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How our trip to Spain turned into a road trip

Our Madrid airbnb was perfectly located downtown for us to really enjoy the daily siestas.


Why did our family’s trip to Spain turn into a road trip two hours from home?

Our week didn’t quite go as we had planned. We were supposed to be heading for Madrid, & Barcelona. Sadly our flights were full, so no planes, no tapas, no churros, no Sangria, no 200 MPH train ride, no Balearic Sea, no downtown apartment for enjoying siesta, no Park Guell… however we are pretty good at this “non-rev” life and had a great vacation close to home anyway. As I have said before, if the flights are full we don’t get to go.

Airlines hire pilots based on their qualifications and ability to fly planes. Airlines then give them the opportunity to see how important customer service is by allowing them to fly for free or deeply discounted rates. A pilot that has flown as a customer with his/her family can understand all that flying families go through allowing him/her to see things from a different perspective. The flight attendant is more likely to have better customer service if he/she has actually attempted to get her family seated and all their bags stowed. Show me a crew member with good customer service and I will show you someone that has travelled as a passenger and understands the journey from your seat.

This free/reduced rate travel is a wonderful perk for airline employees. We use ours often and have been on some awesome vacations. Usually it’s the kids and me traveling to visit my husband on his overnight. Sometimes we all get to venture together.

When we travel we are able to go if there is space available. The airline figures there is a plane going and it will cost them the same to send that plane with 20 empty seats or with 20 of its employees going.

If there are no empty seats, you will see us in the gate area gathering our things and heading for the next departure. Non-rev travel is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those that need set plans. It is for those that can come up with a plan B, C, or just decide to go elsewhere.

Sometimes the gate agent will call our name, meaning we are rocking some seats on this flight. And sometimes the agent will announce “all stand-bys have been rolled over to the next flight”.
Thankfully we can usually check a flight and see if it is even worth trying to get on it.

So last year when my husband called me and said “wanna go to Paris, the flights look great”, you can bet I said yes. And you can only imagine our elation at getting on the flight and sitting together. (That doesn’t always happen, but other passengers always offer to swap before we even ask. Something about a five year old sitting in the row behind mom will make men offer to take a middle seat so a little boy doesn’t have to sit alone.)

Two weeks ago we began planning a trip to Spain. (We even altered our homeschool lessons to the point all we studied was Spain culture/history/geography and Spanish on Rosetta Stone & Duolingo.) The flights to Madrid looked good, and we decided we would jump on it. The flights coming home were iffy, so we planned to ride the train over and enjoy a couple of days in Barcelona and come home from there. Then our flights to Madrid started looking rough, so we could fly into Paris and hop a flight on a different airline into Madrid for cheap… then our flights out of Atlanta started to fill up. And our Airbnb was cancelled in Barcelona. Our plan B had changed over and over and we decided it would be best to take a road trip instead. So when the flights fill up, sometimes we opt to take a trip in the car.

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There will be times we go on an epic trip with little to no planning, and there will be times we will plan only to have our plans change.

Sometimes we get to Paris, and sometimes we take a road trip and stay close to home. While we didn’t make it to Spain this time we had the chance to dream and plan for it, which was pretty awesome in itself.

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Our Trip to Spain Turned Into A Road Trip