Driving from NJ to WDW

Leaving for Orlando soon. Driving from N. NJ to WDW. Plan to leave by 4pm and drive non-stop. DH and I are taking turn to drive while kids sleep… We have driven long distance before, but not this route nor the hours of the day. Please share your do/don’t tips… TIA!

1 Like

Don’t start any conversation that can end in an argument. Get on 95 and don’t turn


Stop driving when five-hour energy only lasts 25 minutes. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Get a nap in daylight hours. It is good to awake to keep other driver alert. Son calls me to talk him alone him when long drive. If he talks he stays awake

You’re a brave soul! lol! We drive from NC and it’s looong! Maybe have a backup plan picked out for an overnight stay 1/2 way, in case you both get too sleepy in the middle of the night?


Driving through the night can be great, no traffic, just some semis. Hope it’s going safe, let us know how it went!

1 Like

DC at 4 am is empty.


I’m not here on the forum that often, so just seeig this. We too drive from NJ :slight_smile: The first time we drove straight through, and we’re wrecked when we got there, though the kids slept great and enjoyed the adventure. What we have learned is that we , there parents, do better with some REAL sleep. So we will be leaving central NJ at 4pm as well (waiting for kids to get done with school that day). We will drive until just before DC, and stop for a bite of dinner to let there DC rush hour traffic to die down) Then we will drive until about midnight to somewhere we booked in NC. The next day we will leave between 7- 8am, and arrive in WDW around 5pm.

Whichever you choose, be sure to pack plenty of snacks, bring a cooler to keep drinks cool, and some fruit, bring pillows and blankets to rest in the car comfortably!

1 Like

Having gone on a few road trips, I enjoy the follow criteria.
EDIT: I just reread your post after I posted this and noticed you said you did long distance before. So a lot of this is probably in the “Well, no duh” category for you. Sorry.

1: Absolutely essential: Get your car checked out a few days early and let the mechanic know you’re going on a long trip. Nothing will kill your road trip experience faster than breaking down on the highway. Transmission,Tires, Brakes, Oil, Fluids, etc… you can do some of this yourself, of course. Maybe also sign up for a AAA membership if you don’t have road side assistance already set up. You don’t want to break down and be at the mercy of the local towing/mechanic who you have no idea who they are or how trust worthy they are.

Also, if you need to download maps to your GPS…do it. If you need to GET a GPS (if for some reason you don’t have one on your phone)… do that too. :wink:

Once your car is all set… now the fun begins.

2: I feel 4PM is actually kinda a bad time for departure. You’ll have traffic for a good 5 hours before it clears out, and (if going i95) you’ll be hitting Philly rush hour. I like to start the trip in early morning. Like 2-3 AM early. Traffic is so low that it’s a pleasant drive. I find starts of trips to always be more enjoyable than the return anyway, so earlier the better. The earliest I would go, though, would probably be 10-11PM the night before depending on how much you can handle night driving. It’s just you and the truckers. It’s fantastic! (also, you can go a tad faster than during the day/evening because I’ve noticed cops care a bit less if when it’s just you and the Semis)

3: Take a break at every state and as needed. When entering a new state (even if it’s PA or DE), find the first rest stop, and grab some leg-stretch time. Check the weather, grab a snack or two, really take advantage of the rest stop. This is a benefit to not flying, to actually experience of the road. Driving non stop can be torturous and you can miss out on a lot. Take breaks. it’s a road trip, not a race.

4: At rush hour time (if you leave early, you’ll be on the road for a while by this point), take another break. This is a good time to get some breakfast or dinner (as @ATbeliever just mentioned). Let the folks who are rushing off to work or home get there while you enjoy a what-will-become a fantastic breakfast memory. (traveling as a kid with my parents, the breakfast stops became and remains my absolute favorite part of road trips, sometimes even overshadowing the destination).

5: Have a LOT of tunes ready to go on a flash drive or on CDs. Radio stations come and go and most have a novelty for about 10 minutes before you want to smack the DJs. And you’ll also be passing in and out of broadcast areas so much that static will seem like it’s the only song they play sometimes. If you use a streaming service, you might lose signal throughout the trip, so having “hard copies” of music can be a godsend. (Of course, if you have sirius radio, not sure it applies, I don’t have it m’self)

6: Also as @ATBeliever said, snacks and drinks are essential.

Now this is the worst part. You’ve just had a great vacation and most likely be all a bit exhausted (in a good way) and depressed, and now a 18+ hour drive is absolutely not appealing. I also find that the last couple of hours on the trip home, especially once you hit your home state, the time and road REALLY drags on.

1: While starting off I recommend early/quiet road traveling… for coming back, a bit more activity on the road is nice. So not leaving late at night is probably best. I like to usually leave at a different time of when I arrived just to see a difference on the road.

2: Same formula for rest stops. Keep’em coming. Each state or more. And during rush hour, take that time to eat. Remember, your trip is not really over until you park in front of your house, so don’t think like it is. You’re still on vacation! If you can, splurge on stupid things. Knick-knacks at rest stops, upgrade your food, etc…

3: While you’re in Disney, maybe grab a specific souvenir or something to be used only for the trip back. A special-CD for example. I remember that Disney used to sell a CD with the theme park and ride songs on it. That’d be great to listen to on the way home I would imagine.

4: Worst case scenario, do NOT fight through sleep. Pull over. Grab a few hours.There’s been trips when I’m traveling with someone and it just worked out that we were both wiped out and neither one of us could keep going. Find a hotel parking lot off an exit and just sleep. Or get a room for the night, ~$200 is a pittance compared to fighting through sleep and risking an accident.

Again, this is a road trip, not a race. Enjoy the amenities that the states and roads provide. Some of the best traveling can be done by car. Just going through this, now I’m kinda regretting flying instead of driving when I go.

A “might be fun” thing to do: Avoid using your GPS (but, of course, have it ready). Grab a good ol’ fashioned paper road map at your first rest stop and have your passengers navigate for you (it’ll be a straight shot, so they shouldn’t be able to screw up too badly).

Last trip that I came up from the south, I came up.the Delmarva penninsula 1) I wanted to see Chincoteague 2) I avoided Richmond, DC and Baltimore.

We do that route sometimes. Such a nice way to avoid DC :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’ve driven from Disney back home to Baltimore with a friend of mine and we thought the same thing. Drive through the night and take turns sleeping. Neither of us ended up sleeping and it became the most exhausting trip I’ve ever done. The last 3 hours we were switching off every 30 minutes because we were so overly tired. No joke, my eyes kept crossing on their own. Not to be a debbie downer, but I hope you truly make sure you both get some sleep. It’s not an easy thing to do. Granted, we did the parks that day and then got in the car to drive 16 hours (yes we were 22 and stupid.)