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Old 19 Jan 20, 04:18 PM  
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smithlane
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The BIG Old South Road Trip - August/Sept 2020

Hello and welcome to my latest trip report
I wasn't sure which forum to post this in but I'll do it in both the General Trips as well as the Florida section as we'll be in and out of the State.

Update 1 - 07/04/20

Iíll start off by introducing ourselves

After going to California last summer with my sister in law and family there will be a slight reduction in numbers this year as we are back to being just the 4 of us. We are gutted theyíre not coming with us as we all get on brilliantly but Iím looking forward to spending quality time with my little family unit. Will also be nice not to be responsible for planning a huge holiday for anyone else. As much as I love it, it can be quite stressful in making sure everyone is enjoying the plans that youíve made.



So first up, me! Alicia, 37 years young. Author of this trip report and main planner/itinerary keeper of the holiday. I work as a Mobile Beauty Therapist which I am very lucky is a job I love. My hobbies include researching upcoming holidays and shopping on said holidays



Jim my long suffering partner and wonderful step dad to my 2 children. Just turned 41 and a Project Manager at Battersea Power Station, a job that he really doesnít enjoy at the moment as the whole project is very delayed therefore is very stressful. But it pays well so being super supportive I tell him to stop moaning and to just get on with it . He LOVES golf, golf and um even more golf!



Hope my daughter. Nearly 17 years old and is now in her first year at 6th form college. Loves holidaying in the USA and would love to study there one day, sheís also my little shopping partner in crime. A very quiet and sensitive soul who is becoming a beautiful young lady.







Sam my son. 15 in a few weeks and a typical teenage boy. Nicknamed Romeo as he has developed a love for the ladies, his hormones have well and truly kicked in god help me! The problem is all the girls flock round him so his ego is the collective size of North America .







How this trip came about

After loving our road trip around California we knew we wanted to do another, we just needed to know where.
We threw around a few ideas - New England, Canada, Pacific Northwest, Route 66 but we felt these trips could wait until itís just the 2 of us with no kids, ie when itís cheaper!

I had read a few trip reports on here from Dibbers visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and staying in a mountain cabin, visiting Dollywood, going white water rafting, zip lining and going on hikes within the park itself. We knew it looked just up our street so with that decided we just needed to work out where else to visit.

We got the map out and drew up a list of possible places to stay. Having got used to 3 week holidays, we are very fortunate that this year would be no different so we have 21 nights in total. The one thing we had agreed on is we didnít want as many stops as we had last year, at 8 it was just a couple too many for us.

If you have read any of my previous reports youíll know that Jim playing golf usually features quite a few times on our holidays. I am the ultimate golf widow!
The only thing he has requested from this trip is a stay on Hilton Head Island, the golf capital of South Carolina. To be fair the beaches look beautiful and if itís good enough for Disney to have a resort there itís good enough for us.

I had done a bit of research on a group of barrier islands in Georgia called The Golden Isles. St Simons Island in particular looks really lovely but we are not sure whether to add a few nights here as it may be too similar to HHI.

Being huge The Walking Dead fans we were keen to visit Atlanta where a lot of the series is filmed. I had read Miss Mouseís American History road trip and they had done a walking tour of some of the sets so very excited to do the same.

Flights

Now we had a few destinations decided we now just needed to wait for flights to sort out the order in which we would visit.
As we arenít restricted on dates due to GCSE results this year we wanted to go back to our preferred time of the last 3 weeks of the summer holidays. We find places are usually quieter as the bulk of the American kids have gone back to school and generally the flights are cheaper.
There were a few different airport options to choose from we just needed to wait and see what the cheapest one would be.
I waited with baited breath for our dates to be released and when they were I couldnít believe the sky high prices . Our choices were flying out of London to either Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville or Nashville. I tried every single airport and date combination I could think of but nothing was coming in at less than £700 for rubbish 2 stop indirect flights which I draw the line at. Booking flights separately you now have to add baggage on and with taking 4 suitcases and a set of golf clubs this would add roughly another £450 on to the cost. I even tried the trusty BA website for a fly drive but they too were too high.
I was fairly laid back about it, we didnít book our flights for California until after Christmas so we had a bit of time before I started to panic!
Around Thanksgiving, BA had a sale so I naturally checked prices. There didnít seem to be much of a reduction in our chosen airports but after reading a thread on here about some very reasonable fly drive prices to Orlando I looked into seeing if I could make it work. It would require a bit more driving but at £640pp for direct flights from LGW to MCO including my favourite Chevy Suburban for the duration it was a no brainer. £300 deposit was put down straight away. Our dates are 17th August until 7th September.
Itís so typical that the one year we donít actually need to fly into Orlando this is the cheapest route!



With the flights now sorted we needed to rearrange the itinerary slightly as we were starting and ending further south than originally planned.
This worked out very well for Jim as he realised we would have to practically drive pass Sawgrass Golf Club, itís apparently very famous but hey, what do I know!
Itís attached to the Marriott Resort and Spa so I booked our first 2 nights there.



From here we will either drive straight to Hilton Head Island for 5 nights or split our time with 2 or 3 nights on St Simons Island too. We will have some kind of condo or townhouse here which will be booked once we know what our firm plans are





We now head towards the Smoky Mountains. As itís about a 6-7 hour drive, Jim has suggested we split the drive and stop for the night halfway. I spotted Congaree NP that looked about half way so with our love of visiting the US National Parks we thought this would be a good place to spend a couple of hours before stopping for the night in Columbia.



The next day we should only have a 3-4 hour drive to Gatlinburg. We will have 5 nights staying in a mountain cabin which is still to be booked





We now move on to Atlanta where we will spend the night. It will be a fairly long drive so will do the Walking Dead Tour the following morning.



We wanted our last destination to be in Florida so have been looking around the Panhandle area. I think Iíve narrowed it down to either Destin or Sandestin where we will have 6 nights. Again this is yet to be booked.





As Destin isnít too far away from New Orleans, Hope and I are going to go on a little road trip of our own and go for 1 night on a whistle stop tour of the city. Jim and Sam arenít interested so itís just us girlies!





We have one night spare so we may add it onto either HHI or the Smokies or we may stop for our last night on the way back to Orlando to break the journey up. Iíve looked at possibly Tallahassee as it would then mean less than a 4 hour drive on travel home day. We would leave first thing so we have plenty of time to get something to eat near the airport. Iíve got my eye on Teak Neighbourhood Grill, itís been too long since Iíve had one of their burgers

I'm going to leave it there as I've waffled on enough but I'll be back once our accommodation is booked and I have put together a rough itinerary. Thank you for reading

Edited at 12:40 PM.
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Old 2 Feb 20, 01:06 PM  
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NewtoOrlando
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I've been waiting for you to post this Alicia! It's something that we would like to do potentially in 2022 - having a year off next year, so will be following along with interest! I loved Lisas trippy from 2018 so hopefully this gives me some more ideas aswell!
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Old 2 Feb 20, 02:23 PM  
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Originally Posted by NewtoOrlando View Post
I've been waiting for you to post this Alicia! It's something that we would like to do potentially in 2022 - having a year off next year, so will be following along with interest! I loved Lisas trippy from 2018 so hopefully this gives me some more ideas aswell!
Thank you Rachael. I'm hoping it will be as epic as last years holiday but it's got a lot to live up to!
Jim and I can not wait to do the TWD tour, the kids not so much but we keep telling them to start watching it so they have a gist of what they're looking at
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Old 13 Feb 20, 10:42 AM  
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DH has played Sawgrass loved it
Golf features very much in our holidays as well this trip DH will again be marshalling at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tennessee is beautiful our second favourite US location after Florida
Then Tybee Island in Georgia
Looking forward to your report
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Old 16 Feb 20, 11:02 AM  
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Thanks Helen. Jim is very excited to be playing Sawgrass, for the amount it's costing it better be worth it
He would absolutely love to marshall at one of the big tournaments, major bucket list item that is!
I can't wait for Tennessee, I think that's the one place I'm most excited about. We would have loved to have fitted in Tybee Island too as after reading Amanda's time there it looks gorgeous but just can't add it in. Will definitely head there one day!
I hope your enjoying your holiday so far, when is it you reach Hawaii?
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Old 16 Feb 20, 04:20 PM  
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Your trip sounds amazing! Looking forward to reading all about it
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2020 postponed, to be replanned!
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Old 16 Feb 20, 06:04 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by yellowrose78 View Post
Your trip sounds amazing! Looking forward to reading all about it
Thanks so much for reading along, we hope it will be as epic as last years!
I see you're off to the Gulf Coast this year, whereabouts are you going?
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Old 24 Feb 20, 10:23 PM  
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Sounds amazing. Watching with interest.
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Old 25 Feb 20, 10:42 AM  
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Sounds like a great trip! Smokey mountains and New Orleans are both on my must do list at some point
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Old 25 Feb 20, 01:46 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by Myakka17 View Post
Sounds amazing. Watching with interest.
Thank you for reading 😃
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