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What Vehicle to Drive to Fla?

pgnewarkboy

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I am planning to drive to Orlando from Balto the first week of april. There will be 4 adults and two grand kids ages 9 and 5. The children have a honda mini-van with DVD player built in. My wife and I have been in it before and feel we will be too cramped on a drive to Orlando.

Inasmuch as we will be saving car rental and airfare we are open to any rental vehicle that is spacious, comfortable, and with amenities such as DVD player, GPS, sat radio etc.

Any suggestions?
 

elaine

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OT--traffic will be VERY heavy

OT--but fyi--that is prime Spring break for MD, DC and VA--we are from VA and do the Orlando trip EVERY year the week before Easter.
Have you considered the autotrain? you can book it one way and drive back the other way. IF you do book autotrain, I suggest booking lower level seats and skipping the sleeping cars to save $ (we have done each several times). LL seats are usually the same price as Upper level and it is pretty economical--and there are only about 20 seats in LL vs. 100 or so up UL. Also very quiet at night in LL. We are taking autotrain with SUV, 2 adults, 3 kids for under $500 one way. It's also a fun little adventure for the kids. If you do the autotrain, then the Honda only one way back would probably be fine. Elaine
 

AwayWeGo

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[triennial - points]
Zooming Along I-95 To Florida & Back.

Any suggestions?
Our worst ride along that route was in a rented Ford Tempo, back when Tempo was a semi-current model.

Over the years we've taken that trip in comfort via Plymouth minivan, Dodge minivan, rented Mercury Sable, borrowed Buick Century, & borrowed Lincoln Town Car.

Of those, the ride in the Lincoln was the most plush. On the way down, it was just The Chief Of Staff & me & our stuff. On the way back, it was the 2 of us & our stuff plus a minivan-load of fresh-picked oranges & grapefruits we harvested in Pasco County FL. (It's 1 thing to pack a minivan-load of citrus into a minivan & something else again to jam it all into a big sedan.)

If we were setting out from here to Florida with 4 adults & 2 kids, we'd go in our 2006 Chrysler minivan, no question. Plenty of room for 6 people & suitcases, plus built-in DVD so the kids can get giddy watching Mickey Mouse movies before they ever reach WDW.

When we get out of here & head south for our after-Christmas Florida vacation next month, we're planning on taking the Chrysler minivan.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

jeany1020

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elaine, you were able to book 2 adults, three kids and the minivan for only $500? thats awesome. i heard it was way more expensive then that.
 

Big Matt

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Take the minivan. The kids will be able to watch movies the whole time.
 

elaine

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yes-I booked a few weeks ago--that is 1 way

the $ has gone up about $100 now for Easter travel--it starts out lower and goes higher as it fills up. But we got $444 for 4/4/08 travel booking mid-Nov. . That was for a car/SUV under 85" tall. Larger vehicles are more. Price includes dinner and continental breakfast. We take autotrain 1 way and drive back almost every Easter week. I was hoping to fly and rent a car to drive back this year--but the airfares were sky high--so it's autotrain again. Elaine
 

pgnewarkboy

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What is the advantage of the auto train over driving the whole way? Do you miss some of the worst traffic?
 

AwayWeGo

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South Of The Border.

Take the minivan. The kids will be able to watch movies the whole time.
Make sure the kids have their attention riveted on a gripping movie when you approach the state line between North Carolina & South Carolina.

Otherwise they'll be clamoring to stop at South Of The Border right there near Dillon SC.

Despite the string of enticing billboards all up & down I-95 as you approach the state line, South Of The Border is like Oakland CA -- There's No There There.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

Sea Six

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What is the advantage of the auto train over driving the whole way? Do you miss some of the worst traffic?

The worst traffic is between DC and Philly, so no, the train doesn't cut that out. But it does cut out 900 miles of I95, and everyone can at least get up and walk around, have a nice meal, and hit the head anytime they want. They also rent video players, so that may be a good way to keep the kids occupied while they're in their seats. The lounge cars are also nice to just sit at a table and play games or cards. Helps pass the time better than sitting in a car.
 

Big Matt

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1) autotrain leaves at 4:30 and gets you to FLA in the morning. You sleep for much of the trip (if you can...)
2) you don't spend 1800 miles worth of gas (@20 mpg that's about $200)
3) no chance for breakdowns. I had to get a tire replaced in Wilson, NC. It took three hours and totally threw us off


What is the advantage of the auto train over driving the whole way? Do you miss some of the worst traffic?
 

Nancy

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Honda Van

My kids also have a Honda van and I think it would probably do as well as anything you can reasonably rent. We did rent a full sized van once for a trip to NY, but wasn't as comfortable as a mini-van.

As far as autotrain, we did it in June and really liked it a lot. It just depends on what you want to spend. Autotrain does charge more if you take a van than a regular car.

Nancy

ps. We drive the Alexandria VA area to Tampa FL area several times a year. Hate I-95, but it is the quickest route there.
 

elaine

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auto train benefits

for crowded holidays, you miss A LOT of traffic---just one accident in SC, GA, etc. can set you back hours!! My kids love it--we also rent the DVD player pre-loaded with kids and grown up movies/shows. There is no way we could drive both ways in 1 week with 3 kids. We book early, when the $ is pretty low (under $500 for 5 people and a car one way). I don't know if I would take it if it was $700+.
Taking the autotrain does NOT give you a good night's sleep, even in a sleeping car, so one way is enough for us--we only take it southbound--when kids are wound up and excited--it's a little adventure and, then, the ride home does not seem so bad. My kids even prefer the autotrain to flying. IMHO, kids need to be at leave 4+ for the autotrain--it's a long ride. And 5-12 is the perfect age.
We also live 10 miles from the Lorton Station--so the convenience plays a big role--but most people are from the NE who take the train--since it leave at 4 PM, they can leave NY/NJ in AM and make the train and wake up in Fla the next AM.
 

mecllap

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I have to make a strong second to avoiding South of the Border -- went there recently and it's a major disappointment (not really even decent fast food, and gas prices were higher than a few miles further south). And I also second having a DVD player for the kids on that long a trip -- not sure what you can get that's larger than a mini-van that would work for 6 people.
 

Sea Six

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If you do take the Auto-Train and rent the video player - get a fresh battery before the crew goes to bed!!!! My battery died about 30 minutes after it was too late to get a new one, which is about 11PM if I remember right.
 

AwayWeGo

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Major Advantage Of Rail Travel.

What is the advantage of the auto train over driving the whole way?
One big advantage of Auto-Train is clickety-clacking right past South Of The Border without any opportunity to be lured in by their string of garish billboards.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

Stu

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I've done the drive many time from NJ to FL or Myrtle Beach. The best vehicle I've ever used are the Chrysler Town & Country or its sister the Dodge Grand Caravan. (Very comfy seating with great climate control front & back and separate for driver and passeger too, I believe.)

Right now I think there is a special at Alamo BW Airport (maybe other Balt. locations too) where you can p/u the Dodge for about $420 base fee for 8 days (p/u Sat, d/o Sun.) compared to the Toyota Sienna which they want over $1200 for the same time period! You can buy a Garmin Nuvi cheap if you want GPS rather than pay $14/day to rent one. May as well own the GPS and use it for other trips. The T&C has extra 12V plugs for kids to plug in their electronic games or DVD players.

Personally, I would rather not bother with the Auto-Train as you I'd have to be on its schedule and have to pay more money over the cost of the car rental.

We used to leave home on Thursday or Friday nights after the PM rush hour (for Friday or Sat check-ins, respectively) and drive straight through to our destination with 2 or 3 adults sharing the driving, stopping for late dinner or breaks anywhere/anytime one was need to stretch/walk around or take a nature call. If you leave on Saturday, you may want to leave very early a.m. to be able to arrive for late check-in Saturday night.
 
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