Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer 'o Travel

Lucas at Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA last September

Oh my. This has been our summer of travel. First, the beach. Then, the family reunion. Then, Ohio to visit the in-laws. Next up: sunny San Diego. Abel hasn't even unpacked from Ohio. I unpacked but didn't put my suitcase away. With less than a week between trips, why bother?

Don't get me wrong, I am really looking forward to hanging out in sunny San Diego with my sister and brother-in-law, their dogs and their lovely backyard pool for a week. Not to mention the Pacific Ocean, LEGOLAND and Balboa Park. But I am really not looking forward to the effort of getting there.

You see, for the first time ever, we opened up an annual fee airline points card about a year and a half ago. We used it like our debit card and looked for every opportunity to put things on it. For example, the down payment for our mini van and baseball season tickets (which we split with a group of friends who all paid us via check). We pay it off every single month without fail (it also has a wickedly high interest rate). If there was a charge that we knew we couldn't pay off right away (read: unexpected car repairs) that went on a separate, lower interest card. Hard to believe but we earned two round trip flights and were well on our way to a third by earlier this summer. I spent just over $100 to purchase the points needed to get us to our third "free" flight and so between that and various airline fees all three of us are flying to sunny San Diego for under $200!

Of course the free flights were incredibly limited so we're flying out of Dulles at 6am and heading to New York (read: away from California!) to switch planes before the long cross-country flight to sunny San Diego (San Diego always requires the adjective "sunny"!). Please note that Dulles is a solid hour drive from our house. And, if we want to arrive at the actual airport an hour ahead of time, we have to factor in 30 minutes between the long-term parking and the terminal. That will entail leaving our house at 3:30am. If we hope to shower and maybe eat something, the alarm will go off at about 2:45am.

Have I ever mentioned that Abel and I are NOT morning people?

I've gone back and forth a hundred times and have stressed for the past few weeks about how to handle this. My first idea was to drive toward the airport the evening before and spend the night in a nearby hotel. They all have deals where you can leave your car there for free for 7 or 14 nights and take their shuttle to and from the airport. This was initially appealing because neither Abel nor I would have to actually be awake enough to drive at that ridiculous hour. We'd simply get up, shower, wake Lucas, stagger down to the shuttle and get dropped off at the terminal. But, even factoring in the parking expenses we'd incur if not staying at the hotel, this would be a solid $100 extra. And, we'd still have to wake up at approximately 3:45am so we'd only be saving ourselves about an hour of sleep. Now, I do consider sleep to be priceless, in theory, but add in to that the fact that I never sleep well in hotel rooms...and it was looking less and less appealing.

Finally, after much stress, I have decided that we will pay extra to use the airport's valet parking. We'll pay about $70 more than long-term parking but will spend about $50 less than staying at a nearby hotel. Plus, we don't have to factor in the time for the shuttle between the long-term parking and the terminal. We just pull up, unload our suitcases and car seat and we're at the terminal and flying through security. (How busy can it be at 5am?) (Famous last words, right? Knock on wood!)

Let's just pray Lucas sleeps on the flight so he parents can get sure-to-be-needed naps as well!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!


  1. I think you have decided on the right plan...the valet will be worth it and I'm sure it will go smoothly!

  2. Have a great vacay. Traveling with little ones is always hard no matter what! We've done the early morning thing with S. She thankfully slept most of the way on the plane.

  3. whew! sounds like you're going to have a bit of a "time" getting here. No worries, though. Feel free to relax by the pool when you get here or take a nap in our luxurious (haha) guestroom!

  4. I hope that you enjoy sunny weather in San Diego! Hopefully the gloomy season that I witnessed for five days in May/June is long gone.


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