Charlotte NC to Southport ME driving advice

May 14th, 2019, 06:53 AM
  #1  
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Charlotte NC to Southport ME driving advice

I will make this as short as possible to hopefully get more advice without boring valued members with a novel post.

We are leaving Charlotte, NC for Southport, ME on July 21st early morning 6-8am estimated departure time. This is for a family vacation with the wife's family and ours. We have a 5 year old and a just turned 2 year old so this adds a small element of not wanting to add a ton of time to the trip for sight seeing since they will want out of the car ASAP. We plan to break this drive up over 2 days and without traffic it looks to be a touch over 16 hours. I know we stop about every 2-3 hours but I do my best to speed that along as much as possible. I would like to drive no more than 12 hours as I really don't want more than 7 hours in the car on Saturday as its our check in day at the rental house. We will be there 6 nights for reference.

My main dilemma is rush hour traffic and how to avoid it in the NE by maybe adding 1-2 hours to the trip, thus keeping us moving and potentially seeing a scenic route to break up the trip a little from all flat highway and/or bumper to bumper traffic.

As I said my main goal is to get off the road by 6-7pm Friday (kids bedtime) and hopefully pick a destination that only leaves us with 7 to maybe 8 hours if it limits the chances of horrible Friday evening traffic and puts us in a safe location to have dinner and spend the night. Not looking to break the bank or have a breathtaking view for the night as its really just a pit stop to sleep and recharge.

Any and all advice is welcomed. Thanks!
mstrength is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 08:03 AM
  #2  
 
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Are you planning to take 81 to 95 or 85 to 95? 95 North is a nightmare and Friday rush hour will be the worst. I would at least take 81 so you don't pick up 95 until after MD, DE, PA & NJ.
At first glance I'd take 81 to Easton, PA the first day and then do the remainder on Saturday. Not an expert by any stretch, just my gut reaction. With a 5 year old and a toddler, making good time under the best of circumstances will be a challenge.
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May 14th, 2019, 08:40 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by jmoyogi View Post
Are you planning to take 81 to 95 or 85 to 95? 95 North is a nightmare and Friday rush hour will be the worst. I would at least take 81 so you don't pick up 95 until after MD, DE, PA & NJ.
At first glance I'd take 81 to Easton, PA the first day and then do the remainder on Saturday. Not an expert by any stretch, just my gut reaction. With a 5 year old and a toddler, making good time under the best of circumstances will be a challenge.
That is why I am here, I am not sure what to do and haven't driven up the NE coast in well over a decade. We travel to Ohio about every other month which is a solid 9 hour drive so its something I am accustomed to unfortunately LOL.
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May 14th, 2019, 09:08 AM
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I would take 81 for the first part of the trip. 95 North of Fredericksburg and beyond is a nightmare. We travel regularly on it and it is nothing for a 5 hour drive to become a 7 hour drive, particularly in Northern VA/DC, Maryland and Delaware.
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May 14th, 2019, 09:32 AM
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I agree with the recommendation to take I-81. The I-95 corridor is terrible.
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May 14th, 2019, 10:00 AM
  #6  
J62
 
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I would take one of these routes

A) I81 to Harrisburg, then I78 to NJ, I287 to the NYS Thruway, then I84 through NY/CT, to I90...
- pinch points. Allentown at rush hour - but usually not too bad. Western/Northern NJ - worse in the am from PA into NJ. Worse in the afternoon Morristown to the NY border. Waterbury/Hartford CT, am and pm rush hour. I84/I90 merge (don't know what time is worse), then I495 around Boston, worse evening rush hour going both directions.

or

B) I81 to Scranton PA, connecting to I84. May add some miles but avoids the whole Western/Northern NJ issues.

As for driving with kids, I know families who get on the road earlier than 6am (some before sunrise) and let the kids get a few hours of sleep. It's tough on the 1st driver but they all swear by it to get miles behind them. For multi day trips they all try to get 60-70% of the trip out of the way on day 1 so that day 2 is less time on the road.
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May 14th, 2019, 11:32 AM
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If the Civil war sites are of interest, all up and down the Shenendoa Valley there are places to stop where battles took place. Harper's Ferry and Gettysburgh could also be visited with just a little jog.
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May 14th, 2019, 12:51 PM
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A) I81 to Harrisburg, then I78 to NJ, I287 to the NYS Thruway,

The above is about an 10 hour fairly easy straightforward drive. Just for your information. I would NOT take 85/95.
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May 14th, 2019, 05:06 PM
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You'll want to get up into Maine by 1pm ish on the Friday, summer weekend traffic heading north for the weekend picks up and gets frustrating from 2pm onward.

So that means getting as far as maybe Allentown on day one, and then figuring out a 7am route for day 2 that doesn't put you into too much traffic.

Could you maybe get a jumpstart by leaving Wednesday evening and getting maybe 2.5 -3 hours of the drive behind you? Say maybe Charlotte to Roanoke? Then on Thursday if you left Roanoke around 7am you could get past New York traffic zones between maybe 1m and 3m before traffic is worse, and make it into eastern CT or into Massachusetts (Sturbridge) for dinner time.
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May 14th, 2019, 05:47 PM
  #10  
J62
 
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And Saturday is worse getting to Southport...
Slowdowns from MA into NH
Slowdowns through NH into ME
then
& Frustrating slowdowns on Rt1, especially through Wiscasset, mostly due to pedestrians crossing the road to get to Red's. We know the drive around long-cuts to bypass most of that traffic, but we go out of our way to avoid the area on weekends at any cost.

But they're leaving NC on Sunday 7/21, so Monday traffic into ME is not nearly as bad as Fri/Sat/Sun.

Southport is essentially Boothbay, so you'll certainly be going into that town for shopping & dining. We enjoy Robinson's Wharf Southport for lobster. They also do steamed lobster takeout if you want to eat at "home"
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May 14th, 2019, 05:57 PM
  #11  
 
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Is there ANY chance you could shift to Saturday? Itís impossible to miss some rush hour traffic during the week on 95...the weekends are easier for sure. I used to drive Richmond to Mass frequently and could shave off 2 hours each time I drove on the weekend.
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May 15th, 2019, 08:43 AM
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Oops, for some reason I thought July 21st was a Thursday. Never mind post # 9.
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May 16th, 2019, 05:38 AM
  #13  
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Very appreciative of all the information provided, its helps tremendously with planning our route and departure and arrival times. Thanks!
mstrength is offline  
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