April 07, 2010
Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania... and more. My eyes are stuck on the laminated wall map lately... and my head in the clouds.
Relevant is still a few months off in late October, but those of us who are committed to going to the event are beginning to look for sponsors and map out our trip. There are decisions to be made about whether to go it alone or take the family, to fly and stay in the greater Hershey, PA area or to drive and see the country... making stops along the way. You all know me by now if you have followed me for any length of time - as my heart is on the open road... winding down ribbons of freeway into the sunlight... feeling the wind in my hair... and eating sandwiches out of the back of the truck while my kids put "We've Been There" stickers on their homeschool state notebooks.
We love a good road trip.
Relevant is different than any of the other trips, though... because Relevant is in Pennsylvania and that's REALLY far away.
When I first glanced at the map and discussed it with my husband, his comment was: "You can't go that far and not see DC."
It was the first time my man had showed interest in a blog conference (but he really isn't interested in the conference - just the chance to vacation with his family... something that never happens for us because we've never had the money to travel). His dad lived near DC for some time when he was a kid (in Leesburg), so he has a special fondness for the area. I saw the misty-watercolor memories floating around in his mind quite clearly and used it as an opportunity to make my case.
"Well, we could make it in to a 'family vacation' you know. We could take the kids on a field trip to DC and see the Smithsonian and the Monuments. Would you be willing to take off time from work and go with me?" My eyes lit up to think there might be a chance.
"Yeah! Yeah!" The kids threw themselves on the floor in front of the map to trace out the path between Texas and Pennsylvania... lingering over our nation's capitol. They began to list the new states we would be passing through that they could add to their 'been there' list. "Daddy, please?"
He didn't answer us that night, but I heard him talking to his dad about it on the phone as if he was considering it. They started talking about the things we should see in DC. My heart felt light and I decided to go out on a limb and empty my paypal account to purchase my ticket to Relevant before they sold out - just in case.
I knew it would be expensive, but I had no idea HOW expensive until I started doing the math just recently. Everyone planning to go has been tweeting online about beginning to try and gather sponsors to help them cover the costs, so I began the legwork of putting my media kit for sponsors together yesterday - which includes doing a rough budget for the trip. Boy, was I surprised when my total reached over $4,000 dollars. The light feeling I had about really reaching PA suddenly fell flat.
Which is why I'm telling you about it. I figure you can help me get my head straight... the more heads I have working on this problem, the better - right?
I need some help in cutting corners to make the trip more affordable... and I need sponsors to make it happen. There won't be any credit card to fall back on this time. I really have to get the funds together BEFORE I go... or we'll have to pass on this once-in-a-lifetime road trip. Trust me. Texans don't just routinely wind up in Washington DC. It's a special kind of rarity that we cowpokes make it that far.
Here are the costs that I've estimated:
5 people (including dad, mom, baby, 2 tweens)
9 days (leaving grandma behind to take care of the house and cats)
rental car (1200$)
24 hours on the road - one way, 3 days up, 3 days there, 3 days back
gas at $2.70-80 per gallon both ways ($1100)
hotel, 3 days up, 3 days there, 2 days back ($1050)
groceries for snacks and a few meals on the road ($180)
food, eating out for family minus my conference food ($575)
conference ticket ($220)
business card and related conf. expenses ($50)
museums, tolls, parking, misc. ($250)
TOTAL FOR TRIP: $4500ish
There's just no way to cut it down much smaller unless we take our own vehicle which has over 140K miles on it. My vehicle is in decent shape, but I am scared to death to drive it that far with so many miles already on it. If it broke down while we were that far away from home, I'd have to mortgage my house to get it back to Texas and get it fixed. While I know people along the way, I hate to 'use' them for a free night's sleep and a free dinner. Plus, most of our traveling time will be during weekdays when people are busy with their lives. We'll need to stay in hotels most of the time - especially since there are 5 of us. And we have to eat. Don't we? I can only force the family (and my sandwich hating husband) to eat one meal a day in the car. I found this out on the last cross country drive... and my mom doesn't even hate sandwiches. She's not as picky of a "traveling buddy" as my man would be.
I can tell you one thing... I really want to go to Relevant. I know it looks impossible, but my family would be ever so sad if we weren't able to work it out that they could go with me. My kids have been trip planning and map scouring since I first mentioned it. I'm certain that if God wants us to make the trip, the money will come. However, I'm dedicated to being a good steward and am VERY interested in ways I can cut down on my costs to make it more affordable for my sponsors and for us - to make it happen.
I can only go about 10-12 hours in the car per day. We've done 14 and 16 hour stretches before and they are awful on everyone. This time, with my husband on board, I'd rather cut a few corners on the drive time so we get the rest we need to maintain 'cheery' attitudes in the car. He's a grumpy bear when he hasn't gotten his beauty rest. Trust me on that.
Here are a few scenarios as to times and places:
Austin to Little Rock - Day 1
Little Rock to ? (10-12 hours) - somewhere near the George Washington Nat. Forest - Day 2
? to DC (short drive so we can spend the day doing museums/tour) - Day 3
DC to Hershey (including time for morning touring in DC) - Day 4
Hershey (conference) - Day 5
Hershey (conference) - Day 6
Hershey to Leesburg - Day 7
Leesburg to Memphis or Little Rock - Day 8
Home - Day 9
What a crazy homeschool blogging mama I am. I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that, though.
So. Do you have any tips? Pointers? Must-see advice? Ways to cut costs? Traveling ideas? Change from under your seat cushions in your couch that you would like to donate towards the trip? Phone numbers to psychiatrists?
I'm sure you can help me figure this out. I'm counting on it!