I seem to keep stumbling on this fact the last couple weeks: we are no longer DINKs. We don't have two incomes, so I can't keep thinking that we will do things the way we used to. Used to be, when I went to visit family, I flew. It's faster, and for one person, the costs of flying are pretty equitable to driving (especially if that person would have to rent a car in order to make the drive). In my mind, DINKs fly to vacations. Families with stay-at-home-moms drive their station wagons to the beach - or in this case, the sedan to Grandma's house. It's still surprising to me that I now fall into the second category instead of the first.
Although it's still cold and snowy here, I am looking ahead to summer and starting to plan our first trip with Baby M. You may remember that we live close to Peanut's family, but mine is scattered around the midwest and south - all at least a 14 hour drive from us. My family (including my 85+ year old grandparents!) have come to see us since Baby M's birth, but now it's time for us to start venturing out to them.
We will be headed to the south, to see my parents, grandparents, assorted siblings and friends. It's a 16-hour drive if we stop only to gas up, or a combination of two flights or one flight + several hours driving time. If we fly, Peanut would prefer to buy a ticket for Baby M rather than carry her on as a lap infant - it will give us an extra carry-on allowance, plus it will probably give us an entire row of seats, so no stranger will have to be next to us in the event that she starts projectile puking. But we will also have to rent a car once we get to our destination, so the cost of the trip is pretty high - over $1,200 easily. Plus the headaches of flying with a toddler, and the extra headaches of traveling with a special-needs, tube-fed toddler who vomits multiple times a day.
I hadn't really seriously considered driving until today. Looking at the cost of everything, and envisioning trying to find a safe, clean place in an airport or on the plane to feed Baby M, or trying to keep her calm and quiet on one or two flights...frankly, it was overwhelming. Peanut and I started brainstorming about whether we could in fact drive instead, and now we're strongly leaning towards that.
If we left shortly before bedtime, Baby M would probably sleep for 90% of the drive and wouldn't need to be fed anyway. Driving at night would mean we'd miss most of the traffic in the big cities along the way, and if one of us napped before we left and the other slept as much as possible in the car before switching drivers, we could conceivably do it in one go. It would mean a fairly groggy first day at our destination, but after a full night of sleep we'd probably be okay. And if anything came up, we could stop at a hotel.
And as for the cost, it would be significantly cheaper. Gasbuddy estimated the cost of gas roundtrip to be about $243. We could pack a cooler of snacks and food to save on eating out, and even if we stayed at a fairly nice hotel at $100 a night each way, we'd still be spending less than half the cost of flying. We also looked into renting a car that's a little bigger and more comfortable than ours, with similar or better gas mileage, and that would add less than $200 (at list price, not name-your-own-price) to our trip. So financially, driving is definitely the better option.
I'll be doing a little more research on this, especially for rental cars that make long drives more comfortable. Have you made a change from flying to driving because of having kids?