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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?


Planes, Trains, Automobiles – How Will You Get To Your Summer Vacation?

There are loads of things to consider when you plan your summer vacation –  where you’ll go, where you’ll stay, what activities you’ll enjoy, and what your budget is.  But one of the biggest questions is always – how ya gonna get there?

candy and martin

Let’s get rid of trains right away.  Not that trains are not a great way to travel, but it’s highly unlikely that the train is going to get you from the point A where you want to start to the point B where you want to finish.  In most cases, you’re going to have to get to your train station, then from your destination, get where you want to go.  Renting a car, using a taxi, bumming rides from friends and relatives are all options, but they can add to the expense of your train fare, which, compared to other options, is really not inexpensive.  For what it costs to put you, your family, and your car on the Auto Train from the north east to the Orlando vicinity, you could almost stay an extra week at a value resort at Walt Disney World!

Planes are a quick fix.  If you are traveling more than a day’s drive from home, and even more so if you are solo or couples only traveling, air may be the way to, umm, fly.  You can get to virtually anywhere in the continental United States for under $500 and in less than 6 hours.  An early morning flight can have your butt on the beach or your cheeks in the seats of your favorite theme park attraction by lunch time!

chase vacation

Driving is the method my family travels most often.  The biggest advantage is that it allows some flexibility.  We lay out a basic itinerary, but whether we are driving to Orlando or cross country, we might stop in to visit friends on the trip or even make a field trip to see a local sight we might not have otherwise made a trip to go see.  For a larger family, driving also usually works out to be less expensive.  My family of five would pay about $300 each to fly to Orlando.  I can drive round trip for a total of just under $500.  That leaves me $1000 to spend on Dole Whips, light up balloons, or a new Dooney and Bourke (just a suggestion).  To find out how much it will cost you to get to your destination, check out the AAA fuel cost calculator at http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/fuelcostcalculator/

No matter how you travel this summer, stay safe, travel light, and save that extra luggage space to put all those great souvenirs!