Tickets Bought

After no small amount of internet surfing and thinking and pondering and weighing the various options, I’ve finally come up with my latest Great Travel Scheme to Save Money.

For a while, that looked like it really was going to be renting a minivan and driving 22.5 hours (assuming no traffic. Yeah right.) to Orlando. I just couldn’t find anything that was reasonably priced at Thanksgiving, and no amount of creative airlining was getting me any closer. There were some fares that seemed okay at first, but nothing that really caught my eye. Paying $2000 for flights compared to paying $350 for a rental car and $300 for gas just seemed like the better deal.

But I’ll be honest. The thought of driving 24 hours with three kids down to Orlando, then turning around a week later and driving twenty four hours back was . . . less than ideal. I talked to multiple friends who have done it, and they all assured me how it wasn’t as awful as you’d imagine, but let’s face it: when the slogan of your planned trip is “Not as Awful as You’d Imagine,” maybe it’s time to rethink it all again.

What if we made it less awful? What if instead of driving straight through the night, we broke it up into two legs each way? We could take the kids out of school a day early, and then it would be 4 days of driving, 12 hours each day . . .

Still not exactly heavenly.

Audio books! And surprises! And maybe stay with family on the way back! Things to look forward to could make it more palatable, right? Right. And that’s what I convinced myself. I came up with some creative ways to make the trip fun, even though “4 days of 12 hour drives” just refused to really settle into the “fun” category for me or Denisa.

This past weekend, I took a long harsh look at the details. How much money was I really going to save by driving?

  • Rental car (because I didn’t want to drive all that way in a Honda Civic): $350
  • Extra driver fee (because there was no way I’d drive it all myself): $100
  • Gas: $350
  • Hotel on the way down: $150
  • Food and snacks for the trip: $200
  • Tolls: $100
  • Surprises: $100 (or so)
  • TOTAL: $1,350

Yes. I know I could make that cheaper. But I didn’t want to. Bare minimum, if I drove all night in my own car and ate bread and water, it would still be $450, but I’d arrive to Disney completely exhausted, and I know myself well enough to see a recipe for an awful vacation when it’s staring me in the face.

How much would plane tickets be again? Around $2,000. So I’d be driving to save $650, and that no longer seemed like such a grand idea.

So I continued searching for plane tickets that might cut things down even more, and I came up with a solution today. The answer? Canada. Not Montreal this time. I’d been looking at that airport all along, and the tickets were around $1,800 for a direct flight to Orlando. (They’d been cheaper earlier. Only $1550. But I waited, and I wasn’t sure those cheap tickets would return.) I’d checked Quebec and Toronto (for kicks), but today I decided to see if there were any other airports in Canada. Montreal had saved my bacon for our European vacation, and Canada doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, eh? So tickets might be cheaper than the $2400 out of Boston for terrible flights that I was currently contemplating.

Ottawa has an airport. I checked the flights. $1,315 for direct Ottawa to Orlando tickets at Thanksgiving. $1,315 total.

How long does it take to drive to Ottawa? 6 hours.

I talked it over with Denisa, and we hatched the plan. Leave the evening before. Drive part of the way and stay in a hotel. Have a leisurely morning, then head to the airport. Fly down (only a three hour flight!). Enjoy Disney. Fly back and stay in a hotel, and then drive home in the morning. Even with the costs of hotels, it’ll still come in around $1,600, and maybe we see a bit of Ottawa in the process.

Yes, folks. I realize it’s a fairly outlandish approach to flying. Drive 6 hours to fly 3 hours. But that’s still just 9 hours of travel time vs 24 hours of driving. And it’s only a bit more expensive. Sue me. I bought the tickets.

Anyone ever been to Ottawa before?

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