Sunday, June 20, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I started planning for my upcoming trip to Minnesota by doing online searches for plane tickets. The nature of this trip is vague. I know when my first appointment at Mayo is, but I have no idea what will happen beyond that. I could be done in a week, or they may decide to do surgery and it may be more than a month before I'll be ready to travel again (or anything in between). Couple this uncertainty with the new summer travel fees (on top of all the other fees and taxes associated with flying these days) and the short flights would cost around $1,000.

For just a moment let's put aside the intense fear I've developed for flying and consider how ridiculous it is to pay $1,000 for a flight from Washington DC to Minneapolis. We're talking about a 3 hour flight, which means no food, no movie, no big deal. But let's not forget about the airport shenanigans. The long lines at the ticket counter to check and pay for your luggage. Followed by the long lines at the screening stations and the hassles associated like removing your shoes, belts, etc. Then the waiting for your flight, boarding and settling in of everyone (hoping it leaves somewhere close to the scheduled time). The cramped quarters; I'm a pretty slim gal but even I struggle with the tiny space allowed in airline seats with my knees coming right to the back of the seat in front of me. Then you have to deal with the people in the seats next to you who always seem to spill into your space, or even worse insisting on engaging in a conversation throughout the flight. There are no comforts provided in the air without ridiculous cash payments; blankets, snacks, pillows, before long they'll start charging to use the toilet. Then deplaning and waiting for the luggage to start circling the carousal, praying that your suitcase isn't one of the hundreds of thousands that is lost each year. There is nothing fun about flying anymore. And I for one refuse to pay $1,000 for the hassle. Ridiculous!

So then I thought it might be fun to take the train. See the country between here and there without all the cement and advertisements that make up the highway systems. The cost was very reasonable at about $200 one way but the travel time was not. I would spend 29 hours on the train (no sleeper cars make this trip) and once we hit Chicago I would have to get off and wait 5 hours before the train to Winona would leave. Plus it would take me an hour to get to the train station in DC and another hour from Winona to Rochester; total travel time 36 hours. Um, no thanks. That is way to long to spend trapped on the road without a bed for someone with chronic pain issues.

So I decided to drive. From my door to my mom's house in Rochester is 17.5 hours. My car gets excellent gas millage so I'll be able to do this on 2 1/2 tanks. And as long as I leave during my small window of good days I should be able to make the drive in 2 days (3 at the most). If I get a migraine I can pull over and check into a hotel. I could spend a week on the road for what it would cost to fly. I'm actually glad to have arrived at this decision because it allows me the stress free flexibility to pack whatever I want, travel at whatever rate I need to, leave whenever I'm ready, and I'll have my car to use when I'm there.

Everyone seems to disagree with my decision; my husband, mom, sister and in-laws have all been trying to talk me out of it. People are offering to pay for my plane ticket so I can be there "in just a couple hours." They are all being very dramatic as though my plan was to backpack and camp across Bogota. I'm just driving, heck I even have AAA. I see no reason to spend $1,000 of anyone's money just for the speedy hassle of flying. What do I have to do that I can't spend a few days on the road? I don't have a job. I don't even know how long I'll be gone. Plus this way, I can stop in St. Louis on my way home and visit with my grandma, uncle, aunt and cousins who I haven't seen in a few years.


  1. have fun! I love the freedom of driving. Without traffic. :)

  2. Hope it works smoothly!

    At least you have control over when you pull over, etc.

    My fear of flying is having an episode on a flight and being held by air marshals for disruptive behaviour.

    Just don't keep driving with an episode - did that once ended up 60 miles away from where I thought I was!!

  3. So many things to consider, and you are just the person to decide! Best Wishes for a great trip!

  4. Honey, I know exactly of the travel stress in which you speak. I have flown extensively and I love driving. Driving my max is 10 hours a day. But I prefer around 6. There is something completely calming about being on the road alone, having complete control of the radio, and having no one there to interrupt your thoughts no matter how silly or insignificant they are. Enjoy the solitude of the road my friend!

  5. Yeah, driving is best without traffic. Getting out of DC and going through Chicago will be the only tough spots I'll have to deal with.

    Thanks for the well wishes everyone!