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Old 09-10-2023, 08:10 PM   #1
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Question Tips for trip through the South?

Hi all, I RV full time and I'd like to do a trip -- I could use some advice. I've never been to the south, and I want to avoid hurricanes and super-high temperatures if I can.
  • I want to go along the Gulf Coast on I-10.
  • I would like to travel along I-20.
  • I want to go down one side of Florida, and than back up the other.
  • I want to take I-95 between Florida and as far north as Virginia Beach.
  • I'd like to take I-85 between Virginia Beach and Montgomery, but I'm open to suggestions on that one.
  • My starting and ending place will be near Tucson, AZ.
  • The trip can be in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
  • I will be ready to start any time in early 2024.
  • I want to take a year to do the trip.
  • I prefer a minimum stay of two weeks in each location.
  • I don't want to drive more than 5 hours in one day.
  • I need cell service, preferably AT&T and T-Mobile.
  • I need 50amp.
  • I prefer interstates.

For those of you who live or have traveled through that area of the country, do you have any words of wisdom? How would you do this trip? Thanks, all!
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Old 09-10-2023, 08:37 PM   #2
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West coast of Florida travel highway 19 to see old Florida
forgotten coast of Florida highway 98

skip the interstate!
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Old 09-10-2023, 08:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by OffroadGirl View Post
Hi all, I RV full time and I'd like to do a trip -- I could use some advice. I've never been to the south, and I want to avoid hurricanes and super-high temperatures if I can.

For those of you who live or have traveled through that area of the country, do you have any words of wisdom? How would you do this trip? Thanks, all!
First, remember that much of the South exists anywhere between 50 to 80 years in the past! And in many places in the South, like Florida, it's getting worse. Be careful.

If you are already in AZ then you know all about high temps. And be alert when driving near the border. I've known people who have taken a wrong offramp and found themselves making unplanned entry to Mexico.

Obviously this time of year is hurricane season in Florida and along the Gulf. I've heard lots of different opinions about riding out a hurricane, my advice is to simply leave the area and not try to ride one out. That may alter your plans but better to alter your plans than having a hurricane flip your trailer on its side.

Humidity in the South takes some getting used to. You go inside an air conditioned building in Orlando in August for a couple of hours and then go outside and it's like all the energy is just sucked out of your body.

Now I've always wanted to go down to the Florida Keys but have concerns about taking my coach out on some of those causeways and bridges that are miles long. I know there is no way to convince my wife to drive 113 miles over the ocean. I think we'd settle for leaving our trailer at a campground south of Miami and taking a day trip down to Key West.
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Old 09-10-2023, 08:58 PM   #4
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After having lived on TX gulf coast for 50 year, IMHO, make your gulf coast trip from mid-Feb to mid-May. Feb/Mar weather could be cool and rainy. Then there should be good weather until mid/late May. Lots of nice places along gulf coast and around the Florida panhandle. My sister has been spending Feb in Appalachicola or St George Island. Personally we are not great fans of Florda and have been to Orlando and Key West and would skip Orlando. For us Key West is worth 3-4 days. My sister loves all of Florida. There are so many options for you. Have a great trip.
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Old 09-10-2023, 09:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ocbizman1 View Post
First, remember that much of the South exists anywhere between 50 to 80 years in the past! And in many places in the South, like Florida, it's getting worse. Be careful.
How about you explain exactly what that is supposed to mean?
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Old 09-10-2023, 09:59 PM   #6
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Let me start by saying I live in western Louisiana, and have lived in the south my entire life, mostly in Louisiana, but also for about 5 years in the late 80's / early 90's in Birmingham, Alabama.

I will second the bit about getting away from the interstate highways, at least for the most part, you miss out on a LOT of things sticking to the interstates in this region. For timing the best months are late Feb-May, or mid Sept - November, the only question is do you want to start with the chance of hot weather, or cold weather, sub freezing temperature is possible anywhere on the gulf coast in early February. I remember 2 years when there was snow on the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama when i was living in Birmingham (I think one of those happened in early March, but that was a freak event).

Fall is a lot more variable, here in Louisiana some years we will get our first freeze by Halloween, other years it is after New Years, most years our first cool weather with highs in the 80's and lows in the 50's arrives about the first week of October, for September you can expect highs in the 90's most days, which is cooler than August. Hurricane season runs June-Nov, with September being the peak month, although even there something like 30% of hurricanes occur outside of hurricane season.

Spring is also variable, and so expect the potential of the odd late season cold front and possible freezing temperatures as late as April. Most years spring will be more wet and overcast than fall (excluding hurricanes).
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Old 09-11-2023, 12:41 AM   #7
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Taking a year to explore the south? You will have to be in some hot, humid weather at some point. Most travelers go south in winter and north in summer.

I'd advise to get off the interstates. You'll see a lot more of this beautiful country.

If you're asking for campgrounds to stay that would be very difficult not knowing what your interests are... RV parks, state parks, COE parks, boondocking, cities, country, etc.

It's too long of a trip to fully plan for a year of traveling. Plan in chunks of time... it will be easier for you. A lot could happen inbetween stops so don't make a ton of reservations.

There are just so many special places to see and do. It's hard for someone else to plan your one-year trip.

You might start by getting a large scale atlas of all states. Highlight places and things you'd like to see and yes, you may have to veer off a straight shot route to see things.

Have fun planning!
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Old 09-11-2023, 05:25 AM   #8
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OffroadGirl, I would recommend using RV Trip Wizard to assist in planning your trip. RV Trip Wizard will help plan a route and show what campgrounds nearby your route. Then you can modify it to what you want to do.

But on your route, don't forget San Antonio and the Alamo at least. Near Brenham, Texas is Washington on the Brazos. It is really a very interesting place. It does tie to the Alamo, and the events there. To finish that chapter, go to San Jacinto Battlefield.
If you like seeing ships, go to Corpus Christi and see/visit the USS Lexington CVT-16.
In Pensacola, is the National Naval Air Museum, it is the base, but it is worth a trip.
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Old 09-11-2023, 06:47 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
Taking a year to explore the south? You will have to be in some hot, humid weather at some point. Most travelers go south in winter and north in summer.
Twogypsies has a good point. Most folks in the south leave to go north in the summer if they are able to do so. It is hot steamy and muggy from Texas to Florida during the period June-October. Also, hurricane season is June 1 to Dec 1, although the most likely time for a big storm is August through October. For these reasons I would avoid the entire gulf coast and Florida from late July until late October. Why not do as we Floridians do, and go north to Northern Michigan, Maine, the Adirondacks or other northern destinations where the summer weather is superb?

On the other hand, the weather along the gulf coast and throughout Florida is outstanding from December 1 through April or May. That is when you should visit that area. Key West is a must see in my opinion. The bridges to KW are easy and fun and are not the issue that you imagine, but finding a campsite in the Keys is very challenging as they are few and far between. Make sure to get reservations, preferably up to a year in advance.

On your way across the south, don't miss the Texas Hill Country which is from San Antonio to Austin and includes charming and fascinating towns such as Fredricksburg (including Luckenbach), Boerne, New Braunfels, and Kerrville.

A stop in or near New Orleans will afford an opportunty to tour the outstanding WWII museum in NOLA. The Mississipi and Alabama gulf coasts are charmimg. In Mobile, you can tour the battleship USS Alabama as well as the adjacent submarine museum. The Florida panhandle has fantastic beaches.

I agree that I would bypass Orlando with its heavy traffic and crowds, unless you have children who are aching to see Disney World or the other theme parks. If you like airplanes, plan a few days to attend the giant Sun N Fun fly-in and airshow which takes place in Lakeland in April.
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Old 09-11-2023, 07:25 AM   #10
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We live 20 miles from Charleston, SC, and it is a city worth seeing. Not just the downtown, but many sites in the surrounding area. The Mt. Pleasant KOA is the best campground, and it’s just 8 miles from the Holy City. (There is a Charleston KOA, but that is NOT the one you want.) Use US Highway 17 coming from Savannah or from Myrtle Beach. I-26 and I-95 look like just about every other interstate out there. But we’re worse drivers… ��*��

And, during your trip, if you want a respite from the heat, visit the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Good luck with planning!

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Old 09-11-2023, 08:43 AM   #11
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As a lifelong SC resident, I would strongly encourage you to get off the interstate if you really want to see the south. Make the journey part of the adventure. Sounds like you will have time to do it. Would definitely recommend a visit to Charleston and the "lowcountry" in SC, but probably not in the middle of summer if you can help it. It's cooler in the mountains of SC if you come through in the summer. Congaree NP near Columbia is worth a visit (also probably not in the summer if you can help it!)
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Old 09-11-2023, 10:53 AM   #12
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Wow, so much information here, thanks to everyone for taking the time to post. I know you're all thinking we need to get off the interstates, but they are just for travel. Our preference is to take interstates to get to campgrounds, and then use the car to explore. We want to see everything, but we'll do it in the car and not with the motor home.

I was thinking about doing this in the counterclockwise direction. That would put us in New Orleans in early March. We'd see the Gulf Coast (so excited!) and then spend early April through mid-May in Florida. We're also thinking about taking the car to the Keys and not the motor home.

We'd be in Virginia Beach in early July, and then head inland to see the beautiful areas on the way to Dallas and back to AZ.

I'm worried about hurricanes but hopefully we'll have enough notice to get out of a danger zone ahead of time. We are not the kind of people to ride things out, so we'll head inland as far as we need to and then adjust our plans.

We have spent the last two summers in the Midwest so we get how heat and humidity are no fun. But we'll take that over hurricanes!

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Old 09-11-2023, 11:26 AM   #13
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As for hurricanes. Just keep your eye out on the weather channel each day. You get plenty of warning. The last one tracked along the Gulf side and we live near Orlando which is just about in between coasts. We only got some mild winds and rain.

Had it nudged any further inland here we could have been out of range in about two hours heading South and East for example.

A hurricane barreling up the middle is a sure sine to head towards the border and do NOT wait for the last couple of days. It can easily take two days to get out based on traffic.

Reservations are pretty important especially if driving a large setup.

It is hard to avoid the heat in any case unless traveling outside of Summer.
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Old 09-11-2023, 12:23 PM   #14
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Must see Natchez, MS.

Weatherwise, I'd suggest leaving AZ in October, head to Big Bend NP in Texas - with at 1-2 night stop at Fort Davis, TX.

Over to San Antonio on US-90

A couple stops on the Texas Gulf Coast - you will want to visit Galveston.

Palmetto Island SP south of Abbeyville, LA, over to Lake End Park in Morgan City for a couple days for a much more authentic look at the Creole/ Cajun La culture than New Orleans

Yes, NOLA, but stay on the west bank at Bayou Segnette SP.

Mississippi - Buccaneer State Park is the start of the real Gulf Coast beaches. Best beaches in the entire US in my opinion. Much better than Florida.

As mentioned Mobile. South of Mobile on Dauphine Island is a near old Civil War era fort, also Bellingrath Gardens.

Gulf Shores on the east side of Mobile Bay is amazing. The best beach in the entire US in not just my opinion.

Pensacola is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum. While on the Naval Air Station base, the West Gate does allow non-DOD US citizen civilians access to visit the museum.

Key West is worth a trip, and the bridges are safe for any RV to drive. One tip. Make sure you are full of fuel before leaving the Homestead, FL area. The boonie tax on everthing is high.

Try to start arranging a tour of the Cape Caneveral/ Kennedy before you leave and book around that.

Now that kind of trip will put you in FL in likely the late spring or summer. Starting to get hot. North to Savannah and Charleston SP.

Atlanta has it's frustrations - traffic mainly - but Stone Mountain is a nice place to visit.

From there I could cut south to Pine Mountain, GA - nice state park near FDR's winter home.

Grew up 60 miles northeastish of Shreveport - doesn't excit me at all. Frankly now some of the parts of old Shreveport I find more dangerous that an the unpleasant areas of Dallas. Much worse than along the Mexico border.

Middle stretch of Texas has some nice state parks. Austin is a traffic nightmare, even at 2am on Sunday morning, it will be stop and go traffic on I-35.

Texas was never really part of the 'old South'.

West of Austin aways is Fredericksburg. Old German settler town, and the center of the Texas craft winery area. Some boy who never spoke anything but German until entering school grew up near Fredericksburg. Named Nimitz, stayed in the Pacific during WWII, nice museum for the hometown hero.

About few miles or so before I-20 ends - divert north to Carlsbad Caverns NP. Well worth a few days. Any time of year, the Caverns are the same temps - carry a sweater or light jacket. Fewer crowds in the cooler months.

But for the hot months, can't beat the Ruidoso, NM area. 7,000 ft and cooler than Flagstaff.

Just some thoughts - traveled to all those places in the past. Great memories, and I'll go back to visit most.
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