I just got off the phone with my mom and I want to crawl in a hole and hide. I have been told about all the various ways my plan to move is needlessly stupid and expensive. Ugh. Why do I call them then? Well, in some ways it is better to call preemptively rather than get any more annoying phone messages left on the machine. I think I need a drink.
(Also, it is hot and sweaty here. Just thought I should fit that into my litany of complaining. That is all.)
So, my mom thinks it is stupid for me to fly the cats across the country, and expensive. And yes, it is. But really, I don't want to be trapped in a car with screaming terrified cats for five or six days. I'd rather hold that down to about a day. And, as I have mentioned before, almost all cheap motels these days have bedframes that cats can run and hide under, and no door to the bathroom that I can lock them up in, which means if you let them out of the carriers at night, you have a very stressful 30 or 40 minutes every morning of chasing down the cats and dismantling furniture to get at the cats and then cramming them into the carriers, and then you go drive 8 or 10 hours. Meh. I do not want to do that.
But driving across the country without cats sounds like a fun little road trip, right? My mom thinks it is the Stupidest Idea Ever. She thinks I should just sell the old car here (it is a 2002 car, but not that much miles on it) and buy a new car in The Hot Place. Really? Uhhhhh! That sounds so tiring! I would have to deal with the hassle of figuring out how much the car was worth and who to sell it to and how I was to get the money (I assume tons of crazy paper work too, with switching over the title and all?) and then still dealing with a rental car and another plane trip and then shopping for a new car on the other end. Gah!
But then, now that she has worn me down and made me want to take a cold bath and hide under the covers with an alcoholic fruity drink (ok, this is also partly due to the heat), I am looking at the amount of work to plan out 5 or 6 days of driving and mapping and being bored by all that empty countryside which will also probably be very hot and unforgiving and eating crappy fast food and sleeping in crappy motels where the window unit smells like mold, and I don't want to do that either. Really I think it is just that I am tired and everything in the world seems horrible and overwhelming right now. But as long as I am avoiding making any decisions I might as well put it to you for a vote: sell the car or drive it across the country?
Really if you could find me a bright purple car the choice would be obvious. Or, you know, something like this.
I've flown my two cats internationally three times, and they've done numerous one-day car trips plus a three-day one when we moved most recently--I think flying them and then driving your car is the best option, but obviously I think nothing is too expensive for cat comfort :-) Selling the car sounds like a hassle, especially since it will probably last for a while. That said, if you decided to drive the cats, when I last did this the hotels we stayed at (usually Motel 6) did have bathroom doors and the space under the bed blocked off (much to the dismay of the cats, who then had to hide under the covers instead of under the bed). In terms of flying, I sent them pet cargo twice and under the seat once (they are a little big for under the seat, so pet cargo was better even though it was harder for me) and all was fine--it can't be that expensive to send them cargo domestically, right?
Selling the car and buying a new one probably isn't the best idea, monetarily. If you were moving someplace in which you didn't need to have a car, or your current car doesn't have a/c so you needed to get a new one anyway, that might make sense... but... if your current car isn't a lemon, there's a chance that if you buy a new-to-you used car it will be a lemon and you'll be worse off.
We always drive the cats. One cat takes it just fine, quietly hiding in her carrier. The other cat yowls the entire trip until she gets to the hotel. We wish we could sedate her, but she's the cat with the heart condition.
We've had good luck with bed underneaths being blocked off too (usually Holiday Inns).
Have you looked into paying someone to drive/transport your car one-way for you? I don't know where you look for that (I think some moving companies will transport it), but I know it is done. Then you could just do the flight and be all happy. I bet you could ask the movingscam forums...aha, they have a page http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1470&highlight=car+automobile
When we moved across the country in a multi-day trip, we had a friend babysit the cats back in Grad School City until we'd arrived at Small Town and then had our friend take them to the airport to send them pet cargo; we picked them up on the other end, and all was well.
Good luck with this move -- there's no way for everything to go absolutely smoothly, but getting yourself and your kitty-cats to the new place is the most important thing!
I like What Now's idea!
I've only driven across country with a dog (though several times). With a dog who loves a car ride, it's pretty much doggy happiness the whole way. Cat's are probably more difficult.
My guess is that selling the car isn't a great idea, unless you've been living in an area where cars rust out horribly. But even so, if you can hold off a couple of years, it will help with the moving and expenses of adjusting.
Good luck! I'm so happy for you!
The cats are booked, people. They are flying and I can't get a refund (I had to check off a little box saying I understood that when I reserved the spot).
My real question is whether I should just fly out to The Hot Place or drive the car. Since I have two weeks between moving the cats and getting my truck trailer loaded, I kinda do have to come out here again. Hrm. It makes sense then to drive the car out to Hot Place after I pack up Postdoc Place.
I should add that I'm making this drive alone as my family has told me to go screw myself when I asked if people were going to help...
I also think you should keep the car unless you'd have to sell it anyway (in agreement with N&M). Cats are very individual critters, you know what's best for the ones you serve, and you've made that decision.
But I am, sadly, an expert on family drama. Your mother is yanking your chain. She may not be aware of it (or she may), but her advice has nothing to do with your move, let alone what's best for you and your cats. She wants attention, and she wants you under her thumb. You acting independently is hard for her. Just say, "OK, I'll think about that, thanks," every time she claims any idea is Stupid, and then change the subject. I do know about the preemptive calls to ward off the endless messages. You probably already do this, but line up some safe topics ("How about those [sports team]?" "How is your Project X going?" "What is [family member] up to?") before you call, and work through them as necessary.
I never comment anymore because the systems refuse to let me, but I had to add my bit to this one!
I drove cross-country 3 times, by myself (twice with cats, once picked up sister in middle), and I loved it. Granted, I like driving, but if you dread it, it's guaranteed to be awful. Is there a way you can turn it into a vacation rather than a chore? Especially without the cats, this is much easier. I detoured to see any friends that were remotely on the way, I planned routes around national parks (was even able to get a short-notice room for one night in the main park lodge), and I also tended to overnight in college towns and do a little tour in the morning (I like seeing colleges). Definitely the night I spent in a Super8 for $45 was a mistake--but if I went up to $80-100/night with Holiday Inn Express, Sleep Inn, I was just fine. I generally took about 10 days, pretty much coast-to-coast. Obviously, that's just me, but it's evidence for the possibility of it being a fun road trip. And doing it alone? Well, road trips kill friendships, I always say. I checked in by phone every night, and I stuck largely to major highways. Oh, avoid 80--it sucks, full of trucks because it's the quickest way.
I also have a 2002 car with 104K miles on it, and I see lots of the same model on the road. But selling it sounds like it would needlessly complicate your settling in--you don't want to be buying a car under desperate pressure.
Wishing you luck!
What everybody else said about the car (mind you, I drive a 20+-year-old one, and that's getting to be a *bit* of a hassle, but a lowish-mileage 11-year-old one should still have several years of reliability and relatively low maintenance/repair bills in it. And highway driving is not particularly hard on cars, so the added mileage from the trip isn't a major factor, though you should, of course, have a garage you trust look it over first, change oil, check fluids, etc.).
I've been on the receiving end of a friend sending a fairly skittish cat as cargo across the country (I then cat-sat while they drove), and that worked fine. I'd be a bit worried about heat (during time on the tarmac) at this time of year, and perhaps inclined, for that reason, to think about the timing of the flight, but it sounds like you've already made that decision and bought the tickets, so obviously you go with what you've arranged and paid for. If the issue arises again, you might also consider buying a large foldable wire-mesh dog crate to use as a portable cat cage, setting it up in each hotel room with litter box, food, and familiar hiding/sleeping place (box or similar), and then decanting the cats into that. I've used one as a hospital cage for an ailing cat (who was producing various effluvia from various wounds/orifices), and it worked quite well.
On the sans-cats road trip (which is the only question really in play, right -- road trip vs. sell/fly/buy, with *maybe* the alternative of having the car moved for you instead?), I'm with you: it sounds like a fun adventure, and a good way to transition from one place/life stage to the next. Do make sure you've had the car checked out, and that you have contingency plans/time flexibility/funds (or a credit card -- they do have their uses) for a worst-case breakdown scenario (over a weekend/need a part, so it takes several days to accomplish), join AAA or similar if you're not already a member, plan some fun layovers, and off you go!
Also what DEH said. It sounds like you're deviating a bit from family hopes/dreams/expectations (which is, of course, par for the course in any life, and even more so when wrestling with a tough job market, where even more tradeoffs than usual come into play), and nitpicking the small stuff (while not being very helpful in actual, substantial ways) is one way of complaining, indirectly, about that. Switching to a neutral topic (and/or some version of "so, tell me about yourself") is, indeed, a good way of redirecting such conversations (and "someone at the door" or similar ruses a good way of ending those that can't be redirected). In the long run, some combination of observing your own patterns of communication and changing them as appropriate and semi-Pavlovian conditioning of parents (longer/more frequent conversations when they respect boundaries, shorter/less frequent ones when they don't) may make for improvement (as may not being in transition, which produces stress, but, if your parents are inclined to be difficult during times of transition/stress, it's worth taking note of and storing up observations/tactics that work from this time to be employed during later life events).
PS. Oh, and the planning is fun! Maps are fun! I max out at 10hrs/day driving, so I picked towns where I would stop about 8-10 hours apart, and I generally just booked motels for that night in the morning before I left, so that I could remain flexible, although if you are on 10/20/40 and hitting canyon country, things may be a bit crowded for that. If you can build in at least one non-driving day as a break (eg, arrive late one night at Grand Canyon, day at Canyon, leave early next morning), that's helps.
Large expanses of space have their own beauty. And there are often the older roads that are a bit more scenic, that roughly parallel the interstates that replaced them.
Anyhow, I think driving cross-country is wonderful!
Oh, and very belated congratulations on your new job! Been lurking for ages.
Also, control what you can control on the road trip. Dance has some good advice on hotels (spend a bit more, at least every other night, or detour just a bit/stop outside of cities to get better deals on the better chains). If you've got room for an ice chest (and it sounds like you do), that's a good way to take at least some healthy, more affordable food with you (finding ice along the way is easy). Given the time of year, if you plan to spend at least a few hours a day on older highways/scenic byways, you're likely to find farm stands, farmer's markets, etc., etc. along the way (AAA is also a good source of maps and help with trip planning -- another reason to join).
Dance and I seem to be on the same wavelength this morning!
I love a road trip, personally. And I think the folks above have given you great advice.
I tend to listen to lots of books on tape/CD as I go across country. It keeps me from fretting about stuff.
Without a dog, I don't make reservations ahead of time, but stop when I'm ready to stop. I can drive a max of 10 hours a day, but I stop at rest stops and eat a real lunch. I've never had difficulty finding a motel. (I do tend to wake and start early, so I'm often done driving by 4 or 5pm, and that may help.)
Non-freeways are much more fun to drive, for me. But they do take longer.
I've driven 80 cross-country and pieces of it in the middle, and I don't think it's that bad. It definitely is fast, if you just want to get the trip over with. The question is whether you want a road trip vacation or just to be in the new place. Second the suggestion of audio books to speed the miles. I find I can listen to stuff that I can't read---The Looking Glass Wars (shelved with kids' books at my local library) was great to listen to but (to me) way tedious to read.
If the cats are taken care of, then you can have some fun! Amen to what the others have said (keep the car), and I'll add this: check out Librivox dot org for audio books. Those will save your sanity during the long stretches. The way I find good cheap hotels is to read the reviews on Trip Advisor and other sites. Also, take a look at staying at Extended Stay hotels when their location dovetails with your route. Most of the time, they're clean, quiet, and cheap.
You probably don't need one more thing to do, but consider doing a little trip diary here on your blog as you go.
I know I'm late to the party, but when we moved we flew two cats and drove with 2. It was a 2-day drive. Flying the cats is worth every single penny it costs. NOT having to listen to your cat howl for 2 days straight (including at night in the hotel) is worth whatever charges the airline throws at you. :-)
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