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Travel Suggestions (cheapest way to make it happen)

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Old 01-11-2012, 10:54 AM   #1
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Default Travel Suggestions (cheapest way to make it happen)

My BFs daughter recently moved to Alabama. We want to bring her up to VA this summer for about 5 weeks.

I'm racking my brain for the easiest/cheapest way to go get her without missing much work.

I'm thinking he and I can fly down, then drive back with his daughter. Vice-versa we can drive down to drop her off and then fly back.

I know there are pros and cons of him going alone and us going together. I'm open to whichever way saves the most money. I haven't really asked him about his thoughts on her flying alone (she is 9 and I know I didn't like the idea much with my son).

Thoughts?
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:13 AM   #2
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I am guessing that it would be cheapest for him or you to fly down alone and fly back with her. Children's plane tickets are less expensive and I think if you both flew and drove back, it would end up being more expensive and time consuming (rental car + gas, depending on how long a drive, will be comparable or possibly more expensive expensive than plane tickets). What airports are you flying into/out of? What's the driving distance?

I do fly a lot and my recommendations for booking flights are:

Go during the week if you can (if not, just try to avoid Sunday, that's the biggest air travel day), and be flexible on times and, if you can, the airport you fly out of. Early morning flights are usually much less expensive. Book the tickets on a Wednesday. The further you get away from a Wednesday, the higher the prices will go- and try to book a month plus in advance.

Good luck!

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Old 01-11-2012, 11:20 AM   #3
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I definitely think you should talk about letting her fly alone. With all the security nowadays, it's not a huge deal. Of course, I understand if he doesn't want to do it or it makes the little girl uncomfortable, but if she is cool with it and so is he, that sounds like the cheapest option of all.

Also, have you considered seeing if the daughter's mom would fly up there with the little girl or come to pick her up at the end of the stay, maybe (and maybe pay for her own ticket?). Though it seems like it would be too much for her to do both drop off and pick up, it seems more reasonable for her to do one way, since she is the one who moved, and it would go a long way toward showing daughter that mom and dad are still both involved in her life. Still, I understand how touchy that could be.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:09 AM   #4
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My sister and I flew without our parents once when we were little. We were a bit nervous, but airlines are really good about taking care of kids who fly alone. I know we got to board the plane first with the priority seating people and stuff like that. I think you should see if she's okay with it (she might be too nervous to do it).
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:30 PM   #5
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I agree - I flew as an unaccompanied minor as young as age 11. Work with the airline and they will tell you all about things they can do to put your mind at ease and make it easier for everyone. If the child is relatively mature, "can-do", not afraid of the concept of flying, and looking forward to the trip, this will be a good bet.

If someone needs to go get her or take her home, it's hard to give advice between AL and VA, because both states are so large. It could honestly be anywhere between a 5 - 16 hour drive, depending on if you're at the closest or farthest points in the states. (Big difference between Alexandria to Mobile, versus Roanoke to Huntsville.) So it is probably a solid day's drive, and maybe more, depending on which side of each state you're talking about. (I've done northern MD to central FL on my own in a day, but it was an exhausting day.)

So plan at least one day up, one day back... and ideally plan a rest day in between unless you're taking turns with your driving. Rent an inexpensive rental rather than putting so many miles on your personal vehicle, which gets you closer to your next maintenance visit sooner. A 3-day rental should be about $75-$100 depending on the class of car you are willing to settle for, and then you will have $100-$200 on fuel depending on fuel economy of what you rent and the distance.

My take:

Have the child fly alone if that's reasonable and acceptable to all. If not:
Less than 7 hours each way: Drive. Can do it in a weekend.
7-13 hours each way: Drive, but give a rest day in the middle.
>13 hours each way: Just fly... Driving is cheaper but will cost you in time off and in stress.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:40 PM   #6
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My nephew flew from California to Minnesta alone at the age 10, when his younger brother reached 10 he did also. No problem. They would be preboarded and a flight attendant will be with her during boarding and disembaking.
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:07 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone.

Yes its about an 12 hour drive. That's where the idea of us going together came in because we could share the responsibility of driving and potentially do it all in one weekend.

It would be his daughters first time flying if we went that route, so that's still up in the air (no pun intended LOL)
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:15 PM   #8
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Would her mother drive her half way?
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddc View Post
Would her mother drive her half way?
Unfortunately no, I don't think she can.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
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Honestly, I don't think it would be right to have her fly unaccompanied for her first time. I was about her age when I flew for the first time and was very nervous. Thank god for being with my parents who were able to ease my concerns or else I would have been terrified. Little things that you might not even notice could be very scary for a first time flyer, especially at her age. I know I was scared of the turbulence, noise the plane makes, dropping feeling and the wing shaking but that was just be.

P.S. I don't know if anyone would no the answer to this, but what happens to a minor if there is a layover where they have to stay the night? My biggest concern would be a 9 year old in a hotel room by herself, or even worse with a stranger flight attendant.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:52 PM   #11
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Yeah, I agree about not letting her fly alone for the first time. I can see now why you're more hesitant. My friend has actually flown with her daughter (although they're overseas) every year for christmas for her to visit her father. It was a pretty big expense and commitment. Not easy.

It sounds like your only options are flying down and back or driving. Unfortunately I'm really not sure what would be cheaper. I'd recommend running the numbers. Think also about the wear and tear on your car. And the time involved. I personally suggest a flight over a car ride (provided no delays which no one can predict). But I understand when cost just doesn't make that an option. But I think you're only going to be able to figure that out by checking out the flight prices.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:47 AM   #12
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Flying will save you time, for sure. Especially if only one of you flew. Could your BF fly down in the morning and they could both fly back in the evening that same day? Then your BF won't even have to worry about a bag. Maybe just a small carry on.

Not sure where in VA you are, but you can look at bing (travel site) and if you're in the DC area, you can type in WAS as your airport code. It will list the Baltimore airport, Reagan (National) airport, and Dulles. So you can probably find cheap flights that way.

Also: If it's the Huntsville airport in Alabama, US Airways has a nonstop flight that's about 2 hours from Reagan to Huntsville. I just flew there over the weekend.
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