My Expensive Little 2 Year Old

4th of July this year promises to be epic.  My cousin is having a huge pig roast to celebrate her oldest daughter graduating high school and going to college.  Her parents, sister and her family, and brother are all coming in from Honduras to celebrate.  My mom’s sister, her kids, and her kids’ family decided to make a trip north from South Carolina to see the Honduran side of the family.  My sister and her fiancé are coming down so he can meet all the extended family. Not one to miss a big family reunion (and a chance to go to the Jersey shore in summer), I was planning on traveling out with my family as well. 

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Nothing like summer on the Jersey Shore

What’s the problem?  Well, as we all know, flights during July 4th are expensive.  Like, crazy expensive.  However the real kick to the gut…my daughter turns 2 years old exactly 2 weeks and 4 days before we fly.  That’s right, fly two weeks earlier -> free.  Flying July 4th weekend -> full priced ticket.  US airlines don’t believe in a child fare.

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That's right, her days as a lap child are over...

Even when you are expecting it, it still is a bit of sticker shock the first time you see a plane fare multiplied by four.  Even cheap flights make you think twice.  Adding insult to injury, I made a very expensive mistake. 

While researching flights I found a very reasonable fare for the weekend of the 4th, but the “multiplied by four number” scared me.  I decided to run it by my husband that evening before hitting the buy button.  Well life got busy and I forgot to discuss it with him.  I checked three days later, and the flights had gone up by over $150.  Each.  4 tickets, that’s a $600+ mistake.    

Disappointed, I thought I was going to have to skip the epic weekend in Jersey.  I cried.  My husband and I talked and discussed options.  Then we came up with a solution. 

We have a United miles card and we were saving our miles for our 10 year anniversary trip next year.  We figured, we could use 25,000 of our United miles for one ticket (still leaving us with enough miles for a 10th anniversary trip), purchase two tickets, and not buy a ticket for my husband.  It would actually cost us less than we originally planned to spend, but it would have me traveling without him. 

I booked the trip and resigned to doing this without my husband when something exciting came up.  Turns out he had a work commitment in Atlanta the week before the 4th of July.  Instead of returning home, he would fly straight to NJ.  By using all his remaining Delta miles to fly round trip San Francisco to Atlanta (miles we would normally never use), he could buy a round trip Atlanta – Newark on non popular travel days that was very inexpensive. 

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We will be together as a family, assuming I survive the cross country flights with the kids solo...

So now all four of us will be there for the epic family reunion.  I’m still traveling solo with the kids, but we will all be together. And as much as I hate paying full price for a child who was free two weeks earlier, having a seat for her will make this much easier in the future.  (Still not sure its worth the inflated July 4th prices, but only time will tell).  At least now she can start earning miles….

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