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.)