Travel Tip: 511 Traveler Information


This post could also be titled That One Time Tropical Storm Debby Almost Ruined My Florida Vacation.

Just like most summers, we Floridians sit and watch the Gulf of Mexico (and the Atlantic) churn up the tropical storms and hurricanes every year.  We don’t really worry in June.  We normally start to worry closer to August but not this year.  Mother Nature decided to remind us who is boss early in this hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Debby was a beast of a storm.  She was a large, slow moving storm and once she got near Florida she decided to hang out for a little bit while her outer bands wreaked havoc on pretty much the entire state.

As we watched the forecasts, one thing never changed.  TS Debby was going to be over practically the entire state during our massive Florida road trip.  The trip I had been planning for weeks.  The trip that was going to finally take me to Key West after living 15 years in Florida.

We decided to plan as if we were going on the trip, weather or no weather.  We packed up, prepared for a storm just in case Debby decided to turn, and got ready to leave.  The original plan was to leave Monday evening and drive through the night but we read in the newspaper that parts of I-10 (the Interstate we would be driving on for the better part of 6 hours in the dark of the night) were closed.  We decided to wait until daytime to leave.  While we were reading up on road closures, we just stumbled upon Florida 511.

Florida 511 is the free traffic resource of the Florida Department of Transportation.  You can call 511 to get traffic info but we had no idea they had a comprehensive website that was updated practically to the minute.  Not only do they list road and traffic updates on the site, but the updates are also tweeted out over Twitter.  You can choose to follow certain Interstates eliminating the noise you don’t need.

Throughout our very rainy drive, we followed the alerts on Twitter and the website to learn about the closures due to flooding or sinkholes.

Not traveling in the state of Florida?  Check 511: America’s Traveler Information to find an active program where you are traveling.

*Photo courtesy of Oregon DOT via Flick Creative Commons.


  1. 1

    Good info! As many times as I have been in Florida, I have never been there during a storm. I think we should keep it that way.:)

  2. 2

    Thanks for your mention of Florida’s 511 Traveler information System!

  3. 3

    I could have used this a few days ago when I was driving out to Key West as well, although I still doubt that I would have used it since I’d be incurring roaming charges. Still, I would have loved to know why the traffic was so slow.

  4. 4

    It’s so nice when services like this provide such helpful and timely information.

  5. 5

    I went to college in Savannah, GA. Got evacuated for Hurricane Floyd because it was going to barrel down and whip out the city. It totally missed us, but I did get a nice little vacation at the start of term in Panama City, FL 😉 I’ll be looking up 511 for our next road trip for sure. Would have helped us this past weekend when we got stuck in some fun traffic probably. Thanks for linking up this week!