Disney Trip Planning: Traveling by Car


There are a few great reasons to travel by car to your Disney destination, but there are also considerable downfalls.

Cost: It really depends on where you are driving from to decide whether the cost of driving becomes more or less than a plane ticket will. Things to consider for cost: gas (and your car’s mpg rating), hotel stay, restaurants, number of people traveling with you. For example, driving with my parents and a friend all in one car to Walt Disney World in Florida from Massachusetts ends up costing around $800-$1,000 if we budget, and up to $1,300 if we don’t pack food. We live 1,300 miles away and it takes about 19 hours of actual driving time to get there. Considering stopping for pee and leg-stretching and food breaks plus one hotel stay on the way there (and another on the way back), we end up getting to WDW by the afternoon on the second day of driving.

Tip: Pack food and only eat at a restaurant once a day while driving! We always pack sandwiches and snacks. Easy things to pack – PB&J (your choice whether you want to make the sandwiches on the fly or pre-made), apples, bananas, peanut butter crackers, gold fish crackers, energy bars, chips, animal crackers, oreos, etc. and if you bring a cooler, the options are even more vast!

car 4

Packing food cuts down on the costs that eating at restaurants would add in, so you really should sit down and figure how much your family typically eats at restaurants. For my family, 4 people traveling from MA to FL, the cost of flying is almost equivalent to driving, so it really depends on you!

Packing restrictions: You can generally pack a lot more when driving, assuming you have the room to do so! This means you don’t have to decide what 2 pairs of shoes to bring, you probably have room to bring 5 pairs! Like I mentioned above, you can also pack more food options, which might save you a lot on dining in the parks as well. My family always packs cereal and milk (I always do the individual soy milk boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated until opened), so that saves me from having to buy breakfast every morning in the parks!

Tip: Pack an overnight bag! What I mean by this is that sure you are going to pack a suitcase for all of your clothing to wear and toiletries to use while on vacation, but you should also pack a small “carry-on” bag if your trip is long enough to stay overnight in a hotel. This way you can pack your pajamas, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a fresh change of clothing, contacts/glasses, and anything else you would need for that one or two nights before you arrive. This way you aren’t fishing through your strategically packed suitcase just to dig out one or two items for the night!


Why it can actually be more fun: My parents and I really like each other, so sitting in a car with them for a collective 3 full days then doing over a week with them in the theme parks is really fun for me. If you like road tripping and being in the company of the people you are traveling with, then driving might be fun for you, too! Look into your driving route before your trip and see what types of stops you can take along the way. The process of getting there can be just as fun as the destination itself! For example, my parents are on their way to WDW right now and they planned on stopping at Washington DC to see some famous monuments they’ve never seen before, a stop at the zoo to see the pandas, visiting some family down south, and they are going to check out Myrtle Beach before checking into their hotel the next day. In fact, they are purposely taking 3 days to get there instead of 2 because they enjoy traveling this way so much! If you are traveling to the Disneyland Resort, you can plan on stopping at Hollywood and/or Muscle Beach, or be like Josh and stop in Vegas for a night (since that’s his half-way mark).

Tip: Always take your luggage into the hotel room with you even if you are only going to use stuff from your over night bag. It’s sad how many times cars are broken into when travelers are soundly sleeping in a hotel, especially if the thief can clearly see luggage sitting there on the seat. Imagine getting into your car in the morning ready to drive the rest of the way to Disney, only to find all your luggage gone!

Having a car on property: There are a few benefits to having your car with you, though my family doesn’t usually do these things. You can leave the resort property to seek out other vacation destinations like Universal Studios (if you are in WDW). You can also make trips to the drugstore or grocery store and not have to rely on the restricted and high-priced supply that they have at the Disney owned resort hotel gift shops! A lot of people do this where they will drive off property to buy souvenirs, food, and items they forgot to pack!

How to you get to Disney and why? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Angie Carreiro


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Modern Mouse Radio is a multimedia Disney fan site run by Josh Taylor and put together by a crew of amazing individuals. Check us out. You won't be disappointed.

Posted on August 12, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Mztressofallevil's Disney Doings and commented:
    Do you travel by car to Disney?

  2. I live just south of Nashville, and we always drive to Disney World. It takes us about 12 hours. On our last trip, we left around 10:00 PM and drove through the night. My husband and I were exhausted by the time we got there, but the girls slept almost the whole way, so it worked out well. By the time we paid for gas, food (we packed a cooler, snacks and sandwiches too), and tolls, we only spent about $225 round trip. There was no way I could have paid for round trip airfare for 5 people for the same price!

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