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9 hour drive to parks - drive, fly, or combo?


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I'm planning a trip to a few big parks all in the same area, but it's a 9 hour drive one-way from me. Do you prefer to drive that far, or maybe fly half the way and rent a car for the rest of the trip? Or something else (bus, train)? Driving a long distance (5+ hours) makes my neck hurt because driving is pretty stressful for me. My body, neck especially, tends to tense up while I'm driving I think. Driving is a lot cheaper than flying though, especially last-minute, and I prefer last-minute so I can get the most accurate weather forecast.

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Driving a long distance (5+ hours) makes my neck hurt because driving is pretty stressful for me.

I mean, it pretty much sounds like you answered your own question here. Why would you want to do something on purpose that makes your body uncomfortable?

 

Going to move this to the main forum as I don't have any additional advice, sorry.

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Why drive at all? In my experience a nine hour car drive is probably is probably around 600 miles, and is probably closer to eleven hours. That's like me driving to Discovery Kingdom. Meanwhile I can drive to Portland, catch a flight to Oakland and drive to Vallejo in under five hours. Why bother only flying halfway? You'd still have a four or five hour drive ahead of you anyway. It can't cost much much more if any to just fly the whole way.

 

I would actually avoid the bus. I've ridden a bus cross country before. Trust me it's not much better than driving. You're sitting for hours in a cramped seat with other people and it still takes just as long. And the train can sometimes cost as much as a plane ticket and takes even longer than a bus. I've done the train cross country before as well. Portland to Boston by bus took three days. Portland to Boston by train took four. Portland to Boston by plane took six hours and was actually cheaper than the train.

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I'm not a therapist, and even if I could, I don't know that there's anything I could do which would effectively alleviate your stress from driving via this message board. I think if it is that big a deal to you, yes, you're going to realistically need to fly and rent a vehicle or rely on public transport.

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Everyone's different.

 

A 9 hour drive is a pretty short road trip for us since we don't even need to dedicate a day to it. We could leave work a few hours early, do the drive and be at our destination by midnight. It's also cheaper and more convenient than flying and subsequently renting a car.

 

That being said, I like to drive. If you don't and it stresses you out for some reason then there's nothing to think about here.

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I agree...

Driving is a much better option for us as well. We don't mind the drive, and flying is becoming more of a headache by the day.

Tommarow we are leaving Michigan to get down to six flags St Louis after I get off of work(9 hour drive). We are driving 6 hours tommarow, and getting up the next day and driving the final 3 hours.

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9 hours is definitely within the drivable distance for me, but I don't mind driving or riding in the car. I agree with Bill though, driving provides you much more flexibility and saves some money, and just simplifies things. I guess if you really think you'll get halfway there and be miserable, I'd fly all the way, but if you think you can handle it, I'd drive.

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You do have to take care of yourself on longer trips. Plan breaks and stick to them. Or at least so I am learning. If nothing else, I need to stop and eat breakfast or something between a 3+ hour drive and actually going in a park.

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Take lots of breaks if needed. Otherwise, like some others have said, it just makes more sense to fly the full distance.

 

For me, I'd prefer to just drive the 9 hours. No worrying about flight delays/cancellations screwing up your plans, plus it's usually cheaper than flight + rental car for that distance. And if the weather forecast looks crappy for the weekend, you can more likely just reschedule.

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You do have to take care of yourself on longer trips. Plan breaks and stick to them. Or at least so I am learning. If nothing else, I need to stop and eat breakfast or something between a 3+ hour drive and actually going in a park.

 

Taking breaks is for the weak. I consider it a major accomplishment when I fill up the tank and don't get out of the car again until I need more gas (which is awhile, since we're usually in Brit's Prius). Go hard or go home

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You do have to take care of yourself on longer trips. Plan breaks and stick to them. Or at least so I am learning. If nothing else, I need to stop and eat breakfast or something between a 3+ hour drive and actually going in a park.

 

Taking breaks is for the weak. I consider it a major accomplishment when I fill up the tank and don't get out of the car again until I need more gas (which is awhile, since we're usually in Brit's Prius). Go hard or go home

 

Lol...I'm the same way. Don't need to stop except for gas.

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Mythbusters came up with for trips less than 400 miles driving is likely the way to go.

 

I tend to look at what is in the middle of the route when driving greater distances. Where are you driving to and from? Is there a credit out there that someone here knows about?

 

A few years back my wife informed me that we were visiting friends in Cleveland and I was driving the 400 miles. Instead of invoking the 400 mile fly rule it simple turned into a drive to Kennywood, then Cleveland, day trip to CP, and a Pirates game on the return.

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Mythbusters came up with for trips less than 400 miles driving is likely the way to go.

 

They dedicated a show to that? If you ignore cost, then sure. This is a simple answer though. If they get stressed out and get neck pain when they drive then they should fly and spend the extra money.

 

This is all a matter of personal taste.

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I would drive for 5 hours, find a hotel to spend the night, and then drive 4 hours in the morning to reach the destination.

 

This is exactly how I broke up my trip coming back from Erie, PA last week. I also find I'd rather make a long drive starting fresh in the morning than the evening.

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This is a complex question that doesn't have a simple answer unfortunately.

 

As mentioned, personal preferences are key. Some people take very well to long drive times, others do not. Personally 8-9 hours in a car is very doable for the most part.

 

Also, be aware that not all driving is equal. Driving through Boston and NYC is different than driving I-80 through Nebraska, and also different than driving I-40 between Knoxville, TN and Spartanburg, SC...

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It takes us about 5-6 hours to fly anywhere, so usually if it's less than 10-12 hours drive we'll fly. By the time we leave our house, get to the airport early, get through security, wait to get on the plane, taxi, take to the skies, land, taxi again, get our luggage, go pick up our rental, and get on the road, it's not nearly as much of a time saver as you originally think. Provided we had the time, we usually end up looking at the $500 extra we spent, without being able to take our cooler, and we end up wishing we had just hit the road.

 

I don't know what to tell you about your neck pain. That's something only you can factor in.

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Mythbusters came up with for trips less than 400 miles driving is likely the way to go.

 

They dedicated a show to that? If you ignore cost, then sure. This is a simple answer though. If they get stressed out and get neck pain when they drive then they should fly and spend the extra money.

 

This is all a matter of personal taste.

 

They handed that one off to the "B" team with Kari Byron. Kari Byron

 

There is some cost hidden in wear and tear on the vehicle. More importantly I wonder though if driving hurts a person's neck and back should they be riding coasters for several days on top of it.

 

Ultimately we are going to agree that personal taste and circumstance will dictate the answer.

 

Cloudeleven, where are you driving to and from? Maybe we can suggest stops.

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You do have to take care of yourself on longer trips. Plan breaks and stick to them. Or at least so I am learning. If nothing else, I need to stop and eat breakfast or something between a 3+ hour drive and actually going in a park.

 

Taking breaks is for the weak. I consider it a major accomplishment when I fill up the tank and don't get out of the car again until I need more gas (which is awhile, since we're usually in Brit's Prius). Go hard or go home

 

Lol...I'm the same way. Don't need to stop except for gas.

 

Me three... Although instead of instead of the gas meter calling the shots, it's usually our bladders. Our goal is to gas up, get in, and get out in less than 5 minutes from off ramp to on ramp. It almost always takes a few minutes longer than that, but five minutes is always the goal.

 

I work 12 hour shifts at work in and around my car, which are sometimes highly stressful shifts. I use it as a means for comparison on whether or not to fly or drive. Relaxing, drinking a cup of coffee, enjoying in-car meals, listening to the radio, and talking with Emily is completely enjoyable compared to what I'm used to. Half the time we can't believe how quick the trip felt. It's really nice when we can leave for Pensacola, FL at 0430 and still get there in time to visit the beach and go out to dinner.

 

My favorite road trips are 4-6 hours. Enough time to make the trip feel really quick and usually one gas up/pee stop in the middle to break up the trip. 4-6 hours feels like no time. Luckily, KK, KI, WoF, SFGam, and SDC are all within that wheel house, and HW being within about 3 hours.

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If you're more budget conscious, then I would say drive halfway and spend the night somewhere midway. Then get up early and drive the rest of the way to your first park/destination. If you have the funds to blow and don't mind dealing with the airports and car rentals then flying to your destination and renting a car sounds good.

 

9 hours really isn't that bad. That's about how far I am from Dollywood and we had no issues getting there by car (my partner did all the driving). We left about 1am and made it to the exit for Dollywood in Sevierville about 10am-ish. I think we stopped maybe 4 or 5 times for short breaks including breakfast, getting gas (twice), restroom and him getting coffee on the way up. Of course driving overnight is a bit easier with little to no traffic (even going through Atalanta and Chattanooga). Coming back was a little more adventurous going through the Smokys and stopping at multiple places to take in the view so it took a bit longer getting back (about 12 hours).

 

Next year we're going to be driving to Cedar Point from here, which is about 15 hours. We're going to Carowinds on the way for a few hours, leave and head a couple hours north to Virginia to spend the night and drive the rest of the way the next day. We're looking at 2-3 days there before heading to Kings Island for a couple days. After that if it's in our budget/have time for a stop at Kentucky Kingdom then staying the night in Knoxville or Gatlinburg (visit with a friend as well there) area before making the rest of the trip home. I would love to hit up Dollywood again, but because of time I doubt we could fit it in (and have never been to Kentucky Kingdom). We looked into possibly flying up, but we'd only end up with CP & KI and possibly having to sacrifice on accommodations due to the added cost of the flights and car rental. There is a lot of driving/riding involved, but I'd rather use any extra funds on nicer places to stay and Fast Lane+ a day each at CP & KI since I have no idea when I'll be able to return.

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8-9 hours is just about the max from me wanting to drive anywhere now. I'm young though and don't mind driving at all so this year me and my bro woke up at 4am, drove 8 hours splitting the time (it's great having multiple drivers) got to Cedar Point at noon and had a blast for a few days. Anything more than that where it basically cuts a day out of a trip to dedicate to driving I'm not a fan of.

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I drove all the way out here to California from Georgia. I basically did it in 150-mile stints - every time my trip counter got to 150 miles, I would look for a place to get up and walk around for a few minutes. In a typical day, the first stop would be for gas, the second for food, and the third for gas again.

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