This year my family and I took a vacation from our home state of New Jersey to Florida. We’ve done the drive previous years, and it’s always worked well so I thought, why not share with others the easiest way to travel to Florida with children?
Well, the first rule is always take the westerly route. I-95 is the better known way, and sometimes thought to be the only way by those who do not travel often by car. I-81 is a much better route and although on Google maps is longer, it’ll be a smoother, traffic-free ride. Usually, you can get a cheaper hotel rate as well since it isn’t where all of the main traffic traveling down south comes from.
If you want fool proof, I’ll give you the hotel’s we frequent on the way down south and if you use these in your gps, you’ll be good to go! Not to mention, this makes the ride down a part of the vacation rather than dreaded driving time.
First up is the Quality inn in Troutville, VA.
It’ll be a 6 to 6 1/2 hour ride from central NJ. We like to leave early morning and do 4 straight hours. This way, the kids sleep and it usually gets us right to the point of needing to get gas. Then break for some eat in lunch at one of the easy on-off exits and it’ll be only another 2 hours left of the ride until the hotel. There is a Cracker Barrel restaurant right in the parking lot of the Troutville, VA Quality Inn that you can walk to for dinner and they have an outdoor pool that’s perfect for kids (3ft- 5.5ft) and open until it gets dark out.
From the Troutville hotel, we head to Savannah, GA which is another 6 hour drive from the previous hotel, and again, we break it up into 4 hours, stop for lunch, and then 2 hours. Our favorite hotel there is the Doubletree.
It’s so nice and classy and has a pull out bed sofa which is perfect for the kids. They have their own tv as well so we can all lounge and watch what we want after yet another long drive. The pool at the Doubletree is indoors and open 24/7 which is nice. The heated pool is so refreshing and helps to refresh muscles after sitting in a car for so long.
The area is highly populated with stores including fast food, Tanger Outlets, and a super Walmart all within short driving distance. Not to mention it’s a highly sought after area since its close to downtown historic district of Savannah. The Doubletree is a bit pricey, but there are many hotels within the same area for less.
After this, you’re almost there. Just an hour or so to enter into Jacksonville, Florida! And 4 hours from Orlando. By now, the trip has placed you on I-95, but it’s a lot smoother since you’re past the tri-state traffic sections.
It helps to use the Waze app during your travels since it alerts you of construction, hazards on road, and even police waiting to catch speeding vehicles. We find it very helpful.
It really is much better to break up the trip this way with children, it makes it a journey rather than a dreaded ride in the car. My kids love visiting the hotels and using the pools since they’re all different. It’s nice to have long rests in between if you have the time.
Note: If visiting Universal Studios Orlando, I highly recommend staying on site at the Hard Rock.
I’ve done both ways (staying at a cheap local hotel vs on site) and there’s no comparison. If you stay at the Hard Rock, you get free Expess Unlimited Passes and this saves SO much time. It was ther best choice we made on our entire trip to stay at Hard Rock Orlando. We upgraded and stayed on Rock Royalty Club Level which was an added perk to our trip since it allows you access to the club lounge for free drinks and snacks all day which you are encouraged to take to the parks.
It’s only a 10 minute walk to city walk through an amazingly aesthetically pleasing path with views of the water or you can take the water taxi’s. And if you get the chance, check out the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium!
Let me know if you use my trip tips and any comments or suggestions!