Our move this summer will take us about 2500 miles from here towards the Great Lakes region. “Us” includes me, four children, two small dogs, and one cat. I thought we would drive. We haven’t had a vacation in years and it would be a great opportunity to see parts of the country we may never visit again, as well as a chance to see friends whom we seldom see in person, and meet blog readers and supporters. We have been mulling over the potential routes – south through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma before heading north, or slightly more middle of the country through Colorado and across the plains? We’ve been reading up on National Parks and other areas of interest that we could visit if we just allow for some slight zigs and zags along the way – the Grand Canyon? Carlsbad Caverns? Yellowstone?
There is a lot to be said for driving and one big negative weighing against those positives. It would be expensive. Our mini-van is old and in need of a variety of repairs to make it road-worthy for such a long trip, among them new brakes, and repairs to the transmission and power steering and air conditioning (I’m only listing the major items). It is also too small for a long trip and has minimal cargo space.
My thought was to sell the trailer and the mini-van, and use that money to purchase another vehicle – perhaps a larger SUV that would be a more comfortable ride and could carry more of our possessions, thus cutting down on the amount that will need to be shipped. We could even tow a U-haul and cut out shipping costs entirely. We will need a vehicle once we arrive and an SUV would fit into our new lifestyle. Fuel, meals and lodging costs would have to be considered.
Another idea would be buying a small motor home. I’ve seen several on our local craigslist and they are generally a bit cheaper than the used SUVs. It would mean fewer restroom and meal stops and would have the benefit of providing sleeping space allowing us to park at campgrounds instead of staying in motels during the journey. It could also provide some living space until our housing situation is worked out. And the pets would be more comfortable in a motor home. The downside would be the gas mileage – fuel costs would probably be double that of an SUV and of course we would need to sell it and buy a car of some sort once we reach our destination. Depending on the market we might not get enough money for it.
We could fly. The cost of transport to and from the airport, airfare, baggage fees, and flying three pets would be around $2,500 – probably half what a used vehicle will cost us. It would be a lot faster and we would save on meal and lodging costs but we aren’t on a deadline. We would still have to ship our possessions (I need to get some quotes on that) and we would be out the $2,500, leaving me less money with which to purchase a vehicle when we arrive. Another obstacle to flying is not having money for tickets until the trailer is sold – at which time fares would undoubtedly be higher than the advance purchase airfares I found online and tickets might be harder to buy at the last minute.
We could take the greyhound bus. Yeah, just kidding. But in the interest of being thorough, I did research it and the tickets would be about half the price of flying. No direct routes, naturally. The journey would require four transfers, two of which would take place in the wee hours of the mornings. And by the end of the 58 hours and 32 minutes it would take to reach our destination I would probably be completely bonkers! And we would still have to ship possessions, make other arrangements to get the pets there and purchase a vehicle once we arrived. Seriously, I’m just not up to traveling across the country with four children on a greyhound bus. I know my limitations!
I didn’t look into the train. I suspect it would cost less than flying and more than the bus. It would not be direct and while more comfortable than traveling by bus it would still be a long and arduous trip.
I haven’t made any decisions yet, I continue to look through the vehicle listings on craigslist and add data to my growing spreadsheet. A lot depends on how much money we can get for the trailer. We paid $4,000 and I believe it was sold below value so I’m hoping to make at least that much. The mini-van isn’t worth much and may be difficult to sell in its current condition. If we don’t make enough to buy either a SUV or a motor home then I guess we will have to fly. And in all of the above possibilities we face the hurdle of trying to sell one thing and buy another nearly simultaneously – losing both housing and transportation and replacing them with another form of transport and then almost immediately hitting the road. It’s going to be quite the juggling act!