We just returned from a road trip of over 3,200 miles and it reminded us of a PCS except at the end I did not start a new job, there were not three kids in the backseat, the house was still there and we knew the way around our neighborhood! After 18 military moves we get frequent reminders of the military lifestyle and this time I thought about how we automatically do things to expedite our travels, find ways to save money and enjoy long trips.
One of the most expensive items (this may change if the price of a gallon of gas keeps going up) for a family traveling are hotel accommodations. While not always available and maybe off the track a bit, you may be able to find quarters on a military installation, particularly on a weekend unless the Guard or Reserves are working. PCS folks actually get a priority and it is worth a call or email and you can book in advance at most installations. Have you looked at which hotels offer a Military Discount?
We use a hotel chain to earn points and most offer a discount but you need to check in advance to be sure. Ask for it, if it is not mentioned, you might be surprised. We were reminded of another lesson when we had to make a change in our travel routing at the last minute. We called and asked about a hotel in a large city on our route and the price jumped big time (we usually do our own research online but this was a necessary on the road change)! We then asked for one 50 miles short and the price was less than one third of the previous quote! We went from $300 for a night to $100 (including taxes, etc). So plan to travel short or long of a major city!
Do you try to travel during less heavily traveled times if possible? We always try to hit urban areas at off peak hours to save gas and time! It is not too hard to do with a little planning. It might also save some stress and friction in the car while sitting slow or dead stopped! Funny, how you can hear the kids in the back seat better when waiting in traffic. The kids see the fast food places easier during slow downs too but you can save a bit with a small cooler with drinks in it and maybe sandwiches, fruit, healthy snack bars, etc if you have the time and energy. Stopping in rest areas and getting your stretches is important and certainly not as tempting for all those calories at the fast food places! Taking those breaks is critical to safety and good health as well! A bit of a walk/run around the rest area/park or walkways is always a benefit for feeling better mentally and physically for the next 100 plus miles!
Start looking for gas deals with a half tank! Comparing prices enroute is easy with all the billboard type of signs and if you see a lower one grab it! Much better than getting down to fumes and that tumbling tummy feeling while hoping for the next one to appear which just happens to be the highest priced one in 500 miles.
Pace yourself! I can drive for hours but after a recent illness kept me on the driving disabled list, I realized that riding can be as tough as driving in many situations. So getting a break and letting the spouse have a time at the wheel is beneficial for everyone! How about a day off? Take one day off at a zoo, theme park, etc for the family if possible! Create a memory! My family still talks about one PCS where we traveled separately due to school requirements for me and how they stopped and saw old friends, went to a theme park, camped, etc., etc.
Did you find a great deal on a hotel? Why not splurge on dinner? A nice dinner at a non fast food restaurant will help everyone relax and sleep! Did that hotel have a pool? How about a dip to let the kids run wild and burn off all that energy? Better sleep for them and more rest for you means a better trip the next day!
Have a great PCS this spring/summer and thank you for your service!
Photo Credits: MilitaryAvenue Col K and Deborah enjoying a road trip
Photo Credits: MilitaryAvenue Deb enjoying a nice meal after a long day on the road