NJ to Florida drive

Old May 28th, 2016, 05:10 AM
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NJ to Florida drive

Looks like I may need to drive alone from Lambertville (think Bucks County, Pa) to Florida in July. As much as I hate I-95, does it make more sense to drive to Harrisburg, then 81 and 77 to Columbia, then hit I-95 via I-26? It seems just a little longer but perhaps faster? Less truck traffic? Probably doing this on Sat and Sunday, so probably less traffic on the weekend from Philly to Richmond if I just did I-95. Help me decide.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 05:30 AM
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Well, from where you are via your alternate route, it is 11 hours to Charlotte. Then 3.5 hours to Charleston. I think it has to be further and longer time than I95.
Our friend from NYC who drives to FL a lot usually stops around Darlington for the night--not sure how far that is.
I think sometimes it is better to just "put in the time".
Good luck!!
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Old May 28th, 2016, 05:43 AM
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It is 108 miles further to Jacksonville going through Charlotte than down I-95. (895 vs. 1003).
When I lived in central PA, I went through Charlotte to get home from Melbourne.
If you time it right you should be able to get past Washington before 1PM.
An alternative depending on where you are going in Florida is to take the Autotrain from Lorton VA to Sanford Florida.
Their phone # is 1 800 SKIPI95.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 06:09 AM
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For what it's worth:
I understand the desire to bypass the DC/No. Va part of I-95, but the last few times I've made the drive, the DC area hasn't been so bad. I don't know if they've improved the road or what, but it has been better.

I suppose the AutoTrain is an option, but I figure if I have to drive as far south as DC, I've already done the worst part.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 06:29 AM
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Autotrain has ZERO appeal to me. When I get off in Florida at 9 AM I'd have to get a motel as I wouldn't have slept all night on the train -- that's just me. And it just isn't worth something like $300 to take the train and still have to do a night in a motel to do that! Driving and checking into a comfortable motel for the night sounds a LOT better than sitting up on a train all night, or getting a roomette and trying to sleep in one of those God-awful berths in a moving train.

Hmmm. I'm not getting the "11 hours to Charlotte". On Mapquest it shows 9:41 which would probably more like 9. I pretty much always beat the Mapquest times in actual driving.

If I add Lambertville to Charlotte, then Charlotte to Naples, it comes out only a little over an hour longer than Lambertville to Naples on I-95. Also it's about 90 miles longer total, but again seems like a lot fewer trucks and general traffic -- even weekend traffic along I-95? I would honestly think that hour could easily disappear with less traffic on the I-81 routing. NO?
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Old May 28th, 2016, 06:33 AM
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Ooops. I forgot the cost of the car on AutoTrain. More like $500 total for a night of Hell! No thanks.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 06:35 AM
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I'd say the most important issue would be the relative quality of the barbecue available near each route.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 06:56 AM
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Understand your concerns about the AutoTrain. IME a lot depends on the accommodations you book aboard as to sleep quality, etc.

My one experience with I-81 has been best when I used it very late at night or early in the morning. There used to be so much semi traffic on that route that the Governor of Virginia mandated additional highway patrol coverage at one point.

The "corridor of consternation" which extends from the bottom of the Beltway down 95 to Fredericksburg still exists during the week I suspect but if you time it correctly perhaps not so bad.

You could take DE 896 to 301 South I suppose but that mean suburbia and traffic lights in many sections. At least it is somewhat more scenic than 95 (as is 81 for sure).
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Old May 28th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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My 11 hours was to Milford PA, I think. And it was pretty accurate, to my amazement (thinking it would be more).
I think the 81 route is pretty easy--people keep talking about the truck traffic, but it is moving.
BBQ could be a concern. There's a GREAT place nearish Charleston.
What is Lambertville? I'll look for myself.
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Old May 28th, 2016, 07:12 AM
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OH, wait, I see!! LOL
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Old May 28th, 2016, 11:47 AM
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There's a reason people "talk about the truck traffic" on 81 obviously.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 03:28 AM
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Oh, wait. So you're saying the truck traffic on I-81 is worse than on I-95? I was mainly considering the I-81 route because I thought there would be overall LESS traffic, including the major trucks. No? But for what it's worth, I tend to think the big truck traffic tends to be worse on the weekends -- or is that just my imagination?
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Old May 29th, 2016, 03:44 AM
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I think you are reasonably stuck with 95 until north of Jacksonville.

Washington is not a problem after 9 and before 3, unless there is a wreck, and last Monday, we sailed through to Richmond without even a slowdown.

In Florida in the past, we have cut over from 95 north of Jacksonville to 75 near Gainesville on a combination of roads, FL 200 and US 301 I think.

It is mostly divided highway, busy enough, but not soul-deadening like I-4 (IIRC) from 95 to Tampa.

As you know too well, 75 is 75.

Afterthought: Monday and Tuesday might be better in that there is going to be beach traffic outbound on Saturdays and inbound on Sundays.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 04:34 AM
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To answer your question about trucks:
Truck traffic on I-81S, especially in PA, is very heavy, more than I-95.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 08:30 AM
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Interesting. So I'm getting the idea that I'll get more not less truck traffic on I-85 than on I-95. And yes at Jacksonville I will do the 301 route through famous Waldo to I-75. Still the best way from 95 to Naples in my book. Maybe there's less a problem with the Washington DC corridor especially on Saturday, so guess I'll go with that.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 08:41 AM
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Neo, I would go through the DC area as early as is possible, even on a Saturday. I am simply making this recommendation after having lived and driven there for more than 40 years.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 02:12 PM
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Hmmm I can't see me leaving earlier than maybe 6:30 or so, so that makes it around 9:30 to 10:00 Sat morning.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 02:34 PM
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You are talking about leaving from HOME at 6:30? That makes sense since I would hope you could do that in 3.5 hours or so.

It is a crap shoot between the bottom of the Beltway and down 95 to F-burg (hopefully they aren't having some sort of gigantic sale at Potomac Mills) but after that I would think it would be pretty easy.

Hope you have a great, UN-complicated drive.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 08:59 PM
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I have been driving DC to Richmond on 95 fairly often this past year because I have a daughter up in DC now, but man the traffic can be horrendous no matter what time of day. There is a lot of construction around Fredericksburg lately both directions. Saturday summer travel is starting soon and will add to the madness. I think weekdays are better if you hit the DC area after the work traffic time. It can be 1 hour and 15 min to Richmond or a lot longer. Oh and HOV lanes will probably be closed southbound at that point, but if they are open, then hop on for sure. It is more money, a lot more, but you will fly by a lot of traffic.

Personally, I think 81 moves better from PA down to below Virginia. Yes there is more truck traffic on 81 than 95 in my opinion. Same daughter went to school in Blacksburg VA and I was on 81 for two hours every time heading south. We have family in northern NJ and have taken 81 north, across PA and into NJ on holidays.

South of Richmond, 95 seems to move fairly well all the way down to Fl.

Have driven my mom to Naples the last few years so I know the drive. It is boring but usually no real traffic.

On 95, there is a Residence Inn near the Savannah airport Pooler GA exit that we stayed in last year and it was only a few months old. It was clean and there were several chain restaurants ( Long Horn and I think an Olive Garden )very close. I think we will stay there again because it was clean and quiet. Some of the hotels along the way can be really run down.
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Old May 31st, 2016, 06:48 AM
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I've driven I-81 as far as DC, and there is a LOT of truck traffic on it. I can't say if it's worse than I-95, but it's bad. Truck traffic in general is just horrible on all the interstates any longer, and it's very stressful driving on any of them. I don't think you'll find anything specifically easier.

Unless you really want to visit Charleston or Savannah or some destination in between NJ and Florida, I'd do the auto train. It's worth it not to have to drive.
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