Monday, January 23, 2012

Money Monday!

Since January is coming to a close, it is time to start planning our summer vacation.  What do you mean you haven't started planning yours?  Slacker!  This is the life of an ex-pat.  You start planning your vacation because you have to figure out how long you can afford to go (in your husband's vacation days and in the budget).  You try to figure out who you have to see and who will understand if you can't make it to them.  You decide how long you can stand living with someone else. 

And those are just the obvious questions.

We are looking at going to GA for two weeks and then to IL for 10 days.  Tony figured out what days worked for him.  I found out when VBS would be happening.  The days seemed doable.  This is going great!

Then, we started looking at rental cars.  Has anyone rented a minivan recently?  I'm thinking it would be cheaper to buy a used vehicle.

Then, we looked at airfare between ATL and the multiple Midwestern airports that would work.  Has anyone flown recently?  We're thinking we're just going to drive to IL.  The 10-hour trip with 4 children including a very active toddler seems like a brilliant plan in light of the airfare.

Then, we looked at the cost of returning the rental car to a different location than where we got it.  Has anyone done that before?  I think it would be cheaper to hire a driver to take the car to ATL and fly them back to IL.

Then, I remembered that I don't hold any US car insurance which means I'd have to buy it for the rental car.  And would we bring all of our carseats or rent them?  Which reminds me that I need to look at the extra-baggage fees. 

Then, I started making my list of the items we need to get in the States.  School uniform bottoms are cheap, but take up a lot of space.  Kindles are expensive, but don't take up any space.  As I totalled up the list, I decided that we just didn't need anything.  Cheaper that way.

Then it occurred to me that the kids and I all need medical, dental, and optical appointments.  Have you paid, out of pocket, for American medical care lately?  Something about paying $$$$ in airfare, rental cars, and hotels to spend $$$$ on medical care while on vacation strikes me as off.  We'll just deal with Panama's medical care.  It works for the Panamanians.

About 15 hours into the planning, my mind is overwhelmed by the options and decisions to be made.  I don't want to give up so I beg Expedia for clarity, and I finally settle on a plan.  I decide that it would be easier and cheaper just to fly everyone who wants to see us to Panama.  And they can bring us the stuff we need from the States.   Have you run that plan by Tony lately?

 Back to Expedia I go. 

Maybe I'll just move vacation planning to February.


(If you have any winner tips for multiple destination airfare, car rental deals, or the like, PLEASE let me know.)

3 comments:

Autumn said...

Occasionally, rental car companies are looking for someone to drive a car to a specific destination - because someone else rented it one way. It might be possible to fly into ATL and use a rental car to get to IL. You don't pay the rental fee, just gas, I believe. It might be something to look into at least.

Janell said...

I have had this same planning session! Try searching kayak.com for multi destination tickets. We have to go to South Dakota this summer for meetings and it's almost the same price for us to go from Mexico City to Las Vegas (to visit family) then to SD and back to Mexico city. I really have found the best deals on one way rentals at Budget. Because I rent cars in Florida more of these coupon codes apply to me but you can still try (just click the rental company and it will give you codes.) http://www.mousesavers.com/rentalcar.html
Check with your credit card company because they usually will cover Collision Damage Waiver - http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/benefits/index.html?ep=v_sym_benefits

I hope you can get it worked out!
I have actually had my mom go to a kids consignment shop and buy us car seats so we have them in the US when we travel. She picks us up at the airport so that way we dont have to pay for the extra luggage and it's easier to not have to travel with them. You can use them in the plane so you don't have to pay extra for them.
I have traveled a lot with my kids to the US, so if you have any questions - I may have an answer :) My husband use to travel to Cuba a lot through Florida and his company would pay for it so we would tack on a family vacation.

panaMOM said...

Thanks for the help!

I'm going to head to Budget's website next!

I'm pretty sure I want the carseats on the plane so I can buckle the Bits in!! But it is a nightmare having to lug the thing through customs.

That second destination really makes everything more interesting!!

I so much appreciate you sharing your wisdom!!