Loyal readers will remember, it was the flight itinerary of Milwaukee to Fort Worth to Miami to Tampa, for $900/person for the week we wanted to spend with my in-laws, that pushed us into deciding to drive, not fly. Not driven by the Badgers Bowl Game appearance, but rather the fact our two businesses were quite and essentially non-function -- the perfect time to travel. But with a cost of $900/person (there are four of us) and 13 hours and 57 minutes of travel time, we opted to drive.
All in all, it was a wise choice. We rented a SUV with unlimited miles for $600 -- less than one airline ticket. Driving gave us flexibility about when to leave and return, a huge perk when you travel party is half made up for little people who think nothing of licking a door handle at a public place (oh yes, Rooster did on the DC Subway, Smidge the handle of a nursing home). Another bonus, we'd see and interact with the fly-over states. There is more to the US than airports with the same chain of coffee and bagel shops -- there are places like Huddle House in Puducah, Kentucky that are smoking or non -- we opted for non. And of course there was the allure of extra space, more space than our efficient Honda Civic.
On the way down we tossed prudence and sleep out the window, driving the 19 hours straight, skipping the fee for a hotel. The kids were asleep in the back and the idea of waking them, unloading the car, and lugging them all into a room was daunting. We skipped it, got some hot coffee, and took turns snoozing in the passenger seat.
Space -- we filled it with food, a cooler, clothing for warm, cool, and cold weather. Blankets, books and lovies from the kids' rooms. It was comfy, didn't use that much more gas than our family cars (about 27 mpg on the interestate), and offers four wheel drive if the weather turns nasty.
The down side -- the space. When opting not to fly we gave my in-laws the green light to indulge in holiday shopping. Far more than anything our kids had seen before. This was the first time the kids were seated under my in-laws tree, and the presents were taller than our 6 year old. You have room in that SUV, right? Happy faces between the generations, and a mother with a knack for packing, we made it work. But my 2015 goal to tackle the clutter in our home, well that mountain just increased a wee bit.
Will we do it again? Possibly. Or I may start scoping tickets for the week we want to travel well in advance. Time with tell, but the trip was an educational one for all of us.