd.

Questions: Is the corridor of southern Illinois to Nashville, down I75 through Georgia (and around Atlanta) rife with any issues for which Google Maps will not prepare us? Are there hotels along that corridor to which we should pay particular attention, or any that we should avoid?
posted by thanotopsis to Travel & Transportation around Orlando, FL (20 answers total)
Where are you thinking of stopping? And what route would you be taking through Southern Illinois to Nashville? (I do Southern Illinois to Nashville [and vice versa], several times a year.)
posted by ocherdraco at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2012

Response by poster: Here's what Google Maps says is the shortest route. We hit Bloomington/Normal in Illinois, bounce through corners of Indiana and Kentucky, and then hit Nashville.

As we're pretty good at the whole driving thing, we're playing it by ear for now. With 3 drivers, we can probably make it in one shot without an overnight on the way down there, but on the 1st, on the way back, we'll probably have to stop somewhere along the way.
posted by thanotopsis at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2012

Well, unfortunately that takes you out of most of the area that I'm familiar with. However, one thing that is on your way and might be worth doing (depending on your budget and/or time) would be stopping for lunch or dinner at the Red Geranium in New Harmony, IN, or even just stopping there for a leg stretch and a walk around the Labyrinth. Here's how a stop in New Harmony would affect your route.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:22 PM on October 15, 2012

You definitely want to consider what time of day you’re going through Atlanta. You could easily add a couple of hours or more at rush hour.
posted by bongo_x at 2:23 PM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

I-75 is pretty easy through Georgia, but as bongo_x said, you do need to time your pass through Atlanta carefully. Aim for either before 3:30 or after 7 on a weekday. In my experience Saturdays and Sundays aren't as bad.
posted by bizzyb at 2:28 PM on October 15, 2012

Response by poster: Google takes around the loop in Atlanta. Is that the preferred way, or should we try to shoot through the middle? Conventional wisdom usually says the loop is the best, but sometimes there's a clearer straight route.

Also, our traffic problems are going to be generally exacerbated by the proximity to Thanksgiving, I'm guessing. I'm not looking forward to Atlanta.
posted by thanotopsis at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2012

FWIW, the resorts will usually bring your bags up to your room for you if you check in early, and most of them will have showers available at the pool, so you should bring accessible changes of clothing -- you don't need to worry about waiting around until your room is ready.
posted by jeather at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2012

I drove from NY to FL a couple years ago. We hit Atlanta at night going down and it wasn't bad at all. Like, it was dead. I was the most nervous driver on the trip and we went through Atlanta on my shift both there and back. I'd probably time it to hit the ATL metro area after 10pm if you can... lunchtime traffic isn't pretty.
posted by peacrow at 2:42 PM on October 15, 2012

I can only speak as someone who drives to and through Atlanta occasionally, but not as someone that experiences the traffic daily. Personally if it's not rush hour, I usually just stick to the main straight-through-the-center route.
posted by bizzyb at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Re taking the loop (I-285) vs going straight through Atlanta, it really doesn't matter. If you try to go through there during rush hour, either will be bumper-to-bumper and at a standstill.
posted by JaneL at 2:53 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You won't really save anything by taking I-285 (the loop)... but time of day is REALLY important. Bumper to Bumper for HOURS around rush hour. Truly some of the consistently worst traffic I have ever experienced. You could easily lose 2+ hours if you time it wrong.
posted by LittleMy at 2:59 PM on October 15, 2012

What option flags did you set for that route? I can't imagine that driving through the middle of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky on state highways is faster than sticking to the Interstates. You will be in the middle of nowhere, slowing down to 30 mph through towns that have one cop. That cop will be sitting in a local business driveway, waiting for out of towners to blow by at 55.
posted by hwyengr at 4:54 PM on October 15, 2012

I'd suggest re-running the map, and adding a waypoint near Indianapolis. Basically, head towards Chicago, take the Tri-State (I-294) which avoids the worst of the Chicago traffic, then I-65 to I-24, and resume normal navigation.

Also, I've also been stuck on I-285 around Atlanta. Better to just attack the heart of the city and get it over with on the shorter route, rather than dragging it out on the loop.
posted by hwyengr at 5:03 PM on October 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, hwyengr, I hadn't really run the route more than plugging in source and destination and estimating the time. Modifying the route to run through Indianapolis and staying on major highways only appears to add about 20 minutes, but I bet we'd make that up by not having to stop or slow down.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:08 PM on October 15, 2012

Atlanta resident here. Definitely stay away from the 3:30pm-7pm window, but otherwise go ahead and shoot through downtown (don't take I-285). It'll give you a few minutes of excitement as you pass through the city, which is quite an impressive view from that direction.

Just one caution: once you reach the I-85 merge (right about the same time you start seeing a lot of skyscrapers) BE CAREFUL. DON'T CHANGE LANES gratuitously. That section of highway eats tourists (well, tourists' bumpers) for lunch. Go slow, STAY IN YOUR LANE, and if you change lanes then do so slowly and watch your own lane until you're completely out of it. I speak from experience.

Once you've past I-20 you are out of the worst of it.
posted by intermod at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2012

I'm bored at work, and I love route planning. Rather than the Indy route, try your original route, but stay on I-57 until it hits I-24. It only adds 15 minutes to your original route, which I still think is dubious, and you avoid both residual Chicago and Indy traffic.

Warning. Illinois is a long state. Long.
posted by hwyengr at 5:38 PM on October 15, 2012

I've driven from Northern WI and Northern MN to Atlanta via Nashville a number of times in the past (no longer though).

Yeah.. It's Chicago and Atlanta you have to watch out for and time correctly. Atlanta has had some of the worst traffic I've ever dealt with. And frankly I've been surprised at how much traffic is on the Interstates between Nashville and Atlanta even in the middle of the night.
posted by edgeways at 6:56 PM on October 15, 2012

Response by poster: When we lived in Connecticut and had to drive back to Iowa for the holidays, it was through Pennsylvania, lengthwise (about 20-40 miles of non-highway-80 on either end of the trip). So, we're used to a long state drive. The Highway 57 route looks like "Illinois, Georgia, and some other minor states." :)

Although the last time we drove to Florida, I remember being in awe of how far away Orlando was from the border. Florida just doesn't look that large from the map, you know?
posted by thanotopsis at 7:10 PM on October 15, 2012

2nding going through the middle of Atlanta and avoiding 285. Traffic will be bad if you're there in rush hour, either way, but I always found 285 extra cluster-effy.

I drove between STL and Nashville once and was shocked how empty it was, long distances between gas stations, for instance. I'm used to every exit having at least one, but that wasn't true in some parts, so I'm glad that my friend from southern Illinois warned me of this! Check gas stations, etc on your route and fuel up accordingly. Nashville to Atlanta is not bad in this way. (and very pretty in TN if you ask me!)
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:23 AM on October 16, 2012

Is the corridor of southern Illinois to Nashville, down I75 through Georgia (and around Atlanta) rife with any issues for which Google Maps will not prepare us?

If you (or a friend or family member) happen to belong to AAA, I suggest getting a Trip-Tik. They're always up-to-date with the latest construction zones marked, and detailed maps that help you navigate particularly complex interchanges and whatnot. AAA can also help you choose the best route to take.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:17 AM on October 16, 2012

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