I am a fraud.
I am supposed to be writing about how to survive a long road trip with kids, but the truth is? I can’t survive a long road trip with kids. In fact, there’s a stretch of freeway right outside Kamas, Utah and if you look really close you can still find little bits of my sanity that were lost there in June of 2011. My family had a wedding to attend, and in an effort to save money, we decided to make the drive out there. Cody, Addie and I did fine. It was the two-month-old baby we brought along with us that really threw a wrench in the plans. We all believe that we broke the baby of ever being a decent car rider on that trip and we’re all still a little traumatized by the experience.
We decided late this summer that we would be making the trek back out to Utah for Christmas, and as I jotted down my wisdom for other parents headed out on long road trips with little kids, I realized that we were going to be spending 44 hours minimum in a car with two kids through some of the roughest roads to drive on in winter.
FORTY FOUR HOURS.
I emailed Cody and asked him “How much are 176 hours of our collective lives worth to you? HOW MUCH IS MY SANITY WORTH TO YOU?”
Turns out it’s worth about $500.
There are 1,540 miles between my childhood home and my current home, multiply that by two, add in potty breaks and side trips and we’re looking at 3,100 miles on our car in under two weeks. Take gas at $3.70 a gallon in a car that gets 21/mpg and that’s just about $550 in gas. Add in a hotel, plus meals? $700, easy.
Round trip flights for each of us around that time of year worked out to about $400 per person, which brings the grand total to $1,200 but we’ll get there in 5 hours, not 22, meaning we get 34 hours of our life back for the bargain price of $500. We’re essentially paying $14.80 an hour to get that time back. Or $3.60 a person per hour.
To be able to spend the holidays with our family without the added stress of driving across the country in the middle of winter? WORTH IT, this time around.
We’ve made the drive before with just Addie and it was decidedly less traumatic. Perhaps when Vivi is older we’ll attempt it again.
We have done 10 hours from Indy to Florida and 4 hours from Indy to Eastern Ohio, those kinds of trips I can totally handle. In fact, you could say I’m an expert.
When it comes down to a long road trip with your family vs. flying, there’s a lot to consider. How many people and how much luggage can you fit in your car? How much is gas? How many of you would you actually have to pay airline fare for (Vivi is still free!)? Don’t forget baggage fees or hotel costs depending on how you choose to travel. We even looked at going by train, while we wouldn’t have to drive, we would be on a train for 6 days total. No thanks.
For the last five years we’ve stayed home for Christmas; we simply couldn’t afford to make the trip no matter how we traveled. Now that we’re a little more grown up and established, it’s nice to be able to make the choice between flying and driving. (My parents would rather we just move back to Utah for good.) Add in the fact that I used my Citi ThankYou card to purchase our tickets (meaning I get points for every dollar spent) and I have the ability to earn points on the miles we fly? Three airline tickets to the other side of the continent are going to reward us well through Citi’s ThankYou program without us having to do anything more than show up with baggage and government-issued ID.
Have you ever bailed on a road trip in favor of flying?
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.