Tips on driving from the Midwest (KS, MO, NE, IA, IL, etc.)

Been to WDW before, but we’re driving for the first time in May. Self, DH, DD’s 8, 6 & 4. They’re pretty good road trippers, we do lots of car trips but most are 4-6 hours, not 20. Looking for advice about routes to take, good stopping points, advice on cities to avoid/go around, etc. We’re going to PCB in the panhandle on the way down so going through AK, TN, MS, AL. On the way home we plan to go up through Atlanta, then to Chattanooga, Nashville, STL then home to KC.

We plan to stock up on our Disney movies, we have an iPad so hope to get some new apps, some Disney books for DDs 8 & 6 to read, will print maps of our routes so they can follow along, maybe some trivia on where we are as we pass through, and of course talk about what we’re going to do in WDW (and make corresponding changes to our TP as we drive along). Oh, and lots and lots of snacks.

Anything else? Thanks for any help and advice!

This probably doesn’t apply to you, as you seem to have your plans all set, but i find it useful to compare the total costs of flying versus driving. When you add up all the costs (including forgotten costs like wear and tear), flying can often be the better option. There are some good fly vs drive calculators online, like http://www.befrugal.com/tools/fly-or-drive-calculator/

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We have driven numerous times from Northern Illinois and will do so again in June. We leave really early the first day, around 5 am. We stop every three hours even if only to hit a rest stop. We then always talk about the time to the next stop, rather than the final destination. I usually pack lunch for the car rather than eating out. It takes less time and the kids run around. We try to stop at a rest stop with a playground or a town right off the expressway with a park so that they have some play time.

The first day is our longest, around 12 hours, four three hour segments is how we look at it. We are careful to try and plan around major city traffic but focus more on missing morning traffic than evening. In our case we try to get south of Atlanta the first day. This means we may hit some evening traffic but we find that better than starting the day in traffic. We don’t leave as early the second day making this more important.

In the car, each kid is given their own snack bag to eat at their own speed. This keeps them from pigging out too much. They play electronics, read books and watch movies.

Good luck! I hope this helps.

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@brklinck - yeah, we’ve done the math on flying and since we have 5 and flights from KC are north of $300 we save $1500 by flying. Plus we’re heading to the beach for a few days so the cost of car rental and gas is added in. I don’t love the time driving takes but it works out better for us. Thank you though!

@JustKeepSmiling – great tips. I like thinking of it in increments rather than the whole day. I can handle 3 hours at a time, look forward to a break. We do plan to pack food because we’ll be eating out the rest of the trip, might as well cut back as much as we can. And definitely stops to run around. We pick the kids up from school the last day (early dismissal) and will drive until late into the night. Then the next day is only a few hours to the beach. I like pushing it hard the first day so the shorter time the second day seems really short.

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I would also add to be careful not to overdue it. I have known some people who can take turns and drive straight through with no issue but that is not us. On our first driving trip, we had no concrete plans of where to stop on the way home. We just kept driving but then it was 2am and we had no idea where to stop. It was not fun and we are still grateful that we made it home safely. We were way too tired to be driving. It is a mistake we have not made since.

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