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Driving >250 miles for a family ski vacation, suggestions?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

For a family who skis, sometimes the only way to make a ski vacation fit into the budget is to spend at least a day driving.  I thinking about drives that are over 250 miles, so well beyond day trip distance.  Let's say that the families of most interest have kids who are ages 6-16 and that the ski vacation is at least a full week, including travel days.

 

Below are a few questions for those parents who have planned and enjoyed a ski vacation with lots of driving.  Have you?  If so, please share your thoughts.

 

*  How involved are/were the kids in planning the trip?

 

*  Is it worth driving an extra day for better skiing?

 

*  Do you ski in only one place?  If so, why?  If not, how many nights in each place?

 

*  Besides ski gear, is there something you bring on ski trips that you don't need on summer driving vacations?

post #2 of 28

Our normal drive to ski at our normal place is 225 miles.  If the planets are well aligned, we do it in 3:30.  I can't imagine 25 more miles would make much difference.  We typically leave Friday after dinner and arrive before midnight.  We avoid much of the traffic this way.  The kids sleep in the car.  If they did not, things would be different.  We leave Sunday night and arrive home pretty ragged.

 

* The kids are not at all involved in the planning, but there isn't much planning.  We're regulars.

 

* We don't drive an extra day, but we find it is worth it to sacrifice some sleep.

 

* We ski in one place because of season passes, kids programs, lodging, friends, etc.

 

* We bring blankets, food, tire chains, winter wiper fluid, headlamp, Leatherman.  For the season, we mount winter tires.

 

For longer trips, I would guess it's still worth it to drive.  Ski gear is bulky and not very airplane-compatible.  If it's not practical to drive through the night, it should be easy enough to entertain kids with books, videos, iPads, etc.  When I was a kid, we listened to books on tape.  Strategic breaks can help the whole family.

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

@Xela : thanks for the reply but I'm thinking mainly about a first family "ski vacation", not a weekend at a "local" mountain.  My commute for weekend ski trips when my daughter was younger was 220 miles from NC to northern VA . . . to a hill with 75 acres and 1100 ft vertical.

 

What I'm hoping is to find out more about what parents think are the pros and cons of driving perhaps 500-700 miles with 1-3 kids in the car vs the expense of buying 3-5 plane tickets for a 1-week ski vacation to a destination resort.  The idea is to help parents who haven't done such a long driving trip decide when it's worth doing, especially if they can't afford to do it annually after the first trip.  People in the mid-Atlantic (DC, Philly, Pittsburg, NYC, etc.) and the midwest (Chicago, MSP, etc.) can reach big mountains driving a full day or a bit more.  I know people in FL drive to NC, WV, or VA for ski vacations.

 

I assume that kids, and their parents, who get to ski for a week at a big mountain would like to repeat the experience as often as possible.  That was certainly true for my daughter after I took her to Alta for spring break when she was 7 (could ski blues with the help of Alta Ski School).  From where we live, flying was the only way to get to a big mountain (> 500 acres).  She was lucky that for us buying plane tickets and staying slope side annually was an option.  Plus I had plenty of other experience flying (and driving 500+ miles) with her when she was even younger so knew she was a good traveler.  Even so, I debated for months before deciding to take her when the opportunity to attend an alumni event in April at Alta Lodge came up.

post #4 of 28

Audio books! 

post #5 of 28
We drive 940 miles from Dallas to Steamboat for spring break with another family. This year the kids will be 11, 12, 13, and 14. Two boys and two girls. When the oldest two were preschool age, (the youngest two stayed with grandma) we would fly to Steamboat because American used to have a kids fly free program and we didn't have to worry about scheduling around school breaks. As they got older, we began driving because airfare was so expensive, especially during school breaks. We started with NM, but quickly switched to WP and then back to our favorite, Steamboat. We head out Friday after school and stop about midnight in the panhandle. Drive the rest of the way on Saturday. iPads with movies and games have become the chief entertainer recently. The older two enjoy reading so they bring books, too. Travel games and coloring books are also good. We are in two cars so they can move around some to escape siblings or parents. biggrin.gif We make the drive in one day coming home so they tend to sleep the first few hours and sometimes sleep again later since they are tired from such a fun week.

We like to rent a condo and settle in for the week. We enjoy cooking in and spending our evenings playing games or working puzzles.
post #6 of 28

I find it interesting how differently east coasters view distance from those out west.  I grew up in Oklahoma and a 250 mile drive was just a stroll. Hell, my parents would drive that far on a weekend just to go to some obscure restaurant in some obscure Oklahoma or Texas or Arkansas town.  In college we would regularly drive from Norman to Taos or Crested Butte (both over 600 miles each way) for a long weekend of skiing.

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

I find it interesting how differently east coasters view distance from those out west.  I grew up in Oklahoma and a 250 mile drive was just a stroll. Hell, my parents would drive that far on a weekend just to go to some obscure restaurant in some obscure Oklahoma or Texas or Arkansas town.  In college we would regularly drive from Norman to Taos or Crested Butte (both over 600 miles each way) for a long weekend of skiing.

I was just thinking that, too! My parents are from West Texas; although I never lived there, I did inherit that mindset. I would drive more now, but time is an issue, with the family's work and school commitments. Probably back to it a little more when the kids are both in college, though.

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

For a family who skis, sometimes the only way to make a ski vacation fit into the budget is to spend at least a day driving.  I thinking about drives that are over 250 miles, so well beyond day trip distance.  Let's say that the families of most interest have kids who are ages 6-16 and that the ski vacation is at least a full week, including travel days.

 

Below are a few questions for those parents who have planned and enjoyed a ski vacation with lots of driving.  Have you?  If so, please share your thoughts.

 

*  How involved are/were the kids in planning the trip?

 

*  Is it worth driving an extra day for better skiing?

 

*  Do you ski in only one place?  If so, why?  If not, how many nights in each place?

 

*  Besides ski gear, is there something you bring on ski trips that you don't need on summer driving vacations?

OK, I'll bite:

 

How involved are/were the kids in planning the trip?

Kids were not involved while toddlers, but are now. Why? One has Tourette's Syndrome, and needs to move his legs or at least get out of a car on longer trips from time-to-time. I try to let him help plan the traveling, making the ordeal a little less painful.

 

Is it worth driving an extra day for better skiing?

The travel time isn't that much different when compared to flying, when you consider driving to the airport, parking, waiting for a delayed plane, getting a rental car, etc. 

 

Do you ski in one place? If so, why? If not, how many nights in each place?

In our out of state vacation home, we go for a week at a time or more.  In Lake Tahoe, it is whatever skiing we can get in even if it is only a day or two at a time. Why? It is cheap to rent a room for a night there and the drive is under 4 hours.

 

Besides ski gear, is there something you bring on ski trips that you don't need on summer driving vacations?

Sure: 1) A blanket or beach towel if driving to a ski area for changing boots. 2) US military surplus snowshoes picked up for cheap on eBay. You have to take a day off from skiing, and snowshoeing or X/C skiing fits the bill. 3) The roof box. I bought one last year and really like using it. In the summer everything fits in back of the SUV, but in winter I can no longer travel comfortably without putting the skis on top.

post #9 of 28

If there are hours of mountain roads with switchbacks involved, bring a small bucket that can be reached from where the kids are sitting... bucket is for car sickness..

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

I find it interesting how differently east coasters view distance from those out west.  I grew up in Oklahoma and a 250 mile drive was just a stroll

 

BOOMER!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

I was just thinking that, too! My parents are from West Texas; although I never lived there, I did inherit that mindset.

 

 

I've lived both places.  The loooooooong straight flat roads of the plains are way less taxing to road trip across than the snarled, winding, altitude changing, road rage clogged highways along the eastern seaboard and parts north.  North involves mountain roads, south and east involve major metroplex issues.  

 

I used to drive from Minneapolis to OKC or Norman only stopping for gas and only needing to stop overnight once when I35 closed due to a bad ice storm.

 

I can still do 12 hours straight from here but it is WAY more exhausting..

post #11 of 28
250 miles is a skip. We drive everything up to 12-14 hours and fly beyond that. When my kids were younger we had a conversion van with a flat screen and a dvd player with a video game hook up to help them pass the time.

Next month alone I'm driving to Toronto and back which is about 9 hours each way and southern Mass which is about 7.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

Interesting discussion.  Realized that what I'm really trying to tease out are the generic pros and cons for a family who is trying to decide what to do for their first 1-week ski vacation to a big mountain between

1) paying for 3+ plane tickets or

2) driving 300 or 400 or 500 or more miles with kids in order to spend less on transportation.

 

Every family's situation is a little different, but I'm wondering if there is a short list of tips that would be helpful.

 

I'm guessing that only families who have already taken their kids on relatively long driving trips that do not involve snow would consider driving 500+ miles for a ski vacation.

 

Certainly where a family lives makes a big difference.  From FL, driving to ski in NC, WV, or VA is possible and plenty of families do it.  I've talked to FL families who only ski once a year at their favorite "destination" ski area in the southeast.  From the Mid-Atlantic, including DC and NYC, lots of possible driving destinations for a holiday week ski trip to a bigger ski resort in the northeast, which actually can make it harder to choose where to go.  From the midwest, Colorado is the most likely destination.  But Montana or Utah are within reach for midwest families willing to do a longer drive.  From Texas, families apparently drive to NM or CO a fair amount.

 

By the way, I just drove 650 miles solo today from Raleigh, NC to New Paltz, NY.  Per usual, went the slightly longer route to avoid I-95, DC/Baltimore, and NJ Turnpike.  Reminded me of one big difference between summer and winter driving.  It gets dark a lot earlier in the winter.  ;) 

post #13 of 28

For us, now and when we had children traveling with us, we would never fly on a 600 mile trip, especially a ski trip. Anytime you are going with a family for a week, there is just too much stuff to bring. We routinely drove with the kids from DC to Chicago (about 700 miles), DC to the NC and SC beaches, Boston to VA. We still  drive from Sugarloaf or Tremblant to Philadelphia usually leaving at 5 after a full day of skiing. I just have never found plane travel to be convenient for what can be a one day drive - you spend all day involved with the air travel and renting a car anyway and at least I find it much more annoying than a drive. Plus my husband does most of the driving. I would also expect that for at least lots of families, the cost of 4 or 5 tickets plus a rental car would be seriously prohibitive. I know that every time I've been flying recently it seems every RT airfare is close to $500 to 600. If you are doing a 500 mile trip, your out of pocket costs RT are tops 50 gallons of gas (100-200), two lunches and snacks so maybe 10-15% the cost.

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post
 

For us, now and when we had children traveling with us, we would never fly on a 600 mile trip, especially a ski trip. Anytime you are going with a family for a week, there is just too much stuff to bring. We routinely drove with the kids from DC to Chicago (about 700 miles), DC to the NC and SC beaches, Boston to VA. We still  drive from Sugarloaf or Tremblant to Philadelphia usually leaving at 5 after a full day of skiing. I just have never found plane travel to be convenient for what can be a one day drive - you spend all day involved with the air travel and renting a car anyway and at least I find it much more annoying than a drive. Plus my husband does most of the driving. I would also expect that for at least lots of families, the cost of 4 or 5 tickets plus a rental car would be seriously prohibitive. I know that every time I've been flying recently it seems every RT airfare is close to $500 to 600. If you are doing a 500 mile trip, your out of pocket costs RT are tops 50 gallons of gas (100-200), two lunches and snacks so maybe 10-15% the cost.


Did you ever take the kids to the Rockies for a ski vacation when they were in elementary school?  Some families do a trip then because it can be easier to miss a few days of school.  Also can buy lift tickets at the child/junior rate.

 

I'm not thinking about comparing flying 600 miles vs driving 600 miles.  The choice is more likely to be between flying 1200+ miles to the Rockies or PNW or spending a long day driving 500-700 miles each way.  Agree that transportation cost is probably the primary reason for a family to drive instead of flying.  But while skiing in the northeast is plenty of fun, it's not the same as skiing out west.

 

I agree that sometimes driving is better than spending lots of time in airports, especially if a direct flight is not available.

post #15 of 28

In response to the refined question:  I don't think putting the word "ski" into the equation changes the balance very much between driving and flying.  Some families gravitate toward driving and some toward flying.  I'd say wealth and familiarity play a big part.  I do think that ski gear will tilt the balance a bit more toward the driving.  Also, flight schedules don't always cooperate.

 

I agree that once a family puts flying on the table, they start to consider longer distances.

post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post
 

In response to the refined question:  I don't think putting the word "ski" into the equation changes the balance very much between driving and flying.  Some families gravitate toward driving and some toward flying.  I'd say wealth and familiarity play a big part.  I do think that ski gear will tilt the balance a bit more toward the driving.  Also, flight schedules don't always cooperate.

 

I agree that once a family puts flying on the table, they start to consider longer distances.


I also think it greatly depends on how much gear the family is bringing.  If most are renting gear at the resort flying gains favor in the equation.  If all the kids have their own gear then driving might be preferable to dealing with a ton of gear at the airport when on the threshold of distance/travel time to go either way.

post #17 of 28

The main difference between driving and flying for your situation is that flying will get you to much better skiing than anywhere you can drive to easily from NC. 

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Interesting discussion.  Realized that what I'm really trying to tease out are the generic pros and cons for a family who is trying to decide what to do for their first 1-week ski vacation to a big mountain between

1) paying for 3+ plane tickets or

2) driving 300 or 400 or 500 or more miles with kids in order to spend less on transportation.

 

Every family's situation is a little different, but I'm wondering if there is a short list of tips that would be helpful.

 

I'm guessing that only families who have already taken their kids on relatively long driving trips that do not involve snow would consider driving 500+ miles for a ski vacation.

 

Certainly where a family lives makes a big difference.  From FL, driving to ski in NC, WV, or VA is possible and plenty of families do it.  I've talked to FL families who only ski once a year at their favorite "destination" ski area in the southeast.  From the Mid-Atlantic, including DC and NYC, lots of possible driving destinations for a holiday week ski trip to a bigger ski resort in the northeast, which actually can make it harder to choose where to go.  From the midwest, Colorado is the most likely destination.  But Montana or Utah are within reach for midwest families willing to do a longer drive.  From Texas, families apparently drive to NM or CO a fair amount.

 

By the way, I just drove 650 miles solo today from Raleigh, NC to New Paltz, NY.  Per usual, went the slightly longer route to avoid I-95, DC/Baltimore, and NJ Turnpike.  Reminded me of one big difference between summer and winter driving.  It gets dark a lot earlier in the winter.  ;) 

 

I can relate here a little.  For our first family ski vacation 3 years ago we drove 550 miles from VA to Stratton, VT when our boys were 4, 2 & 2.  We stopped in NJ to visit family, which helped break up the drive. The kids could not have cared less whether we were in VT or WV, but my wife and I wanted to see New England b/c we'd never been. 

 

The next 2 years we flew to CO - Copper then Snowmass.  Again, more for the parents than the kids, but the kids had a blast as well.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
 

The main difference between driving and flying for your situation is that flying will get you to much better skiing than anywhere you can drive to easily from NC. 

 

I wholeheartedly agree with this.  Total travel time to drive 500-600 miles vs. flying out west is pretty similar.  For us it was either take two legs from our smaller airport in Richmond to Denver or drive 2-3 hours to DC for a direct flight. Then there's still 2-3 hours of diving from there (or 4-5 to Snowmass).  However, the big mountain experience out west vs. WV/New England is night and day.  And for a "first family ski vacation" its likely more than just the skiing that is important.  Obviously, the difference in skiing is amazing, but the scenery, towns, etc. are also amazing to experience as part of a family vacation.  

 

For a family that can drive to a big mountain out west in 12 hours or less, prefers driving to flying, and wants to save the money on flights then driving would make sense.  For us the hassles b/w driving and flying were similar.  Actually, flying was a little easier b/c the kids were so excited to be on a plane and it was easier get up and stretch, etc.  And then the payoff at the end of the flight was just soooo much better.  for the parents anyway. Again, our kids are still too young to know the difference.  

 

Of course, the main consideration is probably flight costs.  Total costs, once at the resort, are actually pretty similar if one plans carefully, books in advance and chooses the correct destination.  Actually, Snowshoe, WV ends up being slightly more expensive than Copper and is similar in price to Steamboat.  Many of the Northeast resorts are slightly less than Snowshoe from my cursory research.  

 

Another consideration for flights is the opportunity to take advantage of frequent flyer miles.  Not all of us fly regularly for work or otherwise have the opportunity to rack up miles of course.  However, it's pretty simple to take advantage of sign up bonuses to earn the necessary miles.  For instance there is a Southwest CC available right now that offers 50,000 miles to sign up as long as you spend (i think) $3,000 in 90 days.  That's enough to get a family of 5 to Denver from many eastern cities (one way) and SW allows up to 2 bags per person so no extra baggage fees.  Both Mom and Dad get the card and you have essentially free flights both ways.  Of course that requires that one uses the cards to cover everyday expenses with the discipline to pay it off without incurring finance charges.  I have not paid for flights on either of our two trips by doing this.  

 

Ski school is another concern.  If one is travelling that far to ski, they probably want some time to ski on their own, which may mean dropping kiddos in ski school.  And that can also get very expensive quickly, especially with multiple kids.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


Did you ever take the kids to the Rockies for a ski vacation when they were in elementary school?  Some families do a trip then because it can be easier to miss a few days of school.  Also can buy lift tickets at the child/junior rate.

 

 

 

Last year was the first year we had one in elementary school.  And yes we had no problem pulling him out of Kindergarten for a week for this.  We incorporated some learning as well that helped -  Snowmass for instance does a lot for kids everyday and they have the Mastodon center that they loved, Denver has a nice aquarium that we visited while staying overnight on our outbound trip, and then we had him keep a journal everyday that he turned in to his teacher for credit on his return.  

 

We will likely continue to take them out for a few days each winter as long as they're in elementary school.  That allows us to take advantage of lower priced dates, not to mention lower crowds.  I hate crowds!  This year we'll probably stick closer to home, though, and spend our vacation dollars on more lessons for everyone so that we don't have to drop the kids off in ski school every day.  We'd like to have the option of skiing at least 2-3 days with the kids on our next big trip out west.  

post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

For a family who skis, sometimes the only way to make a ski vacation fit into the budget is to spend at least a day driving.  I thinking about drives that are over 250 miles, so well beyond day trip distance.  Let's say that the families of most interest have kids who are ages 6-16 and that the ski vacation is at least a full week, including travel days.

 

Below are a few questions for those parents who have planned and enjoyed a ski vacation with lots of driving.  Have you?  If so, please share your thoughts.

 

*  How involved are/were the kids in planning the trip?

 

*  Is it worth driving an extra day for better skiing?

 

*  Do you ski in only one place?  If so, why?  If not, how many nights in each place?

 

*  Besides ski gear, is there something you bring on ski trips that you don't need on summer driving vacations?

 

and

 

1) paying for 3+ plane tickets or

2) driving 300 or 400 or 500 or more miles with kids in order to spend less on transportation.

 

 

 

*  How involved are/were the kids in planning the trip?

 

When young we'd simply ask what they wanted in a condo (pool, hot tub, Bunk beds, etc) and we'd work out the details. However I'm a proponent of slope side if price isn't prohibitive if kids are younger and doing ski school. Makes it easier to rush out or back for minor items or if running late. Too, when the kids get old enough to hang on their own, heading back to the condo and leaving them is less stressful and quick. Cell phones help and condo's in Steamboat (our destination) typically are desk staffed with ladies. Not that I don't trust either sex intrinsicly but hey, women tend to have far more sympathy for a child if issues arise. I will ask staff ahead of time to make sure they're fine in case a kid calls. Plus, kids were 11 before we'd leave em, typically for homeword/relaxing and me and spouse would ski lower mountain to be "closer".

 

 

*  Do you ski in only one place?  If so, why?  If not, how many nights in each place?

 

We typically hit one place per trip, this typically Steamboat. Why, moving about is a hassle given the mount of gear we haul but have split condos due to specials ... 1 night free with 3 nights, etc. however we started at 5, then 6 now up to 8 nights. This due to the ability to put kids in ski school and still have days with parents, splitting up kids for one day each with parents where they lead us around on paths/trails taken in school, availability for a day off, time to visit the town, just the time to come out verses time there payback.

 

* Besides ski gear, is there something you bring on ski trips that you don't need on summer driving vacations?

 

nope, but with a crew cab truck w/topper, we haul a lot of stuff. food, some wine, multiple ski's for me, spouse and snowboards for kids and ski's for them too, they are splitting time on both.

 

 

1) paying for 3+ plane tickets or

2) driving 300 or 400 or 500 or more miles with kids in order to spend less on transportation.

 

 

Like Mama4ster our Steamboat trip is 943 miles. We used to do the KFF (kids fly free) but these sadly disappeared and by the time we had our 3rd child, what was a $900 round trip trips for 4 and then a minivan rental for $350 (total due to corp discount I would get), the cost went with 5 to nearly $1800-$2000 air alone. this put the trip in at ~$2100 to $2400 just travel. I figured even with wear and tear on the truck, I'd rather blow $300 in fuel well worth it, the $2k savings over 5 years pays a lot towards a new vehicle or upgrading to a nicer Condo.

 

Plus, old air travel would let us each take 2 bags, 1 "bag" being a suitcase and a ski bag allowing enough extra bags to haul a box of wine when Colorado had blue laws in place and we may not of been able to pick up needed supplies. finally, the last 3 trips we took always seemed to have one leg of delays, hence missed flight. Our last flight was where we were delayed 7 hrs, our middle child was so upset she wrote a school paper about the trip on how we hung out in the "Sam Adams" restaurant. It was a beer sign in the restaurant but still funny. Anyhow, last three trips, two legs of 6 were ~14hrs total time given start to end time of travel. best case now, it's drive to airport, 1 hour before flight, 2 legs travel time (~5-6hrs) and transfer time between airport and condo or .. ~9 hrs best case. Driving is 14 hrs ... and it's flexible for leave times, hang out times, etc.

 

The big thing on driving now, though we add a day in front and of late, drive straight through on return (voted on by the kids), we plan vacation time at a hotel, stop at Omaha Zoo, or Pioneer Village or Denver Science Museum, or ... etc .

 

Travel wise, one of the best things were smart cell phones, Laptops for movies or games, books, puzzle books and road games .. eg: alphabet game for signs, making up stories, etc.

 

School wise, we plan recent trips were our kids had "1/2 days" two weeks in a row. this year we've moved up our trip and our middle child will take their finals the week before. Said the whole week of finals (which we'll skip) is prep and then finals on Thursday/Friday, so they'd prefer to skip the whole week taking them the week early.

 

Overall, I'd say driving has significant advantages if not having direct flight options, multi leg travel anymore just sucks. Most Airlines are rude, flights packed so if your leg is messed up and your group is large, you're screwed. 2ce in the last 3 years of air travel our bags were held hostage. I'd wanted them to drive a segment but no .. airline effectively told us tuff luck.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama4ster View Post

We drive 940 miles from Dallas to Steamboat f...... we would fly to Steamboat because American used to have a kids fly free program.
post #20 of 28

We should not lose sight of the risk of driving.  Per passenger-mile, driving is about 25 times more deadly than flying.  I can't help but think that the risk goes up for long drives during which drivers may feel fatigued.

post #21 of 28
It really depends on the premium you put on your time and your resources, whether you have enough drivers available, and whether your family is tolerant of long drives in general. Driving through US West can be interesting because of the grand landscapes you see, although I'm not sure it's a fair compensation for two lost day of skiing. But there should be plenty of music, games, movies in iPads, and snacks to keep the kids occupied. We never did a multiresort driving trip, so I cannot share any insights. Our kids are involved in planning the in-car entertainment and dinner options.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post
 

We should not lose sight of the risk of driving.  Per passenger-mile, driving is about 25 times more deadly than flying.  I can't help but think that the risk goes up for long drives during which drivers may feel fatigued.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

It ...... Driving through US West can be interesting because of the grand landscapes you see, although I'm not sure it's a fair compensation for two lost day of skiing........ Our kids are involved in planning the in-car entertainment and dinner options.

 

 

Generally speaking a lot of these and other items weighed in our decision. From a risk perspective, yes, driving is higher risk but then if one required every driver to be as skilled as a pilot the odds likely would be on par. While I'll likely curse myself, I like to believe I'm pretty safe and aware of my situations, don't add risk in poor weather, etc.

 

Grand Landscapes and chance to see other locations in the US are a big part of why we drive now. That and the freedom to change up our trip. I noted we've upped our time out on the Ski segment of our vacation, this was in part of being able to on the whim, extend our time. Kids would say "oh, wish we could stay another day" where as I call the travel rep or condo owner and pick up another day, sometimes agreeing to a lower cost.

 

Folks say Nebraska is a task ... which at times I'll readily admit but there's quite a few places to explore and visit too, so on the long trips our plans include that to overnight the first day and explore. Our return trips have shrunk into 14 through drive but with our eldest, who's very alert driver.. long stretch of Nebraska and late evening talks while others sleep add to time not allowed to discuss life and family.

 

From pros and con's perspective:

 

  • Driving pros:
    • Travel time: verses air breaks even at around 8hr drive time. At 14hrs, a single delay nearly equals the travel time
    • Flexibility: Can go and leave as one likes.
    • Side trips: plan time to places of interest, learning, exploration. (used too for kids travel log assignments)
    • Costs: Cheaper. For a family of 5 on a double leg in and back, Flights, bag fees and transfers or car rental for 7 days ~$1500 to $2300. Driving is ~$230 to ~$350 ($2.30 - $3.50/gal at 20mi/gal for 2Kmiles round trip.
    • Extra savings: can be used to extend the trip, offset total trip cost or allow upgrading to nicer condo.
    • Extendable Vacation at minimal cost: last minute ability to extend vacation if a dump happens! In planning, try if possible to book a unit that has an extra day or two max before next renters come - there's little chance of it being booked so the renter will likely be happy to "fill the gap".
    • Family: Time for family to "bond"
    • Driver experience: In good weather, long runs on un congested highways, excellent chance for newer driver to get miles in.
    • Comfort: Vehicle may be far more comfortable that Airline seating, can take breaks at one owns convenience
    • equipt: haul what you like, buy and bring back what you like. (have bought extra ski's and boots and wine and gifts and didn't worry the least on room or costs to haul)
  • Driving cons:
    • Bad Weather:  can hose the whole trip up. Driver must be confident of skills
    • extra travel time: likely longer time once one hits 8hrs of drive time one way, ~ 400-500 miles
    • Break down: possible but avoidable
    • Family: Time to bond can turn into time of arguments, trivial fighting on intruding on ones area.
    • Cost Savings in lieu of travel time.
    • May not be as glamorous as flying, less build up that it's a "special" trip.

 

 

 

 

I suppose too there may be pro's and con's related to illness, we've been lucky with no one really ill on trips so I don't know how it all pans out with Airtravel short of travel insurance. Same too for driving other than one may only need travel insurance for the condo which may be overall cheaper.

post #23 of 28

Back to topic and suggestions if driving, many apply equally to Air Travel vacations:

 

  • School work: Younger kids get off easy! Work with teachers to get assignments early. Many times my kids can get 1/2 their homework done before leaving. Too, more often than not on recent trips our kids would be ahead of the game. The Schools last year had 3 snow delays or cancellations.
  • School work: can do it in the vehicle while traveling, some teachers spin one assignment into one about the trip
  • Added touring: Add a day or two to visit museums, zoos, attractions, cities on route. Ones you wouldn't be able to while flying. Easy sell to the kids because it can be fun checking out world class zoo, science museum, history.
  • Hotel overnight. On first day we end a bit early and then hang out at the pool, hot tub and eat snacks or pizza. Watch HGTV or other shows that we talk about
  • Condo/Rental: try and peg a unit that has one or two extra open days before the next renters. Allows a last minute extension to a trip and often at a lower rate.
  • Souvenirs: Extra savings can offer an extra Souvenir at one of the stops. Great for younger kids to brag about their trip and adventure.
  • Weather: keep good eye out on the weather for a week up front on the route.
  • Roads: Know the roads, don't always trust GPS. Know the State road condition links and police numbers - ideally up front. Cotrip, wyoroad, etc. Know how to navigate.
  • Roads: If in mountain, some roads have no service (no plowing) after dark. Know the road you plan to travel.
  • Travel safety: may be good to let friends or family know when your headed out and check in. Easy now with smart phones and text, however more a note if your traveling a segment with limited reception or weather is poor. Our trip (by choice) takes us up through Medicine Bow forest and there is No reception for most of the travel between Co/Wy border and Walden Co. We typically will let a family member know to expect a call in 1 1/2 to 2 hrs .. otherwise start wondering.
  • Travel Safety: if on a longer stretch, best to try and keep the tank filled.
  • Travel Safety: pack sufficient food and water in case you have an issue. presuming your on a ski trip, clothing shouldn't be an issue. Note too, if stuck in snow and running the engine, ensure the tail pipe is free and clear and crack windows too.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by pete View Post
 

Back to topic and suggestions if driving, many apply equally to Air Travel vacations:

 

  • School work: Younger kids get off easy! Work with teachers to get assignments early. Many times my kids can get 1/2 their homework done before leaving. Too, more often than not on recent trips our kids would be ahead of the game.

 

Our local schools have ZERO accommodations for family vacation travel.  It will be straight up unexcused unless it is a funeral or something exceptionally educational.  Sea World was the last time we were able to get that excused and only after they each wrote an essay about Sea World.  They were in first and 3rd grade at the time.

 

Coming home or staying home "sick" is the only way we can miss a school day excused to travel here.  This is why ski resorts are so crowded on common holidays.

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pete View Post
 

Back to topic and suggestions if driving, many apply equally to Air Travel vacations:

 

  • School work: Younger kids get off easy! Work with teachers to get assignments early. Many times my kids can get 1/2 their homework done before leaving. Too, more often than not on recent trips our kids would be ahead of the game.

 

Our local schools have ZERO accommodations for family vacation travel.  It will be straight up unexcused unless it is a funeral or something exceptionally educational.  Sea World was the last time we were able to get that excused and only after they each wrote an essay about Sea World.  They were in first and 3rd grade at the time.

 

Coming home or staying home "sick" is the only way we can miss a school day excused to travel here.  This is why ski resorts are so crowded on common holidays.

IMHO, that is BS. Kids get well needed family time, they get to play outdoors and exercise and it WILL BE EDUCATIONAL... they can actually learn something  about weather, environment, physics...probably more than they would in that week of school. 

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

 

Our local schools have ZERO accommodations for family vacation travel.  It will be straight up unexcused unless it is a funeral or something exceptionally educational.  Sea World was the last time we were able to get that excused and only after they each wrote an essay about Sea World.  They were in first and 3rd grade at the time.

 

Coming home or staying home "sick" is the only way we can miss a school day excused to travel here.  This is why ski resorts are so crowded on common holidays.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

IMHO, that is BS. Kids get well needed family time, they get to play outdoors and exercise and it WILL BE EDUCATIONAL... they can actually learn something  about weather, environment, physics...probably more than they would in that week of school. 

 

 

agreed on both points. I've known some schools that write this in concrete.

 

Not much one can do if the school is inflexible unless it's the teacher, and then who want's to anger a teacher. Much of it I laugh about and in older age tell the school, least for Middle School and below ... "who really will care about anything done in middle school 10yrs from now?" It confounds me that (in general) the same organization that dislikes being told how to do things (aka: no kid left behind, standardized testing) can be inflexible on life lessons.

 

High School I can somewhat understand more but then as Phil alluded to, it's makes for a happy kid who's interested in life and it's experiences and still learns. Now, it is hard to justify if your kid is has poor grades but I've been fortunate that my kids do fairly well in school and the teachers like that.

 

I've noted too, that it should be used as a lesson, the they made an "exception" due to the students performance. Of course, we've had our difficulties in selling a trip and simply told the school, we're going and expect you to accommodate. A few times I pondered and understood why some folks homeschool. Heck, I really ponder this as I now get 4wks vacation a year .. I can almost sell renting and working remote for 2 months a year ... different tread though!

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

IMHO, that is BS. Kids get well needed family time, they get to play outdoors and exercise and it WILL BE EDUCATIONAL... they can actually learn something  about weather, environment, physics...probably more than they would in that week of school. 

I agree. In high school it is another story with science labs and a load of AP courses, but in grade or middle school there isn't much done in a weeks time outside of busy work. Our district has a policy of giving the kids a pile of work to do while away from school. If the kid is smart, it isn't a big deal. Mine used to do most of it on the airplane or in the hotel. Parents should make the vacation a learning experience, having the kids learn something about the history of wherever they are traveling. 

post #28 of 28

I suspect the policy enforcement cranked up with budget cuts due to austerity in this state.  Schools lose measurable dollars for every day any student does not attend. So, they make it impossible to get anything but documented illness and doctors appointments excused.  Heck, a signed note from me isn't enough for a doctor's appointment.  They now require a form SIGNED by the doctor's or dentist office for an appointment to be excused.

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