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The cost of a free vacation – traveling with toddlers

Posted by on October 29, 2013

Price versus cost: a lesson in economics

 

When I first heard about the regional conference for the Society of Professional Journalists, of which I act as president for the Kennesaw State University chapter,  I felt excited and inspired to be one of the first chapter presidents to put for the extra effort to get as many members as possible (and as of this moment Kennesaw SPJ has the highest number of enrolled members ever), then to head to New Orleans to practice interviewing skills on zombies.

 

Then the reality of the fact that I couldn’t go because I am a nontraditional student with a husband and two babies in tow at all times sunk in. Not because they cannot get by without me but because I made a commitment and a vow to continue experiencing life with them (which also meant accepting that I won’t be participating in any study abroad opportunities).

 

I did the math and decided the trip would be too expensive for all involved, mentally and financially; I should let my chapter officers represent us in New Orleans among zombies

 

Traveling with toddlers

Then, just when I accepted I wouldn’t be going, I randomly won $250 cash – no questions asked minus proof that I was going – to head to Zombie Stories. At that point, I frantically recalculated and thought I discovered gold when the total Greyhound bus fare for two adults and two children round trip was only $260.00. To make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I called the customer service line and asked about bringing my 10-month-old (he’ll be 11 months old Sunday October 27) and his car seat. The happy service person emphatically assured me that though it wasn’t guaranteed, I could get to the station early and if the bus didn’t have straps I could request a car seat from Greyhound, but she stressed verbally that 90 percent of the buses were “new buses”  So, I felt confident in my decision to purchase a seat (after being told I could just hold my son since e was under age 2), because I’ve seen movies where a child was ripped from a mother’s arms as a plane went down. Wasn’t that in “Cast Away”?

 

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Russell Rain arrives in New Orleans Saturday October 26, after a 9-hour bus ride in daddy’s arms. No one on that bus thinks he’s as cute as he looks anymore.

Preparing for everything

The idea of enjoying life and children means preparing for as much as possible if not everything. I tried to think of everything, but sometimes you have to chock it up to life experience. We decided to rent a minivan on the way back from the conference; had we rented the minivan to start with and driven with four adults and two babies we would have saved money and aggravation. Lesson learned I suppose. Advice for the future? Double-check when you think you find a great deal. Consider the cost of comfort and the fact that time really is money. By driving home to Atlanta from New Orleans we were able to sleep in, while the bus left around 9 am. We took in the scenery and patronized a local diner in Mississippi that had been rebuilt after suffering devastation by Hurricane Katrina.

 

Traveling with children? Yeah, not ready to call myself a pro, but my nearly 3-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son have seen Georgia, Tennessee, driven through North Carolina briefly, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. I’m still here to talk about it. We will not be trusting Greyhound in the future.

 

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