Monday, July 19, 2010

Dud-Deals & Disparities

Have had a huge amount of work the last few months, and seriously neglected my blogs. Decided to take a few moments from this already-hectic-day and add a little something here.

My wife and I like to go up to visit her parents in Pennsylvania (or mine in Illinois) once a year, and since we've been married, we've found amazingly low-priced airline tickets nearly every time we've wanted to travel. This year, however, the deals are just not flowing in south Florida.

With 4 children, it's important to us to find high quality transportation; "high quality" being whatever mode of transportation:
1. Takes up the least amount of time (4 children in any enclosed area for an extended period of time is not my idea of "fun"),
2. Gets us as close as possible to where we want to be in the least amount of stops (getting in and out of a car, airplane, or anything else is best kept to a minimum),
3. Costs us the least amount of money (because the kids and Daddy like to eat well), and
4. Has a better than 80% survival rate. (Just kidding, we really want 100%.)

Anyway, the only low-priced, direct airline tickets we could find this year would put us no closer than DC's Reagan International for $28 per person. That's $128 one way for 6 of us, or $336 round-trip. Unless you're the President, a Governor, or in Congress, you can't fly anywhere anymore without planning on tons of extra fees and taxes, so it was no surprise to find out that our $336-worth of tickets actually set us back $601.79. All things considered, $50 per person per flight is not too shabby.

Of course, Reagan is still quite a drive from PA. (Thankfully, we have friends nearby in Virginia that our kids have been begging to visit, and they have graciously accepted our request for their hospitality.) Since we still will have several hours of driving left to us after arriving in DC, I decided to see how much more it will cost us to rent a minivan.

Prices in the airport are all just over $815 per week (before taxes) for an unlimited mileage minivan. Since we are staying for 2 weeks, that price would be a serious kick in the wallet. Looking outside all the airports in the DC area, we did find prices as low as $530 per week (quite a savings for a 2 week rental) but that's still rather high for us. I put a bid in to see if "Mr. Priceline" can get us something for about $600 for the whole 13 days, otherwise, we're going to have to bite the thousand-dollar bullet.

On a side-note, several weeks after we'd purchased our airline tickets, a friend suggested taking the train. Evidently, AmTrak will let you ship our own vehicle on the train with you. I didn't know they still do that, but I think our kids would find that the most enjoyable travel option, so next time we might just find ourselves riding a choo choo.

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