web analytics

Alaska or Aloha Bound? Part 2 – Getting There

The first thing to think about when trying to decide whether we are going to plan our vacation next summer to Alaska or Hawaii is how we are going to get there.  When you consider that we have to transport five people, just getting to our destination could be a big chunk of the travel budget.

Aloha plane

Hawaii is pretty much a no brainer.  Flying is really the only option, and currently, airfare from Philadelphia to Hawaii (with a stop in Phoenix) is $480.  For five people, even for someone who cried at the mere thought of math class, it looks like close to $2500.

Now Alaska.  My husband is a huge fan of the road trip.  We could fly out to Vancouver for about the same price that it would take to fly to Hawaii, but Jim wants to make it “fun” by packing the car with a gaggle of children, their bickering, fidgeting, and body odoring.

Alaska Road trip

A tentative road trip schedule would look something like this:

Day 1 – Bellmawr to Chicago – 12 hours; one night at the Springhill Suites in Rosemont for $100/night (military discount available) with breakfast included

Day 2 – Museum of Science and Industry; Navy Pier; Garrett Popcorn; drive to Milwaukee – 2 hours; one night at the Fairfield Inn, Downtown Milwaukee for $104/night (military discount available) with breakfast included

Day 3 – Morning miniature golf.  Drive to Fargo, ND – 9 hours; one night at the Courtyard in Moorehead, ND for $83/night (military discount available) with no breakfast in the morning

Day 4 – Drive to Glacier National Park – 14 hours; one night at Glacier Park Lodge for $202 (no military discount) with no breakfast

Day 5 – Early morning visit to Glacier National Park, then a drive to Vancouver – 11 hours; one night at Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle for $200/night plus $30 parking fee (no military discount available) with no breakfast

Day 6 – Arrive at the port to depart for the cruise

Fuel cost for the trip (one way) as estimated by AAA – $650 http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/fuelcostcalculator/

Total before attraction fees:  $1339

Now, assuming approximately the same costs going back the other way, this makes the road trip a little more expensive than the airfare to Hawaii, but there are two ways to look at this option.  It is 48 hours in the car together.  That’s a lot of time.  But we’ve always seen some of the best parts of this country during road trips.  We’ve done the big things, like Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon; and we’ve done the little things like the Corn Museum in South Dakota and the world’s tallest Jolly Green Giant.  It’s always fun, it’s always different, and it reminds me that one of the big reasons I married the man that I did was because we could do a nearly 50 hour car trip and not run out of things to talk about.

For some, there would be no question but to fly to Hawaii.  For others, the adventure of the road is really appealing.

Which team are you on?



Expect the Unexpected – Unique Must Haves in Your Car For a Road Trip


I have a good sized list of things I like to have in the car with me, but there is definitely a list of MUST haves when we embark on a road trip – especially with the girls.  There’s the list of typical things – and you can find them in a blog I wrote for Family Travel Magazine here – http://www.familytravelmagazine.com/moms-merry-miles-must-haves-in-your-car-before-your-road-trip/ – this is my most standard go-to list.  It’s all stuff that can make or break a good road trip.  But to really make sure you’re all set, you may want to pack an extra bag with some of these great things to have.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – What? I’m on vacation – you want me to clean? Well, no, but you might have to.  I use these magical cleaning miracles for everything from stains on clothing to ink on the leather seats in the car to barbecue sauce on the rugs in the back seat.  You don’t want to leave home without him!

Desitin Ointment – Oh, now she’s just crazy! First, she wants me to clean on vacation, now she wants me to buy diaper rash ointment when I have no babies. Or diapers. YES! Get a tube of Desitin! Not only is Desitin great for chapped or chafed skin (and really, us Pooh sized people get chafed in areas we don’t like to talk about), but it has so many other uses, you will be sorry you didn’t buy stock when you have infants! Containing zinc oxide, Desitin is great to useto take the sting out of insect bites and sunburned skin, but you can also use it to prevent sunburn in the first place.  You’ll find zinc oxide in things like calamine lotion, so a little dab’ll do ya if you get a touch of poison ivy.  You can even use Desitin as a treatment for dandruff! I keep a small tube in my glove box for emergencies.

Blanket – We have children who have raised whining and complaining to an art form. It never fails, whenever we hit the road, someone is too cold. It may not be all of them, but it is at least one of them, all the time. Rather than have the driver passing out from heat stroke trying to make the children suffering from frostbite happy, have a blanket handy. Oh – and if you want to stop for an impromptu picnic or a quick visit to the beach, you’ll be ready.


Coupons – I don’t get the newspaper, but my stepdad picks up three different papers each day.  On the weekends, that means he gets three times the coupons. The leftover coupons he gives us usually means that I have a bunch of fast food or chain restaurant deals that help me keep my spending in check on a road trip. There are coupons for free sandwiches if you buy a drink at fast food locations or free appetizers if you sit down at a chain joint. That’s money I can use on a nicer hotel or an extra souvenir!

What are your must haves on a car road trip?


North to Alaska – and Whatever Else We Can See In Between!

I always have these grand intentions of building fabulous trip reports, and every time we take an awesome vacation, I go into it saying “I think I can; I think I can; I think I can” – and then I don’t.

Let’s approach this from a different angle – let’s start talking about it now, and maybe by June, when I actually take the trip, I’ll be more motivated to finish the conversation!  So let’s get started – come plan this trip with me!

Here are the basics:

We have to be onboard the Disney Wonder on June 25, 2012 – that’s only 252 days away!  Thank God we’re going to Alaska – I’ll never get into a bikini by then!!  We board in Seattle, WA.

We’ve chosen second seating because it gives us time to eat breakfast, second breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, second lunch, afternoon tea, and an evening snack before dinner.  We’d miss at least the evening snack if we did main seating dining!  Actually, we prefer second seating for a number of reasons.  We never feel we have to rush to get ready after a day of excursions, and if a kid comes back needing a nap, there’s time before dinner to do that.  We’re also more inclined to get to the shows if we go to them before dinner, as after dinner, you are so full and tired from a big day of adventure, you might decide just to turn in.  I also like that on some of our Disney cruises, the kids will get picked up by the kids’ club staff at second seating, and they will be escorted to their club for evening activities.  This gives Mom and Dad a chance to eat dinner with the kids, but also have some time to themselves to linger over a cup of tea and dessert.

Our itinerary:

Day One: Seattle, Washington

Day Two: At Sea

Day Three: Tracy Arm, Alaska

Day Four: Skagway, Alaska

Day Five: Juneau, Alaska

Day Six: Ketchikan, Alaska

Day Seven: Victoria, British Columbia

Day Eight: Seattle, Washington

Now to get there.  The plan at the moment is to drive.  From Jersey.  With three kids.  In one car.  Oh, and did I mention that at least one kid is in school until June 20th?  Unless we get no snow days, and then she might be done a couple of days sooner.  Should I start taking Valium NOW?

If Google Maps is accurate, we eliminate all pee breaks, we don’t eat anything not already in the car (I’m thinking by hour four, Granuaile is gonna look mighty tasty with some honey mustard), we don’t stop for gas, and we skip any side trips to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the World’s Biggest Rocking Chair, we can be there in just under two days (1 day, 22 hours).  My fear is, just adding in pee breaks is going to cause us to miss the boat.  Somehow, I have to balance potty stops, eating, and a tiny bit of sightseeing with getting there in four days – which puts us at a Seattle hotel the day before the cruise.  Oh, and did I mention that I wish to arrive somewhat sane?

And we’re off, faithful readers!  Watch over the next few posts how I try to lay out the trip TO Seattle.  Then we’ll talk shore excursion possibilities.  And finally, we’ll talk about how we get back in time to make my sister’s wedding on July 21st.  Dressed.  In North Carolina.

Oh – and who wants to watch my dogs for three weeks?  They’re great fun to have around!