April 23, 2021 – Always have a ‘Plan B’.

My husband and I are taking a trip next month. I suspect it’s going to be an annual one. We did it last year and it went so well that we’re going to do it yet again. We’re actually just returning to where we used to reside before we moved to where we currently live. By car, it’s about 18 hours on the road one-way. By plane, it’s about 6 1/2 hours total (2 1/2 driving to the nearest airport, 2 1/2 on the flight, 1 1/2 driving from the airport to our final destination). I’m really not a fan of driving long distances. I did enough of that when I was younger and nowadays I’d really prefer to just get to where I want to go as quickly as possible. If it were possible to teleport, I’d be all over it. Unfortunately, the technology is not yet available. Because I cannot teleport, I’m left with two options. I can either fly or drive. Flying is much quicker but there are a lot more ‘factors’ to consider and it’s also more expensive than driving. Whichever way I choose to travel, at least I have all my ‘ducks in a row’.

Why not just book a flight and keep it simple? I wish I could, I really do! However, there’s the matter of whether or not I’m one of the 8% that actually develops antibodies after getting the Covid vaccine. In a recent post, I talked about how I learned that people like me (who are immunocompromised) don’t achieve the same efficacy rates as people who are immunocompetent (everyone else). After everything I’ve been through and after all that my brother sacrificed, I don’t want to take any chances. For these reasons, I have a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’. ‘Plan A’ involves flying and will happen if and only if, after getting an antibody test, I discover that I’ve actually developed immunity to Covid. Tomorrow I am getting my second dose and a week from tomorrow, I’m having a test done to see whether the vaccine made any difference at all. Once I know the results, I can make a clear and concise decision. Until then, I’m going to sit back and relax (while hoping for the best).

Sit back and relax? Yes! If you’ve seen what I’ve been working on for the last 3 nights in a row, you’d understand. Planning travel is no walk in the park! Of course, planning travel while trying to get the best bang-for-my-buck is even more complicated and taxing. I never do anything expeditiously, especially when it involves spending my hard-earned money. I do often wonder what it must be like to be one of those people that just goes to one website, finds what they want, and makes a purchase. Oh, no! I’m one of those people that has to visit 20 different websites before I am convinced that I have gotten the best ‘deal’ available. At least, of all the things required, scheduling a dog boarder wasn’t very complicated. Because I don’t live in a very big town, there aren’t a lot of options for dog boarding. For someone like me, that’s a good thing. Fortunately, I was able to find a gal that I trust with my fur-baby so scheduling a drop-off and pick-up date was all that was necessary. Seems simple, right?

Nothing is ever ‘simple’ in my world. Do you want to know how many times I have ‘modified’ my initial request? You don’t want to know, I’m telling you! Are you sure? Ok, here goes…three different times! I actually wrote her today and apologized for being so wishy-washy. Initially, when I thought we were going to drive (which I didn’t want to do), I had requested May 12-25. I then changed it to May 13-22. As of today, the dates are now May 15-26. If she doesn’t think I’m a total screwball, I’d be very surprised! Why do I keep changing the dates? Well, our initial plans were to drive; however, I really don’t want to. Four days on the road (only stopping to fill up the tank and pee) is not my idea of fun. When I told my husband I’d rather fly and he agreed (if it would make me happy), I changed the dates again. The reasons are valid enough, I had to find flights that were not only affordable and non-stop, but departed and arrived at a reasonable hour.

Why did I change them yet again? The reason I modified the dates was because I really want our trip to consist of two consecutive weekends in order to spend as much time with our son as possible. He is going to school and working so he really only has the weekends to visit. The initial plans I made only gave us one weekend to work with. I’m content with the dates now and intend to leave things as they are. What remains? This is where things get really complicated! You wouldn’t think reserving airport parking or renting a car would be so complex but it is, especially when you’re trying to save money. Typically, we use a place that gives us a 40% discount on their regular rates if we reserve the airport parking and ‘pay now’ at least 10 days or greater in advance. The problem with that is, if I ‘pay now’ and my schedule changes or I have to cancel the flight, I lose all of my money. That doesn’t seem like a smart move.

If I get to choose between ‘pay now’ and ‘pay later’, I prefer to ‘pay later’. Maybe I won’t get as good of a deal, but if anything happens and my plans fall through, I don’t lose out on my investment. How many websites I ‘visited’ is hard to say, but eventually I found a place to park my car that will allow me to reserve the spot in advance and ‘pay later’. Even better, they had a coupon that will reduce the rate from $17 per day to $10 per day. Score! Once I knocked that out, I moved onto rental cars. Oh. My. Gosh. Have you tried to rent a car recently? Gone are the days of $10 rental cars. If you can find one for $50 per day, consider yourself lucky! I have gone to Hotwire.com, RentalCars.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com, and Costco.com. I have also looked up rates on USAA, Hertz, Enterprise, Fox, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, and countless others. There’s a lot to consider when renting a car, who would have thought? The main thing I have learned over the years is that not all rental car companies waive the additional driver fee for spouses.

Not on my watch! I refuse to pay extra so that my husband can drive. When I’ve been told that I have to pay an extra $12.50 per day (for the additional driver charge), I’ll spend the entire vacation behind the wheel because I refuse to pay one red cent to the rental car company for this ‘add on’. You had better believe I did my research this time! I couldn’t tell you how many Google searches I did, but after thoroughly educating myself about where to find the best rates along with which company waived the additional driver charge, I settled on Hertz. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever used them. Most of the time, I rent cars using Hotwire. Whatever medium-sized sedan is offered at the cheapest price is generally the one I rent. Because of the extra Google searches, I actually discovered that by signing up for the Hertz Gold Membership and applying the USAA discount code (for military), I got a better rate than Hotwire was able to offer and I won’t have to pay for an extra driver.

See what I mean? I’ve put in some serious hours and left no stone unturned trying to ensure that all of my plans are in place. Aside from the money for the flight which will be applied as a ‘credit’ on my mileage plan account if I have to cancel, everything else is ‘pay later’. Should my plans to fly fall through, I won’t end up having to forfeit hundreds of dollars. And say my plans to fly do fall through? What happens then? Well, that’s why it’s important to always have a ‘Plan B’. In my situation, ‘Plan B’ is pretty simple. If we end up driving, aside from boarding my dog, I just have to reserve a hotel that is located nearly dead center on our road trip. By utilizing Priceline, I was able to reserve a really nice place (not far from Yellowstone) on the way over and on the way back. It’s a little more than I want to spend but it is in a nice, quiet location with a lovely trail nearby to take a restful walk and (the best part) it’s ‘pay later’. I wish I were a bit more spontaneous but once I had children, the word ‘spontaneity’ was removed from my vocabulary.

Anyway, that’s where things are at. If I look at one more travel-related website, I think I’m going to suffer permanent vision loss. As I said, all I really need to do now is ‘sit back and relax’. I know, that’s a funny thing to expect an anxious person to do…but I’m going to try! I feel pretty positive at the moment that things are going to work out. After selling the boat and, more importantly, beginning to feel significantly better since I had my doctor’s appointment and my meds were adjusted, I am hopeful that when my antibody test is performed, it will reveal that I am immune to Covid. If that’s the case, I will be able to proceed with ‘Plan A’. If that’s not the case, I’m going to spring into action undoing the flight, airport parking, and rental car reservations and get busy loading up the car and ‘hitting the road’. Last time we drove, I did find one thing that helped while away the hours, audiobooks. It gave me something to focus on (other than the long road ahead) and seemed to make the whole experience a little less ‘excruciating’.

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