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Need help with airline tix St. Louis to Nashville to Philadelphia

Rene McDaniel

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Help and travel ideas needed.

The first week of April my 12th grader is off for Spring Break and we need to travel to multiple cities to see the colleges she's been accepted to.

We would be flying from Southern California to St. Louis and staying 2 nights. I can get reasonable airfare for that leg. ($178/1-way, each) We'd stay 2 days in St. Louis.

The next stop is Nashville which is about a 5 hour drive/300 miles from St. Louis. The problem is that if I drive it one-way, the car rental drop fees are pricy (1-way out of state rental= $150 dollars for a 1 day rental/Budget + gasoline $50?). One-way airfares from St. Louis to Nashville are about $150/each with stops to change planes in places like Houston, Chicago, or Atlanta. It would looks like it would take longer to fly than to drive between St. Louis and Nashville.

Next problem is that the airfares are higher from Nashville to Philadelphia ($178/1-way, each) than if I drive the car back to to St. Louis & fly to Philly from there ($137/1-way, each). If I drive back to St. Louis that means another 5 hours driving, but I avoid the expensive "drop fees" and could get better airfares. A weeklong car rental in St. Louis would $140 for the week (Hertz), but I am wondering if they charge me their God-awful $70/daily rate if I only keep it 4 days with pickup and return in St. Louis.

Next stop, getting us to Philadelphia. After doing some research, driving it is definitely out of the question. Mapquest says its an 18-hour drive and 1,130 miles. I will have a hard enough time trying to do a 5-hour drive alone, and the kiddo is too young to legally drive rental cars and help out.

I looked into trying to use Amtrak to Philly and that is even worse -- over a 24 hour train ride (have to go through Chicago) and would cost about $165 each.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone knows any other travel alternatives I should consider. I probably need about 2 days in each of the 3 cities. Plus, there is the exciting possibility that on April 1st we might hear a positive outcome from New Haven, Connecticut and have to make a stop there. But it looks like we can go between New Haven & Philadelphia using Amtrak ($57/each, 3 hour train ride). It's a long-shot, so it seems better to forgo doing airfares to New Haven because it may, or may not happen. The other 3 locations she already has firm acceptances to, so I'm okay with booking non-refundable, non-exchangeable discount fares to save some dollars where ever we can. We will need every single dime and nickel when she starts college in August.

Thanks, in advance, for any help or advice you can give me. This is not an area of the US I've never traveled to.

--- Rene
 

natasha5687

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Help and travel ideas needed.

The first week of April my 12th grader is off for Spring Break and we need to travel to multiple cities to see the colleges she's been accepted to.

We would be flying from Southern California to St. Louis and staying 2 nights. I can get reasonable airfare for that leg. ($178/1-way, each) We'd stay 2 days in St. Louis.

The next stop is Nashville which is about a 5 hour drive/300 miles from St. Louis. The problem is that if I drive it one-way, the car rental drop fees are pricy (1-way out of state rental= $150 dollars for a 1 day rental/Budget + gasoline $50?). One-way airfares from St. Louis to Nashville are about $150/each with stops to change planes in places like Houston, Chicago, or Atlanta. It would looks like it would take longer to fly than to drive between St. Louis and Nashville.

Next problem is that the airfares are higher from Nashville to Philadelphia ($178/1-way, each) than if I drive the car back to to St. Louis & fly to Philly from there ($137/1-way, each). If I drive back to St. Louis that means another 5 hours driving, but I avoid the expensive "drop fees" and could get better airfares. A weeklong car rental in St. Louis would $140 for the week (Hertz), but I am wondering if they charge me their God-awful $70/daily rate if I only keep it 4 days with pickup and return in St. Louis.

Next stop, getting us to Philadelphia. After doing some research, driving it is definitely out of the question. Mapquest says its an 18-hour drive and 1,130 miles. I will have a hard enough time trying to do a 5-hour drive alone, and the kiddo is too young to legally drive rental cars and help out.

I looked into trying to use Amtrak to Philly and that is even worse -- over a 24 hour train ride (have to go through Chicago) and would cost about $165 each.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone knows any other travel alternatives I should consider. I probably need about 2 days in each of the 3 cities. Plus, there is the exciting possibility that on April 1st we might hear a positive outcome from New Haven, Connecticut and have to make a stop there. But it looks like we can go between New Haven & Philadelphia using Amtrak ($57/each, 3 hour train ride). It's a long-shot, so it seems better to forgo doing airfares to New Haven because it may, or may not happen. The other 3 locations she already has firm acceptances to, so I'm okay with booking non-refundable, non-exchangeable discount fares to save some dollars where ever we can. We will need every single dime and nickel when she starts college in August.

Thanks, in advance, for any help or advice you can give me. This is not an area of the US I've never traveled to.

--- Rene

There are a few things you can do to save money.
 
Last edited:

natasha5687

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Maryland
Help and travel ideas needed.

The first week of April my 12th grader is off for Spring Break and we need to travel to multiple cities to see the colleges she's been accepted to.

We would be flying from Southern California to St. Louis and staying 2 nights. I can get reasonable airfare for that leg. ($178/1-way, each) We'd stay 2 days in St. Louis.

The next stop is Nashville which is about a 5 hour drive/300 miles from St. Louis. The problem is that if I drive it one-way, the car rental drop fees are pricy (1-way out of state rental= $150 dollars for a 1 day rental/Budget + gasoline $50?). One-way airfares from St. Louis to Nashville are about $150/each with stops to change planes in places like Houston, Chicago, or Atlanta. It would looks like it would take longer to fly than to drive between St. Louis and Nashville.

Next problem is that the airfares are higher from Nashville to Philadelphia ($178/1-way, each) than if I drive the car back to to St. Louis & fly to Philly from there ($137/1-way, each). If I drive back to St. Louis that means another 5 hours driving, but I avoid the expensive "drop fees" and could get better airfares. A weeklong car rental in St. Louis would $140 for the week (Hertz), but I am wondering if they charge me their God-awful $70/daily rate if I only keep it 4 days with pickup and return in St. Louis.

Next stop, getting us to Philadelphia. After doing some research, driving it is definitely out of the question. Mapquest says its an 18-hour drive and 1,130 miles. I will have a hard enough time trying to do a 5-hour drive alone, and the kiddo is too young to legally drive rental cars and help out.

I looked into trying to use Amtrak to Philly and that is even worse -- over a 24 hour train ride (have to go through Chicago) and would cost about $165 each.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone knows any other travel alternatives I should consider. I probably need about 2 days in each of the 3 cities. Plus, there is the exciting possibility that on April 1st we might hear a positive outcome from New Haven, Connecticut and have to make a stop there. But it looks like we can go between New Haven & Philadelphia using Amtrak ($57/each, 3 hour train ride). It's a long-shot, so it seems better to forgo doing airfares to New Haven because it may, or may not happen. The other 3 locations she already has firm acceptances to, so I'm okay with booking non-refundable, non-exchangeable discount fares to save some dollars where ever we can. We will need every single dime and nickel when she starts college in August.

Thanks, in advance, for any help or advice you can give me. This is not an area of the US I've never traveled to.

--- Rene

There are a few things you can do to save money.

I will post more in the morning
 

MaryH

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Is the order fixed in stone? you might want to consider St. Louis, PHL, Nashville instead? For PHL. Philly is about 2 hrs from NYC by amtrack so EWR is another option at 1.5 hrs.
 

Rene McDaniel

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Is the order fixed in stone? you might want to consider St. Louis, PHL, Nashville instead? For PHL. Philly is about 2 hrs from NYC by amtrack so EWR is another option at 1.5 hrs.

We do need to END the trip in Philadelphia. I'll tour the college with my daughter for 1 day so I can see it, since it's her top choice, so far. Then I'll fly back home to California without her. She stays on campus for a recruited students program & then flies back home on her own 2 days later. We already have her solo return airline ticket booked.

Yes, I was also thinking about EWR or NYC area airport alternatives. But I'm wondering if I might start to lose any airfare savings with getting from the airport to Amtrak (taxi?), plus the cost of train tickets to Philadelphia.

The other worry is if we find out on April 1st that she has an acceptance to the college in Connecticut, we would need to squeeze in a trip there. Maybe it would be best to book the airlines tix from Nashville to EWR, so we have the option of taking the train north to Connecticut (if that happens), or south to Philadelphia (to enjoy the weekend before her program). I wish it was possible to get cheap last minute airline tickets, so I could keep things flexible. If she gets into the college in Connecticut, I don't think she will really consider the college in Nashville. So maybe it's SAFER to book the middle portion (St. Louis or Nashville to EWR) on April 1st, just a few days ahead of the flight.

Spring Break Week Trip Itinerary - tentative:
MONDAY - travel day (can't leave on Sunday, it would cost double -Spring Break)
TUES/WED - St. Louis college (dd sleeps in dorms/attends classes)
THUR/FRI - Nashville college (dd sleeps in dorms/attends classes)
SAT/SUN - weekend in Philadelphia (hotel/enjoy city + mom sees campus) - or - possibly weekend Amtrak trip to Connecticut if she receives acceptance there. Maybe enough time to attend a Monday morning class, then take train back to Philadelphia & arrive by 5pm. I wonder if I could get away with buying a last minute airline ticket from St. Louis or Nashville?
MONDAY 5pm PHILADELPHIA- daughter checks in for "admitted students program" and I fly back to California. Phew!

I wish there were a way to do this trip and not have it be super-expensive!
 
Last edited:

am1

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This is something to keep in mind when deciding on a school. Cost of transportation.

Is she able to narrow her choices down to 2 with the possibility of Yale as the 3rd?
 
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