Yes, it was a long shot, or so I thought. Beyond my wildest expectations, I had four people contact me within days, and one of them ended up being the right fit for us. I found someone who was moving in the EXACT (opposite) direction, from DC to eastern Washington, within the same timeframe. We just needed to get creative with our plan and travel in the opposite direction.
After coming down off the high of finding my cross-country unicorn soulmate, I did begin to weigh the pros and cons of this seemingly perfect coupling. We both needed to enter into this with equal measure of blind trust. I didn’t know this lady, she didn’t know me. We were both pretty nondescript online, and didn’t have mutual military colleagues to gut check the background of the other. But we chatted on the phone and learned about our respective motivations and agreed it was worth the risk.
She was 50-50 on selling the car vs transporting; she just didn’t want to pay a lot to move it. I needed someone to trust me and my 16 year-old co-pilot, who would be turned away by all rental car companies.
I also didn’t want a beater or a car that would fall apart on us somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Flash to my worst family vacation nightmare: woman and 2 teens broken down in the middle of mountain pass with a car that’s not their own, midway through a 3500 mile road-trip. But thankfully, my cross-country unicorn soulmate had a spacious 2014 Town & Country with a recent tune-up and good tires. She made sure her insurance carrier was good with us driving her car, and I promised to pay for gas and make sure I cleaned out all the teenager cooties before we delivered the car in Washington. And perhaps the coolest part: she packed the minivan with all of her camping gear for us to use along the way. So when we parked the car at the end of our trip and headed to the airport for the return flights home, we didn’t have sleeping bags, tents, blankets, dishes, etc to schlep back to the East Coast.
So…too good to be true, you say? Just a flash in the pan? Not something you can replicate?
I can’t really say. What I do know is that I saved over $1800 (the minimum cost for a one-way minivan rental for my points), and I had an AMAZING adventure with my family, seeing America the way we wanted to experience it. We were able to make this happen by exercising a bit of creativity, and taking a chance with some like-minded military colleagues, all in the name of low cost, high-adventure awesomeness. I would do it again in a heartbeat.