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Planning A Road Trip From New Orleans To Charleston


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Velvet Boisvert



Embarking on a road trip is an exhilarating way to explore the vast landscapes and vibrant cities of the United States. One particularly captivating route spans from the lively city of New Orleans to the historic charm of Charleston. This road trip is full of diverse experiences, from indulging in the vibrant cultural scene of New Orleans to immersing oneself in the rich history of Charleston. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply an adventure seeker, this road trip has something to offer everyone.


Choosing to travel by car allows for the ultimate freedom to set your own pace and stop at unique attractions along the way. From the moment you hit the open road, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque scenery, intricate swamp lands, awe-inspiring plantations, and charming coastal towns. This road trip provides an opportunity to uncover hidden gems and make memories that will last a lifetime.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the details of planning the perfect road trip from New Orleans to Charleston. You’ll discover the ideal route to take, the best time to embark on this adventure, essential packing tips, accommodation options, must-visit stops along the way, engaging road trip activities, budgeting advice, and valuable safety tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


So, buckle up and get ready to hit the road as we embark on an unforgettable adventure from the soulful streets of New Orleans to the cobblestone lanes of Charleston. This road trip promises a captivating blend of culture, history, and natural beauty that will leave you craving for more.


Choosing the Right Route

When planning a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, one of the first steps is choosing the right route. While there are a few route options available, the most popular and scenic choice is to travel along the Gulf Coast and then head north. This allows you to experience the beauty of the coastal regions and enjoy a mix of coastal and inland attractions along the way.


The recommended route begins in New Orleans and follows Interstate 10 East until you reach Mobile, Alabama. From Mobile, you can either continue on Interstate 10 and then switch to Interstate 65 North, or you can take the scenic route along Highway 90, which runs parallel to the Gulf Coast. If you choose the latter option, you’ll have the chance to visit charming beach towns and soak up the coastal atmosphere.


After reaching Mobile or Gulfport, Mississippi, you’ll head north, either via Interstate 65 or Highway 49, which will lead you to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. From there, continue on Interstate 59 until you reach Birmingham, Alabama. From Birmingham, you’ll want to transition onto Interstate 20 East, which will take you to Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, make your way to Charleston by taking Interstate 26 East from Atlanta.


This route offers a diverse range of landscapes, from the vibrant and bustling cities to the picturesque coastal views and charming inland towns. Plus, it allows for flexibility in choosing the attractions and stops along the way. Remember to use a reliable GPS or navigation app to help you navigate the route and make adjustments as needed.


It’s important to note that there may be alternate routes or detours that you can explore based on your interests and preferences. Researching attractions, scenic roads, and hidden gems along different routes can help you customize your road trip and make it truly memorable.


Duration and Time of Year

When planning a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, it’s important to consider the duration of your journey and the best time of year to travel. The distance between the two cities is approximately 680 miles, which can be covered in about 10-12 hours of driving time. However, it’s recommended to spread the trip over several days to allow for ample time to explore the various attractions along the route.


The ideal duration for this road trip is around 7-10 days. This will give you enough time to make stops at interesting destinations along the way while also allowing for some relaxation and flexibility. It’s advisable to plan your itinerary in advance, outlining the number of days you want to spend in each location and accounting for travel time between destinations.


As for the best time of year to embark on this road trip, spring and fall are generally the most pleasant seasons in terms of weather and crowds. From March to May, you can enjoy mild temperatures and blooming flowers, while September to November offers comfortable weather with fewer tourists. Avoiding the peak summer months will help you avoid extreme heat and high levels of humidity.


It’s worth noting that weather conditions can vary along the route, so it’s essential to stay updated on weather forecasts and be prepared for possible changes. Additionally, consider any major events or festivals happening in the cities you plan to visit, as they can greatly impact accommodation availability and crowds.


By carefully planning the duration and timing of your road trip, you can optimize your experience and ensure an enjoyable journey from New Orleans to Charleston.


Packing Essentials

When preparing for a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, it’s important to pack wisely to ensure comfort and convenience throughout your journey. Consider the following essential items to include in your packing list:

  1. Clothing: Pack a variety of clothing suitable for different weather conditions. Include lightweight and breathable options for hot and humid days, as well as layers or warmer clothing for cooler evenings or unexpected weather changes. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes as you explore various attractions along the way.
  2. Toiletries: Bring travel-sized toiletries including toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and any other personal care items you require. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent to protect your skin during outdoor activities.
  3. Travel Documents: Keep your driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance papers, and any other necessary documents in a safe and easily accessible place. Additionally, carry your ID, passport (if necessary), and any hotel or attraction reservations.
  4. Electronics and Entertainment: Pack your phone, camera, and chargers to capture memories along the way. Consider bringing a portable charger for convenience. You may also want to bring books, magazines, or a tablet for entertainment during long drives.
  5. Snacks and Water: Fill a cooler with snacks, fruits, and drinks to keep you energized and hydrated throughout the trip. Packing a refillable water bottle is also a great idea to save money and reduce plastic waste.
  6. Emergency Kit: Prepare a basic emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, roadside emergency tools, and a spare tire. It’s better to be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise during your road trip.
  7. Maps and Navigation: While GPS or navigation apps on your phone are helpful, it’s wise to bring physical maps or a road atlas as a backup. This can be useful in case you lose internet connection or encounter technical issues.

Remember to pack light and only bring what is necessary to avoid clutter and maximize space in your vehicle. Having these essentials will ensure you’re well-prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable road trip from New Orleans to Charleston.


Accommodation Options

As you embark on your road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, finding the right accommodation is crucial for a comfortable and rejuvenating stay. Fortunately, there are various options to suit different preferences and budgets along the route.


Hotels and Motels: Along the way, you’ll find a wide range of hotels and motels offering comfortable rooms and amenities. These establishments provide convenience and often include amenities such as Wi-Fi, parking, and complimentary breakfast. Look for hotels in convenient locations, close to the attractions you plan to visit.


Bed and Breakfasts: For a more cozy and unique experience, consider staying at a bed and breakfast. These charming accommodations often offer personalized service, comfortable rooms, and a homemade breakfast for a home-away-from-home feel. Bed and breakfasts can be found in both urban areas and smaller towns along the route.


Vacation Rentals: If you prefer a home-like experience with more space and privacy, vacation rentals are a great option. With platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, you can find a wide variety of rental properties ranging from apartments to beachfront cottages. This option allows you to live like a local and often provides access to amenities like a kitchen and laundry facilities.


Campgrounds and RV Parks: For the adventurous travelers with camping gear or RVs, there are several campgrounds and RV parks along the route. These options are perfect for those who enjoy being close to nature and seek a budget-friendly accommodation option. Many campgrounds offer basic facilities like restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.


When choosing accommodation, think about the locations you plan to explore and the amenities you desire. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons or if you have specific preferences. Research and read reviews to find the best options that align with your needs and budget.


Remember to consider factors such as proximity to attractions, parking availability, and safety when making your accommodation decisions. Finding the right place to rest and recharge each night will enhance your overall road trip experience.


Must-Visit Stops Along the Way

On your road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, there are several must-visit stops along the way that offer unique experiences and showcase the diverse culture and history of the region. Here are some highlights:

  1. Biloxi, Mississippi: This coastal city is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant casinos, and delicious seafood. Take a stroll along the Biloxi Beach Boardwalk, visit the charming Biloxi Lighthouse, or try your luck at one of the casinos.
  2. Mobile, Alabama: Mobile is a city rich in history and southern charm. Explore the Historic District, visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, or take a scenic riverboat cruise along the Mobile River.
  3. Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Hattiesburg is home to the University of Southern Mississippi and offers a thriving arts scene. Visit the Hattiesburg Zoo, explore the Longleaf Trace Trail, or check out the renowned African American Military History Museum.
  4. Birmingham, Alabama: Known for its pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham offers a plethora of historical sites. Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, explore Vulcan Park, or enjoy a walk through Railroad Park.
  5. Atlanta, Georgia: While slightly off the direct route, Atlanta is worth a visit if you have the time. Experience the world-famous Georgia Aquarium, explore the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, or indulge in shopping and dining at Ponce City Market.
  6. Savannah, Georgia: Located just a short drive from Charleston, Savannah is a city filled with stunning architecture and southern charm. Take a historic walking tour, visit Forsyth Park, or indulge in the city’s renowned culinary scene.

These are just a few of the many remarkable stops you can make on your road trip from New Orleans to Charleston. Keep an eye out for other attractions and hidden gems along the route, such as state and national parks, local museums, and unique landmarks. Take the time to research and plan your itinerary to make the most of your journey.


Remember, the joy of a road trip lies not just in the destinations but also in the journey itself. Be open to spontaneous stops and detours to discover unexpected treasures and experiences along the way.


Road Trip Activities and Entertainment

A road trip from New Orleans to Charleston offers a plethora of activities and entertainment options to keep you engaged and entertained throughout your journey. Here are some ideas to enhance your road trip experience:

  1. Explore Nature: Take advantage of the scenic beauty along the route by visiting national parks or nature reserves. Consider a swamp tour in Louisiana, take a hike in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, or explore the Congaree National Park in South Carolina.
  2. Cultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the region by visiting museums, art galleries, and music venues. Experience the rich jazz heritage in New Orleans, explore the Mobile Museum of Art, or attend a live performance at the Charleston Music Hall.
  3. Culinary Delights: Indulge in the culinary specialties of the area by sampling regional dishes and visiting local eateries. Enjoy gumbo and po’boys in New Orleans, savor mouthwatering seafood in Biloxi, or try the traditional Lowcountry cuisine in Charleston.
  4. Outdoor Adventures: Engage in thrilling outdoor activities along the route. Try your hand at fishing along the Gulf Coast, go kayaking or paddleboarding in the beautiful rivers, or enjoy a bike ride through the historic districts of Charleston.
  5. Historical Exploration: Take a step back in time and explore the historical landmarks and museums that dot the route. Learn about the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, or take a tour of the antebellum plantations in the Charleston area.
  6. Beach Time: Make the most of the coastal stretch by spending time at the beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. Soak up the sun, swim in the clear waters, build sandcastles, or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Additionally, make your road trip even more enjoyable by creating personalized playlists or listening to audiobooks to accompany you on long stretches of driving. Take breaks at scenic overlooks and enjoy picnics amidst nature. Engage in car games, such as the classic “I Spy” or trivia quizzes, to keep everyone entertained.


Remember, a road trip is not just about reaching the destination but also about embracing the journey itself. Embrace the spontaneity and seize every moment to create unforgettable memories along the way.


Budgeting and Expenses

When planning a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, it’s essential to consider your budget and expenses to ensure a financially stress-free journey. Here are some factors to keep in mind:


Transportation Costs: Calculate the cost of gas for your vehicle based on the distance and the current fuel prices. Consider any toll roads along the route and factor them into your budget. If you’re renting a car, include the rental fees and insurance costs in your calculations.


Accommodation: Determine your nightly accommodation budget based on your preferred lodging options. Prices can vary depending on the type of accommodation, location, and season. Consider a mix of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals to fit your budget and preferences.


Meals and Dining: Plan your meal budget by estimating the number of meals you’ll eat at restaurants versus self-prepared meals. Research local dining options and set aside some money for indulging in the local cuisine.


Attractions and Activities: Research the costs of the attractions and activities you wish to experience along the route. Some may have entrance fees or require reservations. Allocate a budget for entrance fees, tours, and any additional expenses related to these experiences.


Shopping and Souvenirs: If you plan to shop for souvenirs or indulge in some retail therapy, set aside a separate budget for these expenses. However, be mindful of overspending and stick to your allocated budget.


Emergency Fund: It’s always a good idea to have a small emergency fund set aside for unforeseen circumstances or unexpected expenses that may arise during your road trip.


Creating a budget spreadsheet or using a budgeting app can help you keep track of your expenses as you travel. Be proactive in researching discounts, coupons, or promotional offers for attractions, dining, and accommodation to save money.


It’s important to remember that your budget can be flexible, and you can make adjustments along the way to accommodate unexpected expenses or opportunities that may arise during your journey. Being mindful of your spending and making informed choices will help you stay within your budget and enjoy a stress-free road trip experience.


Safety Tips for the Road

Ensuring a safe and secure road trip from New Orleans to Charleston should be a top priority. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind as you embark on your journey:

  1. Vehicle Maintenance: Before hitting the road, ensure your vehicle is in good working condition. Check the tire pressure, brakes, headlights, and fluid levels. Carry a spare tire, a tire jack, and the necessary tools for any minor repairs you may need.
  2. Plan Your Route: Plan your route in advance and familiarize yourself with the directions. Use a reliable GPS or navigation app to avoid getting lost. Stay updated on traffic conditions and plan for any road closures or detours.
  3. Rest and Breaks: Take regular breaks and prioritize rest to avoid driver fatigue. Fatigue can impair your judgment and reaction times. Share driving responsibilities with other available drivers in your group.
  4. Stay Alert: Stay focused and attentive while driving. Avoid distractions such as using your phone, eating, or engaging in other activities that can take your attention away from the road. Keep an eye out for other drivers, pedestrians, and wildlife.
  5. Follow Traffic Laws: Adhere to speed limits, traffic signals, and road regulations. Avoid aggressive driving and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Be patient and courteous on the road.
  6. Emergency Preparedness: Have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a first aid kit, flashlight, blanket, water, and non-perishable snacks. Carry a fully charged phone and keep important contact numbers handy.
  7. Weather Awareness: Stay updated on weather forecasts along your route and be prepared for changing weather conditions. If encountering severe weather, such as storms or heavy rain, consider delaying your travel until conditions improve.
  8. Parking Safety: When parking your vehicle, choose well-lit and secure parking areas. Lock your vehicle and ensure all valuable items are hidden out of sight. Be cautious when parking in unfamiliar areas.
  9. Stay Hydrated and Rested: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially during hot and humid weather. Get enough rest during your journey to maintain alertness and ensure your well-being.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any situation, trust your instincts and take necessary precautions. Avoid isolated or unfamiliar areas and seek assistance from reputable sources if needed.

Remember, safety is paramount during your road trip. By following these tips and being proactive in your approach, you can enjoy a safe and worry-free journey from New Orleans to Charleston.



Embarking on a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston is a remarkable adventure that promises to create lasting memories. From the vibrant energy of New Orleans to the historic charm of Charleston, this journey provides a perfect blend of culture, history, and natural beauty.


By choosing the right route, planning the duration and timing of your trip, and packing the essentials, you can set the stage for a successful and enjoyable road trip. The diverse range of accommodation options ensures a comfortable stay, while the must-visit stops along the way offer unique experiences and insights into the local culture.


Engaging in road trip activities and entertainment, budgeting wisely, and prioritizing safety will further enhance your journey. Whether you’re exploring natural wonders, immersing yourself in history, or indulging in local cuisine, this road trip offers countless opportunities to create unforgettable moments.


As you navigate the open road, make sure to stay alert, follow traffic laws, and prioritize your well-being. By being prepared and flexible, you can embrace the spontaneity of the journey and make the most of every stop along the way.


So, fuel up, buckle up, and get ready for an incredible road trip from New Orleans to Charleston. The adventure awaits, and the memories are waiting to be made. Enjoy the freedom of the open road and embark on a journey that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the United States.